Today, many oil substitute energy sources have been found, such as biofuels to replace petroleum which is increasingly needed. However, petroleum is still irreplaceable so that efforts to increase oil recovery are necessary to be made.
Professor of Chemical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Prof. Ir. Suryo Purwono, MA.Sc., Ph.D., said that the surfactant can enhance oil acquisition. Surfactant is able to lift residual oil in the reservoir and is able to recover up to 40% of residual oil. "Recovering oil usually leaves residue about 35-40%. Residual oil left in the reservoir can be lifted up with surfactant to increase crude oil production," he explained in Engineering Annual Seminar 2012, Thursday (16/20), in the Faculty.
Surfactant injection is one of methods in the process of increasing oil production, or which is known as Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). In this method, the surfactant is supplied to the oil wells to release trapped oil droplets in the pores of the rocks in oil wells. Surfactant works to lower interfacial tension between oil and water.
Suryo said that there are some things to consider in the process of EOR by surfactant flux. Some of which are the properties of reservoir rocks, structure, physical and chemical properties of porous media, permeability of the rocks, the mechanism of recovery, residual oil mobility, as well as the absorption process.
Suryo added that various surfactant materials are widely used and marketed, but they are generally petroleum derivatives so that when oil prices rise, the surfactant’s price will also rise. Therefore, non-petroleum based surfactant which is cheap and easily available is required, one of which is sodium lignosulphonate (SLS) from vegetable. Due to limited raw materials, it is possible to find alternative lignin from woody plants that are widely available in Indonesia, one of which is fiber and oil palm bunches. SLS is created through a process of palm oil sulfonation. "Therefore, the development of vegetable-based surfactants is very important to increase crude oil recovery," he explained.