Studies indicate that as much as 60% of the initial oil-in-place may remain after secondary recovery. At the same time, Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) methods are growing more cost effective, with 3% of current worldwide production now attributable to EOR.

EOR projects, however, are strongly influenced by economics and long-run crude oil prices. In addition, EOR investment decisions are also heavily impacted by the timing of the switch from primary recovery to water flooding, and then later, the timing of the switch from water flooding to tertiary oil recovery. The question is what are the key approaches and decision parameters that drive the timing of these decisions? Do you design for EOR up front during concept development planning or do you wait and address EOR as a field matures?

This paper will discuss the trade-offs between adopting two distinctly different approaches for making EOR switching decisions, designing EOR up front vs. implementation as the field matures. One approach embraces proactively designing for and executing EOR during the initial development of a field. The other approach bases switching decisions on the conditional indicators of the reservoir, coupled with a view toward the long-run oil price. This paper will also explore the key decision parameters that impact the choice of which EOR approach to pursue.

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