03/06/2014 04:18 EST | Updated 05/06/2014 05:59 EDT

Saskatchewan spending $2 million on four enhanced oil recovery projects

REGINA - Saskatchewan is ponying up nearly $2 million to help find ways to push more oil out of the ground.

Innovation Saskatchewan, a government agency that gives the province advice on research and development, has approved $1.9 million to develop enhanced oil recovery technologies in heavy oil fields.

The money is for four projects, including two for the Regina-based Petroleum Technology Research Centre.

One project involves developing technology to map the flow of oil in reservoirs, while the second aims to assess the potential of radio frequency heating to increase oil production.

Another project will look at whether biosurfactant producing microbes can enhance oil recovery in the Lloydminster area.

Unlike conventional drilling, enhanced oil recovery looks at ways to extract heavy oil, get more oil out of older fields and push oil from rock formations.

"Saskatchewan's oil and gas industry is one of the economic drivers for the province," Economy Minister Bill Boyd said in a news release Thursday.

"Last year, the industry experienced records in production and horizontal wells drilled, lending proof to its strength and growth. We are continuing to support the development of innovative technologies through partnerships with industry that will increase oil production."