This paper presents a survey of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technologies with an emphasis on methods currently of major importance to independent producers. The survey quantifies oil recovery as a percent of- original oil-in-place, and documents EOR efficiency for each of the major methods.

Low to moderate crude oil prices over the last five years have limited the widespread application of EOR methods. Both improved technologies—including better process efficiencies— and properly designed tax incentives are required to stimulate the implementation of new EOR projects. Several states have enacted- or are considering tax incentives for EOR; federal legislation that included incentives for EOR went into effect in 1991. Highlights and status of both federal and state incentive measures are provided.

Several state-funded efforts are underway that can assist independent producers with EOR as well as other new technologies. Efforts in progress- or planned at the state level are outlined. These efforts range from laboratory research to technology transfer activities.

The U.S. Department of Energy recognizes the need to have EOR technology implemented by independent producers. This paper provides a summary of the programs now underway and planned at the federal level.

Because of the large front-end investment and complicated nature of many of the EOR processes, some of these methods are less attractive to independent producers, even at higher oil prices. For other techniques, sufficient technology is available and processes can be implemented by operators of any size. Most of the studies conducted to date on the future of enhanced recovery apply to large, major oil companies. The paper shows that the criteria used for implementation and the future of EOR may be quite different for independent oil producers.

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