Enhanced-oil-recovery (EOR) implementation is complex, and successful applications need to be tailored to each specific reservoir. Therefore, a systematic staged evaluation and development process is required to screen, evaluate, pilot test, and apply EOR processes for particular applications. Pilot testing can play a key role in this process. Before field testing, pilot objectives need to be clearly defined and well spacing, pattern configuration, and injectant volumes determined.
This paper outlines a staged approach to EOR evaluation and focuses specifically on pilot testing best practices. These best practices were derived from ExxonMobil's extensive piloting experience, which includes more than 50 field pilot tests covering the full range of EOR processes. Topics covered include: (1) determining whether a pilot is needed and defining pilot objectives, (2) considerations for successful pilot design, (3) types of pilots and their advantages and disadvantages, (4) tools and techniques for assessment of key reservoir mechanisms, and (5) minimizing uncertainty in pilot interpretation. Key issues that are often addressed by pilots are discussed, including areal sweep and conformance, gravity override, viscous fingering, and loss of mobility control. Also included are aspects of instrumentation and measurements in pilot injection, production, and monitoring wells. Several ExxonMobil piloting examples are used to illustrate the best practices, including a single-well injectivity test, an unconfined pilot with observation wells, a small-scale confined pilot, and a large-scale multipattern pilot.