Oil Recovery

This application area is very large with abundant references and resources. Identification of all the references is clearly beyond the capacity of this web page, or probably any web page, but leading documents and references can be identified.


The first patent reference pertaining to the use of foam for bore hole drilling was filed in 1955 and issued in 1964. The emphasis of this patent is chip removal mainly during water well drilling, and the technology is currently practiced:

A very comprehensive book on the subject of foams has been written: "Foams — Fundamentals and Applications in the Petroleum Industry," edited by Dr. Laurier L. Schramm, published by the American Chemical Society, ISBN 0-8412-2719-5. This book is part of the ACS Advances in Chemistry Series (#242).

Dr. Schramm wrote during his tenure at the Petroleum Recovery Institute in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is now located at the Saskatchewan Research Council and can be contacted by email.

A few of Dr. Schramm's more recent publication are listed here for convenience.

  • "The Temperature Dependence of the Critical Micelle Concentrations of Foam-Forming Surfactants"
    J. Colloid & Interface Sci.,178, 324-333 (1996)
  • "A Dynamic Foam Method for the Estimation of Critical Micelle Concentrations at Elevated Temperatures and Pressures"
    J. Petroleum Science and Engineering, 15, 91-100 (1996)
  • "The Effect of Wettability on Foam Sensitivity to Crude Oil in Porous Media"
    J. Petroleum Science and Engineering, 15, 101-113 (1996)
  • "Core Flood Evaluation of Hydrocarbon Solvent Foams"
    J. Petroleum Science and Engineering, 14, 183-195 (1996)

Dr. Schramm's patents on this subject include the following:

  • Schramm, L., U.S. Patent 5,060,727, October 29, 1991
    Method for Improving Enhanced Recovery of Oil Using Surfactant Stabilized Foams
  • Schramm, L., U.S. Patent 5,301,539, April 12, 1994
    Method for Improving Enhanced Recovery of Oil Using Surfactant Stabilized Foams
  • Schramm, L., U.S. Patent 5,394,740, March 7, 1995
    Captive Droplet Interfacial Tensiometer and Methods of Use Thereof


Another tremendous reference source is the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) located in Richardson, Texas. Many of the references in Dr. Schramm's book are SPE papers which can be obtained directly from SPE, via their order desk. Using the SPE search routine on the keyword "foam" generated 191 SPE references, as an example of the abundant literature on this subject.

In addition to the Petroleum Recovery Institute in Calgary, Alberta, there are other university research facilities working on oil field related foam technologies.

The New Mexico Petroleum Recovery Research Center is part of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. They publish a biannual newsletter and maintain a library of their own publications. John P. Heller, one of the Senior Scientists at the Center, was an author of "Carbon Dioxide Foams in Enhanced Oil Recovery," one of the chapters in Dr. Schramm's book.


The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, NPD, Stavanger, Norway has completed and reported on an extensive "Improved Oil Recovery" program conducted between 1992-1995. The program was called RUTH, shorthand for Reservoir Utilization through advanced Technological Help. General information about the program, obtained from the web site follows, along with contact information. No email addresses are available.

RUTH was, through 1992–1995, the national Norwegian program on improved oil recovery (IOR). It was organized by the Research Council of Norway and was carried out by a cooperation between the Research Council, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), the oil industry and Norwegian research organizations. NPD was responsible for program management and administration. There were 18 oil companies actively participating and sponsoring the program together with the Research Council of Norway. There were 32 projects performed at a total cost of 106 million NOK.

The main executing research institutes were IKU Petroleum Research in Trondheim and RF-Rogaland Research in Stavanger. However, cooperation with several other research organizations, in and outside of Norway, was established.

RUTH has, during the program period, contributed actively to the introduction of three new methods on the Norwegian continental shelf: WAG, Foam and Gel. Cooperation with field operators was established for evaluation of actual pilot projects or pilot candidates on these methods.

The program also included long term research and has developed Norwegian expertise with an international recognition. About 70 papers have been presented at international conferences or in technical journals.

The main results from the program has been summarized in a 450 page hard cover book: RUTH — A Norwegian Research Program on Improved Oil Recovery. Program Summary. You can select to read parts of the book here, including the abstract of each paper.

Contact person for the RUTH program is:

Leif Hinderaker (Program Manager)
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate
Phone: +47 51 87 63 35; Fax: +47 51 55 15 71

IKU Petroleum Research has a bibliography of oil recovery technology foam related papers listed under the subheading of reservoir technology. IKU can be contacted at:

K.T. Roderburg, Chairman
David Lysne, President
IKU Petroleum Research
Postal address:N-7034 Trondheim, NORWAY
Location: S.P. Andersens vei 15B
Phone: +47 73 59 11 00; Fax: +47 73 59 11 02

The Head of Research for RF-Rogaland Research is Dr. Jan Erik Hanssen and he can be contacted at:

Dr. J.E. Hanssen, Head of Research
Well Productivity R&D, RF-Rogaland Research, Petroleum Technology
Postal address: PO Box 2503, Ullandhaug, N-4091 Stavanger, NORWAY
Location: Professor Olav Hanssens vei, N-4020 Stavanger, NORWAY
Email: office, jeh@rf.no, all others, janerik@sprintmail.com
Phone: office, +47-51875095, all others, +47-95873150; Fax: office, +47-51875200

Several of his recent publications are:

  • "GOR-Control Foams: Demonstration of Oil-based Foam Process Efficiency in a Physical Flow Model"
    Paper SPE 50755, SPE Oil-Field Chemistry Symposium, Houston, TX, February, 1999
  • "Thin-Film Forces in Hydrocarbon Foam Films and Their Application to Gas-Blocking Foams In Enhanced Oil Recovery"
    Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochem. Engr. Aspects, 85: 1997
  • "Enhanced Foams for Efficient Gas Influx Control"
    Paper SPE 37217, SPE International Symposium on Oilfield Chemistry, Houston, TX, February, 1997
  • "SAGA Injection: A New Combination Process for Oil recovery from Stratified Reservoirs"
    Paper at 7th European Symposium on Improved Oil Recovery, Moscow 1993

Other Patents

Other patents from the oil sector include steam foam surfactants, conventional surfactants, and a device to evaluate foam flow in porous media:

  • Roszelle, W.O., U.S. Patent 3,599,715, August 17, 1971
    Use of Surfactant Foam for Recovery of Petroleum
  • Djabbarah, N.F., U.S. Patent 4,589,276, May 20, 1986
    Method and Apparatus for Determining Effectiveness of Foamant in Porous Media
  • Dilgren, R.E., U.S. Patent 4,601,336, July 22, 1986
    Process for Selecting a Steam Foam Forming Surfactant