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Steam Flooding from Mine Workings, A Viable Alternative

Maynard F. Ayler, Charles Brechtel

The advent of steam flooding has given new life to several fields in California, substantially increasing the recoverable reserve. This process can be combined with a newly developed concept combining petroleum and mining technology.

By placing mine workings 100 ft, more or less, below the bottom of the reservoir, it is possible to safely drill wells upward through the reservoir and complete them in such a way that all produced cuttings and fluids are contained within closed pipelines. Each completed well could serve as a steam injection well with continuous gravity-produced oil from the same well. As all fluids would flow by gravity to a collection pipeline, the only needed pumps would be at the discharge within the mine shaft.

Mine shafts serving the oil field could be placed in environmentally optimum sites roughly one mile apart, eliminating many of the visually objectionable disturbances. Production wells could be placed on one acre or even closer spacing, whatever good engineering dictates. Automatic controls can continuously monitor and control production from each well.

Assuming one-acre well spacing, continuous steam flooding, and production from each well, a detailed analysis of anticipated mining costs indicate oil production costs under $5/bbl are possible. Even at $10/BO, a positive cash flow within two years after the start of shaft sinking is expected.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91038©1987 AAPG Annual Convention, Los Angeles, California, June 7-10, 1987.