Acidizing is when an oil or gas company pumps acid into a well to dissolve the rocks lining the walls of the well. This can extend the life of the well and make it easier to extract the oil and gas.
Acidizing can help extract oil and gas from a well into the reservoir. This process can sometimes extend the life of a well as it gets close to the end of its useful life span. The acid pumped into the well dissolves any rock lining the walls of the well and any debris in the well itself. This creates new channels that allow the oil and gas to flow easily into the reservoir.
Acidizing is an expensive thing to do, so it is a last-ditch effort to eke out the last oil and gas from a well. Other primary recovery techniques are always used first before acidizing because it is so expensive. Sometimes acidizing is used in conjunction with hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking.
If the oil price is not high enough, the owners of the well will not acidize the well at all because the profit they will get from the last bit of oil and gas in the well won't be enough to justify the price of acidizing.
Example of Acidizing
ABC Oil has a well that will reach the end of its lifespan in a couple of years. The company thinks if they acidize the well, they can get another five years out of it. After evaluating the information, market, costs, and profits, ABC Oil decides to acidize the well. The workers pump acid into the well to dissolve the rocks lining the walls and create new channels for the oil and gas to drain from the well into the reservoir.
History of Acidizing
The practice of acidizing has been around for over a hundred years. It was prevalent until the 1930s when companies stopped using it because the acid kept causing extensive damage to the steel linings of the wells; however, as time passed, corrosion inhibitor technologies improved. As the tech improved, the damage to the well linings stopped, allowing companies to use acidizing safely once again.
Acidizing vs. Hydraulic Fracturing
Acidizing is where a company will pump acid into the well to dissolve rocks and other debris lining the well. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is where a company will inject a mixture of water and fracking chemicals into the well at very high pressure.
In some areas, acidizing is probably more effective than fracking, especially for areas with lots of tectonic activity and where there aren't uniform shale deposits.
Significance of Acidizing
The types and concentrations of acid used in this process are not heavily regulated, and the companies that make them do not disclose their exact mixtures. This means that it is tough to assess if acidizing is causing any harm to the environment. We don't completely know what effect acidizing is having on the groundwater if any at all.
Due to these unknowns, some states have begun to propose legislation that will regulate the practice of acidizing.