BP, ConocoPhillips, Chevron and Shell have announced plans to deploy reduced salinity water injection (LoSal EOR) technology to boost oil production at the Clair Ridge development located west of Shetland, UK.
The £4.5bn Clair Ridge development is expected to come onstream in 2016 and produce up to 120,000 barrels of oil a day at its peak.
The company intends to use the technology to extract a higher proportion of oil from the rocks below the seabed during the life of the field.
A total of $120m has been allocated for installation of desalination facilities to create low salinity water for water flooding from sea water.
The new technology is estimated to enable the production of around 42 million barrels of additional oil, which will allow the company to add an estimated 640 million barrels of recoverable oil from the development.
Bob Fryar, BP executive vice president for production, said: "LoSal® EOR has immense potential for increasing the amount of oil recovered from the ground. If it can be successfully applied to similar fields around the world it will increase the world’s recoverable oil by billions of barrels."
BP head of upstream technology Jackie Mutschler said injection of anything too fresh or the clays within the oil-bearing sandstones will reduce the ability of the oil to flow.
"So BP looked at the fundamental chemistry which makes the oil molecules stick to the rock surfaces in reservoirs," said Mutschler.
"What we discovered is that by reducing the salinity, and hence the ionic concentration of the injected water, more molecules of oil could be released from the surface of the grains of the sandstone rock in which they’re held."
BP has decided to deploy LoSal EOR technology in all appropriate oil field developments.