EU project aims to revolutionise oil extraction

Published: 7 February 2014 at 12:53

Anglia Ruskin scientists involved in programme to improve efficiency by 25%

A groundbreaking project to improve the efficiency of worldwide oil extraction – potentially worth billions of pounds every year – is being showcased at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford on Tuesday, 11 February.

The EU-funded REVersible Inflow control VALve (REVIVAL) programme aims to increase the rate of oil recovery from wells by as much as 25%. 

Currently only 32% of worldwide oil reserves are extracted due to problems with water and gas seeping into wells.  The REVIVAL project is testing a newly-designed Autonomous Inflow Control Valve (AICV) that immediately shuts off production at points where water and gas break through, but allows oil production to continue from other zones along the well.

The AICV works thanks to the difference in viscosity of oil, water and gas.  The presence of water or gas leads to a lower change in pressure, which automatically closes the valve. 

The valve is entirely self-regulating and does not require any type of control, electronics or connection to the surface.  It also removes the risk, cost and requirement for separation, transportation and handling of unwanted fluids.

Anglia Ruskin is leading one of three teams working on the REVIVAL project and will host a meeting of other collaborators – a combination of companies and academics from the UK, Germany, Sweden, and Norway – on the Chelmsford campus on 11 February.

Scientists from Anglia Ruskin’s Engineering & Built Environment department – which runs Degree and Masters courses in Mechanical Engineering – are focusing on Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to gain a better understanding of the flow phenomena, as well as design optimisation and calibration. 

Anglia Ruskin is also contributing to the laboratory work being conducted by Norwegian company InflowControl AS, the inventor of the AICV valve, at the Statoil facilities in Norway.

Initial testing by Statoil has shown a 20% increase in oil recovery rate, and the aim is to increase this to 25%.  Just a 1% improvement in efficiency to Norway’s North Sea oil fields would be worth 40 billion euros.  From a global perspective, a 5% increase in recovery efficiency would yield as much oil as is expected from all future exploration efforts.

Hassan Shirvani, Professor of Engineering Design and Simulation at Anglia Ruskin, said:

“It is inevitable that at some point during the oil extraction process, water and gas will enter the well recovery pipe.  This means that rather than oil, a toxic cocktail will come to the surface and will need to be treated and disposed of.  The carbon footprint of such processes is huge.
“Our technology will close the valve as soon as water or gas is detected and will remain closed until oil returns to that area of the pipe.  Therefore the well will produce more oil and far fewer harmful chemicals than is currently the case.”

For further information, please visit  A short video of the process is available at