Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) method is a technology that involves extraction of crude oil from oil reservoirs that cannot be extracted through conventional technologies. It is also known as tertiary recovery method as it takes place after primary and secondary recoveries. Oil extracted through primary recovery accounts for 5% to 15%, while secondary recovery accounts for 20% to 60% of the total oil present in the reservoir. By using enhanced oil recovery technology, 35% to 75% oil can be extracted from the reservoir.
EOR technology uses methods such as thermal injection, gas injection and chemical injection to extract oil from the reserves. Thermal injection technology uses hot water and steam to extract crude oil from the reservoir. It is widely used to extract heavy viscous oil, that cannot flow on its own. Thermal injection technology reduces the viscosity by increasing temperature of the crude oil. Most commonly used thermal injection method are steam injection and In-situ combustion.
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Commonly used steam injection methods are steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), cyclic steam stimulation (CSS) and steam flooding. Steam injection method is mostly used on oil sands. Countries such as Canada, Indonesia and California are using steam injection on their oil fields. SAGD has application in heavy oil sands of Alberta region. Steam flooding method is used on light oil reservoirs. In-situ method is used for heavy oil sandstone reservoirs. Countries such as Romania and Canada, have some projects using In-situ combustion process. Thermal injection technology dominated the EOR market in the year 2012 but by 2023 its market share is expected to decrease. Major challenges faced by thermal injection technology is the lack of availability of low price natural gas. Gas required for steam generation can be used for other purposes such as power generation and transportation.
Gas injection technology is mostly used on light oil reservoirs. It is mainly used on sandstone field. Gas injection technology especially uses CO2. It is expected to increase for two reasons including disposal of green house gas and increase in crude oil recovery. CO2 released in the atmosphere through power generation and industrial sector, is used in gas injection technology to extract crude oil. Thus huge amount of CO2 is captured for EOR technologies which may pollute the environment. With more than 100 CO2 commercial EOR projects worldwide, most of them are concentrated in West Texas in U.S. Due to the availability of low cost CO2 from nearby fields and reservoirs CO2 EOR projects have gained popularity worldwide.
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Chemical injection method uses polymer, surfactant solution and alkali to extract crude oil from the reservoirs. It can be applied on both carbonate and sandstone formations. Chemical injection technology can be combined with other EOR technologies to derive advantages of each other. Primary objective of chemical EOR process is to reduce ther interfacial tension between water and oil through the use of surfactants. Mobility of crude oil is controlled by adding polymers. Hydrolyzed polyacrylamide is the commonly used polymer in chemical EOR method. Major challenges faced by Chemical EOR process is the lack of availability of compatible chemicals in high saline and high temperature environment.
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North America dominated the global EOR market in terms of volume as huge demand arises from U.S, Canada and Mexico. Europe is expected to be a booming market for EOR technology as number of upcoming projects are there in Russia. Rest of the World (RoW) is expected to show the highest growth rate as number of oil reserves exists in Middle East. Thus, in future Middle East is expected to be the most attractive market for EOR technology.
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, BP Plc, Cenovus Energy Inc, Chevron Corporation, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil Corporation, OAO Lukoil, Petronas, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Statoil ASA are expected to dominate the market for enhanced oil recovery technology.
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