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Alaska North Slope Field Laboratory
Project Number
DE-FE0031606
Last Reviewed Dated
Goal

First ever field pilot on Alaska's north slope to validate the use of polymer floods for heavy oil EOR.

Project Description

The field pilot test will be implemented in the Milne Point Field (MPF) which includes 35,744 acres and is located approximately 30 miles northwest of Prudhoe Bay on the Alaska's North Slope (ANS). The Milne Point Field consists of four oil pools, starting from the top: Ugnu, Schrader Bluff, Kuparuk River and Sag River, while the project reservoir is in the Schrader Bluff formation. The Schrader Bluff formation extends between 3400 ft to 5200 ft true vertical depth subsea (TVDss). This late cretaceous age formation is divided into two stratigraphic intervals, namely O sands and N sands. O sands are subdivided into OB and OA, while N sands have subintervals NF, NE, ND, NC, NB, NA. The structure of the pool is homocline with 1-2° dip from East to Northeast. Schrader Bluff O sands were deposited 70 million years ago from marine shoreface and shelf deposits. They consist of fine-grained, quartz-rich sandstone interbedded with siltstone and mudstone. The overlying N sands were deposited within wave-dominated shoreface and deltaic systems. Upward coarsening is evident with mudstone and siltstone dominating the lower portion of this interval. There is no evidence of free gas accumulation within the Schrader Bluff formation, but complex fault blocks have compartmentalized this pool (Bidinger and Dillon 1995). The project reservoir is in the Schrader Bluff NB-sand, an unconsolidated sandstone. The project reservoir has generally excellent petrophysical properties, with porosity ranging from 31%-35% and permeability ranging from 100 to 3,000 mD. The average thickness of the reservoir is about 15 ft and the reservoir temperature is about 70°F. API gravity of oil is about 15 with in-situ oil viscosity of 330 cP in the project area. Preliminary laboratory and simulation studies indicated that polymer flooding has great potential to enhance oil recovery from the Schrader Bluff heavy oil reservoirs (Seright 2010, 2011), yet no field test has been performed to date in Alaska. In fact, no large-scale polymer flood of a heavy oil and other unconventional resources has occurred to date in the entire United States, although it has been tested and implemented in other countries, such as Canada and China. Initial scoping studies suggest that successful implementation of polymer flooding could increase heavy oil recovery by 50% on the North Slope of Alaska and increase America's oil reserves by tens of billions of barrels.

Performer(s)

University of Alaska – Fairbanks

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)

Project Benefits

The overall goal of the project is to acquire scientific knowledge and field data by assessing an advanced polymer flooding technology in the Schrader Bluff heavy oil reservoir on ANS. The advanced technology will effectively integrate the advantages of polymer injection, low salinity water, horizontal wells, and conformance improvement together to significantly enhance oil recovery for heavy oil reservoirs. The project will also aid the industry’s general understanding of polymer flooding by resolving the optimum polymer viscosity and salinity to inject during heavy-oil recovery. Once successful, the developed technology will provide a cost-effective and environmentally friendly technology for heavy oil development on ANS. Specifically, the detailed objectives that would enable the achievements of the project include:

Actual and Simulated Oil Production Increase Using Polymer Floods.  Milne Point, AK
Actual and Simulated Oil Production Increase Using Polymer Floods.  Milne Point, AK
  • Assess polymer injectivity into the Schrader Bluff formations for various polymers at various concentrations.
  • Assess and optimize injection conformance along horizontal wellbore and reservoir sweep between horizontal injectors and producers.
  • Evaluate the water salinity effect on the performance of polymer flooding and gel treatments.
  • Establish timing of polymer breakthrough in Schrader Bluff N-sands.
  • Screen an optimized method to control the conformance of polymer flooding at the various stages of the polymer flooding project.
  • Estimate polymer retention from field data, and compare with laboratory and simulation results.
  • Assess incremental oil recovery vs. polymer injected.
  • Assess water – oil ratio (WOR) changes vs. polymer injected.
  • Assess surface facility performance after polymer breakthrough.
  • Assess effect of polymer flow back and remediation methods.

These objectives are consistent with the aspects of the DOE solicitation -DE-FOA-0001722. First, it targets Topic 1: Technology Validation using Field Laboratories on Alaska North Slope, the Schrader Bluff Formation - an unconventional heavy oil formation. Our proposed project will validate an advanced polymer EOR technology to increase oil production from the field pilot test wells. Second, the objective is targeted on the Subtopic 1A: Established Unconventional Oil and Gas Plays. The proposed field test is focused on heavy oil, an unconventional resource on the Alaska North Slope, and especially the objective to stress the improvement in flow conformance and sweep efficiency using an advanced polymer EOR process which will integrate polymer, low salinity water, conformance control, horizontal wells into one process to significantly improve oil recovery in an unconventional heavy oil reservoir in the USA, especially on ANS.

