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Secondary Oil Recovery

In oil and gas extraction, secondary oil recovery techniques are used when the underground pressure lowers to a point where primary recovery is no longer viable.

At this stage, pressure is applied to the oil reserves through additional water injections, which displace the hydrocarbons and force them into producing wells, such as with steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD).

SAGD is a secondary oil recovery technique commonly used for bitumen extraction. An injection well is flooded with pressurised steam, which condenses into liquid as it reaches the reservoir. This heats up the bitumen and reduces its viscosity so it flows into a producing well.

Key fact: Only 10% of a reservoir’s OOIP (original oil in place) is produced during primary recovery. Meanwhile, secondary oil recovery can produce 20-40%

Other secondary oil recovery techniques are gas injection and waterflooding. The former involves reinjecting natural gas into oil reserves to increase the pressure, causing the hydrocarbons to flow more easily. Waterflooding works similarly to SAGD, and involves injecting water into the reservoir to displace any residual oil and sweep it into a nearby producing well.


  • Maximises the amount of oil recovered

  • Extends a field’s productive life

  • Maintains production and increases ROI

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