When I started editing this section in 2015, the year after the oil-price crash, many industry commentators were predicting a strong recovery in oil price by now; instead, the concept of “lower for longer” has become the present reality. Now, many commentators expect a shortfall in supply by the mid-2020s and the effect of shorter-cycle shale oil developments to be just two of the factors affecting price in the future.
Sometimes, I hear the view that, without high oil prices, enhanced oil recovery (EOR) does not have a place in the mix of projects delivering the new production needed over the next decade. However, high oil prices are not the whole story. High oil prices may cause an overheated market that squeezes the value from EOR. By their nature, EOR projects are often longer-term investments, so investing in new EOR projects at a time when real-term costs are at their highest (pushed by the high oil price) may not be the best strategy.
Significant progress in cost reduction has been made in the industry following the price downturn, not only in the direct cost of construction and operations but also through a determined drive to simplify and streamline new projects in concepts selected for facilities and wells. Through this competitive scoping, project economics can be improved to deliver more-robust investment opportunities.
The discipline of a lower-for-longer world can create the conditions in which long-term investment decisions can be made. In the mix of new projects needed to fill any production shortfall in the coming decade, brownfield improved and enhanced oil recovery can compete with the alternatives available to the industry.
SPE continues to play an important role in sharing best practices to allow the industry to reap the benefit of project learnings, and I hope you find that the selected papers and recommended reading provide useful insights.
SPE 180755 Enhanced SAGD Startup Techniques for Improved Thermal Efficiency and Conformance—A Field-Test-Based Investigation by J.M. Dragani, Cenovus Energy, et al.
SPE 180739 Results of a Polymer-Flooding Pilot in the Tambaredjo Heavy-Oil Field, Suriname by E. Delamaide, IFP Technologies, et al.
SPE 183362 Successful Flood-Front and Breakthrough Prediction of Miscible WAG in a Complex Carbonate Reservoir—A Case Study by Z.U.R. Qureshi, ADCO, et al.
Stephen Goodyear, EOR Deployment Lead, Shell
01 June 2017