US2484063A - Electric heater for subsurface materials - Google Patents

Electric heater for subsurface materials Download PDF

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US2484063A
US2484063A US55021044A US2484063A US 2484063 A US2484063 A US 2484063A US 55021044 A US55021044 A US 55021044A US 2484063 A US2484063 A US 2484063A
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means
sub
surface
inner
material
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Charles S Ackley
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Thermactor Corp
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    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E21EARTH DRILLING; MINING
    • E21BEARTH DRILLING, e.g. DEEP DRILLING; OBTAINING OIL, GAS, WATER, SOLUBLE OR MELTABLE MATERIALS OR A SLURRY OF MINERALS FROM WELLS
    • E21B36/00Heating, cooling, insulating arrangements for boreholes or wells, e.g. for use in permafrost zones
    • E21B36/04Heating, cooling, insulating arrangements for boreholes or wells, e.g. for use in permafrost zones using electrical heaters

Description

Oct, l, 1949. c. s. ACKLEY ELECTRIC HEATER FOR SUBSURFACE MATERIALS 2 sheets-snaai 1 Filed Aug. 19, 1944 2 all.

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C. S. ACKLEY ELECTRIC HEATER FOR SUBSURFACE MATERIALS nrw!! llJlillllllwwlll 1,

oct. 11, 1949.

Filed Aug. 19, 1944 Patented Oct. 11, 1949 ELECTRIC HEATER FOR SUBSURFACE.

' MATERIALS Charles S. icldey, New York, N. Y., assignor to Thermactor Corporation, New York, N. Y., a corporation of Delaware l Application August 19, 1944, Serial No. 550,210

2 Claims. 1 The invention relates to heat treatingrof subsurface materials.

Pursuant to the invention, sub-surface materials are raised in temperatures in elevation of that of the earth by the employment of` ref" motely controlled electrical heating means. In general, the improved sub-surface electricalheating means comprises outer tubular means, inner tubular means of high thermal conductivity, elecfor the purposes of initiating tapping of deposits of crude oil, gas formations, and the like.

The invention is applicable :in connection or in association with inventions set forth and claimed in my U. S. Patents No. 2,232,898, dated February 25, 1941, entitled Method of solidifying porous earth materials, and No. 2,235,695, dated March 18, 194,1, entitled Method of rendering earth materials solid, pursuant to which sulphur or other trical heating. means insulatingly surrounding l0 suitable material is supplied to any desired subsuch second-named, i. e., innertubular means, surface zone of the earth to form with the submeans mechanically' spacially interconnecting surface materials a solidied composite. The such outer and inner tubular means to thereby procedure of the stated patents involves usually enclose such electrical heating means within the the preliminary removal of water or moisture as annular space between the outer and inner tubuy:l5 well as the raising of the temperature of such lar means and providing a discharge opening for sub-surface materials. Such preliminary rethe inner tubular means, and means for intromoval of water or moisture may be accomplished ducing air, water or other suitable material withby my present invention by the employment of in the inner tubular means whereby such mateair or like m-edium preheated by my electrical rial is heated and renderedfluid for heat-treat- 20 heating means. ing the sub-surface material. The present invention is also applicable for ele- Such mechanical interconnecting means prefvating the temperature of sub-surface materials erably includes a foot member serving to sealby thermal radiation and/or by thermal conducingly connect, as by screw threading, the inner tion directly with the sub-surface materials, and outer tubular means, and providing a disand/or additionally by the flowof air or other charge opening for the inner tubular means. y suitable uid supplied under pressure through the Such sub-surface heating means is suitably arinterior of such inner tubular means, whereby ranged for insertion Within a suitable opening such heated fluid is delivered through the disinto the earth extending tothe Zone of the sub# charge opening of the inner tubular means. surface material to be treated, and preferably 30 Pursuant to my inventionset forth in my stated includes provision for forcibly driving the same U. S. Patent No. 2,232,898, sub-surfacewater or into the earth. Suitablel provision is made for moisture may be removed by suction through well sealing the electrical leads of such electrical heatf points disposed within and/or about the zone of ing means for connection With a suitable source the treated loose or other suitably sub-surface of electrical energy disposed at or adjacent the 35 material and sulfur in molten condition introearths surface, and arrangedfor affording produced within such zone for solidifying such untection of the electrical parts during the stage of stable sub-surface material. The invention of insertion ofthe sub-surface heating meansinto the stated patent includes Ialso the step of inthe earth. troducing steam, hot water or other heating mef My invention is applicable gen-erally for heat dium for effecting pre-heating of the unstable treating sub-surface materials by conveyance of sub-surface materials. heat energy through the instrumentality of the Pursuant t0 my Stated U. S Patent NO- 2,235,- air, water or other suitable material heated and 695, stabilization of loose sub-surface material rendered iiuid by the electricalrr heating means, K i is attained by the emDlOyment 0f Th1mt" OI pressure being applied to Such mai-,Grim whereby 45 other electrically detonatable composition .for the sub-surface material is dually heat'treated heating the Zone 0f sltlch Sub-surface material, and subjected to pressure conveyed through the concomitantly convertme Water or other moisheated pressure applied rrlai-,eri v r ture within such zone into steam, and withdraw- The invention is applicable for freeing oil wells y ing such generated Steam by 'suction through which are clogged by solidified paraffin 0r other "50 suitably located well points, and introducing molsolidified constituents of crude oil, clogged gas Wells, and the like, Applications of the invention reside also in the fields of heat treatment of subsurface materials Whereit is advantageous to introduce material into the geological structure ten sulfur into such zone, whereby to solidify the treated sub-surface material. My present invention is applicable in connection with Thermit by the employment of air or other suitable medium supplied under pressure through the inner tubu- 3 lar means and preheated by my electrical heating means for removing water or moisture and preheating the sub-surface material preliminarily to igniting the Thermit charge.

