Primary Recovery

DEFINITION of 'Primary Recovery'

The first stage of oil and gas production, in which natural reservoir drives are used to recover hydrocarbons. Due to the difference in pressure within the reservoir and at the bottom of the well, hydrocarbons are driven towards the well and to the surface. During primary recovery, typically only 5-15% of initial hydrocarbons are produced for oil reservoirs.

Also called primary production.

BREAKING DOWN 'Primary Recovery'

Oil and gas companies will expend less money retrieving the resources from the ground during this initial phase. As production continues the reservoir pressure will decrease and hence the differential pressure decreases, which may necessitate the use of a pump to increase production. The limit for primary recovery is generally reached either when the reservoir pressure is too low, or the mix of gas or water in the output stream is too high. The next stage then involves the use of secondary recovery techniques such as gas injection or flooding.

Trading Center