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Shale EOR – Changing the Game?

After a decade of shale development, could the next era of extraction from shale be set to ramp up? EOG began secondary recovery pilot programs in the Eagle Ford all the way back in 2012. Those pilot programs expanded from single well tests, to full unit tests, and now encompass more than 150 wells across the play. Other Eagle Ford operators have followed suit and begun pilot programs.  The question though remains how much incremental oil are these tests producing and will shale EOR significantly change the outlook for supply in the Eagle Ford and beyond?

Shale IOR identified three adjacent units that EOG has been utilizing injected natural gas to boost recovery. The three units, Henkhaus, Mitchell, and Baker Deforest, in Gonzales county were first developed from 2011-2012 and reached a peak combined production of 18,000 B/d from 24 wells in July 2012. Development on the units continued, and the last new wells were turned to sales in November 2015. Production from the projects is highlighted in the chart below.

While drilling continued on the units, EOG also began its first injections of natural gas into the Henkhaus unit late in 2014, and production appeared to respond in early 2015. Daily oil production was 423 B/d from the Henkhaus in October 2014, but by June 2015, the unit was producing 1,957 B/d. Production from the unit averaged 831 B/d from November 2014 to  March 2019.

Injections began on the Mitchell unit in late 2016 and, similarly to the Henkhaus unit, within 4 months oil production rebounded on the unit. Over the last 30 months, this unit has produced nearly 500 B/d more than the production rate prior to injections.

The boosts are not permanent, as one would expect. Combined production from the 3 units declined throughout 2018 and produced 1,600 B/d on average over the last 6 months from the 42 wells, down from 4,000 B/d in late 2017.  However, three years of boosted production is an achievement.

What are the greater prospects for shale EOR and how might it impact US production going forward? Learn more about BTU’s  Upstream Outlook to stay current on how changes in technology are moving the outlook for North American supply.

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Anthony (Tony) Scott has built an in-depth understanding of the North American energy market by providing investment advisory services and leading teams of analysts focused on the North American energy complex for over 15 years. Mr. Scott cofounded BTU Analytics in 2014 as a boutique consulting firm focused on North American Energy markets. BTU Analytics grew into providing premier research and data services for the energy market and was acquired by FactSet Research Systems in July 2021. Mr. Scott currently is the VP of Energy Analysis for FactSet focused on developing their deep sector product offerings in Energy markets.

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