New technology could ‘add decades’ to oil reserves

English: Illustration of an injection well used for enhanced oil recovery. Categorized as a "Class II Well" under the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Illustration of an injection well used for enhanced oil recovery. Categorized as a “Class II Well” under the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NEW GAS and water technologies could add decades to the life span of oil reserves in the North Sea, according to researchers.

A team at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University say they have made a breakthrough in developing clean and cheap methods to maximise extraction from existing fields.

The university’s Centre for Enhanced Oil Recovery has been working on a technique known as low-salinity water injection and researching which fields would benefit most from it.

The team has also been developing gas injection technologies for use in reservoirs that are already flooded with water.

Game changer

Professor Mehran Sohrabi, the centre’s director, believes new technologies could be a game changer for the industry and has called for more investment to reverse the decline in North Sea production.

He said: “At least half of the original oil still remains in the North Sea reservoirs but there are great challenges in extracting it using enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques.

“These include limited platform space and large well spacing, making extraction too expensive to pursue.

“Following years of research at the university, we now believe we can overcome these challenges.”

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