primary recovery | Energy Glossary

Explore the Energy Glossary

Look up terms beginning with:

primary recovery

1. n. []

The first stage of hydrocarbon production, in which natural reservoir energy, such as gasdrive, waterdrive or gravity drainage, displaces hydrocarbons from the reservoir, into the wellbore and up to surface. Initially, the reservoir pressure is considerably higher than the bottomhole pressure inside the wellbore. This high natural differential pressure drives hydrocarbons toward the well and up to surface. However, as the reservoir pressure declines because of production, so does the differential pressure. To reduce the bottomhole pressure or increase the differential pressure to increase hydrocarbon production, it is necessary to implement an artificial lift system, such as a rod pump, an electrical submersible pump or a gas-lift installation. Production using artificial lift is considered primary recovery. The primary recovery stage reaches its limit either when the reservoir pressure is so low that the production rates are not economical, or when the proportions of gas or water in the production stream are too high. During primary recovery, only a small percentage of the initial hydrocarbons in place are produced, typically around 10% for oil reservoirs. Primary recovery is also called primary production.

Synonyms: primary production

See: artificial liftenhanced oil recoverygas-cap drivegravity drainagereservoir pressurereservoir drive mechanismssecondary recoverysolution gasdrivetertiary recovery