What a difference a year can make! Back in June 2014, when the EOR Operations feature last appeared in JPT, Brent was trading at more than USD 100/bbl. At the time of writing this year, the oil price has halved to near USD 50/bbl. However, despite current prices, it is widely believed that the age of easy oil is over and that, as we seek to replace reserves and meet growing energy demand, we will be driven to develop more-technically-difficult and -capital-intensive volumes. This will be through exploration in ever-more-remote and -challenging environments, the development of known but more-difficult reservoirs, or the development of brownfield projects by applying improved-oil-recovery and enhanced-oil-recovery (EOR) techniques to existing assets.
Worldwide, more oil is left behind in reservoirs than is recovered. The potential of EOR is significant: A 1% increase in the efficiency of hydrocarbon recovery could deliver 3 additional years of annual global production at today’s level. EOR is about monetizing known barrels in well-characterized formations through the application of commercially proven recovery techniques such as miscible-gas and steam injection and with an eye to the maturation of less-widely-applied or emerging EOR technologies such as alkaline/surfactant/polymer flooding or low-salinity flooding.
Developing these EOR plays requires the willingness to step beyond our comfort zones and the commitment to longer-term project timelines, which may require a piloting or demonstration phase before large-scale application. That is not very different from opening up a new exploration play, except that we know with certainty that the hydrocarbons exist.
Successful implementation of more-complex recovery processes benefits from a systems approach in which every aspect of the project is considered, from the injectant sourcing through to piloting, facilities design, project phasing, surveillance, and reservoir management. Alongside this there is a need to develop and deepen skills to move from primary- or secondary-recovery processes to EOR. SPE plays an important role in this by sharing knowledge and experience of operating projects. The papers summarized in this section and suggested in the recommended additional reading all speak to different aspects of the EOR journey. I hope you will enjoy reading them and be inspired to look for EOR opportunities in your fields.
Recommended Additional Reading
SPE 170052 Solvent-Assisted Startup of SAGD Wells in Long Lake Project by F. Ahmadloo, Nexen, et al.
SPE 169080 Right-Sizing the Jay/LEC Field—Commercial 30-Year EOR Project by Travis Melster, Quantum Resources Management, et al.
SPE 169035 Design, Implementation, and Early Operating Results of Steam Injection Pilot in Already-CO2-Flooded Deep Heavy-Oil Fractured Carbonate Reservoir of Bati Raman Field, Turkey by Secaeddin Sahin, Turkish Petroleum Corporation, et al.
SPE 171506 Technical Breakthrough in Production Engineering Ensures Economic Development of ASP Flooding in Daqing Oil Field by Cheng Jiecheng, Daqing Oilfield Company, et al.
Stephen Goodyear, SPE, EOR Deployment Lead, Shell
01 June 2015
Digital Transformation Increases Value in an Omani Thermal EOR Asset
A thermal asset in Oman is characterized by a large-scale steam-drive/cyclic-steam-soak (CSS) development project, underpinned by extensive data gathering.
One of my best moments is to have made the technical case for polymer flooding and to see the fruits of this several decades later. As is so often the case in our industry, my contribution stands alongside those of many others in the intervening years who have all made the EOR journey possible.
The fourth industrial revolution is taking the oil and gas business by storm. Many companies have increased resources for big-data analytics and machine learning. Though no one sees physical oilfield services as in decline, development in these areas may take a back seat to artificial intelligence.
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19 June 2019