Written by Yunan Wei; Xiaoguang Lu; Jianhong Xu

SPE J. 1–19.
Paper Number: SPE-215058-PA
Copyright © 2024 Society of Petroleum Engineers

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A Systematical Review of the Largest Polymer Flood Project in the World: From Laboratory to Pilots and Field Application (09 Aug 2023)


This paper presents a systematical review of the largest alkali-surfactant-polymer (ASP) flood project in the world, applied to the largest oil field in China. First, reservoir and fluid characteristics are highlighted. Next, project history is summarized, including laboratory studies, pilot tests, industrial-scale tests, and fieldwide application. Third, typical ASP flooding performance and reservoir management measures from more than 30 years’ experience are presented. In addition, performances of ASP flood and polymer flood in the same field, which is also the largest project in the world, are compared.

The Lamadian-Saertu-Xingshugang (La-Sa-Xing) Field in the Daqing Field Complex (including the La-Sa-Xing Field and three smaller satellite fields) is the largest oil field in China. The Upper Cretaceous Saertu-Putaohua-Gaotaizi reservoir has an average porosity of 25% and average permeability of 610 md. The reservoir consists of more than 100 flow units with an average gross and net thickness of 1,377 ft and 394 ft, respectively, and is characterized by significant heterogeneity, both vertically and laterally. The reservoir lies at a depth of 2,566–2,585 ft true vertical depth (TVD), with original reservoir pressure of 1,534–1,740 psi and a reservoir temperature of 113–122°F. Crude oil has an API gravity of 33° and a viscosity of 9 cp at reservoir conditions. The discussed ASP flood project mainly targets high-quality reservoir sands. The field was brought on-stream in 1960 with immediate waterflood. Crossflow and water breakthrough became common issues during water injection, calling for a suitable enhanced oil recovery (EOR) method. The Saertu-Putaohua-Gaotaizi reservoir features favorable conditions for ASP flood, such as temperature, viscosity, permeability, and formation water salinity (7000 mg/L). In addition, the heterogeneous reservoir (permeability variation coefficient of 0.6–0.8) is suitable for ASP flood. ASP flood was studied in the laboratory from 1987 to 1993, followed by five small-scale pilots from 1994 to 1999, all being successful with incremental recoveries of ~20% stock tank oil initially in place (STOIIP). As a result, industrial-scale tests were conducted from 2000 to 2007, resulting in substantial improvement in production from ~4,000 BOPD to greater than 19,000 BOPD. Encouraged by those successes, the ASP project was expanded to fieldwide since December 2007, which is the largest ASP flood project in the industry worldwide. By 2021, daily oil production by ASP flood had reached 96,000 BOPD through 4,825 producers and 4,825 injectors. The actual average incremental recovery factor is 20% over waterflood and 8–10% over polymer flood, resulting in ultimate recovery factor of >60%. Zonal injection and profile modification are effective measures to further improve sweeping efficiency. Scaling is the major challenge during the operation of ASP flood, which is mitigated or remediated by adopting weak alkali ASP, progressive cavity pumps (PCP), scale inhibitor treatment, and fracturing stimulation on damaged wells. As of 2022, oil production by ASP flood is still ongoing at 88,635 BOPD, accounting for 39.9% of total field production.

The world’s largest ASP flood project in the La-Sa-Xing Field proved the fieldwide applicability of ASP flood, both technically and economically. The effective reservoir management measures and lessons learned from more than 30 years’ experience provide valuable experiences for large-scale ASP flood projects in the industry.