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3 breakthrough technologies characterizing enhanced oil recovery market landscape

Jun 16, 2022

A study by Global Market Insights Inc. anticipates the enhanced oil recovery industry to hit a market valuation of USD 140 billion by 2024.

Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) adoption has helped boost the efficiency and output across oil and gas operations. Consistent developments in the sector have paved the way for using the latest technologies to keep up with business expansion. The increasing deepwater output and the shale revolution are prime examples of business strategies highlighting the need for EOR.

Simply put, enhanced oil recovery is the process of raising the amount of oil that can be mined from an oil well, usually by different methods to augment the pressure and reduce the viscosity of the oil. With traditional oil wells, the natural process results in a recovery of nearly 25% of the well’s oil reservoir, while the EOR increases this amount by up to 15%.

An important point to note here is that enhanced oil recovery can reverse the decline of mature fields and support increasing the overall percentage of recovered oil. In some cases, recovery rates greater than 60% have been accomplished.

Amidst these advancements, EOR will continue to be a vital technology to elevate the value of late-life assets. And, as new technologies and techniques advance, the enhanced oil recovery market will play a superior role in the global oil and gas industry.

Novel technologies and materials are greatly refining the yield from EOR techniques and are likely to continue to offer additional production in mature fields. Some of the crucial classes of enhanced oil recovery technologies have been discussed below:

1. CO2 injection: Injection of CO2 is long recognized as the most effective EOR technology in recent times. The addition of carbon dioxide stimulates the overall pressure of an oil reservoir, pushing the oil towards production wells. The gas can also blend in well with the oil, enhancing its mobility and supporting easy flow. The technology has historically used more captured carbon dioxide than any other industrial process and is currently the only globally recognized carbon utilization option that delivers large-scale permanent storage for captured CO2.

Reports suggest that the majority of CO2 injection in EOR projects is currently produced from naturally occurring underground carbon deposits. An IEA report claims that in the U.S., more than 70 percent of the carbon dioxide injected today for CO2 enhanced oil recovery is from natural sources. The country is currently taking up numerous CO2-EOR projects.

For example, Tachyus, in April 2022, launched Dioxeon to optimize CO2 injection in mature fields for one of its clients in Texas. Through this initiative, the firm anticipates Dioxeon to become widely used in North America, where a large number of carbon dioxide flooding projects are being executed.

While CO2 injection technology remains a critical EOR technique, there are severe concerns about its continued use owing to its adverse impact on the environment. In this regard, most countries and oil leaders are seeking alternative modes of energy and other EOR technologies that are highly sustainable.

2. Water injection: Since water is abundantly available and is inexpensive, it offers an effective, affordable, and an ideal solution to boost oil recovery from production wells. The process is commonly used for offshore and onshore developments. Studies estimate that water injection recovery rates range from anywhere between 5-50% of any remaining oil, which is a considerable increase in productivity.

Currently, low salinity water injection is an emerging oil recovery technique and umpteen developments are being made in this field across the world, in countries like China, U.S., India, and in the MEA region. To illustrate, ONGC, an Indian national oil and gas conglomerate, recently authorized an advanced water injection platform WIS-R in the Arabian sea on the offshore of India. The platform would strengthen oil and gas recovery as a part of a High Phase-IV redevelopment (MHSRD-IV) project.

Officials state that the purpose of the conceptualization of the project is to commence the EOR plan of ‘low saline water injection’ in certain areas in the Mumbai High South field, while simultaneously revamping the aging water injection facility.

3. Polymer injection: While only up to 5-50% of the original oil could be produced from the oil reservoir using the water injection technology, polymer injection EOR is touted to stand as a viable option to enhance the oil recovery in a light oil reservoir to a significant level, without compromising on the cost factor or environment.

The primary purpose of adding polymer to water flooding is to increase the viscosity of flood water, to reduce the mobility of the injected water and maximize the sweep efficiency. This EOR technology has been successfully utilized to intensify the recovery factor by up to 20%. It also contributes significantly towards decreasing the CO2 emission level by 3 to 6 times per barrel of crude oil.

Imperatively, the technology is being used to furnish more than 300 projects worldwide as of now.

Enhanced oil recovery: Insights into the market growth in 2022 and beyond

With an outgrowing number of mature fields, soaring exploration and production activities worldwide, enhanced oil recovery processes are now being considered as having the potential to augment performance of new fields. Moreover, the macro-economic effects of the increasing number of EOR programs would enhance production and recoverable reserves of oil.

IEA speculates that the total EOR production could rise from 2.7 million barrels per day to more than 4.5 million barrels per day from 2025 to 2040, accounting for about 4% of the global production in 2040. This would only be possible with the introduction to a number of initiatives and measures by different regional authorities to practice EOR across diverse regions. These factors would thus offer a bright growth prospect to the enhanced oil recovery market over the years to come.