EOR vs. Infill Well Drilling: Field application of new decision making technique

Alusta, Gamal Abdalla (Heriot-Watt University) | Mackay, Eric James (Heriot-Watt University) | Collins, Ian Ralph (BP Exploration) | Fennema, Julian (Heriot-Watt University) | Armih, Khari (Heriot-Watt University)


This study has focused on the development of a method to test the economic viability of Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) versus infill well drilling where the challenge is to compare polymer flooding scenarios with infill well drilling scenarios, not just based on incremental recovery, but on Net Present Value as well.

In a previous publication (Alusta et al., 2011, SPE143300) the method was developed to address polymer flooding, but it can be modified to suit any other EOR methods. The method has been applied to a synthetic scenario with constant economic parameters, which has demonstrated the impact that oil price can have on the decision making process.

The method was then applied and tested (Alusta et al., 2012, SPE150454) with varied operational and economic parameters to investigate the impact in delaying the start of polymer flooding to identify whether it is better to start polymer flooding earlier or later in the life of the project. Consideration was also given to the optimum polymer concentration, and the impact that factors such as oil price and polymer cost have on this decision. Due to the large number of combined reservoir engineering and economic scenarios, Monte Carlo Simulation and advanced analysis of large data sets and the resulting probability distributions had to be developed.

In this paper the methodology is applied to an offshore field where the choice has already been made to drill infill wells, but where we test the robustness of the method against a conventional decision making process for which there is historical data. We do this by performing calculations that compare the infill well scenario chosen with a range of polymer flooding scenarios that could have been selected instead, to identify whether or not the choice to drill infill wells was indeed the optimum choice from an economic perspective.

We conclude from all the reservoir simulations and subsequent economic calculations that the decision to drill infill wells was indeed the optimum choice from an economic perspective.