IFE Designs New Tracers

IFE is designing new tracers that can reveal how much oil is left in the fields.

Tracers are used in many areas, from medicine to industry. They are widely used to study the insides of oil reservoirs. In this highly specialized field, IFE has an extensive and internationally recognized position. Tracers can be used to estimate how much residual oil there is in a reservoir, the flow of water and oil, and to create a map of an oil reservoir.


At IFE’s tracer laboratories there is currently hard work going on to develop new tracers with different properties. The task for these tracers or chemical substances is to find out how much oil is left in the fields, and to provide information on where in the reservoirs the remaining oil is located. This information is vital to increase oil recovery.

In order to develop this field further, IFE has engaged two skilled scientists, PhD student Mario Silva from Portugal and Postdoctoral Fellow Thomas Brichart from France. Both are affiliated with the National IOR Centre of Norway, with the University of Stavanger (UiS) heading the centre and IFE and IRIS as research partners.

IOR is short for «increased oil recovery», and the centre’s ambitious goal is to raise the exploitation degree from today’s level of just below 50 % up to 70 % on the Norwegian shelf. 1 % increase signifies about 32 billion Euros in increased revenues.

IFE researchers



One of the big challenges is to find a tracer that is robust enough to survive in one of the world’s most hostile environments; explicitly in an oil reservoir. With pressures up to several hundred bars and temperatures at 100-150 degrees Celsius, many tracers do not survive in these conditions. They disappear or change character so they are impossible to find.

– We are in fact looking for the perfect tracer. One that can handle these conditions, and at the same time is environmentally acceptable and can be detected in very small quantities, explains Brichart.

Read the full article here.

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