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Simulation of Polymer flooding in heavy oil


Polymer flooding is favourable for reservoirs where the oil viscosity is high compared to brine viscosity, or in reservoirs where the heterogeneity is dominating the displacement process. Better sweep efficiency can accelerate oil production and may also enhance oil recovery. The recovery efficiency of heavy oil reservoirs (oil viscosity more than 100 cP) is rather low, typically about 10-20% of the oil in place. In order to improve oil recovery, polymer assisted waterflood is one of the options to be investigated. The polymer applications in heavy oil reservoirs aim to stabilize the flood front and reduce viscous fingering. Polymer injection is currently attracting a lot of attention as polymer flooding can improve recovery for a wide large of reservoir applications from low oil viscosity to even extra heavy oil (Wassmuth et al., 2007; Asghari and Nakutnyy, 2008; Wang and Dong, 2009; Bondino et al., 2011; Skauge et al 2012) have summarized laboratory investigations of polymer injection for oil displacement in heavy oil reservoirs. 2-D experiments on 30x30cm Bentheimer sandstone slabs studying viscous unstable waterflood and polymer flood following after water injection. The waterflood into heavy oil is characterized by viscous fingering. A large increase in oil recovery is achieved by polymer injection, though the mobility ratio is still unfavourable. Oil mobilized by change in the mobility ratio seems to be transported through the established water fingers. This poster describes simulations of tertiary polymer flooding in heavy oil. The mechanisms of oil mobilization are studied through simulations.


Water flooding after 0.110 PV, 0.664 PV, 1.423 PV and 2.270 PV

Polymer injection at 0.031 PV, 0.185 PV, 0.502 PV and 1.515 PV.

Simulations of oil Production for cases with one, three and five water channels versus pore volume

70 60
Oil Recovery (% OOIP)


The mechanism of viscous finger formation by waterflooding heavy oil is far more complex than what could be handled in current numerical simulator. Fine grid and higher order flux options gave little improvement.

50 40 30 20 10 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Injected Volume (PV) E7000 E2000

Cross flow into water channels. Oil saturation at 0.1 PV for water-wet, intermediate-wet and oil-wet, respectively.

Tertiary polymer flood: Oil is mobilized by crossflow into established water channels. Given a constant volume of water channels, more water channels accelerate oil production. More cross-flow could be introduced by use of untraditional Corey exponents. Simulations are able to handle oil saturation profile from experimental data inside and outside water channel during polymer injection. It is observed a rapid drop in oil saturation outside the channel, in the unswept zone after polymer injection. In the water channel an oil bank occurs early and the residual oil saturation after waterflooding is lower than residual oil saturation after polymer injection. Simulations are improved by use of relative permeability hysteresis.

Polymer injection at 0.01 PV, 0.05 PV, 0.1 PV and 0.5 PV.

CITATIONS Skauge, A., Ormehaug, P.A., Vik, B.F., Fabbri, C., Bondino, I, and Hamon, G., Polymer Flood Design for Displacement of Heavy Oil analyzed by 2D-imaging, EAGE 17th European Symposium on Improved Oil Recovery, St. Petersburg, Russia, 16 - 18 April 2013 Skauge, A., Ormehaug, P:A., Gurholt, T., Vik, B., Bondino, I., and Hamon, G., 2-D Visualization of Unstable Waterflood and Polymer Flood for Displacement of Heavy Oil, SPE 154292, paper prepared for presentation at the Eighteenth SPE Improved Oil Recovery Symposium held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, 1418 April 2012.