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Патент USA US2112845

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April 5, 1938.
|_. G. HOV-VELL
' 2,112,845
APPARATUS FOR LOCATING HYDROCARBON DEPOSITS IN THE EARTH
Filed Dec. 2'7, 1934.
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Patented ‘Apr. 5, 1938
2,112,845
__ UNITED ‘STATES PATENT OFFICE
2,112,845
APPARATUS FOR LOCATING HYDROCAR
BON DEPOSITS IN THE EARTH
Lynn G. Howell, Houston, Tex., assig'nor to
Standard Oil Development Company, a corpo
ration of Delaware
Application December 2'7, 1934, Serial No. 759,373
1 Claim.
(o1. 166-1)
. This invention-relates to the location of deposits
vicinity of the reservoir .1 through the following
of hydrocarbon material such as petroleum oil,
natural gas or the like beneath the surface of the
ground. Deposits of petroleum oil and/or natural
gas usually occur in underground strata under
considerable pressure. The overlying formations
of the ground are permeable to the diffusion of
the hydrocarbons from the stratum‘ containing
the deposit with a result that the soil gases con
10 tain measurable amounts of ethane and sometimes
butane and propane. It has been customary in
prospecting for oil by such geophysical methods
as the seismic, gravitational, magnetic and elec
trical methods to have for an objective the ?nding
of underground structures favorable to the ac
arrangement of parts: A suction pump 23 is pro
vided with an inlet pipe 24 which opens into the
upper portion of a container 26 through a suit
able sealing means 21. Ethyl alcohol or other
cumulation of 011.
~
suitable absorbent. for hydrocarbons well known
in the art is disposed in the container 26 to a
level 29 below the inlet of the pipe 24.
Glass
beads 30 or other similar solid particles are dis
posedin the body of liquid in the container 26. 10
The conduit l2 opens into the container 25 be
low the normal level of liquid in the container.
Suction applied by the pump 23 draws the soil
gases from the reservoir 1 through the pipe i2
into the body of ethyl alcohol or the like in the 15
container 25. The soil gases bubble through the
It is an object of the present invention to ethyl alcohol whereby the hydrocarbons become
. dissolved in the solvent and are retained in the
locate oil or natural gas directly.
Other objects will be apparent from the speci
?cation and from the accompanying drawing in
which latter
Fig. 1 is a vertical sectional view through the
ground showing the apparatus in sectional view;
Fig. 2 is a transverse sectional view taken along
the line II—]I of Fig. 1; and
Fig. 3 is a vertical sectionallview through a
modi?ed form of the apparatus in operative posi
tion with respect to the ground.
Referring particularly to the drawing, refer
30 ence numerals I, I’ designate the surface of the
ground containing a bore hole 2,. The hole 2 is
preferably drilled to a depth of approximately
ll feet beneath the surface of the ground in the
territory to be investigated.‘ A tubular member
35 5 is disposed in the hole 2 with its bottom wall
6 disposed in spaced relation to the bottom of the
hole 2 to form a reservoir .1, the walls of which
constitute the earth stratum 9 in which the
hole 2 is disposed. The wall 6 of the tubular
40 member 5 is provided with an opening i I. A con
duit l2 extends into the tubular member 5 on the
surface of the earth and forms a ?uid tight joint
with the opening II. An annular collar I5 is
secured in ?uid tight relation to the upper end
of the tubular member 5 and is provided with
downwardly extending annular ?ange l6 which
protrudes into the surface of the ground I, I’
when the tubular member 5 is in position in the
hole 2 to form a seal around the tubular member
5 to prevent air from being drawn into the hole
2 from the atmosphere. An additional seal is
provided around the hole by means of plaster of
Paris or the like, which is poured around the
?anged collar l5 to form‘ a seal I8 for the hole.
Soil gases are sucked out of, the ground in the
container 26 while hydrocarbon free soil gases
are, discharged through the pipe 24. The glass 20
beads reduce the size of the bubbles passing
through the solvent thereby giving the hydro
carbons a better opportunity to dissolve in the
solvent. If desired, a syphon arrangement or any
other means for withdrawing soil gases from the
reservoir 1 can besubstltuted for the pump 23
and some of the advantages of the invention will
be retained.
