The perception of better economics and less risk from infill drilling and recompletions are reasons well-focused remedies are preferred compared to reservoir-focused solutions, such as enhanced oil recovery (EOR). However, most literature does not discuss the economic and risk indicators driving this.
Using a real example, this work demonstrates that combining polymer flooding with infill drilling and recompletion substantially increases economic benefits with reasonable risk.
The reservoir considered is an Oligocene sandstone at a depth of 2700 m. The °API is 29.5 and permeability ranges from 50 to 500 mD. Current reservoir pressure is 43% of the original and it is below bubble point. A black oil model with a 133 × 56 × 128 grid was used. The model incorporated more than 50 years of matched primary and waterflooding production history and experimental polymer physico-chemical parameters. For the stochastic economic risks estimation, 1,000 iterations were run for each scenario considering uncertainties in injection-production, capital expenditures (CAPEX), operational expenditures (OPEX), and oil prices.
For a 20-year horizon, the injection-production-pressure profiles were numerically forecasted; economic results were calculated using a classic model and inputs from the forecast. The economic risk was determined stochastically. The redevelopment scenarios considered were as follows:
Base: current waterflooding
Existing wells interventions: workover, opening shut-in wells, and new perforations
Infill drilling: vertical/horizontal infill drilling wells + existing wells operations
Polymer flooding: using existing wells
Combined Infill and polymer: vertical infill drilling wells and polymer flooding
P50 forecasts showed that interventions in existing wells in the base scenario increased oil production by 11% and net present value (NPV) by 71% with a risk index of 0.38.
A numerical optimizer was used to account for possible combinations of 14 potential drilling locations and vertical to horizontal well ratios. A scenario with three vertical wells was selected. Compared to the base case, this scenario showed an oil production increase of 23%, NPV increase of 178%, and a risk index of 0.41.
The injection rate of the polymer flood was optimized, resulting in a 17% increase in oil production and 95% increase in the NPV, with a risk index of 0.40. This justifies performing a polymer flood.
The most promising scenario is the combined infill drilling and polymer injection, which significantly improved the economic indicators—30% increase in oil production, 230% improvement of the NPV over the base scenario, with a risk index of only 0.41.
The results of this study demonstrate that the combination of EOR with different operational strategies results in significant benefits compared to the individual scenarios. Analysis of just oil production independent of economics and risk can be misleading. Infill drilling or flooding should no longer be the question. Instead, the question should be how they can be properly combined at various stages of asset life.