During a polymer flood, polymer retention can have a major impact on the rate of polymer propagation through a reservoir, and consequently, on oil recovery. A review of the polymer-retention literature revealed that iron and high-surface-area minerals (e.g., clays) dominate polymer retention measurements in permeable rock and sand (>100 md). A review of the literature on inaccessible pore volume revealed inconsistent and unexplained behavior. A conservative approach to design of a polymer flood in high-permeability (>1 darcy) sands would assume that inaccessible pore volume is zero. Laboratory measurements using fluids and sands associated with the Sarah Maria polymer flood in Suriname suggested polymer retention and inaccessible pore volume values near zero. A procedure was developed using salinity-tracer and polymer concentrations from production wells to estimate polymer retention during the Sarah Maria polymer flood in the Tambaredjo reservoir. Field calculations indicated much higher polymer retention values than lab tests, typically ranging from ~50 to 250 μg/g. Field cores necessarily represent an extremely small fraction of the reservoir. Because of the importance of polymer retention, there is considerable value in deriving polymer retention from field results, so that information can be used in the design of project expansions.

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