The estimated 100 billion barrels of heavy oil reserves in the U.S. have responded well to thermal Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) during the past 30 years. However, in the current low price environment for heavy oil, new and novel low cost EOR methods must be developed to maintain and hopefully increase the production of heavy oil in the U.S. and throughout the world.
This paper documents the efforts of a 2-1/2 year, two phase project conducted in two areas of the Midway-Sunset field near Bakersfield, California. Successful applications of a novel high temperature stable polymer/surfactant gel system utilized in conjunction with the injection of steam and carbon dioxide have been demonstrated. This process has been tested in nine cyclic steam stimulation treatments, as well as in two continuous steam drive injectors and has shown the ability to effectively divert steam and correct the inherent inefficiencies due to steam channeling and steam override. This process utilizes a specially developed low cost, high temperature stable polymer/surfactant gel solution that holds the promise of substantially reducing the costs associated with current methods utilized to improve sweep efficiencies in thermal projects.