A great number of Middle East fields have too harsh reservoir conditions (high temperature, high salinity) for conventional EOR polymers used as mobility control agents. Traditional synthetic polymers such as partially hydrolyzed polyacrylamide (HPAM) are not thermally stable.

At temperatures above 70°C, acrylamide moieties hydrolyze to acrylate groups which ultimately may lead to precipitation and total loss of viscosifying power. Thermal stability can be improved by incorporating specific monomers such as ATBS or NVP. However, their polymerization reactivity can cause some compositional drift and limit their molecular weight / viscosifying power. Compared to HPAM, they will require a higher dosage and higher cost.

In this study, we present thermal stability and propagation behavior of a new class of synthetic polymers with high thermal stability. In harsh conditions of Middle East brines, with salinity ranging from sea water to 220 g/L TDS, they present excellent thermal stability until temperature as high as 140°C. Adsorption and mobility reduction were evaluated through coreflood experiments using carbonate cores and Clashach sandstone cores, with permeability ranging between 100mD and 700mD. Mobility and permeability reductions indicate a good propagation in both types of rocks.

The development of this new polymer is a major breakthrough to overcome the current limits of polymer EOR applications in harsh reservoir conditions. Moreover, molecular weights can be tailored from low to high molecular weights depending on reservoir permeability. Further work is needed to evaluate resistance to mechanical degradation, salt tolerance and adsorption in carbonates and sandstones.

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