Excess water production is a major concern for Russian oil companies. Maturing fields are producing at ever-increasing water cut resulting in problems such as the cost of disposal and environmental issues. In recent years, operators have shown a rising interest in Relative Permeability Modifiers (RPMs) as a potential solution to reduce water production.

RPMs are designed to disproportionately reduce the relative permeability to one phase (water) over the oil phase. RPMs are a preventive approach to reduce water production. Ideally, they should completely block water flow without affecting oil flow. While RPMs are used worldwide, they must be adjusted to the reservoir conditions. This becomes even more important in the case of hydraulic fracturing of formations with nearby water-saturated layers.

Commonly, service companies recommend one type of RPM which fits all reservoirs. This paper demonstrates how RPM selection on reservoir cores is critical for successful application in the field. We describe laboratory testing and review field trial results of RPMs in a low permeability (2 to 14 mD), highly laminated formation. Because RPMs are typically used only in high-permeability reservoirs, this application is unique. We evaluated chemically different RPMs on actual core material and found strong performance variations of the tested RPMs. We selected a suitable RPM following both core flow testing and compatibility testing.

For the field test, wells in the Krasnoleninskoe oilfield were selected for RPM treatments. Oil production was increased in most cases while the water cut was reduced or only slightly increased by up to 5% during 6 months following the treatment. These results show that with proper evaluation, RPMs can also be successfully used in low-permeability reservoirs. We demonstrated also that otherwise proven successful RPMs may not fit every reservoir and proper evaluation and monitoring is critical for success.

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