Chemical enhanced oil recovery and the dilemma of more and cleaner energy

Rouhi Farajzadeh*, Siavash Kahrobaei, Ali Akbari Eftekhari, Rifaat A. Mjeni, Diederik Boersma, Johannes Bruining

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
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A method based on the concept of exergy-return on exergy-investment is developed to determine the energy efficiency and CO2 intensity of polymer and surfactant enhanced oil recovery techniques. Exergy is the useful work obtained from a system at a given thermodynamics state. The main exergy investment in oil recovery by water injection is related to the circulation of water required to produce oil. At water cuts (water fraction in the total liquid produced) greater than 90%, more than 70% of the total invested energy is spent on injection and lift pumps, resulting in large CO2 intensity for the produced oil. It is shown that injection of polymer with or without surfactant can considerably reduce CO2 intensity of the mature waterflood projects by decreasing the volume of produced water and the exergy investment associated with its circulation. In the field examples considered in this paper, a barrel of oil produced by injection of polymer has 2–5 times less CO2 intensity compared to the baseline waterflood oil. Due to large manufacturing exergy of the synthetic polymers and surfactants, in some cases, the unit exergy investment for production of oil could be larger than that of the waterflooding. It is asserted that polymer injection into reservoirs with large water cut can be a solution for two major challenges of the energy transition period: (1) meet the global energy demand via an increase in oil recovery and (2) reduce the CO2 intensity of oil production (more and cleaner energy).

Original languageEnglish
Article number829
Number of pages14
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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