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Page added on March 23, 2017

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The world’s deepest oil well is over 40,000 feet deep

Production

In the world’s deepest gold mine, workers will venture 2.5 miles (4 km) below the Earth’s surface to extract from a 30-inch (0.8m) wide vein of gold-rich ore.

While these depths are impressive, mining is limited by the frailty of the human body. Going much deeper would be incredibly dangerous, as limitations such as heat, humidity, logistics, and potential seismic activity all become more intense.

Luckily, the oil industry does not have such human obstacles, and drilling deep into the Earth’s crust is instead limited by a different set of circumstances – how deep can the machinery and technology go before the unfathomable heat and pressure renders it inoperable?

The world’s deepest oil well

Today’s infographic comes to us fromFuel Fighter, and it helps to visualize the mind-boggling depths of the world’s deepest oil well, which is located in a remote corner of eastern Russia.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

The world’s deepest oil well, known as Z-44 Chayvo, goes over 40,000 ft (12 km) into the ground – equal to 15 Burj Khalifas (the tallest skyscraper) stacked on top of each other. That’s also equal to 2x the record height for air balloon flight.

Perhaps more importantly to the operator, Exxon Neftegas Ltd., the wells on this shelf are expected to produce a total of 2.3 billion barrels of oil.

That’s some serious depth

Before the Z-44 Chayvo Well and other holes like it were drilled on the eastern side of Russia, the famous Kola Superdeep Borehole held the record for drill depth.

Located in western Russia, this time just 10 km from the border with Norway, the Kola Superdeep Borehole was rumored to have been discontinued in 1992 because it actually reached “hell” itself. At its most extreme depth, the drill had pierced a super-hot cavity, and scientists thought they heard the screams of “damned souls”.

All folklore aside, the Kola Superdeep Borehole is super interesting in its own right. It revealed many important things about our planet, and it still holds the record today for depth below the surface.

Get the latest Oil WTI price here.

Business Insider



17 Comments on "The world’s deepest oil well is over 40,000 feet deep"

  1. Cloggie on Fri, 24th Mar 2017 1:53 am 

    Remember folks: oil may be found 13 km deep but oil that’s of biotic origin! Rotten dinosaurs, honest!

    Seriously, the Russians were right all along, oil is obviously of abiotic nature. Or at least, ALSO of abiotic nature.

  2. makati1 on Fri, 24th Mar 2017 2:55 am 

    Who needs oil…

    https://sg.news.yahoo.com/amazing-vehicles-surprisingly-made-filipinos-080759308.html

  3. Go Speed Racer on Fri, 24th Mar 2017 3:11 am 

    Wow. I wonder if Rockman can help explain this. Seems like maybe they can’t make money drilling that far. Or the bore will plug up.

    What if the pressure quits, how the heck would the oil be lifted up a boreshaft that long.

    The energy losses must be significant, a lot of the energy of the oil would be used up, just to pump it to the surface. 10% ??

  4. Cloggie on Fri, 24th Mar 2017 3:18 am 

    Drilling is so 19-20th century. You can make holes of 2 miles deep by repeatedly shooting bullets into the soil at a speed of up to 8 miles/sec, speeding up the time of making a hole with a factor ten.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3173966/Forget-drills-Shell-wants-use-GUNS-Firm-backs-plans-fire-giant-bullets-ground-reach-geothermal-energy.html

  5. brough on Fri, 24th Mar 2017 4:39 am 

    Racer.
    There is no problem with pumping. At 40km below the earths surface the temperature is about 1000degC. Almost any petroleum product at that temperture suddenly exposed to atmospheric pressures would become instant vapour. Presenting a whole new set of technical problems at the well-head. As an oil chemist I would be interested in any bore samples obtained from that depth. After millions of years under those pressures and tempertures it may be oil, but not as we know it.

  6. brough on Fri, 24th Mar 2017 4:41 am 

    Like you racer, I’m interested in anything Rockman as to offer.

  7. Nony on Fri, 24th Mar 2017 5:23 am 

    Oil is biotic in origin (biomarkers are present). Believing in abiotic oil is the cornie equivalent of some of the more silly peaker conspiracy delusions. Most oil and gas comes from periods older than the dinosaurs and is formed from sediments of ocean based microorganisms, not land animals, not dinosaurs, not even freshwater organisms. This is just science.

  8. brough on Fri, 24th Mar 2017 5:43 am 

    Apology!

    Just realised it 12km, not 40km.
    At 25degC/km earth temp/depth gradient, that makes it 300degC not 1000degC.
    Still dammed hot for those well-head operatives and most petroleum product are vapour.

  9. Davy on Fri, 24th Mar 2017 5:52 am 

    Thanks, Nony that is what I was taught and what is reasonable for anyone who has a science background.

  10. Cloggie on Fri, 24th Mar 2017 6:24 am 

    Indeed what we were all taught.

    Interesting though that our resident oil professional Rockman happens to be a abiotic oil supporter. And here is somebody who actually knows what he is talking about for a change.lol

  11. Revi on Fri, 24th Mar 2017 8:04 am 

    I thought the “oil window” was only up to around 20,000 feet down there, but I guess I was wrong…

  12. Revi on Fri, 24th Mar 2017 8:06 am 

    The oil window is a temperature dependant interval in the subsurface where oil is generated and expelled from the source rocks. The oil window is often found in the 60-120 degree Celsius interval (aprox. 2-4 km depth), while the corresponding gas window is found in the 100-200+ degree Celsius interval (3-6 km depth)

    From: http://oilandgasgeology.com

  13. Midnight Oil on Fri, 24th Mar 2017 8:27 am 

    Man, the Russian know how, wonder how many souls were sacrificed to dig this one?
    Did Putin open up the Gulags? Hey, happiness is positive cash flow, even if it’s 40000 ft below.

