This paper sheds light on the design of a one-spot surfactant-polymer (SP) flooding pilot in a reservoir with oil viscosity greater than 1000 cP using a vertical well. The results of this pilot will be important to optimize the selected chemical formulation and finalize the recommended injection sequence with the purpose of de-risking subsequent multi-well surfactant-polymer flooding deployment.

Based on systematic screening, preliminary laboratory evaluation and reservoir simulation, SP flooding was identified as a promising EOR method for the Ratqa Lower Fars (RQLF) reservoir in Kuwait. This was followed by extensive laboratory work to design a robust chemical formulation based on specific reservoir properties and operating conditions. The performance of the developed chemical formulation was validated by means of simulation. Thereafter, a one-spot EOR pilot, which is also referred to as a Single Well Chemical Tracer Test (SWCTT), was designed to assess the effectiveness of the selected chemical formulation mainly in terms of injectivity and oil desaturation.

It was envisioned that the injectivity of a lab-optimized SP formulation for the RQLF heave oil reservoir needs to be confirmed in connection with oil desaturation using a one-spot EOR pilot due to the relatively high reservoir oil viscosity and low injection pressure to maintain cap rock integrity. Assuming favourable injectivity, incremental oil recovery in a one-spot EOR pilot is represented by the difference in residual oil saturation after water flooding and after chemical (SP) flooding. However, achieving low oil saturation as a result of waterflooding in a heavy oil reservoir takes a long time and requires large water volumes that are not applicable to full-field deployment. Therefore, the objective of the one-spot EOR pilot that is discussed in this paper was adjusted to validate oil desaturation as result of polymer and surfactant injection upon confirming water injectivity within a 3ft radius of investigation as outlined below:

  1. Initial water injectivity test

  2. Polymer solution injection

  3. Measurement of oil saturation

  4. Surfactant-polymer injection followed by polymer drive

  5. Measurement of oil saturation

This paper describes a methodical approach to de-risk surfactant-polymer flooding in a heavy oil reservoir using a one-spot EOR pilot. There is limited reference in the literature, if any, to field deployment of surfactant flooding in heavy oil reservoirs with an oil viscosity of more than 1000 cP. The findings of this study can be used to evaluate and potentially improve the techno-economic feasibility of chemical EOR in heavy oil reservoirs with similar properties.

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