Further features and lobjects of the invention will be more fully understood from the following detailed description and the accompanying drawings, in which- Fig. l is a diagrammatic view partly in central vertical section and partly in vertical elevation of a preferred embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 2 is an enlarged central vertical sectional view of Fig. l;

Fig. 3 is a bottom end view of Fig. 2;

Fig. 4 is a detailed sectional view on line 4-4 of Fig. 2;

Fig. 5 is a diagrammatic elevational view of another embodiment of the invention; and

Fig. 6 is an enlarged central sectional elevation of the lower part of the embodiment shown in Fig. 5.

Referringr to the embodiment shown in Figs. 1 through 4, the heating means comprises an outer tubular means I shown formed of a series of seriatim connected individual tubes II suitably interconnected, as by sleeves I2 having screw threading, preferably of right-left opposing relation, mating with threading at the juxtaposed end portions of the tubes. Inner tubular means I3 is shown formed likewise of individual tubes I4 and similarly connected in seriatim by sleeves I5.

These inner and outer tubular means are associated substantially coaxially in annular relationship by the `provision of a foot member I5, suitably connecting the lower ends of the stated tubular means, as by screw-threaded connections indicated respectively at I1 and I8. The foot member I6 is provided with a through opening, indicated at I3a, t0 provide for the discharge of suitable fluid from the inner tubular means i3, for purposes set forth more fully hereinafter.

T0 afford the discharge of the heated fluid delivered through the inner tubular means, the threading thereof indicated at l'l of the foot member I6, is disposed at the wall of its through opening. To afford threaded connection as at I8, with the outer tubular means, the foot member I6 may be configurated of general frustoconical formation, and as shown, the threaded connection of the foot member I effected extericrly of the outer tubular means I9. Obvicusly the invention is not limited to the use of thread connections for making a substantially fluid-tight seal between the foot member I5 and the tubular members, as other known or convenient sealing means may be employed.

The electrical heating means, per se, is `desirably of a helically wound wire I9 of suitable electrical heating characteristics, and preferably self-insulated. Separate leads 2G and 2| are connected to the opposite ends of the helically wound wire I9 of the heating unit and lead to a suitable source of electricity. In this connection it is pointed out that good practice today requires that the tubes employed in oil wells shall not be used as electrical conductors because of the great danger of flash ignition of the oil or gas. As indicated in the drawings, the leads 29, 2l, of the electrical heating wiring passes through suitable openings 22, 23, of a suitable top closure member 24, serving to sealingly close the annular space between the upper ends of the outer tubular means Il] .and the inner tubular means I3. Desirably such top closure member 24 is formed of metal, and the leads 20, 2|, accordingly, may be provided with additional insulation, such as the indicated series of beads of vitreous material strung on the wiring. It will be observed that 5 the electrical heating means comprises a closed heating circuit independent of the tubular members I and I3.

