Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) innovations have paved the way for newer, more exciting technologies that provide improved EOR processes. Among the latest advancements are new methods for describing the reservoir, improved downhole instrumentation, and new chemicals engineered to improve recovery. These are just a few of the innovations available to geoscientists and engineers in their quest for better reservoir description and applications of improved EOR processes.

The U. S. Department of Energy (USDOE) has sustained development of many of these technologies. This paper highlights some of the USDOE championed laboratory and field applications work in steamflooding, biotechnology, alkaline-surfactant-polymer (ASP) formulations and chemicals to increase carbon dioxide viscosity. Future challenges in applying EOR using microhole technology are also discussed.

Advancements in steamflooding include mechanistic studies to better understand fluid and heat flow conditions. The biotechnology work discussed used resident microflora to selectively plug porous zones and increase oil recovery. The alkaline-surfactant-polymer work summarizes the laboratory and field work conducted in support of a shallow reservoir ASP application. The laboratory search for chemicals to increase the viscosity of carbon dioxide is also discussed.

A new area of work is microhole technology—wellbores that are less than 2-¼ inches in diameter. Included in this discussion are the challenges of developing the tools, the market, and the expectation of delivery of improved oil recovery chemicals utilizing a microhole.

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