Importance of Optimized Recovery Rises as More Fields Mature

Growth in oil production to sustain the nation's economy must be achieved through a combination of new discoveries and optimized recovery from existing fields, which account for a quarter to two-thirds of total global assets. This number is expected to increase over the coming years as more and more fields enter the mature phase.

At IHS CERAWeek session, "Mature Field Development: The Next Wave of Innovation," a panelist of four discussed the importance of technology innovations when dealing with mature fields and the pros and cons of turning one's attention to optimized recovery.

"More than 70 percent of current worldwide production comes from fields more than 30 years old, both onshore and offshore," stated Bill Scoggins, President, Colorado School of Mines. "Furthermore, mature fields have the potential to contribute significantly to future reserves – provided that recovery can be optimized," he said.

The pros of focusing on mature fields are:

  • their accessibility
  • the upside potential
  • well-established infrastructure
  • technical and operating data that is readily available
  • experienced work-force.

The cons the panel listed are

  • environmental regulations
  • adverse economic policies
  • financial
  • project economic considerations

"As oil prices get high, we turn our attention to mature field development, which we consider to be an economic vitality to this industry," said Barry Smitherman, Chairman, Railroad Commission of Texas. "In the U.S., horizontal wells are growing, which makes horizontal drilling and fracturing the key to increase production in mature fields."


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