Also, desirably, the outer wall of the inner tubular means may be provided with a helically arranged half-round molding 25, welded to such wall, serving as a guide for installing the electrical wiring helically about the outer wall oi the inner tubular means, and functioning also to support the electrical wiring and maintain the desired heating distribution.

It is advantageous to provide a nut-like member 26A for clamping the top closure member 24, which may be secured, as indicated, by threading mating with the threading 21 of the inlet pipingr 28.

The level of the earth is indicated in Fig'. l at 29. Any suitable source of electrical energy, not shown, may be employed for the supply of the electrical current to the electrical heating wiring I9, to attain the desired maximum temperature, and suitable control devices employed for regulating the temperature of the distributed heat energy.

The opening in the ground is indicated at 30. Preferably, such ground opening 39 is formed preliminary to inserting the sub-surface heating means therein.

Any suitable source (not shown) of compressed air or other pressure. fluid, may be employed. Economically and efficiently, air serves as ahighly satisfactory fluid, which is supplied under pressure through theinlet piping 2,8, the direction of ow therethrough` being indicated by the arrows 3l, whereby upon passage of such pressure supplied air through the interior of the inner tubular means I2, heatedl by the electrical wiring I9, the resulting heated air currents discharged through the opening 18a of the foot member I6, indicated 45 by. the arrows 32, now distributiveiy through me interstices of the sub-surface materials.

Accordingly, when it is desired to pre-heat any particular zone of sub-surface materials, heating is afforded ,by control from the earths surface 50 with respect to the range of elevation of temperature and selectively either by thermal radiation accompanied by thermal conduction directly within the zone of. sub-surface materials, and/ or additionally by the supply of heated air, which latter distributes through the interstices of the sub-surface material.

As indicatedfinfFig. 2,l the insulated conductors 20, 2I may be sealed against passage of air, water 50 or moisture or the like, within their respective openings` 22, 23, by suitablesealing material indicatedat 2 Ia and22a.

The embodiment shown inFigs. 5 and 6 follows generally that illustrated inV Figs. l through 4. 65 The embodiment of Figs. 5 and 6 isespecially applicable forV insertion Within a casing previously positioned in an opening in the earth. Pursuant to the preferred embodiment vshown in Figs. 5 and 6, .the housing 38 is dimensioned inlength of but 70 a minor fraction of the depth of the casing 35, to thereby localize theheat distributed within the zone 31, such as. the desired zone of the treated subfsurface material. Such housing may be secured tothe lower end of the iiuid supply piping 75 39; inwhich instancethecable dcontaining the leads of the electrical Wiring may extend within the casing 35, i. e., exteriorly of the supply pipin 39.

. ls shown in Fig. 6, the electrical wiring 4l may be wound helically about the exterior of the inner tubular meansv 42, connected to and communicating with the supply piping 39, as by a screw threaded connection indicated at 43 with vthe head part 44 of the housing 38. It is again noted that the connections which seal the housing 38 to rthev associated tube are not necessarily threaded connections. Other well known types of sealing .connection obviously maybe employed. The head part 44 is shown provided Vwith an opening 45 vthrough `which extends the electric cable 40, which opening may be sealingly closed by means of a plug 46.

The discharge end of the inner tubular means 42 is shown connected within the bottom opening 41 of the housing 38, the housing 38, in this instance performing the function of the outer tubular means Ill of the embodiment shown in Figs. 1 through 4. To facilitate installation of the component parts within the housing 38, it is advantageous to design the housing of two parts, as by arranging its head part 44 separable at the sealing joint 54a, as indicated in Fig. 6, tightened by the set-screws 5|.

Suitable means are provided for selectively locating the electrical heating means within the casing 36, as by means of a bail or yoke 48, having an eye 49, for suspending connection with a hook 50, of a suitable block and tackle, or equivalent.

The mode of operation of my improved heating means will be largely understood from the foregoing in connection with the teachings of said granted Letters Patent.

