When an oil field comes on stream, it has enough pressure inside to push the oil up through the wells naturally. But over time the pressure in the field drops and the flow of oil slows. In an increasingly energy-hungry world, the benefits of increasing the amount of oil extracted from existing fields are huge. A relatively small increase of just 1% globally would equate to three years’ production at current levels.

What is enhanced oil recovery?

Injecting water, chemicals, gas or steam into a field can make the oil flow more easily and boost recovery. Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technology can help us extract an additional 5-30% of the oil in place, increasing the overall recovery level from the field to 50-70% or even higher.

EOR could help to unlock as much as 300 billion more barrels of oil worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency.

In the face of declining oil fields and at a time when recovering hydrocarbons is becoming more difficult, effective techniques are key to extract more oil from mature fields.

Download the brochure and learn more about our enhanced oil recovery techniques

Decades of EOR expertise

Because each oil reservoir is unique, there can be no one-size-fits-all EOR solution. We have gained a deep expertise in EOR technology over 40 years, enabling us to develop a wide range of proven and innovative oil recovery technologies for fields with varying characteristics.

Shell’s development process advances EOR technologies from the lab to successful full-scale commercial deployment in a cost-conscious environment. Some of our technologies inject water into the field with solvents, polymers or reduced salt content to boost pressure and improve flow. Others inject steam or gases like methane or carbon dioxide to reduce the viscosity of the oil.

Along with our partners we have more than 10 EOR projects in operation or at the development stage, and more than 25 technology field trials or studies under way.

Monitoring progress

A range of innovative geophysical technologies – such as seismic imaging – that play an important role in our search for new energy resources, allow us to continuously monitor any changes in the wells and rock during enhanced oil recovery.

We have developed different techniques for monitoring the effects of the water, steam or gas that we inject into the reservoir, and maximise production accordingly. They also help us to better understand undeveloped parts of the field and identify pockets of oil we may have overlooked.

More in this section

Unlocking oil and gas

We are developing ways to unlock new energy resources safely and efficiently, often in more challenging environments.

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