Per recent analyses, in the near future, over half amount of the oil extracted globally will require some form of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technique. Existing literature and historical investigations suggest that in oil reservoirs having viscosities between 10 — 150 m. Pa.s, there is a substantial prospective for tertiary recovery through the implementation of polymer flooding. For reservoir oil viscosities above 150 mPa.s, the polymer pumping efficiency goes down as polymer injectivity reduces significantly with increasing injection water viscosity that is used to attain a favorable mobility ratio at such high oil viscosities. To overcome this limiting factor, in this study, we propose the use of supramolecular assemblies (SMA) that have adjustable viscosity properties. Complex long-chain amino-amides and maleic acid are used to make these assemblies, which allow it to have reversible viscosity depending on the solution pH level.
To maintain high injection efficiency, during pumping, SMA solutions will be kept at low viscosity values. On entry in deep reservoir or at oil contact phase, through introduction of an external stimulus, the viscosity of SMA solution will be reversed to a much higher viscosity. This will allow to sufficiently improve the mobility ratio. Preliminary results from lab-scale studies have indicated that along with reversibly adjustable viscosity property, SMA solutions are also tolerant to high temperatures and salt concentrations.
Supramolecular solutions can be contemplated as remedy polymer systems, since unlike conventional polymers they disassemble and re-assemble when exposed to high temperature and stress conditions. In such conditions, conventional polymers generally undergo degradation. Additionally, through molecular scission processes SMA solutions can also be used in highly confining environments as well as in permafrost conditions and thin zones where conventional thermal techniques are not applicable.
The objective of this work is the development of a novel SMA system that has the aforementioned properties of reversibly adjustable viscosity through pH, tolerance to high temperature and salt concentrations through desired interfacial properties. Lab-scale preliminary results have shown the potential economic benefits of the use of SMA solutions on a field-wide scale. Based on the results, it must be emphasized that SMA systems have a worldwide application in oil reservoirs for EOR purposes.