Steam Flooding 'Vital' for Maximizing UKCS Oil Recovery

The enhanced oil recovery method of steam flooding is vital for maximizing crude oil recovery on the UK Continental Shelf, according to Steve Brown, CEO of The Steam Oil Production Company Limited.

Speaking at the Finding Petroleum event held at the Geological Society in London, Brown said that in spite of concerns among some sections of the industry regarding the feasibility of offshore steam flooding, this type of technologically was not just possible but “really important”.

Explaining how steam flooding can work offshore, Brown said that the technology needs to be used in conjunction with horizontal, rather than vertical, wells:

“You combine steam flooding and horizontal wells, you can take this technology offshore…If you search the literature of steam flooding, there are many naysayers out there telling us it can’t be done offshore. The great and the good saying, you just can’t steam flood offshore because of heat losses in the well bore and heat losses in the riser – and if you were using vertical wells, they’re 100 percent correct.

“When you do the calculations it turns out, that to go from wellhead down to the reservoir…about 300 barrels per day of steam condensed just because of the heat losses. If you’re injecting 500 barrels per day into a vertical well that 300 barrels per day condensing is a big problem…But if you’re injecting into a 1500 meter horizontal well…at 10000 barrels a day, that 300 barrels a day condensing doesn’t matter a damn. It’s 3 percent…OGA allow us to say, having done a validation of our calculations, that they do not disagree with our conclusion.”

Providing a proven example of offshore steam flooding, Brown discussed Perenco’s activities offshore Congo, stating that the company’s efforts had been largely successful, despite some difficulties:

“There is a steam flood happening offshore in Congo, in 65 meters of water. Perenco are steam flooding a reservoir successfully…they just have a very difficult reservoir to steam flood, it’s interbedded limestones and silt stones, not the…sandstones that are favoured for steam flooding.”

The Steam Oil Production Company Ltd was established in early 2014 with the intention of initiating the first offshore steam flood in Europe. The company holds a 100 percent interest in Promote License P2244; made up of blocks 21/27a and 28/2a, which cover the Pilot Main, Pilot South and Harbour fields as well as the Pilot Southeast exploration prospect. Steam Oil Production Company expects to recover around 150 million barrels of oil from the Pilot Main and Pilot South discoveries through steam flood technology.

A graduate in journalism from Cardiff University, Andreas has eight years of experience as a business journalist. Email Andreas at


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