The paper presents an analysis of worldwide EOR activities and trends for the mid-term future. The focus of the paper is on EOR production levels and the corresponding number of projects within each major EOR technology group: thermal, gas flooding, chemical and other methods.
Most EOR activities are in North America where the conventional oil production decline is now well established and EOR is one of a few remaining options for additional oil production. In the United States, the unfavorable economic climate of the late 1980’s caused the number of new EOR projects to decline rapidly, followed by the corresponding leveling of oil production and even a modest EOR production decline in 2002.
Thermal recovery continues to provide the largest, although it is declining fraction of EOR production. In the long-term, thermal recovery methods may play an increasingly important role in the recovery of the huge heavy oil and tar sands resources. Gas flooding continues to gain momentum and shows promise for further gains. Chemical flooding projects suffered from declining interest and negligible production rate. Fluid diversion via permeability modification control offers considerable near-term potential.
It is likely that EOR-produced oil in the United States has already reached its peak level and that it will increase above the current production rates only at substantially higher and stable oil prices. World’s EOR production peak is likely to occur 30–35 years after the onset of global oil production decline, or in mid 2060’s.