The surfactant selection for chemical floods usually starts with an extensive lab study identifying the formulation that provides the best recovery performance. However, it is oftentimes overlooked that in a laboratory setting the requirements on product availability and applicability are less sensitive than for a field scale injection. Thus, there are various other aspects that contribute to the overall economics of chemical selection which also need to be taken into account.
Aside from the molecular properties, the manufacturing aspects have to be examined carefully to allow proper planning and ensure the supply of large volumes for full field implementation on time. Furthermore, opportunities to simplify and optimize the logistics (i.e. packaging, regulatory compliances …) help to reduce the cost of a chemical injection project. This is also strongly connected with the handling properties of the selected materials when it comes to the blending of the final injection cocktail (e.g. activity, viscosity, storage conditions, etc…).
This paper describes the crucial factors that impact the economics of a selected surfactant for a chemical EOR project, taking into account the production, transportation, delivery form, application performance, handling, amongst others. Another point that will be discussed, is the option to create in-country value and reduce logistic challenges by performing a final production step regionally close to the project site.
In the end, we conclude that involving the suppliers at a very early stage of the screening process helps to eliminate unsuitable molecules. It also allows for proper planning and leads to the most appropriate procedure. By taking into account the whole economics picture, a win-win situation can be created and the project is beneficially optimized. Forward thinking the treatment of both injected and produced fluids can be part of this optimization process.