Polymer flooding has been identified as the next phase of developing two heavy oil fields located in the South of the Sultanate of Oman. The fields are supported with a strong bottom aquifer drive that results in large amount of water production due to the adverse mobility. In order to prove the concept of polymer sweep, a field trial was designed and conducted successfully in the field. Moreover, due to the challenges associated to handling back produced polymer number of tests were conducted to assess the impact of polymer on facilitates. Development of the field will take place in a phased manner in order to reduce the capex exposure, maximize the utilization of the existing facility and managing project risks while contributing to the overall production.
Dynamic modeling of both fields showed that polymer development is feasible. The modeling work was supported by a field trial that was designed to prove: polymer sweep performance, injectivity, as well as polymer losses to the strong water aquifer. This trial was monitored with detailed surveillance program including pressure, injection/production rates, viscosity and water quality, which concluded incremental oil gain from the process. In parallel, a number of laboratory and field tests were performed to assess the impact of polymer on the surface facilities such as the heater, separation tanks and the growth of the reed beds - wet planets- in the field.
Sustained incremental oil gain was clearly observed from polymer injection in the field trial. Injectivity could not be maintained as planned, due to a combination of polymer, biological and water quality issues. Later tests including biocide injection and QA/QC of polymer batches as well as some well stimulation did show improved injectivity profiles. Demulsifier tests mitigated the risk of creating stable emulsions. Laboratory tests indicated no heater fouling observed below 150°C. Short and long term investigation into the impact of water- contaminated polymer on plants in the wet lands was positive with the plants showing no necrosis. This was tested up to back produce polymer concentration levels of 500 ppm. Which is achievable given the excessive amount of water received at the facility allowing the dilution of back produced polymer to the required level. This helped in making the project more economically attractive as it results in a saving of around 30% from the overall project Capex.
The modeling exercise proposed drilling of around 200 polymer injectors across both fields, but in order to manage costs and further reduce project risks an optimised phased development approach was evaluated. Both Analytical and modeling approach were used to identify the phasing strategy. The phasing strategy will start with the most attractive to least attractive areas allowing for appraisal these areas prior to committing to their development. The key enabler for phasing of this development is by standardizing and replicating the development. Hence, modular facility for polymer preparation and injection was selected, in which a detailed design will be conducted for the first phase then it will be replicated for the other upcoming phases.
Phase-1 of the development will be in the central area as it is has a better response from the model compared to the other areas. This phase will include the drilling of 25 injectors and it will require two modular facilities. 25 to 30 injectors will subsequently be drilled every 2 years for the follow up phases.
The different surface and subsurface tests paved the way for a full field implementation of polymer injection in structures with strong bottom water aquifer. The paper discusses the phasing and replication strategy to mitigate project risks, learn on the go and improve the project’s schedules and economics.