Light Alkanes Stimulation

Key Facts

  • Technological innovation developed in 2015 by ecorpStim R&D team in Houston, Texas (USA).
  • Not a single drop of water, no chemical additives of any kind whatsoever are used in the LAS system.
  • Concept: using a selection of low molecular weight alkanes (sometimes referred to as “baby oil”) which are naturally occurring in hydrocarbon production (conventional/ unconventional) as the stimulation fluid.
  • The selection of light alkanes used in LAS can be self-supplied from the reservoir, and recovered for an immediate or future re-use.
  • The LAS system is non-flammable, because this mixture of light alkanes has a low vapor pressure and high flash point.
  • The LAS system is non-toxic: these specific light alkanes are FDA approved for direct and indirect food use. They are also widely used in personal care products and cosmetics all over the world.
  • The light alkanes used in the LAS system are non-ozone depleting and have no global warming potential.

What is Light Alkanes Stimulation?

Developed in 2015 by ecorpStim R&D teams in Houston (USA), Light Alkanes Stimulation or LAS is a technology for extracting unconventional hydrocarbons, which uses not a single drop of water and no chemical additives.

It uses naturally occurring components of conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon production – a selection of low molecular weight alkanes or light alkanes – that are sometimes referred to as “baby oil” in common language.

These light alkanes used in LAS are a subset of odorless colorless technical grade organic oils as described in the classifications and / or standards of U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, NF, BP, DAB, EuP, Japanese and other pharmacopoeias worldwide.

Specifically excluded from this subset of hydrocarbons used in the LAS system are the very low molecular weight alkanes such as natural gas and LPGs. Also excluded from the LAS system are heavier alkanes which are often solids and possess different chemical characteristics.

In organic chemistry, an alkane is a hydrocarbon consisting only of hydrogen and carbon atoms where all molecular bonds are single bonds. Alkanes (always open-chain compounds) have the general chemical formula CnH2n+2. For example, Methane is CH4, in which n=1 (n being the number of Carbon atoms).

How does Light Alkanes Stimulation compare vs other ecorpStim systems?

Light Alkanes Stimulation (LAS) is a natural extension of Pure Propane Stimulation (PPS) and Non-Flammable Propane Stimulation (NFP). The philosophy is exactly the same for all three ecorpStim stimulation systems: they use no water and no chemical additives whatsoever, thus eliminating the drawbacks that are generally associated with the use of high volume hydraulic fracturing.

Also, like for propane in PPS, the light alkanes used in LAS are already present in the reservoir. Consequently, they do not damage the reservoir rock which should therefore result in increased productivity of the well compared with traditional hydraulic fracturing. The same principle applies with heptafluoropropane used in NFP.

What are the benefits of Light Alkanes Stimulation (LAS) compared with the other ecorpStim stimulation systems?

All three ecorpStim stimulation systems, Pure Propane Stimulation (PPS), Non-Flammable Propane Stimulation (NFP) and Light Alkanes Stimulation (LAS) complement one another to provide a range of “ecological” solutions to unconventional O&G operators.

Compared with PPS, LAS is a non-flammable option, just like NFP. And compared with NFP, LAS has no global warming potential.

From a technical point of view, LAS provides a broader range of viscosities / densities, which enables this technology to be used in a diversity of shale formations. Lastly, the light alkanes that are used in LAS exist in liquid form / phase at surface temperatures, rather than as a gas such as is the case with propane or other LPGs. As these liquids have a very low vapor pressure, they are therefore easily handled at the surface.

With light alkanes stimulation (LAS), is the non-flammable propane (NFP) option outdated?

Not in our view. We strongly believe that NFP has many positive attributes relative to operations and safety. However, cost competitiveness can still be improved, which we are striving to achieve and feel confident can be accomplished.

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