Oil Exploitation – Understanding our business

Our core competency is oil exploitation, which we define as the application of technology to increase the recovery of undrained oil in existing reservoirs. It is a technically complex business and each oil reservoir is treated differently depending on the interrelationships of the reservoir rock, fluids, pressures, wells and surface facilities. We work in all three phases of oil reservoir exploitation: primary, secondary and, more recently, tertiary recovery projects.

Each reservoir requires multi-faceted reservoir evaluations and detailed exploitation plans. For the majority of our projects, we use 3D seismic, detailed geological interpretation, fluid flow reservoir engineering and operating data to characterize our oil reservoirs. Based on these assessments, we optimize or initiate reservoir recovery strategies.

In a typical Alberta Plains South Mannville oil reservoir, primary production brings only about 15 percent of the original oil-in-place to the surface.

The implementation of a waterflood improves recoveries, but still may only capture 40 percent of the original oil-in-place. Tertiary floods, based on chemicals, can increase the recovery of oil by another 12-15 percent.

In its underground setting oil is stored in rocks, in the small pore spaces between grains of sand.


Water – grainy area
Sand – grey blobs
Oil – black circle

Recovery Methods

Original oil-in-place brought to the surface (typical recoveries).

  • Primary Recovery – 5% to 15%
  • Secondary Recovery (Waterfloods) – 40% total recovery
  • Tertiary recovery – 50% or more total recovery