What Is Steam Drive and How Does It Work

Steam drive is a method that oil companies use to increase production of crude oil. The method is similar to other methods such as water flooding and cyclic steam injection but more expensive. However, the method, which is in use since 1959, is more effective because of the heat factor that steam possesses naturally. The steam released bursts into the production oil wells and it increases the oil production or flow to injection well. The water technique is the nearest technique to steam drive. Both allow the oil to come up in the production wells.


  • 1

    In the steam drive method of oil production, two types of wells are drilled. One is production well and the other is injection well. Steam is released into the production wells and it allows the oil to come up on the surface that is transferred into the injection wells.

  • 2

    The steam drive method is similar to the water flooding and cyclic steam injection techniques, but it is more effective than the other two. It is more expensive as well. Nevertheless, it has been in use since 1959, from the time when companies started finding ways to increase the flow or production of crude oil from reservoirs to injection points.

  • 3

    In this method, the steam is released into the crude oil production wells in bursts, not in a steady stream. Since it has the natural heat element, it works quicker than the other two techniques and the entire quantity of crude oil present in a reservoir comes up and gets transferred into injection wells. This does not allow any waste of crude oil in the production wells. It has proven to increase the crude oil production to a considerable level.

  • 4

    Water flooding is another technique that is the closest to the steam drive method of increasing oil production. However, steam drive is superior to the water flooding method because it has natural heat element that can make the oil thinner and make it more likely to come up on the well surface. Both techniques nevertheless depend on the wells, and companies sometimes find one more competitive than other.

  • 5

    Steam drive sometimes is also referred to as the method of generating power through steam. For example, old locomotives were driven by the power generated through steam, and therefore they were referred to as steam engines. These engines are not in use anymore.

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