This research was designed to develop an efficient micellar/polymer process for tertiary oil recovery at Lao Jun Miao (Yumen field, China), a reservoir with a high clay content, mainly smectites.

Preliminary laboratory tests indicated poor final oil recovery due to high retention of the sulfonate attributed to adsorption and precipitation by in-situ generated divalent cations as a result of ion exchange.

Alkaline additives were chosen for improving the process efficiency. This paper describes a number of preflush compositions and their effect on surfactant retention. With this strategy in view, a phase behavior study was carried out to formulate an efficient micellar slug for the tertiary recovery of Lao Jun Miao crude.

Additional insights into the implementation of the process are given. In particular, the design of the preflush composition was improved to prevent adverse effects such as clay swelling. The results demonstrate the technical feasability of micellar/alkaline/polymer flooding at Lao Jun Miao.

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