Polymer flow in porous media: Relevance to Enhanced Oil Recovery
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- Department of Chemistry 
Polymer flooding is one of the most successful chemical EOR (enhanced oil recovery) methods, and is primarily implemented to accelerate oil production by sweep improvement. However, additional benefits have extended the utility of polymer flooding. During the last decade, it has been evaluated for use in an increasing number of fields, both offshore and onshore. This is a consequence of (1) improved polymer properties, which extend their use to HTHS (high temperature high salinity) conditions and (2) increased understanding of flow mechanisms such as those for heavy oilmobilization. A key requirement for studying polymer performance is the control and prediction of in-situ porous medium rheology. The first part of this paper reviews recent developments in polymer flow in porous medium, with a focus on polymer in-situ rheology and injectivity. The second part of this paper reports polymer flow experiments conducted using the most widely applied polymer for EOR processes, HPAM (partially hydrolyzed polyacrylamide). The experiments addressed highrate, near-wellbore behavior (radial flow), reservoir rate steady-state flow (linear flow) and the differences observed in terms of flow conditions. In addition, the impact of oil on polymer rheology was investigated and compared to single-phase polymer flow in Bentheimer sandstone rock material. Results show that the presence of oil leads to a reduction in apparent viscosity.