Tertiary methods such as thermal enhanced oil recovery (EOR), steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), gas injection and chemical injection can help boost the North American thermal EOR market.
California’s heavy oil production and exploration frontiers such as Canada’s oil sands have created an expansive market for thermal EOR in North America. Frost & Sullivan reports that oil production from thermal EOR in North America was 2.53 million barrels per day in 2013, and expects to reach 4.64 million barrels per day in 2020. SAGD is expected to be the highest revenue contributor, followed by steam injection. Other thermal EOR methods are still nascent.
Thermal EOR in particular will find application in areas where oil is viscous and heavy; it currently accounts for 55 percent of the total EOR market in North America. Nearly 80 percent of oil sands can only be extracted through the SAGD method, which is more expensive versus other thermal EOR methods.