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Field performance of polymer waterflooding

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This page provides a brief review of illustrative field applications of polymer waterflooding as reported in the literature.

Comprehensive Manning survey

In 1983, Manning et al.[1] published a comprehensive and classic summary of the field results and performance of more than 250 polymer waterflooding projects and provided information relating to the early field applications of polymer waterflooding.

North Burbank unit flood

Fig. 1 shows the incremental oil production response for the North Burbank polymer flood.[2]

Wyoming polymer floods

A polymer waterflooding project that involved a large full-field flooding project at the North Oregon Basin field in Wyoming’s mature Big Horn Basin oil-producing area was reported in 1986 to be producing 2,550 BOPD of incremental oil production. It was reported that this polymer flooding project would recover ultimately more than 10 million bbl of incremental reserves from the mature North Oregon Basin field. The field project involved the flooding of both a fractured carbonate formation and a fractured sandstone formation with a polymer flood using partially hydrolyzed polyacrylamide(HPAM). The polymer used in this flooding project was field manufactured at the North Oregon Basin field in a plant with a capacity of 23 million pounds of polymer per year.[3] This is an example of a successful polymer flooding project using partially hydrolyzed polyacrylamide and conducted in naturally fractured sandstone and carbonate reservoirs where both the polymer dissolution brine and the reservoir brine were relatively saline and relatively hard (relatively high concentrations of divalent cations and anions).

Chinese polymer floods

The Chinese have reported on a number of polymer flooding projects. During a pilot test of polymer flooding with HPAM in the 167°F Shuanghe reservoir of the Henan oil field in China, the incremental oil production was expected to approach 9.8% original oil in place (OOIP), and the polymer flood was expected to recover 0.7 bbl of oil per pound of polymer injected.[4]

It has been reported that polymer waterflooding, using HPAM, in the Daqing field in China has recovered cumulatively more than 300 million bbl of oil. This polymer waterflooding project was reported to be producing 70 million bbl/yr of oil in 2001. The cost of the oil from the polymer waterflooding project was stated to be US $6.60/bbl. The field was reported to be producing at a rate 310% greater than that expected for waterflooding alone. Incremental oil production attributed to the Daqing polymer waterflood is projected to be in the range of 12% to 15% of the OOIP.

French polymer flood

In 1995, an update was reported on the French Courtenay polymer flood that was conducted in the secondary recovery mode in a shallow sand reservoir with a 40 cp viscosity oil and 86°F reservoir temperature. Waterflooding was not conducted in this reservoir because of the combination of thin, high-permeability sand channels and an unfavorable mobility ratio. Oil recovery for the polymer flood was 6.6% PV. The total cost of oil production from this polymer flood project was US $12/bbl.[5]

Canadian Rapdan polymer flood

A 13-producer and 5-injector pilot of polymer waterflooding was conducted in 1986 in the 130°F and 110 md average permeability Upper Shaunavan formation of the Rapdan Unit in Saskatchewan, Canada. The polymer flood pilot consisted of injecting 17% PV of 1,100 to 1,500 ppm polyacrylamide polymer solution. Polymer flooding was started after waterflooding. As a result of polymer flooding, oil production was reported to have increased from 410 BOPD at 18% oil cut to peak production of 1,100 BOPD at 36% oil cut.[6]

Review of worldwide polymer floods

A literature review was conducted on twelve international polymer floods, both pilots and fieldwide projects, that were conducted between 1975 and 1992.[7] All floods were conducted in reservoirs with a reservoir temperature of less than 140°F. In ten of the floods, partially hydrolyzed polyacrylamide was used as the polymer, and, in two of the floods, xanthan was used as the polymer. The international polymer floods recovered between 6 and 52% of the OOIP, compared with the medium recovery of 4.9% OOIP for 128 US polymer floods. The general conclusion of De Bons and Braun[7] was that there tended to be a correlation between the polymer flood incremental oil production and the total amount of polymer used in the polymer floods, as defined by PV of polymer injected multiplied by the average concentration of polymer injected.

Survey of US polymer flood project production

Moritis[8] reported the total US enhanced oil recovery (EOR) oil production from polymer-waterflooding projects in 1998 was only 139 BOPD. This production figure was down from 21,000 BOPD in 1988 for US EOR oil production resulting from polymer-waterflooding projects. In the same survey in 2000,[9] EOR production for polymer and chemical flooding were combined so that the EOR production figure for polymer flooding alone was not discernable. The reported combined U.S. oil production in 2000 resulting from chemical and polymer flooding was 1,600 BOPD.

In 2002,[10] EOR production from polymer flooding was reported to have fallen to zero, and it was reported that the number of polymer flooding projects in the US had fallen from 178 in 1986 to 4 in 2002. In the 2002 survey, 20 polymerflooding projects that were being conducted outside the US and Canada were listed.

By the Oil & Gas Journal's 2010 survey of enhanced oil recovery projects, a very limited amount of polymer flooding was reported in the US. Polymer projects in China are likely still ongoing although no data were provided. Petroleum Development Oman plans for the Marmul polymer injection project to add 10,000 barrels of oil/day of additional production during the coming years. The project involves building a 110,000 cu m/day of centralized water treatment and 17,500 cu m/day polymer preparation and injection facility. Project start-up was planned for 2010.[11]


  1. Manning, R.K., Pope, G.A., and Lake, L.W. 1983. A Technical Survey of Polymer Flooding Projects. US Department of Energy DOE/BETC/10327-19, Bartlesville, Oklahoma (September 1983).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lake, L.W. 1989. Enhanced Oil Recovery, 314-353. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
  3. DeHekker, T.G., Bowzer, J.L., Coleman, R.V. et al. 1986. A Progress Report on Polymer-Augmented Waterflooding in Wyoming's North Oregon Basin and Byron Fields. Presented at the SPE Enhanced Oil Recovery Symposium, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 20-23 April 1986. SPE-14953-MS.
  4. Tielong, C., Zhengyu, S., Fan, Y. et al. 1998. A Pilot Test of Polymer Flooding in an Elevated-Temperature Reservoir. SPE Res Eval & Eng 1 (1): 24-29. SPE-36708-PA.
  5. Putz, A.G., Bazin, B., and Pedron, B.M. 1994. Commercial Polymer Injection in the Courtenay Field, 1994 Update. Presented at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, New Orleans, Louisiana, 25-28 September 1994. SPE-28601-MS.
  6. Pitts, M.J., Campbell, T.A., Surkalo, H. et al. 1995. Polymer Flood of the Rapdan Pool. SPE Res Eng 10 (3): 183-186. SPE-27820-PA.
  7. 7.0 7.1 De Bons, F.E. and Braun, R.W. 1995. Polymer Flooding: Still Viable IOR Technique. Paper presented at the 1995 European IOR Symposium, Vienna, Austria, 15–17 May, 57–65.
  8. Moritis, G. 1998. EOR Production Up Slightly. Oil & Gas J. (20 April): 49.
  9. Moritis, G. 2000. EOR Weathers Low Oil Prices. Oil & Gas J. (20 March): 39
  10. Moritis, G. 2002. Special Report—Enhanced Oil Recovery. Oil & Gas J. (15 April): 43.
  11. Moritis, G. 2010. Special Report—EOR/Heavy Oil Survey: CO2 miscible, steam dominate enhanced oil recovery processes. Oil & Gas J. (19 April): 41

Noteworthy papers in OnePetro

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External links

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See also


Polymer waterflooding

Polymer waterflooding design and implementation