Polymer Flooding has been shown to increase oil production. The reason for increasing oil production is acceleration along flow paths but also flow diversion from higher permeability to lower permeability areas. Tracer tests performed in the 8 TH Reservoir in Austria prior, during and after polymer flooding show that the flow system dramatically changed. The connected volumes from injector to producer as well as the flow heterogeneity were influenced and substantial incremental oil produced. A number of tracer tests were performed in the pilot area of a polymer flood at various times. In addition, pressure data and polymer rheology was analyzed.

The tracer results were used to calculate flow pattern, dynamic Lorentz coefficient and connected volumes. Pressure data were used in combination with geomechanical modelling to investigate the injection regime (matrix or fractures). The interpretation of the data was combined with the determination of incremental oil production based on simulation. The tracer tests reveal the dramatic changes in flow patterns, connected volume changes by more than a factor of three occurred and the Lorentz coefficient indicating the heterogeneity of flow changed by more than a factor of two. The injection regime changed from injection under matrix conditions prior to polymer flooding to injection under fracturing conditions during polymer injection and back to injection in matrix conditions during chase water injection.

The reason for the changes in injection conditions is the near-wellbore viscoelastic rheology of the High Molecular Weight Polymers which were used. The growth of fractures leads to additional alteration of flow paths. The design of polymer flooding needs to take into account that flow paths are not only changed due to the reduction in water relative permeability resulting from polymer adsorbing to the rock and the increased viscosity of the injected fluid but also owing to changes in injection regime. The changes in injection regime might lead to early breakthrough of chase water as it might not flow along the same paths as the polymer solution.

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