Enhanced oil recovery

BP leads the industry in enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Our technologies deliver more than 10% of the world’s conventional oil EOR production

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BP's EOR technologies are breathing new life into mature oil fields

The ability to cost-effectively recover more oil from existing fields makes good business sense whether the oil price is high or low. BP’s strategy of developing low-cost, step-change, widely applicable enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technologies is therefore well suited to the current market conditions.

BP leads the industry in EOR. Our Designer Water® and Designer Gas® technologies currently deliver more than 10% of the world’s conventional oil EOR production - more than any other international oil company.

Cost-effective EOR technologies

EOR has been around for decades, and BP has been researching and using EOR methods for over forty years. The challenge has been to deliver more cost-effective EOR technologies alongside conventional reservoir drainage approaches, like infill drilling, or displacement techniques such as waterflooding and gas injection.
The cost of chemicals and their deployment and storage, particularly in offshore settings, have made some EOR projects uneconomic. At BP, we have focused on low-cost Designer Water® and Designer Gas® EOR technologies for some time. 

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The world's first deployment of LoSal EOR will be at Clair Ridge in the North Sea

  • Bright Water® is a microscopic, thermally-activated particle based on a BP concept. It expands deep in the reservoir, diverting injection water into poorly swept areas of the reservoir, thereby increasing oil recovery. BP has deployed Bright Water in more than 140 wells world-wide - at an average cost of $6 a barrel.
  • LoSal® EOR is a BP breakthrough low salinity waterflooding technology that increases oil recovery compared to conventional seawater flooding. The world’s first deployment of LoSal EOR will be at Clair Ridge in the North Sea - at a development cost of $3 a barrel. There are additional benefits with the use of low salinity water, such as reduced risks of reservoir souring.
  • Our new polymer EOR project planned for Quad 204 in the North Sea follows a different low-cost approach. Whilst the operating costs of adding polymers to injection water are not immaterial, the project requires only limited capital expenditure and is expected to give significant improvement to reservoir sweep and oil recovery.

Step change in production and recovery

In a time of lower oil prices, resource holders look to international oil companies to bring technologies that sustain or even increase production rates to maintain national incomes. EOR technologies can help achieve this, but they incur additional costs and may increase operational complexity. At BP we focus therefore on developing technologies that make a material difference to production rates and recovery. Our Designer Gas® technologies are having a significant, step-change impact in our operated businesses in Alaska and the North Sea:
  • BP operates the world’s largest hydrocarbon gas injection projects using vaporisation and miscible gas at Prudhoe Bay in Alaska. These play a significant role in driving the expected oil recovery factor to around 60%.
  • More than 40% of the production from the giant Magnus field in the North Sea is underpinned by a miscible gas EOR scheme.
  • Gas EOR can extend field life, pushing out decommissioning, as well as adding reserves to offshore fields - for example, Ula in the Norwegian North Sea, where nearly 100% of current oil production is from EOR.

Deployment at scale

We drive down the costs of EOR technology development by ensuring they have maximum application across the fields we operate now, and also reflect how our portfolio mix could change over time.

We avoid niche EOR technologies which might benefit just one field type. This means we can focus our researchers’ efforts, drive economies of scale - for example, in bulk chemical purchases - and build deployment experience. In this way, we can more rapidly progress our technologies through trial and deployment at scale to deliver maximum value.

EOR technology development and testing can be costly and time-consuming. Our commitment to sustain EOR leadership is demonstrated by our investment in equipment and capability to speed-up development of new EOR technologies.

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Watch Dmitry Lakshtanov explain how we create ‘digital rocks’ that simulate the flow of oil through reservoirs

  • Our Digital Rocks technologies, underpinned by our Center for High Performance Computing, allow us to improve reservoir characterization and EOR performance prediction through next-generation 3D imaging and modelling technologies.
  • The latest addition to our toolkit is the world’s first automated core flooding capability. This robot works 24/7, transforming the number of EOR core flood tests from tens to hundreds a year.

Fit for present and future

Our EOR strategy of low-cost, step-change, widely applicable technology development remains relevant in a prolonged period of lower oil prices.

The BP Technology Outlook suggests that we have probably reached a point globally when the potential additional oil from enhanced recovery exceeds the potential from new exploration frontiers, such as the arctic or ultra-deepwater. We will therefore continue to invest in technologies to enhance recovery from mature giant fields and from new developments that deploy EOR from day one.

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