Enhanced Oil Recovery: A Technique to Preserve the Non-Renewable Resource


The Crude oil proves to be of prime importance for all the economies. Its importance increased after industrialization. Furthermore the demand for oil increased from the transport sector. Every economy wants to be self-sufficient in the context of oil and power as the growth of industries and businesses comes to standstill in its absence. Various techniques are used by the oil extracting firms to obtain maximum oil from the oil fields. Industry Report

The two traditional methods of Oil Recovery are Primary Oil Recovery which is limited to hydrocarbons that naturally increase to the surface, or those that use artificial lift strategy, such as pump jacks. Whereas, the Secondary Oil Recovery employs water and gas injection, dislocating the oil and driving it to the surface. But these two methods are not able to extract maximum oil from the fields. As much as 75% of the oil is left unrecovered in the ground. As a solution to this Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) or Tertiary recovery techniques can be used for increasing the amount of crude oil that can be extracted from an oil field. Some general EOR techniques include gas EOR, thermal EOR and chemical EOR. Microbial EOR and seismic EOR hold small but strong niches in the EOR marketplace.

There are large numbers of maturing oil fields around the globe which are producing less oil. Such ones are adopting the EOR techniques to increase, or at least maintain, their oil manufacture levels. The countries whose financial health largely depends on oil production find it unavoidable to invest in EOR. The changing scenario in the middle east countries which was earlier characterized by plentiful of oil and lower oil prices is now alarming a need for these countries too, to adopt EOR techniques. Because of nearing to the peak of oil production and reduced capacity of oil obtained, the operators of such oil fields are proactively looking to EOR to maintain steady production in the future. The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Oman are the countries which are leading the way to plunge to the said Techniques.

In spite of many countries adopting EOR, its growth depends largely on factors such as the type of oil being produced, the geographical location of oil fields and the geology of oil reservoirs, available technological knowledge and expertise, health of the local economy; the level of foreign investment, etc. The interest of the Government of the concerned countries and generous investments help to stimulate new developments in technology and in addition to it, increase the availability of necessary materials (such as CO-2).

Being a very efficient way to maintain oil production, the EOR techniques can be viewed as having negative points as this process produces large quantities of brine (a mixture of salt and water). It may also contain toxic metals and radioactive substances, as well being very salty. Hence it can prove to be damaging to drinking water. So to fulfill their social responsibility, the companies resorting to this method should take care of no harm to be made to the drinking and ground water.