Technology Focus

The demand for oil continues to grow, and it is forecasted that oil will continue to dominate the world share of energy supply for the next 3 decades. Accordingly, new discoveries tend to decrease on an annual base, and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) has the potential to reclassify unrecoverable and contingent reserves. EOR is viable because there are many available mature technologies, its implementation usually does not require drilling and completion cost, and most of the existing infrastructure can be used. 

When I selected the EOR papers to highlight this year, I classified the papers into the categories of gas injection, chemical methods, thermal methods, conformance control, microbial EOR, carbonate-reservoir EOR, reservoir-problem-identification technologies, and novel EOR methods including low-salinity waterflooding, imbibition EOR, alkaline/surfactant/gas injection, and CO2-miscible combined with alkaline/surfactant/polymer injection. Not surprisingly, CO2 EOR and polymer floods have drawn great interest this last year because CO2 sequestration has been a great interest to the community and polymer flooding is a proven cost-effective chemical-EOR method. The published polymer papers cover mainly the topics of thermal-stability evaluation of different polymers, novel polymer-flooding modeling, polymer-rheology database, and the formation effects on polymer properties. The CO2 publications discussed mainly the feasibility-evaluation results of CO2-EOR projects in different oil fields worldwide.

An EOR project is not just a matter of injecting materials, with many factors affecting whether the project is successful. The design and implementation of an EOR project require a systematic integration from a multidisciplinary team. It is critically important to identify the problems of mature oil fields for a successful EOR project, and, thus, the papers to identify channels in mature oil fields were included in this EOR feature.

EOR Performance and Modeling additional reading available at OnePetro:

SPE 121460 • “Stability of Partially Hydrolyzed Polyacrylamides at Elevated Temperatures in the Absence of Divalent Cations” by R.S. Seright, SPE, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, et al.

SPE 123971 • “Streamline-Based Simulation of Non-Newtonian-Polymer Flooding” by Abdulkareem M. AlSofi, SPE, Imperial College—London, et al.

SPE 123930 • “Identification and Characterization of High-Conductive Layers in Waterfloods” by C.S. Kabir, SPE, Hess, et al.

SPE 124930 • “Mechanistic Modeling of Emulsion Formation and Heat Transfer During the Steam-Assisted Gravity-Drainage (SAGD) Process” by Prince N. Azom, University of Texas at Austin, et al.

SPE 124946 • “Pore-Level Mechanics of Forced and Spontaneous Imbibition of Aqueous Surfactant Solutions in Fractured Porous Media” by Amar J. Alshehri, SPE, Stanford University, et al.

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