hypothesized that acid would release fine particles as well as create preferred flow paths, so he began a study of Pickering emulsions. These emulsions of oil and water hinder flow; they are stabilized by fine particles of mixed wetability that are present at oil/water interfaces. To remove these particles from these interfaces, Gidley developed a mutual solvent that partitioned between oil and water and caused the particles to be drawn into the bulk phases, thereby destabilizing the Pickering emulsions and improving flow.
When Gidley discovered that weak acids (such as formic and acetic) reached a thermodynamic equilibrium when contacted with an excess of carbonate rock, he conceived a new process applying these acids. The Humble engineers decided to try the process on wells on Humble leases on the King Ranch, some 800,000 acres in deep South Texas. After obtaining permission from the owners of the King Ranch to test Gidley’s process there, a well was drilled and Gidley was admitted to the ranch, which was surrounded by a fence and guards. He was driven to the well site, where trucks loaded with the prescribed chemicals awaited his instructions. At the well site vaqueros were busy preparing a sumptuous meal of steaks, fresh corn, and iced tea. It was, Gidley said, “a meal for kings.” He noted about 50 yards from the well site about a 5-acre pasture that had obviously been watered to maintain its green texture. In this pasture resided a race horse; the vaqueros told Gidley that the horse was Assault, the great triple-crown winner who was unable to stud. He was, they said, quite friendly (or lonely). When someone approached the pasture, he would greet them to have his nose rubbed and receive any cubes of sugar they might have with them.
John said this was a most interesting field test. He later contrasted the one on the King Ranch with the test of the same process 150 miles into the Libyan Sahara that required everything—chemicals, water, food, and tools—to be transported into the desert. One must go where the oil is to conduct such tests.
The use of mutual solvents following acid treatments proved to be beneficial in improving the flow of oil into the