  14. rockman on Fri, 24th Mar 2017 9:27 am 

    “What if the pressure quits, how the heck would the oil be lifted up a boreshaft that long.” OK…a variety of aspects about deep drilling. The critical metric is temperature. Limits of the stability of drilling fluids is the key. An example: a very deep prospect (search McMoRan Davey Jones) off the LA. coast. To make the mud weight high enough (like 18#/gallon) a ground up mineral (barite) is added. But the first well drilled ($150 million?) plugged up: the barite melted into solid metal barrier. The other big problem is getting cement to set under such condition along with the down hole equipment which use a variety of seals that can fail under high temp.

    Now what about the thermal stability of oil. Yes, there is an “oil window”. Not depth determined per se but temperature controlled. But typically the ” oil window” focuses on the generation of oil and not stability at depth:

    “The organic material in source rocks is transformed into oil at temperatures between 65°C and 150°C. These temperatures are reached at depths between about 2000 and 5500 m. Deeper into the ground the temperature is higher than 150°C. At these temperatures the oil is irreversibly converted into natural gas and graphite. The range of depths between 2000 and 5500 m is called the oil window. Only natural gas can be found below this window. Other important conditions for oil generation are pressure and time. Chemical reactions run faster at higher temperatures. At lower temperatures, or smaller depths, the oil may take millions of years to form. If a source rock has not been buried deep enough for a long period of time, the conventional oil does not form.”

    And then there’s a big issue of the nature of the rocks. With deeper burial the rocks can become so compressed the porosity (the voids between the grains of minerals) can be squeezed out of existence. OTOH as mentioned above high temps increase chemical activity and “secondary porosity” can be created: unstable minerals dissolve and produce pore spaces.

    As pointed out temp and pressure can vary greatly with respect to depth. The Rockman has drilled in Texas where reservoir pressure was so high the mud weight reached 17.5 ppg (#/gallon) at 4,000′. But have also drilled wells in Mississipp to 17,000′ that were “normal pressure”…10 ppg mud weight.

    But there’s light oil potential at great depths. The Rockman’s new company was formed to chase deep (15,000’+) NG along the Gulf Coast. But focused on reservoirs with high “condensate yields”: 50 to 150 bbls per 1,000 cubic feet of NG. But even with the oil value once NG prices dropped so low the program was terminated even before oil prices fell.

    BTW the Russians have chased deep holes based upon the abiotic oil theory. But regardless of an oil’s origin it doesn’t change its thermal stability: every oil has a max temp can survive. As to the Rockman teasing about all oil being abiotic: the origin of the oil has never played a factor in exploration. We hunt for where oil has ACCUMULATED. And it has to accumulate in a rock that has the ability to store the oil (the porosity), flow the oil (permeability) and low enough temp to be stable. IOW exactly how the oil was “born” plays no meaningful part of the process.

    Any other specific questions?

  15. Cloggie on Fri, 24th Mar 2017 10:17 am 

    As to the Rockman teasing about all oil being abiotic

    Nobody said ALL oil.

    the origin of the oil has never played a factor in exploration.

    That’s obvious, but you give the impression that you are dodging the interesting question: does oil of abiotic nature exist?

    I’m saying that as someone who is from a “peat-country”:

    https://deepresource.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/frisia-peat.jpg

    Peat is obviously of organic origin and from peat it is not very far to coal:

    https://www.uky.edu/KGS/coal/images/coalform.jpg

    But oil? Is it possible that the Good Lawd put oil at a depth of 13 km (I know it can’t exist as oil at those depths), skipping the rotten dinosaur episode?

    Asking the question is answering it as there is methane elsewhere in the universe that unlikely comes from dinosaurs.

    No further questions, your honor.

  16. brough on Fri, 24th Mar 2017 10:40 am 

    Many Thanks, Rockman and Revi for info. At 60 I’m still a willing student. For the first 10 years of my working life I was a lab-rat, analysing crude samples, and then deciding where around the world which refinery would be best for processing. Never knew much about the geology.

  17. rockman on Fri, 24th Mar 2017 11:15 am 

    Cloggie – “…does oil of abiotic nature exist?” Maybe some but an insignificantly small amount if I had to guess. But I’ll repeat: don’t care now and never have if all oil has an abiotic origin because that has never been an issue in the exploration process.

    But how deep could potential organic oil sources rocks be found? There really is no depth limits. For instance long the current La. coast there are rocks that could have been excellent hydrocarbon source rocks that were deposited in a swamp environment in a couiple of feet of water. But today those rocks are 60,000’+ below ground levels. What? How the f*ck could mud in a swap end up 10 miles down?

    It’s called the Gulf of Mexico Geosyncline. Search if you want thousands of pages of details. The Gulf Coast has been subsiding for many tens of millions of years. And is still doing it today. That’s why sea level would inundate S La even if there were no global sea level rise: subsidence.

    This is the primary reason the Gulf of Mexico Basin is one of the most prolific hydrocarbon rich areas of the planet: many trillions of cubic feet of potential hydrocarbon source rocks have passed thru the “hydrocarbon window” where oil/NG would have been generated. And then subsequently expelled to at accumulate in shallow reservoirs that had not been buried too deep. But if one were to drill a 60,000′ hole you could find mucho solid carbon deposits that are the remnants of oil/NG reservoirs.

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