‘
-
In carrying out the pumping operation accord
ing to the preferred procedure, a large amount of
soil gases is withdrawn from the ground surround
ing the reservoir 1- and is passed through the
hydrocarbon solvent; for example, approximately
400 gallons of soil gases are extracted from the
ground during a period which may constitute four
days and four nights of continuous pumping. A
partial vacuum is formed in the hole ‘I which pre
vents faster pumping.
,
The solvent containing the absorbed hydro
carbons is subjected to analysis for the primary 40
purpose of identifying and determining the per
centage of ethane in the soil gases. Soil gases
adjacent a stratum containing petroleum oil
and/or natural gas contain measurable amounts
of methane, ethane and sometimes butane and
propane. Ethane is present in the soil gases above
oil and/ or natural gas deposits in a concentration
of one part in several million parts of soil gas.
‘Also, traces only of ethane or no ethane at all
have been found in areas where tube wells have 50
been drilled to salt water and where therefore it
is reasonable to conclude there are no oil or
natural gas deposits. The end product 01' or:
ganic decay is methane. Consequently, methane
is found everywhere in varying amounts. It is 55
2
2,112,845
seentherefore that the positive identi?cation of
ethane in a gas sample obtained from the soil is
an indication of the presence of a deposit of oil‘
known in chemical laboratories. They su?er
from the serious disadvantages that rather large
samples are required and the sensitivity is low.
or natural gas below the point at which the gas
It is impossible by these methods to work_ with
sample was obtained.
an accuracy much greater than 0.1 of 1%. Thus 5
ethane must be present to the extent of one part
in about 1,000 parts of gas. Soil gas samples
rarely contain such an abundance of ethane.
The third method of analysis by means of
canal or positive rays permits of the de?nite 10
identi?cation of the different hydrocarbons in the
'
The hydrocarbons absorbed in the solvent are
therefore analyzed for hydrocarbons heavier
than methane, more particularly ethane and
possibly butane and propane. In one method of
10 analyzing the hydrocarbons the ethyl alcohol
is subjected to elevated temperatures until the
gases dissolved in the alcohol have been evapo
rated.
These gases are then cooled to about
-40° C. whereby some of 'the gases are lique?ed
15 and this liquid is drained off. The liquid is
mostly alcohol but some of the heavier hydro
carbons if present will also liquefy at this tem
perature. The remaining gases are then cooled
sample and of estimating their relative abun
dancies. In this method the gas molecules are
shot at a photographic plate by means of an
electric accelerating ?eld through crossed elec
tric and magnetic ?elds. The molecules suffer a
de?ection in both ?elds, the de?ection in the elec
tric ?eld being proportional to
of! below the boiling point of ethane (whichis
20 -90° C.). The liquid ethane is then drained oil
20
and measured.
In making a survey, the bore holes 2 may be
and in the magnetic ?eld
disposed approximately 500 to 1500 feet apart,
although greater and smaller separations mayv
25 be employed in different areas.
Reconnaissance
surveys using the greater separation of bore holes
have been found advisable. Those areas which
are found to have soils of high hydrocarbon and
especially ethane content are then worked in
30 greater detail with the bore holes closer together.
. Referring to Fig. 3, a modi?ed form of the in
vention is shown in which I, l’ designate the
surface of the ground. A tubular member 35 is
provided with an open end adapted to be forced
35 into the ground for a su?lcient distance to form
good contact all around the end of the tubular
member 35 with the ground. The upper end of
the tubular member 35 is closed as indicated at
36 forming a reservoir 31 which opens upon the
40 ground.
As shown in its ‘preferred embodiment,
the tubular member 35 has the form of a bell
jar. Preferably it has a diameter of from three to
?ve feet. A convenient method of sealing it with
respect to the ground is to rotate the tubular
45 member until it makes good contact with the
ground. Plaster of Paris or other suitable seal~
v ing means designated 39 is then poured around
the circumference of the tubular member 35 to
form a good seal to prevent the entrance of sur
50 face air into the reservoir 31. Means are pro
vided for drawing soil gases from the ground into
the reservoir 31 identical in all respects with the
- means illustrated in Fig. 1 and like reference
numerals are applied to like parts. The means
55 comprises a pump 23 having an inlet pipe 24
which opens into the upper portion of a con
tainer 26, partially ?lled with suitable solvent
or hydrocarbons such as ethyl alcohol. Glass
beads 30 or the like are disposed in the solvent.
