The multidisciplinary scientific enterprise "Geodata" handed over to St. Petersburg Mining University a unique collection of oil samples, which consists of more than 14 thousand specimens. Their study will provide new fundamental knowledge, which will have an important applied value. In particular, it will allow to draw conclusions about the presence of deep deposits of black gold in certain areas of Western Siberia.
The fact that new oil deposits must be sought not only in the territories where no geologist has gone before, for example in the Far North or Eastern Siberia, the scientists of the St. Petersburg university have been saying for a long time. After all, the cost of raw materials extracted in hard-to-reach areas will a priori be higher because of the need to build all the infrastructure there from scratch. This includes building roads, bridges, houses and social facilities.
From the business point of view, it is certainly much more profitable to work in areas where there is already a developed material and technical base. First of all, in the West Siberian oil and gas province, where almost 70% of all existing domestic fields are located. The problem is that many of them have been exploited since Soviet times and are gradually depleting, losing their former profitability.
Usually the task of maintaining high economic indicators is solved by using expensive means of impact on formations, which allow increasing their oil recovery. For example, application of fracking or injection of different reagents into the wells to stimulate production. But sooner or later all these methods will stop bringing tangible effect, and subsoil users will face a dilemma: to curtail their business or to develop deposits hundreds of kilometers away from the nearest populated area.
However, there is another option: the search for oil lying deeper than the main explored accumulations, in an already developed area, which requires much less investment. In the sixties and seventies of the last century there were simply no technologies that could detect such remote deposits, but now it is quite realistic.
Moreover, the classical theory about the organic origin of oil, which was that it is formed by the decomposition of plant and animal remains, has recently been increasingly questioned. Perhaps hydrocarbons are formed in the Earth's mantle due to synthesis from carbon and hydrogen against a background of enormous pressures and high temperatures. If this is indeed the case, it is indeed quite realistic to discover deep deposits in infrastructurally developed areas.
"A detailed analysis of oils from Western Siberian fields and peculiarities of changes in their properties as they get closer to the deep structures of the Earth's crust will make it possible to reveal fundamental regularities of the influence of deep substance and energy flows on formation of hydrocarbon deposits," says Yuri Nefyodov, deputy head of the Department of Oil and Gas Geology at the Mining University.
He is a member of the scientific group that studies samples given to the St. Petersburg university by the Tyumen Central Laboratory. This scientific organization was founded back in 1955, and now it is a part of the largest scientific-engineering company Geodata. The collection of oil and condensate samples from various fields in Western Siberia began to be created by its specialists in the mid-sixties and has always been the subject of close attention of scientists from all over the USSR and then Russia.
Recently, however, the material has been in less and less demand. Including the Ministry of Natural Resources, which has practically stopped scientific and thematic work in this direction. In connection with such a state of affairs, in February of this year the management of the enterprise decided to transfer the collection to "one of the leading educational and scientific institutions of the country", which has all the necessary equipment for profile research.
"This is a unique scientific material, which will allow us to make a big step forward in solving a number of complex scientific problems, to obtain new fundamental and applied knowledge. For example, by studying the change of oil properties from field to field, we can understand the direction of its migration. And to draw conclusions about the possibility of finding deep deposits of fossil fuels in specific geographical locations in order to significantly reduce the risks associated with the need for huge investments in their prospecting and exploration, "- explained Yury Nefyodov.
Scientists from St. Petersburg Mining University are going to extract maximum useful information from each sample. To do this, they plan to conduct their X-ray fluorescence analysis, infrared spectroscopy, and a number of other important studies. In particular, gas-liquid chromatography, which will be carried out in the laboratories of the youngest of the university's six scientific centers called Earth Sciences. It is its task to create a new structure of mineral reserves in our country, including by searching for deep oil.
Another priority of the Center is to create a unified nationwide geological database, which will greatly facilitate the work of exploration companies and allow them to focus on the most promising areas. Today, paradoxically enough, information about subsoil exists in fragmented form. Often it is not even digitized and gathering dust on shelves somewhere, because it was obtained back in the eighties. The new collection given to the university will make a major contribution to the creation of a unified registry.
"The main task of our division is to integrate science into geological exploration production, including through the creation and implementation of new technologies and techniques in the field geophysics areas. We are also aimed at development and popularization of new ideas about the processes of formation of mineral deposits and development of new methods of their detection, including deep oil in the basement and lower horizons of the sedimentary cover. No less important is the training of highly qualified geologists within the walls of the Mining University. Today these are no longer bearded men with picks in their hands and backpacks behind their backs, but specialists who use expensive high-tech and science-intensive equipment in their work. Their job is not only to obtain geophysical information, but also to interpret it correctly. This requires the highest level of competence", says Oleg Adamovich, Director of the Research Center of Geosciences about the Earth.
The doors of the Center's laboratories are open both to its staff scientists and their colleagues from specialized departments, as well as graduate and undergraduate students with similar scientific interests. This is essential for their involvement in research activities and the development of human resources.
There is no doubt that the consumption of oil, which today is the most sought-after commodity in the world, will continue to grow for many years to come, but even after it has passed its peak, the demand for it will continue to be very high. At the same time, the current proven reserves lying in the Russian subsoil are only enough for a quarter of a century. And if no urgent measures are taken to replenish the domestic raw material base, our country may well turn from an oil exporter into an oil importer. The search for deep deposits of hydrocarbons is one of the most rational ways to avoid such a pessimistic scenario.