We develop a method based on concept of exergy-return on exergy-investment (ERoEI) to determine the energy efficiency and CO2 footprint of polymer and surfactant enhanced oil recovery (EOR). This integrated approach considers main surface and subsurface elements of the chemical EOR methods. The main energy investment in oil recovery by water injection is mainly related to circulation of water with respect to exergy of the oil produced. At large water cuts of >90%, more than 70% of the total invested energy is spent on pumping the fluids. Consequently, production of barrels of oil is associated with large amounts of CO2 emission for mature oil fields with large water cuts. Our analysis shows that injection of polymer increases the energy efficiency of the oil recovery system. Because of additional oil (exergy gain) and less water circulation (exergy investment), the project-time averaged energy invested (and consequently CO2 emitted) to produce one barrel of oil from polymer flooding is less than that of the water flooding at large water cuts. We conclude that polymer injection into reservoirs with high water cut can be a solution for two major challenges of the transition period: (1) meet the global energy demand via an increase in oil recovery and (2) reduce the CO2 footprint of oil production (more and cleaner oil). For surfactant-polymer EOR, the extent of improvement in energy efficiency depends on the incremental gain and the simplicity of the formulations.

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