Huff-n-Puff Technology for Enhanced Oil Recovery in Shale/Tight Oil Reservoirs: Progress, Gaps, and Perspectives


In recent times, particularly in the 21st century, there has been an alarming increase in the demand for global energy, along with continuous depletion in conventional oil reservoirs. This necessity has incentivized interested scholars and operators worldwide to seek alternative oil resources. To secure such accelerating energy demand, considerable effort has been directed toward the development of previously unconventional oil formations that, in past decades, had remained sidelined. Although shale oil reservoirs have seen tremendous success over the past decade, the continued challenges of rapidly declining oil flow rates and oil retention in the pores continuously persist. Substantial attempts have been made to improve shale-bypassed oil recovery; however, there is little data about the accessibility on recovery mechanisms, especially in the oil field. Furthermore, approaches - particularly, Huff-n-Puff (H-n-P) experiments using conventional procedures - fail to properly represent field conditions and they generate deceptive findings, because the utilized cores are not simulated under realistic reservoir conditions, leaving the significance of critical factors unclear. Therefore, this review study comprehensively and specifically discusses the feasibility of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) methods in unconventional oil reservoirs. Beside addressing the validity of the currently applied H-n-P technology in shale/tight oil reservoirs and underlining some critical gaps regarding laboratory results, modified technology is proposed in this paper for a better field future performance. The study is divided into sections, and each section analyzes the role of one specific H-n-P portion in detail, such as preferable injected solvents, their mechanisms, and critical factors affecting H-n-P recovery. The exceptions to this are the first and second sections, which provide a brief introduction about shale and tight oil reservoirs, a history of applied technology, and the method's current problem statement. In the Introduction section, the authors will justify why this Review fills a critical gap in the field. Within the assessment study, great focus is given to the H-n-P technique, its parameters, and effective processes. In the final sections, carefully chosen experimental results and tools are reviewed to highlight the controversy and state "the gap".


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering


The authors would like to thank the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research-Libya for providing a scholarship. We are also grateful to Universiti Teknologi Malaysia for supporting this research, through Research Management Grant Vot. Nos. R.J130000.3551.07G52, R.J130000.3551.06G68, R.J130000.3551.06G69, R.J130000.2451.08G93, R.J130000.3051.01M99, R.J130000.7851.5F030, and R.J130000.7351.4B545.

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1520-5029; 0887-0624

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2021 American Chemical Society (ACS), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

21 Oct 2021