EOR Performance and Modeling

This is the most exciting time for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in recent memory. At last, almost everyone is talking about increasing recovery factors, and improved oil recovery (IOR) and EOR are being considered natural components of reservoir management. Furthermore, many traditional philosophies are being openly challenged. EOR planning is happening as part of field-development plans. Proven technologies are being adapted in new, smart ways, and new technologies are constantly evolving from research to commercial applications, making EOR projects more economical. These new directions are the result of the following factors:

  • Most fields, including the giant ones, are maturing, and producing liquid hydrocarbons is becoming more difficult in all types of reservoirs (conventional and unconventional).
  • Leaving approximately 70% of the in-place reserves unrecovered has been challenged.
  • There have been developments on many fronts (e.g., advanced reservoir characterization, multiphase-flow physics, smart-well and intelligent completions, recovery research, monitoring and control technologies, EOR chemicals, EOR pilot concepts, and observation-well concepts); the collective effect of all of those is going to make new EOR projects more successful.
  • Increasing recovery factors has been considered a fully integrated multidomain activity (from pore space to separator and everything in between).
  • Severe production decline in tight/light (unconventional) reservoirs is making the industry think about recovery challenges.
  • EOR has been considered during field-development planning in most recent offshore oil developments.

We lived through the most active period of EOR—between the mid-1970s and the mid-1980s—and learned about recovery fundamentals then. However, if we look back at that era carefully, most of the wells were single and vertical; reservoir characterization was very elementary, with no digital geological modeling capabilities; and there were no concepts such as monitoring systems or intelligent completions. All of those factors created a significant gap between what was planned in the EOR laboratory and what was achieved in field application. Other than those implemented in extremely viscous oils (heavy-oil EOR operations), projects recovered far less than planned. Overall, such recovery gave a stigma to EOR as inherently difficult and expensive. Most of the factors that made EOR difficult and expensive are gone today. That is why we will see more fields using EOR operations in upcoming years.

Broadening the scope of recovery challenge to all domains will make realizations of new reserves more likely, but this change will bring additional challenges.

This Month's Technical Papers

Foam Simulation Faces Several Numerical Challenges

UK Field Benefits From Reduced-Salinity Enhanced-Oil-Recovery Implementation

Simulation of Flow-Control Devices With Feedback Control for Thermal Operations

Multiscale Simulation of WAG Flooding in Naturally Fractured Reservoirs

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 162701 Geomechanics Considerations in Enhanced Oil Recovery by Tadesse Weldu Teklu, Colorado School of Mines, et al.

SPE 166597 BP North Sea Miscible Gas Injection Projects Review by Pinggang Zhang, BP, et al.

IPTC 17157 The Development of a Workflow To Improve Predictive Capability of Low-Salinity Response by B.M.J.M. Suijkerbuijk, Shell, et al.

SPE 166075 The Upscaling of Discrete Fracture Models for Faster, Coarse-Scale Simulations of IOR and EOR Processes for Fractured Reservoirs by Mun-Hong Hui, Chevron, et al.

Omer Gurpinar, SPE, is the technical director of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) for Schlumberger. He leads Schlumberger in development of technologies and services to help improve recovery factors in oil fields. Gurpinar has more than 35 years of industry experience in various aspects of numerical reservoir modeling, with specific focus on naturally fractured reservoirs, reservoir optimization, and EOR. He has contributed to recovery optimization for numerous oil and gas fields globally. Since joining Schlumberger in 1998, Gurpinar has served as the vice president and technical director in various segments and has played a key role in building Schlumberger’s exploration and production consulting organization.  He holds BS and MS degrees in petroleum engineering and holds several industry patents on reservoir and field optimization and EOR. Gurpinar is a member of the JPT Editorial Committee.

EOR Performance and Modeling

Omer Gurpinar, SPE, Technical Director, Schlumberger

01 January 2014

Volume: 66 | Issue: 1