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Tertiary recovery
So our well has been drilled and production has started.
We have produced using the wells natural momentum, pressure and
Our reservoir drive’s have helped produce via dissolved gas, gas cap and water
We then use our primary methods.
We will artificially help our reservoir via pumps and gas lift.
We then used our secondary methods.
We will inject our wells with gas and water.
Once reservoir drives, primary and secondary methods have been exhausted,
we have our final option which will be our tertiary methods.
These methods do not have to be used last or even when all other methods
have finished therefore, they will be called enhanced oil recovery (EOR).
EOR methods can increase productivity up to 75% of the oil in place, so can
take about 5-20% itself.
But this extra % comes with a much higher price tag then the previous methods
that we have looked at.



These methods unlike our previous do not just try and push the hydrocarbons
through the well but they try to alter the oil properties.
So they do not only provide pressure but also try to increase flow.

Tertiary recovery types
There are three main types of enhanced oil recovery including:
Miscible Displacement
As already said, these methods are quite expensive so a lot of research has to
go in to this to ensure money is not wasted

Chemical recovery
Chemical recovery is in form of chemical injection or chemical flooding
Chemical injection
In this method, chemicals are injected into the reservoir to reduce capillary
pressure to allow oil to flow more easily.
In fluids, capillary pressure is the pressure difference between
two immiscible fluids
Pcapillary = Pnon-wetting phase − Pwetting phase
In an oil-water reservoir, water is the wet phase and in gas-oil reservoirs, oil is
the wet phase.

In chemical injection method, chemicals (surfactants) are pumped in to othe
reservoir to lower surface tension to allow the reservoir to be more free flowing.
Polymers can also be injected to increase the water flooding/water injection. In
this case the injection process will be as below:
Reservoir fluid is pumped in
Then the surfactant which has caused the oil to form droplets in the water is
Finally, polymers are injected.
Chemical injection works best in sandstone as clay and limestone can absorb
the surfactants, so injection wells must be drilled in the correct location and in
the ideal beds
Chemical injection can increase recovery by up to 40%.

Miscible displacement
Miscible displacement is pumping liquid petroleum, gas, CO2 or Nitrogen to
push against the reservoir fluid into the wellbore.
The gas is expanded and pushed through the reservoir or mixed/dissolved in
the oil to decrease viscosity and allow better flow.

CO2 is either pumped in from a CO2 well, bought in liquefied or in storage
containers in a gas state.
Some of this gas can then be re-injected into the well once separated from the
Air cannot be used instead of CO2.
CO2 injection is the most common injection method as CO2 is a by product from
the industry and it is very cheap.
Nearly 50% of EOR in the USA is CO2 injection.

Thermal recovery
Thermal recovery is a method of injecting heat into reservoir.
The heat allows the oil to flow more freely by reducing viscosity.
Thermal recovery is very widely used especially on very viscous oil.
Thermal recovery can be split in to three main groups:
Hot injections including steam flood and cycle steam injection
Hot water flooding

Hot fluid injection
Steam injection to reduce viscosity or a cycle which starts off by injecting steam
into the reservoir, then shutting the well for a few days to allow the steam to
spread out evenly and then produce the oil out,
This process can be done over and over again.

In this method, gas and air are injected into the reservoir and then a device is
lowered in to ignite a fire.
Heat is generated by the heavy oil burning and vaporization of the lighter oil,
gas and reservoir water forming steam and hot water.
The fire moves and the burning front pushes the gases, steam and hot water
which will then reduce oil viscosity and displace oil toward production wells.

Hot water flooding
Also known as hot water injection, this works in the same way as steam
injection in that it reduces the viscosity of the oil, however, it is not as successful
as steam because it is not as hot
Thermal recovery can recover between 25-70% of oil in place.


Microbial recovery
In this method, biology is used to break down the hydrocarbon to make it easier
to recover or enhance the micro-organisms already down there.
Microbial technology can cause a chain of reactions which release gas and
therefore increase pressure.
This method breaks down the heavy oil into lighter oil i.e. reduces viscosity
It also produces natural surfactants
This type of recovery is not used too much as it is still a new and expensive
technology and prices are very high