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Plasma produces oil: RUDN PhD student talks about a new method of oil production

Plasma produces oil: RUDN PhD student talks about a new method of oil production

Production of oil and gas by traditional means is becoming outdated. New environmentally friendly technologies are emerging, allowing not only to increase the profitability of the oil and gas complex, but also to preserve nature. Timofey Mazurchuk, a PhD student of the Faculty of Economics and a member of the International Academy of Technological Sciences, told us about the prospects of the oil and gas industry, the technology of plasma-pulse stimulation and student science at the RUDN.

How did an economics student start to study oil production technology?

This topic became interesting to me thanks to my research supervisor, Maxim Vasilievich Chernyaev, and together we began research in this area: we closely linked the technological base of the oil and gas complex and economics. The oil and gas complex is the biggest contributor to Russia’s budget and is a highly sought-after industry in the world. Producing oil or gas by traditional means is not profitable, and intensifying production is closely linked to the economy, because the question arises: "Can we make money?

The traditional method of extracting oil is drilling. In an ideal situation, we see a picture like in old American cartoons: oil is gushing from the well, but this has not happened for many decades, and in our country, it has almost never happened. Light oil is almost over, there are hard-to-recover reserves, more than 75% of them — huge reserves that will last for hundreds of years, but very hard to get. This raises the question of the cost of oil: either it has to cost more money to make this technology pay for itself or we have to come up with something new.

The world does not stand still. Could you tell us about new technologies in the industry?

I agree. Our scientists came up with a completely new technology, plasma-pulse stimulation. It appeared in the mid-2000s, and I was lucky enough to talk to the people who patented it. It is now being actively implemented at oil, gas and even coal fields to intensify production.

What is the special feature of this technology?

Under high temperature, the plasma beams are exposed to the formation, and the charge is delivered deep into the mine. This is practically harmless to the environment and provokes the processes of pushing out oil, gas. It is worth pointing out the fact that after oil and gas extraction, the earth takes decades to recover, but the plasma impact reduces this time by several times.

There are three main applications for the method — oil, gas and coal. In the latter, the technology is used to improve safety in mines. In Russia, this aspect is not as pressing, but in China, on the other hand, there has been a crazy increase in coal production. At the same time, mining technology is considered outdated. In this case, the plasma-pulse method can remove unnecessary gas from the mine, making the miners’ work safer.

The technology has entered the global market; can you name the countries where it is used?

Yes, of course. China, Saudi Arabia, the US, Germany.

Are there any downsides?

There are disadvantages. It is quite difficult to promote this technology on the market: we are used to producing with traditional methods, hydraulic fracturing, chemical engineering, contracts have been signed for decades ahead. We have to work with small and medium-sized businesses, in test variants. The paradox is that it is easier to promote this technology on the international market than in Russia.

Can you give some advice to those who are just starting out in science?

Start as early as possible! As the chairman of the Students’ scientific society of the Faculty of Economics, I try to explain to students the importance of taking their first steps in science right from their first year of study.

The earlier you start, the more achievements you will have, such as scientific publications. They will not only allow you to move on to the next step in your studies, but also to get enough knowledge to participate in the scholarship competitions: The Vladimir Potanin Charitable Foundation, Presidential and Government Scholarships: Russian Presidential Scholarship. In the future, you will become a cool specialist who, after university, will be able to enter the labor market and will have sufficient expertise in a particular field to be in demand.

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