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New Technologies Multiply Oil Reserves Six-fold to 10.2 Trillion Barrels

Lux Research

Enhanced oil recovery methods being developed by start-ups and established players alike can also more than double output at most oilfields, Lux Research says.

BOSTON, MA – August 21, 2013 – While enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is an established practice, a variety of emerging EOR can expand global oil reserves by six times, adding decades to the world’s oil supply. A combination of established and emerging techniques – can increase oilfield output, yielding 10.2 trillion barrels of unconventional reserves, compared with a mere 1.6 trillion of conventional oil reserves, according to Lux Research.

EOR technologies extend the life of conventional reservoirs and make unconventional sources like tight oil, tar sands, and shale gas economically recoverable,” said Daniel Choi, Research Associate at Lux Research and an author of the report titled, “Evaluating New EOR Technologies in Oil Industry Mega-projects.”

"Over 500 mega-projects – those costing more than $1 billion, or producing more than 20,000 bbl/day – underway worldwide will need EOR technologies to access tight oil and gas, heavy oil and other unconventional hydrocarbons," he added.

Lux Research analysts evaluated varied EOR technologies and assessed 14 start-ups on the Lux Innovation Grid, based on conversations with national and international oil companies, service companies, and technology developers. Among their findings:

  • Most oil shale requires EOR. Deposits of kerogen in oil shale may constitute as much as 3 trillion BOE (Barrels of Oil Equivalent), or about 35 years’ worth of global consumption. However, getting this resource out of the ground requires an array of EOR technologies such as in-situ combustion.

  • GasFrac, Glori are standout technology developers. Start-ups like GasFrac and N-Solv use hydrocarbons such as propane instead of water for well stimulation and fracking. Microbial-enhanced oil recovery specialists like Glori and Taxon have also shown promising results in the field.

  • Adjacent technologies can help solve technical EOR challenges. Water management is a big issue for EOR, and companies with novel materials , such as Opflex, or even those in municipal water treatment systems, such as Aquatech, can help extract hydrocarbons from produced water.

The report, titled “Evaluating New EOR Technologies in Oil Industry Mega-projects,” is part of the Lux Research Exploration and Production Intelligence service.