By David Ingham
All oil companies in the Middle East region will have to resort to enhanced oil recovery (EOR) methods for future oil production, according to a senior official of Petroleum Development Oman.
All oil companies in the Middle East region will have to resort to enhanced oil recovery (EOR) methods for future oil production, according to a senior official of Petroleum Development Oman. Jan van Buitenen, director of the Enhanced Oil Recovery Directorate, says that resorting to techniques like EOR is only a matter of time, even for oil rich companies like Saudi Aramco and National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).
In Oman, about 90% of the fields require an advanced oil recovery technique, such as steam injection, with little or no new oil likely to be forthcoming from new fields.
“PDO has actually been working on EOR project definitions for quite a few years, but now we have come to the conclusion that EOR is absolutely necessary to continue oil production. The whole world has to turn to EOR at some point in the future, if they want to sustain oil production,” says van Buitenen.
PDO will incur more costs producing oil, when compared to the other oil companies working with conventional methods of recovery, as EOR methods are two to three times more expensive. However, van Buitenen asserts that PDO’s EOR projects are feasible, even when oil prices are below US $20.
He also says that, irrespective of rising oil prices, the company is constantly trying to reduce the cost of EOR projects. On the other hand, conventional methods of recovery, he adds, are becoming more expensive.
“At low oil prices, below $20 a barrel, a company using EOR still needs to make money. So, I would say [EOR costs] about two or three times the conventional cost. But, in the future, conventional oil recovery will become more expensive, with fields hitting maturity, and EOR will also become cheaper with larger fields and more projects.”
The company’s first large scale EOR project to come on stream will be the Marmul field in 2007. Van Buitenen says it may be too early to predict production from Marmul, but is hopeful of about 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil from the field in another six or seven years. Harweel is another of PDO’s large EOR projects.