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Worker at the Schoonebeek plant

Enhanced oil recovery: When an oil field reaches the end of its normal productive life, up to two-thirds of its oil is still in the ground. This remaining oil is too expensive to produce by conventional means. But enhanced oil recovery techniques can bring more oil to the surface at an economic price. These techniques use heat, solvent gas or other chemical agents to alter the flow properties of the oil, making it easier to produce. Boosting production in this way could unlock an additional 300 billion barrels of oil, according to the International Energy Agency.

Seeing under the surface: We use advanced seismic technology to create a picture of oil and gas reservoirs far beneath the Earth’s surface. Seismic testing involves creating small explosions or vibrations at the surface to generate seismic waves – essentially sound waves – that reflect off underground rock layers. Computers then transform recordings of these echoes into high-resolution three-dimensional images of rocks and reservoirs. We also monitor changes over time, adding a fourth dimension to our data.

Drilling: New technologies have extended the length of wells to more than 10 kilometres (over six miles) – not all of which is straight down. We are now able to drill wells that snake horizontally through the ground for kilometres, sometimes tapping multiple oil pockets with a single well.

Smart Fields®: We are also optimising our oil production with advanced information technology systems called Smart Fields®. This technology integrates digital information from sensors in wells and on surface equipment with remotely controlled valves and various computer applications to better monitor a well and extend its productive life.