Enhanced recovery

EOR Modeling-2022

Statistics are important in knowing where the sharp minds of SPE members are investing their energies. Typically, this is also in proportion to what those members need. Hence, it is noteworthy that more than a fifth of the papers were about CO2-based EOR, indicating not only renewed interest but also the motivation for carbon capture, use, and storage.

EOR Focus Intro image bubbles

No one will be surprised to learn of the reduction in the produced literature on enhanced oil recovery (EOR) this past year measured in terms of papers produced through various SPE forums. The constraints created by the COVID-19 pandemic have been unprecedented. More encouraging and noteworthy is the fact that, even in such hard times, the wheels of knowledge have kept turning.

Statistics are important in knowing where the sharp minds of SPE members are investing their energies. Typically, this is also in proportion to what those members need. Hence, it is noteworthy that more than a fifth of the papers were about CO2-based EOR, indicating not only renewed interest but also the motivation for carbon capture, use, and storage. You will find CO2-based EOR represented in the recommended-reading papers by a paper that describes use of simple techniques to predict fieldwide behavior using the Pulser method. What’s more, old is new again. In an enhanced shale gas recovery technique, as summarized in this issue, you will recognize repurposing of a much-discussed coalbed-methane method from a couple of decades ago.

CO2-EOR literature is closely followed by continued momentum in the area of data science (DS) and machine learning but with a perceptible degree of maturity in the types of application. As opposed to the “everything goes in the Wild West” approach of a couple of years ago, more and more researchers are realizing that a practical application of DS must respect the underlying fundamentals. No wonder, then, that we are seeing a gradual return of physics, though now strengthened with the power of DS. A good examples of this is found in a paper summarized here that presents data-driven approaches for waterfloods.

The other two inclusions presented in this feature combine learnings from other areas to extend and strengthen the frontiers of EOR modeling—namely, a coupled geomechanical and wellbore model, and an elegant manner of simulating phase appearance/disappearance in thermal simulations in the recommended-reading papers.

I hope this brief primer will not only bring you up to date with the trends in the EOR literature but also equip you with a good sense of emerging tools and their applications.

This Month’s Technical Papers

Fracture-Matrix Modeling Technique Unlocks CO2 Enhanced Shale Gas Recovery

Study Examines Capacitance/Resistance Modeling for Waterflooding

Approach Couples Reservoir Simulation With Wellbore Model for Horizontal Wells

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 200390 Pulser Model: Updated Framework and Lessons Learned From Applications in Forecasting CO2 Flood Performance by Deepanshu Kumar, Occidental Petroleum, et al.

SPE 203912 Development of a Thermal Stability Method for Phase Appearance and Disappearance Handling in Thermal Compositional Simulators by Mohammad Reza Heidari, Schlumberger, et al.


Subodh Gupta, SPE, is the founder and technology adviser at Heretech Energy, a Calgary-based consultancy firm advising on various surface and subsurface technologies for decarbonization of oil. He has worked in the process and petroleum industry for more than 35 years. Previously, Gupta headed research and development efforts for organizations including Cenovus Energy and its predecessor companies, EnCana and PanCan Petroleum. He is a member of the Canadian Photonic Industry Consortium Board of Directors and the Technology Alberta Advisory Board. Gupta has been an SPE Distinguished Lecturer as well as a member of the Distinguished Lecturer Selection Committee. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and MS and PhD degrees from the University of Calgary. He is a member of the JPT Editorial Review Committee.