oil industry

Black Gold Rush: Different Enhanced Oil Recovery Methods

Oil’s value in the global market cannot be overstated. This so-called black gold has helped build nations and empowered the whole world. It’s hard to imagine modern industries not relying on the valuable resource. As things stand today, it might still be a long time before society completely moves on from using oil as fuel.

But together with this sustained interest exists a problem. How can people use oil more efficiently? As a natural resource, crude oil doesn’t last forever. Society has to find a way to make every drop go the extra mile.

The answer lies perhaps in how oil is extracted, and which method is more suitable in a given situation. Take a look at some of the known enhanced oil recovery methods (EOR):

Miscible Gas Flooding

One popular way of extracting oil is by injecting miscible gases into the reservoir. Reliable engineering companies in Calgary, for instance, use carbon dioxide, natural gas, or nitrogen to create a miscible displacement process. This involves reducing the interfacial tension between the oil and water. When this happens, the reservoir maintains its pressure, making the extraction process easier.

Polymer Flooding

Water treated with long chain polymer molecules also makes a good means of oil extraction. Companies inject the water to the reservoir after the polymer to improve the water viscosity. The oil becomes more mobile and easier to recover.

Some engineering companies in mining locations like Calgary recommend using surface active agents as well. The surfactant solution is introduced to the oil bank first, then the polymer solution and water. These chemicals further reduce surface tension between oil and water, which improves sweep efficiency. The combined effect pushes the resource towards the drawing channel, leaving less saturation behind.

Steam Injection

Another emerging EOR method is steam injection. There are several forms of this technology. One known process is cyclic steam stimulation. Also called as the “Huff and Puff” method, the production will inject steam into the well, let it sit or “soak” for days and weeks, then draw the oil. It is ideal for heavy crude oil extraction. As steam can make the oil thin, companies can recover bigger volume rates.

Efficient oil usage stems from proper recovery methods. When not a drop is wasted from the initial recovery stages, society will feel the benefits more directly.

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