As one manner of operation of the instant invention coupled with the teachings of my said U. S. Patent No. 2,235,695, sub-surfaoe material may be preheated in advance of the introduction of molten sulfur or equivalent fluid by energizing the electrical resistance from a suitable source of electrical energy, under suitable control of current, accompanied as and when desired by the introduction through the inner hollow tube or equivalent member of air or the like, whereby water and other moisture present in the treated zone of sub-surface material is heated and dissipated and the temperature of the sub-surface material itself elevated, to thereby condition the same for treatment with the molten sulfur or equivalent, which is later applied through the inner hollow member.

It will thus be observed that my heating means serves not only to preheat the sub-surface materials within the zone desired to be treated but also maintains the desired fluidity of the sulfur or equivalent to the location of discharge of the treating material from the lower end opening of the inner hollow member. Control of the temperature of the treating material to render and maintain the same at optimum stage of fluidity is particularly advantageous with sulfur which possesses the peculiar property of being rendered iluid between limiting ranges of temperature.

It will be further observed that the suspension of my heating means by means of a block and tackle, or equivalent, enables my heating means to be positioned within the hole in the earth or within a casing in such hole to control the heating of the sub-surface material at the various stages Iof treatment, including the stages of preheating with or without association of heated air or like fluid and the stagewof fapplicationf of 'sul-L fur or equivalent stabilizing material.

Thermoplastics other than sulfur, suchy as furnace tars, low grade tars, etc., usually of low cost, may be employed as the stabilizing treating material. In the Vuse of such treating material of low oxidizing or combustion characteristics, heated air or the like may be discharged through my heating means succeeding the stage of introduction of such stabilizing treating material and/or intermediate stages of introduction of such stabilizing treating material, to thereby effect substantially uniform distribution of the stabilizing treating material and further dissipation of steam engendered during the stage or stages of the introduction of the heated stabilizing treat-A ing material.

My present invention is also applicable for the treatment of oil wells, gas wells and the like. A particular eld of application resides in that of freeing oil wells which are clogged by solidied constituents of crude oil, mostly paran compounds; in such application the selected fluid supplied under pressure through the inner tubular means is heated by my electrical heating means to appropriate temperature to render such clogging materials iluid, and also disperse the thus fluid rendered constituents through the surrounding zones of the treated sub-surface material. Such pressure supplied fluid may be steam, in which instance my heating means maintains the preferred temperature of such treating steam or may superheat such steam and thereby minimize the quantity of any condensed water and moisture.

Whereas the invention has been described by reference to specific forms thereof, it will be understood that many changes and modifications may be made provided they do not depart from the scope of the claims.

I claim:

1. Means for treating sub-surface materials comprising, in combination as a closed unit, an outer imperforate tubular member; an inner imperforate tubular member disposed substantially coaxialiy within said outer tubular member; electrical heating means disposed between said outer and inner members and insulated lead Wires extending to and separately connected to the opposite ends of said heating means, a unitary frustro-conical foot member having a through opening receiving the lower ends of said tubes, said inner member at its lower end having a threaded connection with the lower end of the foot member, and said outer tube having on its outer side and at its lower end a threaded connection with the large upper end of the foot member to substantially seal the space between the outer and inner tubes against fluid entry and afford communication between said inner tubular member and the through opening of said foot member.

2. Means for treating sub-surface materials, comprising, in combination as a closed unit, an outer imperforate tubular member; an inner imperforate tubular member disposed substantially coaxially within said outer tubular member; electrical heating means disposed between said outer and inner member and comprising electrical wiring supported in a helically arranged spacing groove formed on the outer surface of the inner tubular member and insulated lead wires extending to and separately connected to the opposite ends of said heating means, a unitary frustro-conical foot member having a through opening receiving the lower ends of said tubes, said inner member at its lower end having a threaded connection with the lower end oi the foot member, and said outer tube having on its outer side and at its lower end a threaded connection with the inner surface of the large upper end of the foot member to substantially seal the space between the outer and inner tubes against fluid entry and afford communication between said inner tubular member and the through opening of said foot member.

CHARLES S. ACKLEY.

