M. Rafiqul Islam
Emertec Research and Development Ltd, Canada
Hydrocarbons and their transformations play major roles in sustaining today’s civilization. Petroleum fluids are essential for providing chemical and energy sectors with raw materials that are needed for practically all aspects of modern living ranging from transportation to health and medicine. After water, crude oil is the most abundant naturally occurring fluid on earth. However, the modern era has few direct applications of crude oil and practically none of the produced petroleum is processed, either through refining or gas processing, prior to final use. Unfortunately, all modern techniques for refining are also known to be inherently damaging to the environment. In the information age, environmental sustainability has become the most important concern and there is a growing urge to find either an alternative to petroleum fluids or any technology that ‘minimizes’ the environmental impact. While some progress has been made in developing alternate energy sources, few, if any, present a truly sustainable option. More importantly, no realistic alternate source, sustainable or otherwise, for millions of tons of chemical raw materials for the chemical/medical industries has been suggested. In this regard, basement reservoirs, as well as unconventional formations, offer an unprecedented opportunity. However, the true benefit of the petroleum fluids produced from these resources cannot be appreciated without the thorough scientific understanding of their nature. This keynote speech presents a scientific investigation into the nature of basement and unconventional rocks, the origin of the petroleum that impregnates these rocks and how to properly characterize the behavior of these rock/fluid systems. It is shown with clarity that these fluids are amenable to sustainable petroleum usage and with careful management skills they can become the hallmark of a sustainable source of both energy and chemical raw materials. This paper explains the fundamental features of the hydrocarbons in the basement and unconventional formations, geological aspects of fractures and types of fractures, and a novel reservoir characterization technique. Two dominant theories of the origin of basement fluids are presented and arguments made in supporting the validity of these theories within a specific domain. A guideline for scientific characterization is presented in order to determine the ranking of petroleum fluids. The characterization gives one a unique tool for suitable application of the petroleum fluids based on their inherent qualities. Overall, this paper shows that the petroleum resources are indeed infinity if used in a sustainable manner.