Heterogeneous reservoirs often have poor sweep efficiency during flooding. Although polymer flooding can be used to improve the recovery, in-depth diversion might provide a more economical alternative. Most of the in-depth diversion techniques are based on the propagation of a system that forms a gel in the reservoir. Premature cross-linking of the system prevents the fluid from penetrating deeply into the reservoir and as such reduces the efficiency of the treatment. We studied the effect of using a polyelectrolyte complex (PEC) to (temporarily) hide the cross-linker from the polymer molecules. In addition to studying the cross-linking process in bulk, we demonstrated its behaviour at the core scale (1 m length) as well as on the pore scale. The gelation time in bulk suggested that the PEC could effectively delay the time of the cross-linking even at high brine salinity. However the delay experienced in the core flood experiment was much shorter. Tracer tests demonstrated that the XL polymer, which is a mixture of PEC and partially hydrolyzed polyacrylamide, reduced the core pore volume by roughly 6.2% (in absolute terms). The micro-CT images showed that most of the XL polymer was retained in the smaller pores of the core. The large increase in dispersion coefficient suggests that this must have resulted in the creation of a few dominant flow paths isolated from each other by closure of the smaller pores.
- Computed tomography
- Flow of polymers in porous media
- Polyelectrolyte complex
- Tracer test