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.