An additional 900 million barrels in the North Sea by raising recovery factor from only 42%


Here’s a fact I’d never seen before. Using traditional methods, only round 42% of oil in a basin is extracted leaving 57% untapped. Improvements in technology so far have had little effect.

However, the oil majors have been selling off their assets to smaller smarter companies who plan to raise the recovery factor dramatically. According to the Oil and Gas Authority, an additional 900 million barrels of oil could be extracted from the North Sea

The report in the Evening Express does not explain how this can be done so, I had a look around and found this:

‘Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is the generic term for techniques used to improve the amount of oil recovered from reservoirs – it is generally used to denote those that go beyond simple injection of water or gas to maintain pressure. The most widely used method is thermal EOR, which involves heating up the oil – usually using steam – to make it less viscous and, thus, easier to recover. Around two thirds of the world’s EOR oil production can be attributed to this technique. But it is exclusively used to recover heavy or very viscous oil, such as that found in oil sands, rather than conventional oil. So, BP’s efforts are predominantly focused on other methods, such as gas or chemical EOR. Enhanced oil recovery makes a real difference for BP’s production. The company’s massive Prudhoe Bay oilfield in Alaska is on track to achieve recovery of 60%, due, in part, to various EOR projects. At its Ula field in the Norwegian North Sea, essentially all the current production is due to EOR, as Bharat Jhaveri, BP senior advisor, gas EOR, explains: “The Ula field is now essentially only producing EOR oil, so without EOR, there would be no Ula. To my knowledge, this is the only offshore platform in the world that is just producing EOR oil. Some people consider EOR to be something that’s nice to have – the icing on the cake – but, in fact, it’s Ula’s lifeblood now.’ Up to 95% of the oil can be released from the rock with this method.

So, that looks like one possibility. More erudite readers of this blog will no doubt add to this.


10 thoughts on “An additional 900 million barrels in the North Sea by raising recovery factor from only 42%

  1. Clydebuilt September 8, 2017 / 5:46 pm

    Apologies O/t . . . John . . . Think you’ll be interested in this. . . . . . . They could do with a link to this blog


    • Clydebuilt September 8, 2017 / 6:37 pm

      Exactly, they need a good news from Scotland column. You’re the nation’s expert ( no pressure)

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Alan Thomson September 9, 2017 / 5:29 am

    As a petroleum engineer with nearly 30 years experience I would like to add a little to this. For starters tHe headline and story are basically correct and if anything probably represent a low case volume. BUT oil like gold, coal and any other mined resource is never truly recovered in its entirety it is merely recovered until it becomes sub commercial. The transfer of assets from the oil majors to smaller (and most probably not any smarter) players reflects the lower cost base of smaller companies allowing assets to extend their economic life. But it’s not yet what we cal EOR. The problem with EOR is that cost of recovery goes up usually significantly which then negates the cost saving from not being an oil major. So any EOR volume usually relies on a higher oil price. Having said all that the target and the volumes remain but for me Scotland would do well to focus more on renewables and sustainability and keep the oil in the back pocket as a bonus if the planet can cope.


    • johnrobertson834 September 9, 2017 / 4:27 pm

      Thanks Alan for your basic support but clarifications. I must bow to your greater knowledge.


    • johnrobertson834 September 9, 2017 / 4:30 pm

      I forgot to ask. Is EOR possible in the Scottish sector as it seems to be in the Norwegian?


      • Alan Thomson September 9, 2017 / 9:26 pm

        Thanks John and yes EOR entirely possible in Scottish North Sea and each asset will have a different optimal solution to extract that oil based on the reservoir and the operating costs. The oil, like Scotland, is not going anywhere and all of the fields will retain potential for EOR into the future. Future energy scarcity would make it all an attractive prospect, but the same scarcity would make all oil worldwide the focus of EOR once again.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Contrary September 9, 2017 / 8:14 am

    Very interesting stuff about the smaller oil companies making the effort to extract oil more efficiently – makes you think about how huge rambling corporations are just so static, grown so fat and corpulent they then can’t do much to change, and don’t ever try.

    Interesting piece in the cable magazine Clydebuilt ,,, well, specifically it is this one I am talking about (assuming that’s the one, or did you mean generally they need cheered up?):

    Despite the headline, the criticism is aimed at the people of Scotland and the media, not the Scottish government, it goes on to list the achievements scotgov in international things, and talks of how well received Nicola Sturgeon was abroad, but that the people of Scotland don’t take our international affairs seriously enough, and how it could be developed. It was worth a wee read. Good headline to capture those that might want to see an SNP-bad story 🙂

    There was no mention of how it would be so very much simpler and easier if we just had independence and could get on with it ourselves, so many shackles and restrictions in this BritNat Union, wouldn’t it be nice to be free of them?

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s