Efficient production of heavy oil from the reservoirs with strong bottom aquifer has proven to be a challenge. While providing enough energy to produce the field under the primary depletion, the strong bottom aquifer in combination with unfavorable oil/water mobility contrast leads to rapid development of water coning thereby limiting oil recovery. Drilling of long horizontal producing wells in the upper part of the oil column maximizes the distance from the aquifer and allows relatively high production rates. This slows down the water cone development and increases primary recovery. Even with further optimization of the primary production, the recovery factor remains relatively low and consequently application of Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) techniques is required to increase the recovery.

Сrude oil from Nimr-E field is medium-heavy with the viscosity of 250-700cP under reservoir conditions. The field has been developed with mostly horizontal producing wells with relatively short inter-well distance. Due to strong bottom aquifer the reservoir pressure is maintained at the initial level despite the production under primary depletion. To increase the recovery factor polymer flooding was selected with expectation to increase the recovery by 5-10%. A field trial was conducted to understand the influence of polymer injection on oil recovery and address major uncertainties identified as key enablers for the full-field project. The pilot surveillance program, the surface facilities and the subsurface configurations were specifically designed to meet these objectives.

The paper presents field data of polymer injection trial in Nimr field and focuses on the performance results and principal operational challenges. The injection of polymer resulted in the incremental oil production that was assessed using field data and simulations. A significant increase of initial oil production and clear watercut reversal due to polymer injection was observed and incremental recovery reached approximately 7% of the initial oil in place. Injectivity issues encountered in the pilot wells were mitigated by the techniques and chemicals developed to solve the issues. The results prove the subsurface and operational success of polymer field trial that leads the way to a commercial development.

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