Crude oil is extracted from oil reservoirs in several phases such as primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary phase refers to when natural pressure is applied to the reservoir to push crude oil to the surface; it allows 5-10% of oil extraction from reservoir. Further, secondary phase refers to injection of pressurized water and gas into surface area of well after primary extraction process in order to drive the remaining residual crude oil and gas, it yields 25-30% more oil extracted from reservoirs as compared to primary recovery phase. Tertiary phase refers to injection of different chemicals agents in order to improve the flow between oil, gas and rocks and to recover approximately 20-30% remaining crude oil from reserves after primary and secondary process. This process is also known as enhanced oil recovery (EOR) process.
EOR process can be performed through several methods such as gas displacement or injection (carbon dioxide, nitrogen), physiochemical method (injection of surfactants, polymers and alkali), thermal method (steam injection) and horizontal drilling with multistage hydrofracturing which involves tubing-conveyed hydraulic jet bursting and then hydrofracturing process. The EOR technology is commonly used in order to reduce the residue oil capacity and to extract more oil from the reservoir. The most common EOR recovery processes are thermal method and chemical injection method, to improve the recovery factor mainly in medium and light oil reservoirs and also to decrease the viscosity of heavy oils. Chemical injection method refers to various diluted chemicals like surfactants, alkaline or caustic solutions which are added to recover oil more efficiently from reservoirs. The role of surfactants in this process is to lessen the surface area tension between oil and water and also to increase macroscopic efficiency of the process.
According to International Energy Agency (IEA), global energy demand is expected to grow by 37% by 2040 and projects based out of EOR technology will produce nearly 300 million tons of oil on an annual basis by 2030. The U.S., Saudi-Arabia, Kuwait and China will be major contributing countries in order to meet the growing demand of EOR technology for crude oil extraction.
Hence, EOR technology is playing a significant role in efficient oil recovery process and also positively impact oilfield surfactants market.