Much by-passed oil lies in difficult-to-access pockets. Predicting the location and size of these elusive, compartmentalized deposits is costly because it often requires complex computing capabilities. Many independent producers aren't able to commit the personnel or buy the expensive supercomputer time required to build and operate the models needed to find and produce these overlooked stores of oil.
The A&M research effort engineered a cost-effective way to streamline computer-generated reservoir models. It provides significant savings in computation time and manpower.
Reservoir characterization identifies "unswept" regions in these mature fields containing high oil or gas saturation. In this process, geoscientists first employ computer models to develop an accurate picture, or characterization, of a productive oil reservoir. "History matching" is then used to calibrate the model by correlating its predictions of oil and gas production to a reservoir's actual production history.
In the Texas A&M project, researchers developed a novel, computerized method for rapidly interpreting field tracer tests. This innovation promises a cost-effective, time-saving solution for estimating the amounts of remaining oil in bypassed reservoir compartments. The new method integrates computer simulations with history matching techniques, allowing scientists to design tracer tests and interpret the data using practical PC-based software - a process that is much faster than conventional history matching.
Here is the summary for a pdf that has an overview of enhanced oil recovery
The 11 page pdf discusses that 2.6 million bpd is from EOR. Past successful methods have been steam and CO2 injection and applying heat.
Here is a 148 page study of enhanced oil recovery methods
Cheaper supercomputers with teraflops of performance for less than $10,000 will also help the small oil producers to make better reservoir models
I have looked and short, mid and long term plans for transitioning from oil.
Al Fin also has a feature on the Toe to Heel Air Injection (THAI) technology for extracting oil from tar sands deposits.