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How Does Enhanced Oil Recovery Work?

Improve the returns from a well with enhanced oil recovery.

Enhanced oil recovery improves the returns from a well.

Oil production relies on a number of methods to bring the oil and gas to the surface. While initial oil and gas drilling have been used for years, secondary and enhanced oil recovery has changed the amount of oil and gas that can be extracted. In fact, with initial and secondary oil recovery methods alone, more than 75 percent of the reservoir can remain full. Enhanced methods are required to extract more of the oil and maximize production numbers.

Change the Makeup of the Reservoir

In enhanced oil recovery methods, steam and gases are used to change the overall makeup of the reservoir, making it easier to extract the oil and gas. For instance, these methods will reintroduce pressure within the cavity, forcing the oil and gas up the well toward the surface. It can also enhance the displacement of the oil and gas within the formation. These processes can give oil production a boost, both in the initial production stages and after primary and secondary methods have been exhausted.

Methods of Enhanced Oil Recovery

There are several methods of oil recovery used after the initial stages of oil and gas drilling. There are three general methods of enhanced oil recovery: chemical flooding, thermal recovery and gas injection. Thermal recovery and chemical flooding both affect the viscosity of the oil and help it flow more easily through the well, thus increasing production numbers. Gas injection, on the other hand, increases pressure and forces the oil and gas through the well shaft. Each of these methods is proven to increase the amount of oil and gas produced by a well over a shorter period of time. However, enhanced oil recovery is not used in all wells.

Increasing Production in the United States

It is estimated there are more than 89 billion barrels of oil trapped within the onshore reservoirs beneath the United States. Much of this oil can only be accessed through enhanced oil recovery techniques. The Department of Energy estimates the use of these methods could increase oil recovery from the current 30 percent to as much as 60 percent or more. When added to the existing reserves of 21.9 billion barrels, the United States would rank fifth among oil producing countries. This would reduce our reliance on foreign oil and put the U.S. in a better global position.

Oil and gas drilling has dramatically changed as new techniques have been discovered. With the use of secondary oil recovery processes, oil production can be greatly increased. This could make the United States an even bigger player on the oil and gas market. Despite the fact these production methods cost more, the value of the oil and gas industry will produce a greater return on investment.

If you’re interested in investing in oil and gas drilling, contact us. We have built a large portfolio of oil and gas companies to help investors make the most of their investment.

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