Extracting oil from the Earth is a very important task for large corporations. With the increasing demand for oil, corporations are trying new ways and techniques to reap oil from the Earth’s surface. One technique, thermal enhanced oil recovery (EOR), involves introducing heated substance to oil reserves to lower the viscosity of the heavy oil and thus, increase the ability of oil to flow within the reservoirs. These methods are alternatives to older methods of chemical or gas infusion technologies. You see, there are different grades of oil.
Thermal EOR is used primarily to extract heavy oils. These oils are used by the population mainly for energy. Heavy oil is rated below 22.3 API gravity and these oils do not flow easily. To extract this type of oil, an enhanced oil recovery (EOR) method is needed. In many cases, thermal EOR will be the most sufficient technology for extracting this type of oil.
There are basically two different popular thermal methods of recovering heavy oil. The first method, is a process whereby heat in injected into the oil reservoir, using steam or hot fluids. More regarding this method can be discovered in Georgy Zerkalov’s, article.
The second, is the method of heating up the entire reservoir itself. This method turns out to be very costly and less efficient.
Thermal EOR is the most popular method of extracting heavy oil used in the market today. Thermal EOR accounts for more than 50 percent of the overall EOR market. More than 50 percent of the US overall oil extractions are done using thermal EOR. The majority of oil EOR US oil extractions take place today in California.
Now there is new competition in the Thermal EOR world. Yes, there is a new and third method of EOR being tested today, Microwave EOR. This method was first tested in 1970. This technology is becoming the up and coming technology methodology for oil extraction. The major problem with microwave EOR extraction technology is limitations of the wavelengths. This technology is presently being tested in Canada, to see if it is more energy efficient and cost effective to replace older methods. More can be discovered regarding this new technology in the article, A microwave-based simulation study for enhanced oil recovery, by Muhammad Mohsin and Mahmoud Meribout,
With the steady increasing demand for energy oil, the technologies used today to extract oil must keep up with the demand. Thermal EOR, is presently the most popular technology methods for extracting the type of oil used for energy by the world’s population. The race is on to see which method of thermal EOR will extract the most oil, use the least power and save money. As long as the world need and demands oil, old and new technologies must be able to produce enough high-grade energy oils to satisfy the world’s needs. The competition is on. Only time will tell which method is best.