Seismic vibration for improved oil recovery: A comprehensive review of literature

Qian Sun, Albertus Retnanto, Mahmood Amani

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


To this day, the petroleum industry is still searching for alternative ways to improve the recovery of hydrocarbon from the reservoir. The residual oil blotches may consist of about 30%–40% or more of a volume fraction. Seismic stimulation has great potential for IOR (improved oil recovery), because of its advantages on low cost, high effectivity, and environment-friendly as they introduce no formation damage, etc. The investigation and application of seismic stimulation have been launched for over 70 years. In this study, a literature review on the mechanism for IOR, including laboratory and theoretical modeling work, and oilfield application, is present here. Firstly, four different manners of vibration are introduced, and the seismic vibration with 1 Hz–100 Hz (frequency) and 1 μm–100 μm (amplitude) is the commonly used; Secondly, the mechanisms of IOR by seismic stimulation are summarized as: effect on capillary pressure, pore deformation, relative permeability, thermal and degassing effects, however, further tests and understanding of the mechanisms are necessary. Thirdly, the reviews of experimental research and mathematical modeling based on the published literature are made. Especially, the mathematical modeling of seismic vibration for the real reservoir development (such as non-Darcy flow, low permeability reservoirs, the coupling of non-Newtonian fluid, etc.) is still insufficient. Finally, some successful oilfield applications (in Russia, North America, and China) and prospects are proposed in this work. It will be more efficient to stimulate the reservoirs if the seismic wave is at the formation's resonant frequency. In our work, we don't expect to provide an exhaustive review of the work presented. On the contrary, we hope that our work can provide an introduction for other researchers to get a brief understanding of the seismic stimulation technology and possible results under which conditions the seismic stimulation works well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14756-14778
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2020



  • Elastic wave propagation
  • Improved oil recovery
  • Mechanisms of IOR
  • Porous media
  • Seismic vibration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology

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