A great industry challenge exists to increase recovery factors in E&P projects from the current average levels of low 30s. This challenge becomes, in turn, a unique opportunity for EOR technologies to make a sizeable contribution to additional reserves.

This paper reviews this challenge by considering portfolio aspects, target setting, EOR technologies and enabling factors.

The discussion of EOR technologies includes some of the accomplishments of EOR in gas, thermal and chemical flooding and their current contribution to oil production.

Advances in technology in many areas all contribute in the realization of the EOR promise. We will discuss three key areas: fractured carbonate rocks, gas sourcing and Smart Fields. Shell's in-situ thermal project at Peace River provides an example of the use of a full suite of monitoring technologies to understand sweep and recovery mechanisms. An example is also given of the use of swellable elastomers for water shut-offs and inflow/outflow control options.

A successful EOR practice requires a number long-term commitments in human and capital resources, technology deployment and R&D, and sustainable development.

The various aspects discussed in this paper will be summarized in a strategy framework where in addition to the presented components also synergies with outside organizations as well as partnerships and alliances are considered.


The global average recovery factor in oil fields is of the order of 30% with a wide scatter between 0% (stranded fields) to 70%. This is illustrated in Fig.1 in which field data in the ISH data base were ranked for Recovery Factor and their STOIIP integrated.

This indicates that there is still a huge prize in many fields to increase the recovery factor. This can be achieved through better and more cost effective execution of conventional development processes leveraging best-in-class practices. However, in many fields the deployment of novel IOR/EOR technologies is required to achieve higher recovery over the field life cycle.

In the early 1980's, extensive research, field-testing and implementation of IOR/EOR projects were triggered by an expectation of high oil prices and, especially in the USA, by a decline of overall oil production. The main IOR/EOR techniques that have been employed since that time are in thermal heavy oil (steam, ISC) and in gas injection (CO2miscible and WAG variations).Shell has been one of the leading players in setting industry standards and has best practices and wide experiences in the design, implementation, and execution of IOR/EOR projects all over the world.

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