REFERENCES CITED The following references are of record in the file of this patent:

Number Garrison May 6, 1941

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US2512226A (en) * 1948-06-01 1950-06-20 Edwards John Alton Electrical heating of oil wells
US2632836A (en) * 1949-11-08 1953-03-24 Thermactor Company Oil well heater
US2722278A (en) * 1954-05-11 1955-11-01 Sinclair Oil & Gas Co Apparatus
US2732195A (en) * 1956-01-24 Ljungstrom
US2757739A (en) * 1952-01-07 1956-08-07 Parelex Corp Heating apparatus
US2794504A (en) * 1954-05-10 1957-06-04 Union Oil Co Well heater
US4886118A (en) * 1983-03-21 1989-12-12 Shell Oil Company Conductively heating a subterranean oil shale to create permeability and subsequently produce oil
US5120935A (en) * 1990-10-01 1992-06-09 Nenniger John E Method and apparatus for oil well stimulation utilizing electrically heated solvents
US5247994A (en) * 1990-10-01 1993-09-28 Nenniger John E Method of stimulating oil wells
US5255742A (en) * 1992-06-12 1993-10-26 Shell Oil Company Heat injection process
US5297626A (en) * 1992-06-12 1994-03-29 Shell Oil Company Oil recovery process
US5400430A (en) * 1990-10-01 1995-03-21 Nenniger; John E. Method for injection well stimulation
US6135359A (en) * 1999-12-22 2000-10-24 Wcm Industries, Inc. Heated yard hydrant
US20030080604A1 (en) * 2001-04-24 2003-05-01 Vinegar Harold J. In situ thermal processing and inhibiting migration of fluids into or out of an in situ oil shale formation
US20030079877A1 (en) * 2001-04-24 2003-05-01 Wellington Scott Lee In situ thermal processing of a relatively impermeable formation in a reducing environment
US20030098605A1 (en) * 2001-04-24 2003-05-29 Vinegar Harold J. In situ thermal recovery from a relatively permeable formation
US6581684B2 (en) 2000-04-24 2003-06-24 Shell Oil Company In Situ thermal processing of a hydrocarbon containing formation to produce sulfur containing formation fluids
US6588504B2 (en) 2000-04-24 2003-07-08 Shell Oil Company In situ thermal processing of a coal formation to produce nitrogen and/or sulfur containing formation fluids
US20030155111A1 (en) * 2001-04-24 2003-08-21 Shell Oil Co In situ thermal processing of a tar sands formation
US20030173081A1 (en) * 2001-10-24 2003-09-18 Vinegar Harold J. In situ thermal processing of an oil reservoir formation
US20030173085A1 (en) * 2001-10-24 2003-09-18 Vinegar Harold J. Upgrading and mining of coal
US20030196801A1 (en) * 2001-10-24 2003-10-23 Vinegar Harold J. In situ thermal processing of a hydrocarbon containing formation via backproducing through a heater well
US6698515B2 (en) 2000-04-24 2004-03-02 Shell Oil Company In situ thermal processing of a coal formation using a relatively slow heating rate
US6715548B2 (en) 2000-04-24 2004-04-06 Shell Oil Company In situ thermal processing of a hydrocarbon containing formation to produce nitrogen containing formation fluids
US6715546B2 (en) 2000-04-24 2004-04-06 Shell Oil Company In situ production of synthesis gas from a hydrocarbon containing formation through a heat source wellbore
US20050249557A1 (en) * 2004-05-10 2005-11-10 Robert Colbert Method and apparatus for preventing dock or structure piling uplift
US20050249556A1 (en) * 2004-05-10 2005-11-10 Robert Colbert Device for preventing dock piling or structure piling uplift
US20050269095A1 (en) * 2004-04-23 2005-12-08 Fairbanks Michael D Inhibiting reflux in a heated well of an in situ conversion system
US7011154B2 (en) 2000-04-24 2006-03-14 Shell Oil Company In situ recovery from a kerogen and liquid hydrocarbon containing formation
US7051808B1 (en) 2001-10-24 2006-05-30 Shell Oil Company Seismic monitoring of in situ conversion in a hydrocarbon containing formation
US7073578B2 (en) 2002-10-24 2006-07-11 Shell Oil Company Staged and/or patterned heating during in situ thermal processing of a hydrocarbon containing formation
