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Enhanced Oil Recovery

According to the International Energy Agency, enhanced oil recovery could unlock 300 billion barrels of oil. Indeed 70% of oil resources are left behind by conventional methods and require secondary and tertiary methods of extraction.  To date, chemically enhanced oil recovery, EOR, represents the most promising solution.

It has long been known that mobilizing residual oil requires an interfacial tension sufficiently low to produce capillary forces large enough to allow the oil to flow.  Lowering the interfacial tension can be brought about by injecting various surfactant compounds, and many characteristics of the well have to be considered.  Surfactants of many types have been studied and the best candidates for a particular well can vary.  The surfactant should have low retention in the well environment and exhibit compatibility with dissolved solids and electrolytes (salinity), sufficient thermal stability and favorable economics (low cost).  Mixtures of surfactants have also been studied, as well as various solvents for injection to produce microemulsions to enhance performance in a surfactant flood.

During our 50 plus years of leadership in surfactant technologies and processes, Chemithon has partnered with oil and surfactant companies to perfect and target extraction grade surfactant products and processes. Much of this work has been conducted in Chemithon Sulfonation Pilot Plants and performed under confidentiality and joint development agreements.  We offer a full range of technical support for oil producers developing proprietary surfactants for EOR applications, and can lead this process from pilot plant to commercial scale.

Chemithon continues to perfect processes for sulfonation and sulfation for a wide variety of organic feedstocks, including alkylbenzenes (linear and branched), fatty alcohols, ethoxylated and propoxylated fatty alcohols, alpha olefins, internal olefins, fatty acid alkylesters, crude oil and lignin-based feedstocks and many others.  We have developed sulfonation technologies particularly well suited for use in these processes, including various air-SO3 sulfonation reactors and neutralization systems.  Chemithon has also teamed with customers who required field trial quantities of proprietary surfactants.

The Chemithon Engineering group has developed commercial sulfonation plant designs uniquely adapted for EOR.  These largely “mobile” designs are easily  transported, set up and relocated on demand.  Chemithon also provides vast experience in very large scale plants.  The Chemithon Corporation has the facilities and capabilities to provide a full range of technical support to develop proprietary surfactants for EOR applications and can take this process technology from the pilot plant to full commercial scale.  Chemithon sulfonation pilot plant facilities are available for research and development projects to study new proprietary surfactants for EOR, and can produce quantities of surfactants for small test floods.

For More Information:

Hal Busick
Manager of Sales










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