DEFINITION of 'Steam-Oil Ratio'

The steam-oil ratio (SOR) is a metric used to quantify the efficiency of oil recovery processes based on types of steam injection. The steam-oil ratio measures the volume of steam used to produce one unit volume of oil. The lower the ratio, the higher the efficiency of the steam use. As technology improves, less steam is required to produce an equivalent barrel of oil.

BREAKING DOWN 'Steam-Oil Ratio'

The steam-oil ratio helps establish guidelines for efficiency in oil recovery and production. The ratio explains how well a certain steam process works compared with others. If a steam-value ratio for cyclic stimulation, for example, would produce values of 3-8; the steam-value ratio for steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) on the other hand produces values in the 2-5 range. Therefore, steam-assisted gravity drainage is a more efficient process that would have lower related fuel costs for the steam generation.

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