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The IEA supports international energy technology research, development, deployment, and knowledge transfer through multilateral groups (formally called Implementing Agreements). The experts participating in the activities of the Implementing Agreements represent public and private sector entities worldwide. Together, these experts share knowledge – and resources – to advance energy technologies.


Enhanced Oil Recovery

Effects of low-salinity enhanced oil recovery in a sandstone core.*

Lower salt intake: increase output

Policy context
Global energy demand is expected to rise by over one-third in the period to 2035, underpinned by rising living standards in China, India and current energy policies in the Middle East. Yet by 2030, the majority of oil reserves will be produced from fields yet to be developed, fields yet to be found and additional enhanced oil recovery techniques. In most fields, less than 50% of oil is recoverable using conventional technology. Worldwide, only 30% to 35% of the oil underground will be produced according to present plans and technologies. Advanced techniques and technologies exist but in many cases they are not cost efficient. Given the significant additional amounts of oil recoverable and the need to meet future demand, policies and measures designed to provide incentives to industries and continued support for public R&D in this area will be needed. 

Background
The objectives of the Implementing Agreement for a programme of Research, Development and Demonstration on Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR IA) are to stimulate national efforts to continue to develop less costly EOR technologies as well as to research new technologies. This is achieved through an open forum for information and knowledge exchange. There are currently 11 Contracting Parties, including Russia and Venezuela.

Spotlight
The EOR IA plays an important role for the international R&D community by organising international symposiums that assess state-of-the-art technical capabilities of oil exploration engineering which lay the groundwork for practical applications of enhanced oil recovery. The EOR IA Workshop and Symposium of 2010 focussed on the Enhanced Oil Recovery Technique of Low-salinity Waterflooding.

Injecting high-saline water (seawater) into oil reservoirs maintains the pressure and drives the crude oil towards the producer wells. However, as salt is a conductor of electricity, it creates electrical charges that react with the rock reservoir walls, resulting in a magnetic effect. As oil adheres to the rock walls, the quantity of oil that can be recovered is reduced. However, by using low-salinity water the amount of electrical charge is lowered. The oil is then more easily liberated from the rock, allowing ever more oil to be recovered.

It is estimated that using the low-salinity technique will make it possible to recover an additional 6 billion barrels of crude oil from mature fields in the North Sea, equivalent to 42 million barrels of oil more than could otherwise be obtained from seawater flooding. Considerable further potentials may exist in other mature oil fields worldwide.

The 2010 EOR IA workshop acted as a catalyst, raising much interest among oil and gas multinational enterprises and government,  which ultimately led to  creation of a public-private partnership in the North Sea.

The 2011 EOR IA Symposium focused on ‘Enhanced oil recovery at USD 80+ per barrel’, while the 2012 EOR IA workshop and symposium looked at ‘CO2-enhanced oil recovery techniques’. 

Graph courtesy of Jonathan Thomas. 

 


Current projects

  • Development of gas flooding techniques
  • Thermal recovery
  • Dynamic reservoir characterisation
  • Emerging technologies
  • Fundamental research on surfactants and polymers
  • Studies of fluids and interfaces in porous media

For more information: http://iea-eor.ptrc.ca/

Participants



Implementing Agreement information or material, including Implementing Agreement information or material published on this website, does not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or of the IEA’s individual Member countries. The IEA does not make any representation or warranty (express or implied) in respect of any IA Information (including as to its completeness, accuracy or non-infringement) and shall not be held liable for any use of, or reliance on, such IA Information.