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Industry Struggles With Enhanced Recovery for Unconventional Reservoirs

The US Energy Information Administration estimates that most of the growth in US crude oil production is expected to come from tight rock formations within the Permian region in Texas, which is expected to contribute nearly 30% of total US crude oil production in the future. The primary recovery from unconventional oil reservoirs is predicted to be less than 10% and ranges anywhere from 2 to 8% for the various shale plays throughout the United States. Exploiting the vast potential of unconventional reservoirs and increasing the recovery factors beyond primary depletion by implementing improved- and enhanced-oil-recovery (IOR/EOR) methods is imperative. This paper reviews the IOR/EOR technologies currently being applied to unconventional oil reservoirs.

Introduction

Individual well production has a steep decline before leveling off at a low rate. Infill drilling has been used to achieve short-term increases in production. Drilling and completing new wells with long laterals is not always economically viable. In this context, EOR in unconventional oil reservoirs has gained significant attention and is the motivation of proposed research.

To date, understanding EOR in unconventional plays is in its embryonic stage because of poor understanding of the geological constraints on unconventional reservoir performance. Definitions of key geological parameters that influence primary recovery are understood to some extent. For EOR, the industry is still chasing geological characteristics similar to those that make primary recovery successful (e.g., fractures and brittleness). These parameters may be different for EOR. As the mechanism of EOR becomes better understood, geological parameters that define the sweet spot for a secondary recovery process will need to be established simultaneously. An integrated field laboratory study and practical results will help advance knowledge.

This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Judy Feder, contains highlights of paper OTC 28973, “Recent Advances in Enhanced Oil Recovery Technologies for Unconventional Oil Reservoirs,” by S. Balasubramanian, SPE, P. Chen, SPE, S. Bose, A. Alzahabi, and G.C. Thakur, SPE, University of Houston, prepared for the 2018 Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, 30 April–3 May 2018. The paper has not been peer reviewed. Copyright 2018 Offshore Technology Conference. Reproduced by permission.
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Industry Struggles With Enhanced Recovery for Unconventional Reservoirs

01 October 2019

Volume: 71 | Issue: 10

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