60 A pipe l2 protrudes into the reservoir 31 at one
end and at its other end opens into the container
25 below the level of the solvent therein.
' It will beunderstood that other methods of
analyzing gas samples can be used and some of
65 the advantages of the invention will be retained.
For example, the gas samples can be subjected
to:
1. Fractional distillation by means of liquid
air.
76
QUIDWN
.211
111?
25
where
e=elementary charge
E=electric ?eld strength
m=molecular weight
H=magnetic ?eld strength
30
v=velocity of molecule
Molecules of the same molecular weight are
focused on the same spot on the photographic
plate. The resolution is very high, being about
one part in one thousand parts.
This means that 35
particles having weights of 100.0 and 100.1, re
spectively, can be separated. In the present case,
the molecular weight of methane is 16.04, of
ethane 30.06, of propane 44.08 and of butane
58.10. The relative amount of each constituent 40
of the sample is estimated from the intensities of .
the different spots or lines on the photographic
plate.
The emission or absorption spectral analysis
can also be used to detect the presence of the
hydrocarbons in the soil gases.
'
The fifth method is based on the fact that the
dielectric constants of these gases are markedly
different and that they also have different mag
netic susceptibilities. Furthermore, the dielec
tric constants increase in the order air, methane,
ethane, propane, butane, while the magnetic sus
ceptibilities decrease in the same order. It is
seen therefore that if a sample of air were placed
between the plates of a condenser and inside the
coil of an'electric oscillating system tuned to a
certain high frequency, say one or several mil
lion cycles, the frequency of the system would be
higher if methane were substituted for the air,
and progressively higher for ethane, propane and 60
butane. The circuit comprising this condenser
and coil can be caused to beat against another
crystal controlled circuit. Assuming now that
the crystal controlled circuit be caused to oscil
late at ?ve million cycles and that the ?rst cir 65
cuit be tuned to the same frequency when air
has been placed between the condenser plates
and inside of the coil, it is easy to see that the
accuracy would be as great as one part in ?ve
’
. Combustion.
million, since a beat frequency of one cycle per
. Positive, or canal, ray analysis.
second could be observed easily.
. Spectral analysis.
the substitution of the soil gas sample for the
. High frequency analysis.
. Magneto-optic method.
If, therefore,
air would change the frequency of the circuit by
Allison.
The ?rst two methods mentioned above are well
15
one cycle, the change could be observed. It is
known also that the ratio of methane to ethane
3
2,1 12,845
1
part in one hundred billion parts. Since ethane
in natural gas is about eight to one. The appa
ratus can therefore be calibrated with samples
known to contain certain amounts of methane
is‘ present in the soil gases over deposits of oil
and/or natural gas in greater concentrations, it
and ethane.
is seen that the magneto-optic method is amply
'
Another highly desirable method is the mag
net0—optic due to F. Allison. It is possible to de
sensitive for its positive identi?cation.
Various-changes may be made within the scope
tect one part in one hundred billion by means of
this arrangement. The method which is de
claim all novelty inherent in the invention as
scribed in the literature, for instance in Physi
broadly as the prior art permits.
10 cal Review, volume 30, page 66, 1927, volume 31‘,
page 313, 1928, and volume 35 page 124, 1930,
and elsewhere, is based on the time lag differ
ences of the Faraday e?ect behind the magnetic
field in liquids as a function of the chemical com
15 pounds dissolved in the liquid. The soil gases
of the appended claims in which it is desired to
I claim:
10
In gas extraction apparatus, a tubular mem—
ber ?lling the bore of a hole in the surface soil
of the earth and having a wall extending across
its lower end, a tubular casing surrounding the
member having a downwardly extending open 15
are passed through alcohol. '.'I'he hydrocarbons
are soluble in the alcohol while oxygen and ni
end embedded in the earth and a closed end co
trogen are insoluble. The alcohol solution con
taining the dissolved hydrocarbons is then ana
the member in the bore, and a conduit opening
through the wall and adapted to be connected to
20 lyzed.
Each chemical compound produces a
characteristic minimum of light intensity at a
certain length of light path. These minima dis
appear when the concentration is less than one
operating with the tubular member for sealing
a source of suction whereby soil gases can be
drawn into the conduit.
LYNN G. HOWELL.
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