Albany, New York (PRWEB) April 26, 2013
Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is a term for the techniques used for boosting oil recovery by injecting chemicals, gas, or steam to force more oil from an aged field. EOR is also called tertiary recovery or improved oil recovery. On an average, 70% to 75% of the oil remains trapped in reservoirs because it is too difficult to extract, so by using EOR, about 30 to 60% of the reservoir’s original oil can be extracted. EOR has the capability to increase oil recovery up to 75%, although it is expensive to use in an oil field.
Currently, three methods of EOR are used – gas injection, thermal recovery, and miscible solvents. But all the reservoirs cannot use EOR methods for production due to the higher cost of development. So these reservoirs must be heavily evaluated to determine which type of EOR will work best on the reservoir.
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A steam injection heats the oil inside the reservoir which helps it flow easily through the fractures to the production wells. Along with maximum possible oil recovery, the thermal recovery method is accompanied by high capital expenditures as well as high operating cost and is therefore risky. A steam injection into the reservoir raises recovery from 3-5% to 25-35%. The best thermal production techniques which are used currently are: steam assisted gravity drainage, cyclic steam stimulation, steam flood, and in-situ combustion. In 2011 some advanced projects started in Oman and California, which used solar energy to produce steam. It is estimated that over 50% of applied EOR in the United States is done by thermal recovery.
Gas injection for EOR involves injecting nitrogen, carbon dioxide, or natural gas into the reservoir among which the carbon dioxide-EOR method is gaining the most popularity. Gas injection EOR involves injecting the miscible gas into a reservoir which creates an easy flowing mixture which flows to production wells from the reservoir. Injecting gas into the fractures raises the recovery of oil from the field from 10% to 45-50%.
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Chemical EOR introduces a polymer into the reservoir to improve the effectiveness of surfactants, which helps lower the surface tension that holds back the flow of crude oil through the well. This method includes surfactant flooding (including foam) polymer displacement, alkaline displacement, acid displacement, chemical reagents displacement, and microbiological treatment. It is estimated that injection of chemical into the reservoirs increases the oil recovery from 15 % to 25%.
The use of this method is limited because of the expensive chemicals needed, impact on the environment, and less proven records of success of this method. With the application of this method, the recovery of oil from the field sees an increase of 15 % to25%.
The market is showing growth since 2005 because of government interest and investment in new technologies as the increase in oil production will fuel the economy and use of CO2 will help reduce the industrial CO2 emissions. It is estimated that more than 130 billion tons of carbon dioxide could be captured by CO2-EOR on a global scale. The current total oil production is approximately 700 million barrels which is expected to grow almost 10 times by 2020 which will boost the revenue by around 14 times in the next 8-10 years.
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There is an increase in the use of gas-EOR by oil industries in America, Asia-Pacific, and in other countries because the companies with carbon capture and storage technologies can market their carbon dioxide to oil industries, which also helps them to reduce greenhouse gases and receive possible tax breaks or government grants.
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