Making Oil Wells Good To The Last Drop

New gear vastly boosts the amount of recoverable oil

In a back room of Petroleum Engineering Services Inc. near Houston, technicians are putting the finishing welds on a torpedo-like cylinder of gleaming steel. Its destination is 12,000 feet beneath the surface of the North Sea, in the shaft of a British Petroleum Co. oil well. Snugged into place, it will act as a high-tech sensor and valve--allowing BP operators to monitor the pressure and temperature of oil coming from two different pools and, if necessary, shut one off at a moment's notice.

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