Before his passing just over a year ago, local oil man Clint McBay made a decision that would help shape the future of the recovery of heavy crude from oil formations — allowing Advanced Combustion Energy Systems Inc. (ACES) to conduct the field test of its first BlackBird tool.
McBay, owner of the McClinton oil field in Slocum, passed away on Oct. 14, 2012. Considered by many to be a visionary, he signed the contract with James A. (Drew) Prentice III.
“This will be the biggest oil deal of my life,” he said at the signing.
Oct. 26 marked the one-year anniversary of the ACES/BlackBird team's arrival to the McClinton oil field, having logged in over 600 hours of testing in its first 11 months. Since testing began, the tool has increased the field's daily oil output 10 times.
According to its website, www.blackbird-eor.com, the BlackBird tool is a downhole steam generator that uses Thermoxafication — a patented re-pressurization process in which steam, carbon dioxide and nitrogen are injected simultaneously into an oil well at high velocity, temperature and pressure — for the enhanced recovery of heavy crude hydrocarbons from an oil formation.
The hot steam and gases are injected at temperatures in excess of 500°F to heat the heavy crude hydrocarbons in the formation, to reduce the thickness of the oil and make it easier to bring to the surface.
“Current surface sited steam-based heavy oil recovery methods are only effective to about 2,500 feet,” the BlackBird website stated. “In contrast, the BlackBird operates in depths up to 20,000 feet.” According to a National Institute for Petroleum and Energy Research (NIPER) study, more than half of the 68 billion barrels of remaining heavy oil reserves in the U.S. are below 2,500 feet. Heavy oil reserves below 2,500 feet onshore and at all depths offshore cannot be produced using existing commercial surface steaming technology.