Biosurfactant proving to be a game-changer for Bakken operators
Tuesday, October 26, 2021

A new biosurfactant being refined by Creedence Energy Services in Williston for the Bakken is pulling out higher end oil, and that’s attracting a lot of interest among Williston Basin operators. The product is already being trialed in at least 15 new locations by some of the play’s major oil producers, company officials say, in addition to three initial tests proving out the product for Bakken wells.

The product has also been nominated for a couple of different awards based on Creedence’s work, including finalist for a World Oil Award as best completion technology. They’re also a finalist for Emerging Technology of the Year by S & P Global Platts’ Global Energy Awards., which will be announced in December. The product is also being certified as carbon-free.

The biosurfactant is made using two agricultural commodities grown in the MonDak, sugar beets and canola oil. Fermenting the two together produces a tiny nanosurfactant — smaller than a single strand of DNA.

Creedence was chosen by Texas-based Locus Bio-Energy Solutions, which originally created the surfactant, to help tailor the product to the Bakken. North Dakota gave Creedence a $200,000 grant to run test wells proving out the concept in the Williston Basin.

Cracking the codes for enhanced oil recovery is something of a Holy Grail to the state’s oil and gas industry. Even a 1 or 2 percent boost to the productivity curve of an oil well can prove to be highly economic, particularly in shale plays, where all the oil is held in tight rock.

Kevin Black, president of Creedence, said they believe the small size of the biosurfactant is the reason this product works so well. While DNA is 2.3 nanometers thick, the Creedence-Locus surfactant is smaller still, at 1.2 nanometers.

As we previously reported, tests of the biosurfactant had been very promising, with the chemistry appearing to penetrate further and deeper into rock to mobilize more oil.

Not only that, but the product doesn’t come back all at once. It sticks around, similar to a time-release treatment, providing a boost over a long period of time. The first two wells Creedence treated with the biosurfactant continues to see a 70 percent increase in oil production for now 125 plus days of run-time, which is similar to production of three or four years ago.

Now that the surfactant is being tested on more wells, the company is noticing another intriguing trend.

“The characterization of oil that’s coming back is actually different,” Black said. “We are mobilizing higher end carbon chain molecules than the formation was previously giving up. We’re touching oil that previously just wasn’t being produced from the formation.”

Marty Shumway, technical director for Locus, said the biosurfactant is potentially game-changing for Bakken operators, and they are so pleased with Creedence work, they’ve decided to make them the sole distributor of the product in the Williston basin.

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