A Critical Study of Polymer Flooding Effectiveness as an EOR Method
Lim, Ching, W
Engineering Honours Degree 2008
University of Adelaide
The enormous amount of potential hydrocarbon resource often left behind after conventional oil recovery processes has given rise to the idea of enhanced oil recovery (EOR), which can improve the ultimate oil recovery beyond the capabilities of conventional methods. Polymer flooding, an augmented waterflooding technique, is one of the most widely-used EOR methods around the world since its introduction in the 1960s. Over the past four decades, numerous laboratory evaluations and extensive field tests have been conducted and reported in the literature. These have led to an increasing number of field-scale polymer flooding projects being implemented, and as a result, a gradual improvement in experiences to guide best practices for future polymer floods. However, this method remains complex since numerous factors can simultaneously affect the outcome of a polymer flooding process and many characteristics of polymer flow in porous media have not yet been fully understood. This literature-review-based report puts together the underlying theories for the crucial aspects that can affect the result of a polymer flooding operation. Published laboratory and field results from various sources have been critically analyzed and used for discussions to support these theories. In the process, over 40 literatures have been studied and compared in order to gain an insight into the physical and chemical behaviours of polymers at molecular scale. A brief case study on international fieldwide polymer flooding projects has also been done and the findings of this study indicate that due to the imperfect knowledge regarding polymer behaviours in the actual reservoir, the best bet for a successful polymer flooding is to investigate all possible factors that can impact the outcome of a polymer flood, including the characteristics of the target reservoir and polymer in use. Overall, this report conveys the science behind how polymer floods function and can help one to better understand the parameters that are crucial and have to be taken into considerations during the design of high-performing polymer flooding projects.