DailyTech reports researchers are experimenting with a new technology that could potentially add many more years of oil supply. The method works by injecting hundreds of millions of tiny carbon clusters deep into underground oil reserves, these nanoreporters will tell oil producers the temperature, pressure, and which substance they come across, and should boost the amount of oil that can be recovered from oil fields.
Even a relatively small increase in the amount of oil that can be extracted from current oil fields -- if the companies could get 50% of the oil out of the ground rather than the 35% -- would double the global oil reserves of 1.2 trillion barrels. Researchers point out that it could take a few decades to reach the 50% number, but even smaller increases will alter the oil debate. Aramco's head of reservoir management Nansen Saleri says that even upping the amount of oil taken from reservoirs by 10 to 15% will add an additional 50-year supply of oil at our current consumption rate.
The tiny nanoreporters would be pumped into the reservoir and would have bar codes that tell how long they have been in the ground. The molecular makeup would change to signal whether they came in contact with petroleum, hydrogen sulfide, and other substances. The bar codes are important because they will allow drillers to tell how deep oil is in a reservoir. If for instance nanoreporters underground for 3 months find nothing but water while those in the reservoir for 9 months find oil, drillers know the oil is deeper.