This paper presents a systematical review of the largest polymer flood project in the world, applied to multilayered, heterogeneous sandstone reservoirs in the giant Daqing Oilfield in China. First, reservoir and fluid characteristics are highlighted to understand the heterogeneity of the reservoir. Next, the project history is summarized, including laboratory studies, pilot tests, commercial tests, and fieldwide applications. Third, typical polymer flood performance and reservoir management measures are presented. Finally, key understandings and lessons learned from more than 50 years of experience are summarized.
The La-Sa-Xing Field in the Daqing Field Complex contains three types of reservoir sands: Type I sand with high permeability, Type II sand with medium permeability, and Type III sand with low permeability. Polymer flood was studied in the laboratory in the mid 1960s, followed by small-scale pilots beginning in 1972 and industrial-scale pilots starting in 1993, all of which successfully reduced water cut and enhanced oil recovery. Fieldwide application commenced in 1996, targeting the Type I sand. With Type II sand being brought onstream in 2003, the project achieved a peak production of 253,000 BOPD in 2013. Polymer flood reduced water cut by 24.8%. Reservoir management measures, such as zonal injection, profile modification, hydraulic fracturing in low-permeability sand, and injection optimization, proved to be effective. Based on the water-cut performance, production can be divided into four stages: (1) water-cut decline, (2) low water cut, (3) rebound, and (4) water chase. Fit-for-purpose improved-oil-recovery measures were implemented for each stage to improve production performance.
Key understandings and lessons learned include the following: (1) Polymer flood improves both sweeping and displacing efficiencies; (2) high interlayer permeability contrast leads to low incremental recovery; (3) variable well spacing should be adopted for different reservoir types; (4) adoption of large molecular weight (MW) and large slug size greatly enhances recovery; and (5) salt-resistant polymer is beneficial for produced water reinjection in Type II sand; (6) zonal injection increased swept reservoir zones by 9.8% and swept pay thickness by 10.3%; (7) profile modifications helped improve vertical conformance in injection wells and led to enhanced sweeping efficiency and extended low water-cut stage; and (8) optimization-recommended well spacing for Type I, Type II, and Type III sands is 10–15.5, 5.6–7.6, and 2.5–3.6 acres, respectively.
In comparison with generally 6–8% incremental recovery by polymer flood in the industry, this project achieved an impressive incremental recovery of 12%, enhancing the oil recovery factor from 40% by primary recovery and waterflood to 52% stock tank oil initially in place (STOIIP). The progressive approach from laboratory experiments through pilots and finally to field application is a best practice for applying polymer flood fieldwide for a giant field such as the La-Sa-Xing Field.