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Research & Development: Providing a Stable Supply of Energy

Efficient Use of Energy Resources

Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR)
EOR with carbon dioxide
Enhanced oil recovery utilizing carbon dioxide (CO2) is a process for improving crude oil recovery by injecting CO2 into oil fields. The technology has also received attention in recent years for its ability to help suppress greenhouse gas emissions. We have already had success with this technology at the Kubiki oil field in Niigata, Japan, and we will continue to develop related technologies to use in other domestic and overseas operations.
Air Injection
Air injection is believed to be a highly cost effective flooding method even for light oil. In this area, we are conducting research on the combustibility of crude oils, while studying applications for proven oil fields.
Technologies for Use of Natural Gas (Hydrogen-Use Technologies)
Gas-to-liquids (GTL) is a process to chemically convert natural gasses such as methane into liquid fuels such as light oil, dimethyl ether and methanol.
We have been conducting catalyst development for GTL technologies, which have gained attention as a means of developing stranded natural gas fields. In addition, we have joined the Nippon GTL Technology Research Association, and are working toward the development of a Japan-original GTL technology.
Dimethyl ether (DME) is gaseous ether synthesized as a fuel from natural gas or other resources. Similar to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in its properties, DME has gained attention as a clean fuel, as it does not emit toxins such as soot or sulfur oxide (SOX).
As with GTL, DME has also attracted attention as a means of developing stranded natural gas fields. We were a consortium member of the private research company DME Development Co., Ltd., and are working toward the development of a Japan-original DME technology.
Technologies for Use of Natural Gas (Transport and Storage Technologies)
Natural gas hydrate (NGH) is a form of natural gas trapped in water molecules that exists in a solid crystalline structure. It contains 170 times as much as its volume of natural gas and can preserve itself well at negative 20° Celsius and at atmospheric pressure. NGH is expected to be a very safe, cost effective and environmentally friendly new medium for the transport and storage of natural gas. Converting natural gas to NGH also appears to be a promising technology for development of small-to-medium scale natural gas fields. We are collaborating with the other companies in the consortium on the development of NGH technologies.
Underground Gas Storage
Since 1969, we have used a depleted gas field in Japan for underground storage of natural gas, as means of peak shaving and stockpiling. Underground gas storage has become increasingly important with recent growth in demand of natural gas. We are conducting R&D in related technologies for further efficiency gains.
Combustion of artificially manufactured
NGH pellets (combustible ice)
Produced Water Treatment Technology
Ceramic Membrane Produced Water Treatment System
INPEX is currently studying the capabilities of METAWATER’s ceramic membrane filtration system in produced water treatment technology through a joint, small-scale demonstration test with JOGMEC, METAWATER Co., Ltd. and Chiyoda Corporation at the Yabase Oil Field in Akita Prefecture, where the company is engaged in oil production as operator.

Developing New Kinds of Resources

Development of Heavy Oil
Development of heavy oil
Aiming for cost effective development of heavy oil, a plentiful resource, we are surveying and researching recovery technologies and upgradingtechnologies for converting heavy oil into light oil. We are investigating a simple method for implementation of upgrading technologies at well sites.
On-site technology for upgrading heavy oil
Heavy oil is usually pumped remotely then shipped to a central plant for upgrading. But enabling on-site upgrading would lead to all-around cost savings. We are engaged in joint research on upgrade of heavy oil using supercritical water, a technology which is believed to be suitable for on-site upgrading.
Thermal recovery technology
We are working on applications for steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) for use in heavy oil fields. This method holds promise as a technology for recovery of heavy oil from oil sands and other “nonconventional” heavy oil fields.
Tight Gas Development
Tight gas development
We are investigating applications for tight gas development of fracturing technologies that we have used at locations including the Minami-Nagaoka gas field.
Methane Hydrate
Methane hydrate
Large-scale methane hydrate reserves may exist in Japan. Recently, Research Consortium for Methane Hydrate Resources in Japan (abbreviated title: MH21 Research Consortium) based on the basic plan by examination committee of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Agency of Natural Resources and Energy) is pushing forward that R&D as phase 1.

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