When an oil field comes on stream, it has enough pressure inside to push the oil up through the wells naturally. But over time the pressure in the field drops and the flow of oil slows. In an increasingly energy-hungry world, the benefits of increasing the amount of oil extracted from existing fields are huge. A relatively small increase of just 1% globally would equate to three years’ production at current levels.
What is enhanced oil recovery?
Injecting water, chemicals, gas or steam into a field can make the oil flow more easily and boost recovery. Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technology can help us extract an additional 5-30% of the oil in place, increasing the overall recovery level from the field to 50-70% or even higher.
EOR could help to unlock as much as 300 billion more barrels of oil worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency.
In the face of declining oil fields and at a time when recovering hydrocarbons is becoming more difficult, effective techniques are key to extract more oil from mature fields.