A Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery (MEOR) application in the Big Wells Field located in Dimmit County, Texas has shown a significant improvement in production—both oil rate and water cut performance. As a result of a specific nutrient injection designed in the laboratory to stimulate in situ, naturally occurring microbes, for this San Miguel sandstone reservoir and its microbial ecology, a marked improvement was seen in the two producing wells to which the treatment was applied. The water cut in one well improved from fifty per cent to fifteen percent. The water cut in a second well improved from fifty-five to thirty-five percent.
Although previous field applications of this MEOR process had shown increases in oil production and decreases in water production, water production in this application was completely stopped for a brief time as a result of the treatment. This paper reviews the Big Wells producing well treatments and their results. A specific look at the oil release mechanism of this MEOR process offers an explanation as to how the oil released by these treatments impacts the relative permeability of fluids in the reservoir near the treated wellbores as demonstrated in the field producing well treatments. Similar benefits are seen during the treatment of water injection wells related to performance in adjacent producing wells.
The significance of this application is that field evidence supports that production improvements result from the release of oil in sufficient quantities to change the near wellbore relative permeability to both oil and water. Also, it demonstrates that this MEOR technology can be successfully applied to reservoirs in this geographical area and extends the lower threshold for formation permeability suitable for treatment. Having been successfully applied in other parts of North America, this is an important application of this MEOR technology in Texas.