Squeezing The Last Drop Of Oil
[M]ost oil wells still have a fair amount of life in them. That's because it's relatively easy to extract the first 20% or 30% of a field's capacity. After that it becomes progressively more difficult and expensive to tap the remaining reserves. "That's why for every barrel we produce, there are two more in the ground," says Jeff Johnson, founder and CEO of Fort Worth (Tex.)-based Cano Petroleum (CFW).Cano has a half-dozen oil wells in Texas and Oklahoma, and while they haven't yet shown a profit, their stock price has doubled recently. I better stop now, I sound like some of the spam I've been getting lately.
Johnson, 41, a former finance executive, is betting that he can make a fortune extracting those stubborn reserves buried beneath the plains of Texas and Oklahoma. Oil is traditionally pumped by flooding wells with water. When the pressure reaches a certain point, the oil comes rushing to the surface and pours out of the well. As the field becomes depleted, the pressure created isn't sufficient to force the oil from the ground. So Johnson is using a form of high-tech detergent that loosens the oil, much as soap loosens oil from a cooking pan.