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Home > Alberta's Resource Inventory > Hydrocarbons > Crude Oil > Resource Development > Completion and Servicing > Oil Recovery Methods

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Oil Recovery Methods

Oilfield WorkersIn primary recovery—the initial approach to produce oil—natural reservoir pressure or simple mechanical pumps are used to raise oil to the surface. Most oil wells drilled in Alberta today have to be pumped. Primary recovery can range from 0.5 percent to 60 percent of the resource in the reservoir, depending on the combination of oil and rock characteristics. The average primary recovery rate is less than 20 percent. This means that a lot of oil would be usually left in the reservoir.

A number of methods can improve primary recovery. The most common is infill drilling, which involves drilling more wells into the same pool so the oil does not have to travel as far through the rock to reach a wellbore.

Petroleum Communication Foundation. Our Petroleum Challenge: Exploring Canada's Oil and Gas Industry, Sixth Edition. Calgary: Petroleum Communication Foundation, 1999. With permission from the Centre for Energy.

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