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A potentially inexpensive method, Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery (MEOR), may prove useful and economical. Most conventional oil recovery processes are only able to retrieve from 15 to 50% of the available oil in the reservoir. The utilization of this technology can extend the average well life without increasing excessive lifting costs. As MEOR effects chemical changes in the reservoir, it is an environmentally compatible method of carrying out tertiary oil recovery. MEOR will become increasingly economically feasible as genetic engineering develops more effective microbial bacteria that may subsist on inexpensive and abundant nutrients. This article will review how the microbe works to improve oil recovery, evaluating the potential gain in oil production versus treatment cost, and identify applications and potential advancement of MEOR.
Recovering oil usually requires three stages. Primary recovery typically recovers 10 to 35% of a reservoir’s oil-in-place. Secondary recovery, which most often involves waterflooding, can increase recovery by 20% or more.
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