Nanotechnology, as a field of fundamental and applied sciences, provides opportunities to control and manipulate processes at the atomic and molecular levels. This technology covers many fields of chemistry, food, electronics, energy, engineering, medicine, biotechnology and science and technology in general. There is no field or economic sector that does not use nanotechnology. The creation and application of nanotechnology is becoming increasingly normal and is determined to become the technology of the 21st century. Over the past 10 years, the global value of nanotechnology has risen from $16 billion to $76 billion. Nanomaterials contribute to the production of high-quality clothing, packaging and transportation equipment, construction materials, solid metal products, cosmetics, programmed food products, highly active biological and chemical catalysts, and drug carriers.
Since 2011, SOCAR’s Department of Science, Technology and Nanotechnology has been developing, researching and applying nanosystems to solve challenging problems in the oil and gas sector. Extraction of residual oil, prevention of sand from the reservoir, insulation of reservoir and extraneous water, elimination of salt deposition in elevator pipes and transportation systems of wells, strengthening of pipelines and application of developed nanosystems in other areas allow the oil recovery coefficient to be increased and more efficient development processes.
Since the beginning of the application, 184 nanotechnological measures have been carried out in 125 wells in the Oil and Gas Production Departments (OGPD) of Azneft PU and Operating Companies operating within the Production Sharing Division, and more than 21,000 tons of additional oil has been produced. The repair period of wells in the areas of application has been increased, the service life of well equipment and collectors has been extended, and time and oil losses due to downtime have been prevented. The economic benefit of the measures amounted to AZN 7,3 million.
In addition, in order to increase the corrosion resistance of nozzles, the Department conducted research on the use of nanoparticles, and developed experimental production facilities for the repair and rental of submersibles of Azneft PU nanostructured nozzles resistant to the effects of a more aggressive environment. These nozzles made of different diameters are successfully used in OGPD.
Moreover, for the first time in our country, a technology for the production of metal nanoparticles based on the method of electric explosion has been developed, on the basis of which the device produces Al, Cu and Fe nanoparticles in the size of 20-100 nm. Production of nanoparticles in SOCAR has reduced costs in this area and eliminated dependence on foreign sources.
In 2020, taking into account the priority of the use of carbon nanotubes successfully applied in various industries in the oil industry, the Department has developed a technology for the production of modified multilayer carbon nanotubes and a production facility. The peculiarity of the technology is that the modified multilayer carbon nanotubes are soluble in water and do not have agglomeration, which ensures its long-term stability. According to the results of the study, the use of polymer nanocomposites based on multilayer carbon nanotubes allows the oil extraction coefficient to be increased to 0.7.
With the application of nanostructured protective coating technology developed to increase the corrosion resistance of metal products, the worn parts of the electric submersible pumps released into the production wells in the OGPDs of Azneft PU were polished with a nano-coating.
In addition, the Department has developed a polypropylene fibre-based nanosystem to prevent complications in wells with complete absorption, and the results of experimental work have been characterised by efficiency.
Relationships and cooperation have been established between the Department and a number of leading universities and research centres around the world to create a new generation of nanotechnologies for the oil industry and benefit from modern world experience in this field. Memorandums of Understanding and Protocols have been signed with nanotechnology organisations in Germany, Russia, Iran, Italy, Luxembourg and Canada, and close cooperation is being established in this direction. Within the framework of mutual cooperation, joint scientific-analytical research is being carried out in the field of development and application of nanotechnologies, research on the purchase and production of nanomaterials are being carried out.
Currently, research into the development of new generation nanosystems based on super-small nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes provides a basis for further expansion of the possibilities and geography of the application of nanotechnology in the future.