US7090013B2 (en) 2001-10-24 2006-08-15 Shell Oil Company In situ thermal processing of a hydrocarbon containing formation to produce heated fluids
US7096953B2 (en) 2000-04-24 2006-08-29 Shell Oil Company In situ thermal processing of a coal formation using a movable heating element
US20060191683A1 (en) * 2005-02-28 2006-08-31 Masafumi Fukuhara Systems and methods of downhole thermal property measurement
US7104319B2 (en) 2001-10-24 2006-09-12 Shell Oil Company In situ thermal processing of a heavy oil diatomite formation
US7121342B2 (en) 2003-04-24 2006-10-17 Shell Oil Company Thermal processes for subsurface formations
US20060252292A1 (en) * 2004-02-25 2006-11-09 Volvo Lastvagnar Ab Electrically heatable cabling
US7165615B2 (en) 2001-10-24 2007-01-23 Shell Oil Company In situ recovery from a hydrocarbon containing formation using conductor-in-conduit heat sources with an electrically conductive material in the overburden
US20070045267A1 (en) * 2005-04-22 2007-03-01 Vinegar Harold J Subsurface connection methods for subsurface heaters
US20070095536A1 (en) * 2005-10-24 2007-05-03 Vinegar Harold J Cogeneration systems and processes for treating hydrocarbon containing formations
US20070108201A1 (en) * 2005-04-22 2007-05-17 Vinegar Harold J Insulated conductor temperature limited heater for subsurface heating coupled in a three-phase wye configuration
US20080038144A1 (en) * 2006-04-21 2008-02-14 Maziasz Phillip J High strength alloys
US20080128134A1 (en) * 2006-10-20 2008-06-05 Ramesh Raju Mudunuri Producing drive fluid in situ in tar sands formations
US20090071652A1 (en) * 2007-04-20 2009-03-19 Vinegar Harold J In situ heat treatment from multiple layers of a tar sands formation
US20090189617A1 (en) * 2007-10-19 2009-07-30 David Burns Continuous subsurface heater temperature measurement
US20090260824A1 (en) * 2008-04-18 2009-10-22 David Booth Burns Hydrocarbon production from mines and tunnels used in treating subsurface hydrocarbon containing formations
US20100089584A1 (en) * 2008-10-13 2010-04-15 David Booth Burns Double insulated heaters for treating subsurface formations
US7730901B2 (en) 2005-11-01 2010-06-08 Wcm Industries, Inc. Hydrant roof mount
US20100258265A1 (en) * 2009-04-10 2010-10-14 John Michael Karanikas Recovering energy from a subsurface formation
US8474476B2 (en) 2010-03-15 2013-07-02 Wcm Industries, Inc. Sanitary hydrant
US8631866B2 (en) 2010-04-09 2014-01-21 Shell Oil Company Leak detection in circulated fluid systems for heating subsurface formations
US8701769B2 (en) 2010-04-09 2014-04-22 Shell Oil Company Methods for treating hydrocarbon formations based on geology
US8820406B2 (en) 2010-04-09 2014-09-02 Shell Oil Company Electrodes for electrical current flow heating of subsurface formations with conductive material in wellbore
US9016370B2 (en) 2011-04-08 2015-04-28 Shell Oil Company Partial solution mining of hydrocarbon containing layers prior to in situ heat treatment
US9033042B2 (en) 2010-04-09 2015-05-19 Shell Oil Company Forming bitumen barriers in subsurface hydrocarbon formations
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US1973541A (en) * 1932-02-12 1934-09-11 Proctor Olin Southard Deep oil well pump
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US1291302A (en) * 1918-03-18 1919-01-14 Oil Well Heating Company Process and apparatus for stimulating the production of oil.
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Cited By (456)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US2732195A (en) * 1956-01-24 Ljungstrom
US2512226A (en) * 1948-06-01 1950-06-20 Edwards John Alton Electrical heating of oil wells
US2632836A (en) * 1949-11-08 1953-03-24 Thermactor Company Oil well heater
US2757739A (en) * 1952-01-07 1956-08-07 Parelex Corp Heating apparatus
US2794504A (en) * 1954-05-10 1957-06-04 Union Oil Co Well heater
US2722278A (en) * 1954-05-11 1955-11-01 Sinclair Oil & Gas Co Apparatus
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