Tapping hidden oil

Chevron has announced a research alliance with the University of Texas at Austin to develop new technology to increase the amount of oil recovered from mature and challenging reservoirs.



As part of the agreement, Chevron Energy Technology will supply up to $5m over the next five years to the university’s Center for Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering for its work on non-thermal enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technology. The work will include research on active agents that allow oil to mix with water, known as surfactants, and polymers that target oil trapped and bypassed by conventional recovery methods, as well as numerical models that simulate EOR processes.



‘Conventional production methods have typically recovered about one-third of the oil in place from light oil reservoirs, so applying advanced technologies to increase recovery factors can be an important source of reserve and production growth from existing fields,’ said Don Paul, vice-president and chief technology officer at Chevron.



According to Dr Larry W Lake, the chairman of the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at Texas, there is a large amount of oil bypassed by conventional methods in existing fields.



‘Most oil in existing fields cannot be recovered using conventional technology, yet the volume of this oil is greater than all the conventional oil reserves known to exist globally,’ he said.