Chemical enhanced oil recovery (CEOR) of heavy oils is growing in volume and scope due to advances in the technology and field experience. This work describes a new methodology to select a CEOR strategy in a heavy oil reservoir when several viable options exist. We applied this methodology to the Pelican Lake field in Alberta.

We evaluated water flooding, polymer flooding, alkaline-surfactant-polymer (ASP) flooding, alkaline-co-solvent-polymer (ACP) flooding and polymer flooding followed by ASP flooding in laboratory tests. We executed new experiments including microemulsion phase behavior, polymer rheology and corefloods representing these various strategies. These experiments were designed to help understand the role of mobility control in chemical flooding of heavy oils. UTCHEM, the University of Texas Chemical Flooding Simulator, was used to model experimental results, and to scale them up in pilot simulations using heterogeneous geological models representative of Pelican Lake.

We report results for the selection of promising CEOR strategies for implementation in Pelican Lake based on the new laboratory experiments, reservoir simulations and our qualitative understanding of their various advantages and disadvantages. We present simulation results of a pilot using horizontal wells in a heterogeneous geological model representative of the reservoir. We simulated the various chemical EOR processes using the matched experimental data and evaluated them in terms of total oil production, time to completion and complexity. In-situ oil viscosity and operational injection limits were evaluated as crucial sensitivities. We make recommendations for CEOR implementation based on simulation study results and our understanding of relative process risks and costs.

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