Global Oil Demand and Enhanced Oil Recovery

The oil industry is progressively facing pressing challenges related to the enhancement of well productivity in line with the demand for the daily increase of global oil consumption, in particular in the developing countries. The rate of demand has been unexpectedly increasing during the last few decades, this to some extent has been related to the ever increasing consumption levels in the developing countries as well as the limited findings of new and conventional oil fields. Many of the reservoirs around are now accounted as brown fields which are at the tail phase of their lives. To this end, techniques such as Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) have been regarded as methods to increase the oil recovery from brown fields with a view of meeting the global oil supply demand.

Global enhanced oil recovery (EOR) market is expected to reach USD 283 billion by 2020, according to a new study by Grand View Research, Inc. Growing global energy demand is expected to remain a key driving factor for global EOR market. Rising number of mature oil wells, particularly in the Middle East and Latin America coupled with high productivity yields associated with EOR techniques is also expected to have a positive impact on the market growth over the next few decades. Long lead time coupled with volatile crude oil prices is expected to remain a key challenge for market participants.

How can Enhanced Oil Recovery contribute to global demand?

Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), also known as tertiary recovery method, utilizes various technologies and methods to increase the recovery of oil after the recovery from primary and secondary recovery techniques. The overall objective of EOR is to enhance the mobility of hydrocarbons within the reservoir. Over the last few decades, EOR has been mainly used in mature oilfields where in some cases significant incremental recovery has been recorded.

In general, the primary recovery mechanism can be accounted for the recovery of 10-20 % of the reservoirs initial oil in place, whilst the secondary recovery mechanisms could increase the oil recovery by a further 10-30%. At some stage of secondary recovery mechanism, it becomes evident that the recovery of the remaining oil in place can be achieved by engagement of EOR techniques. Usually EOR techniques can recovery an extra 5-30% of the remaining oil in place.  

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), by the year 2035 the global energy demand is expected to rise by at least one-third. This is mainly related to the rising living standards in China, India and current energy policies in the Middle East. Having said this, by the year 2030, significant amount of oil recovered will be mainly from fields yet to be developed, fields yet to be discovered and additional EOR techniques.   Considering the large amounts of oil recoverable and the need to meet future demand, policies and measures designed to provide incentives to industries and continues support for public R&D in this area will be required. 

By Arash Farhadi
Lead Chemical EOR Reservoir Engineer
Primera Reservoir