PROGRESS IN 2019

  • Polymer Injection System continues to operate properly.
  • System Disruption Challenges in Late 2019 have been solved by improving polymer supply assurance and Injection system plant adjustment
  • Incremental Oil Rate has nearly doubled to over 1,000 BPD over water flood oil Rate which would have declined below 500 BPD.
  • Water Cut has been reduced from 70% to 20% !  WOW !  System economics GREAT !
  • Polymer injection system is functioning well in the midst of the adverse Arctic winter environment.
  • Competing Operators are actively monitoring events at Milne Point and ENI Energy have started their own polymer injectivity test.  Results at competing operations are not known.
  • Hilcorp is implementing and planning polymer floods at 3 other well pads.
Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution

$7,131,065

Performer Contribution

$2,584,285

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager David P. Cercone: david.cercone@netl.doe.gov

Technology Manager Jared Ciferno: jared.ciferno@netl.doe.gov

Principal Investigator Abhijit Dandekar, PhD.: adandekar@alaska.edu

Additional Information

Refereed Journals

  1. A. Dhaliwal, Y. Zhang, A.Y. Dandekar, S. Ning, J.A. Barnes, W. Schulpen: Experimental Investigation of Polymer-induced Fouling of Heater Tubes in the First-ever Polymer Flood on Alaska North Slope – Part II SPE Production & Operations. Accepted for publication in SPE Production & Operations, March 14, 2022.
  2. H. Chang, Y. Zhang, A.Y. Dandekar, S. Ning, J.A. Barnes, W. Schulpen: Emulsification Characteristics and Electrolyte-optimized Demulsification of Produced Liquid from Polymer Flooding on Alaska North Slope. SPE Production & Operations February 2022.
  3. Zhao, Y., Leng, J., Lin, B., Wei, M., Bai, B. 2021. Experimental study of microgel conformance control treatment for a polymer flooding reservoir containing super-permeable channels. SPE Journal, April 2021.
  4. A. Dhaliwal, Y. Zhang, A.Y. Dandekar, S. Ning, J.A. Barnes, R. Edwards, W. Schulpen, Cercone, D. and J. Ciferno: Experimental Investigation of Polymer Induced Fouling of Heater Tubes in The First Ever Polymer Flood Pilot On Alaska North Slope. SPE Production & Operations February 2021.
  5. Zhao, Y., Yin, S., Seright, R. S., Ning, S., Zhang, Y., Bai, B. 2020. Enhancing Heavy Oil Recovery Efficiency by Combining Low Salinity Water and Polymer Flooding. SPE Journal, November 2020.
  6. H. Chang, Y. Zhang, A.Y. Dandekar, S. Ning, J.A. Barnes, R. Edwards, W. Schulpen, D. Cercone, J. Ciferno: Experimental Investigation On Separation Behavior of Heavy Oil Emulsion for Polymer Flooding On Alaska North Slope. SPE Production & Operations Journal, June 2020.
  7. Wang, D., Li, C. and Seright, R.S.: Laboratory Evaluation of Polymer Retention in a Heavy Oil Sand for a Polymer Flooding Application on Alaska’s North Slope, SPE Journal, February 2020.

Conference Proceedings

  1. Polymer Flood Field Test Of Heavy Oil On Alaska North Slope Via Machine Assisted Reservoir Simulation, SPE-209443-MS, SPE Virtual Improved Oil Recovery Conference, 25–29 April 2022.
  2. R.S. Seright and D. Wang: “Tailing” Phenomenon During Polymer Propagation at The Milne Point Polymer Flood, SPE-209354-MS, SPE Virtual Improved Oil Recovery Conference, 25–29 April 2022.
  3. D. Wang, S.S. Namie and R.S. Seright: Polymer Selection for Sandstone Reservoirs Using Heterogeneous Micromodels, Field Flow Fractionation and Corefloods, SPE-209352-MS, SPE Virtual Improved Oil Recovery Conference, 25–29 April 2022.
  4. Namie, S., Wang, D., Yin, Z., Radu, G., Samson, N., Dandekar, A., Cercone, D., Ciferno, J., & Xindan, W. (2021). Challenge Solutions for a Significant Water Cut Reduction History Match on Heavy Oil Polymer EOR. 82nd EAGE Annual Conference & Exhibition, 1–5. 
  5. Wang, X., Keith, C.D., Zhang, Y., Dandekar, A., Ning, S., Wang, D., Edwards, R., Barnes, J., Cercone, D.P. and Ciferno, J.P., History Matching and Performance Prediction of a Polymer Flood Pilot in Heavy Oil Reservoir on Alaska North Slope, SPE-206247-MS, SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, 21 - 23 September 2021 in Dubai, U.A.E.
  6. Jianqiao Leng, Mingzhen Wei, Baojun Bai, Randall S. Seright, Yin Zhang, David Cercone and Samson Ning. Impact of Rheology Models on Horizontal Well Polymer Flooding in a HeavyOil Reservoir on Alaska North Slope: A Simulation Study, OTC-31087-MS, Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, TX, USA, 16 - 19 August 2021. 
  7.  A. Dandekar, J. Barnes, D. Cercone, J. Ciferno, R. Edwards, S. Ning, W. Schulpen, R. Seright, B. Sheets, D. Wang, Y. Zhang: Heavy Oil Polymer EOR in the Challenging Alaskan Arctic – It Works! Unconventional Resources Technology Conference, 26-28 July 2021, Houston, TX, USA.
  8. Abhijit Dandekar, Baojun Bai, John Barnes, Dave Cercone, Jared Ciferno, Reid Edwards, Samson Ning, Walbert Schulpen, Randy Seright, Brent Sheets, Dongmei Wang and Yin Zhang: First Ever Polymer Flood Field Pilot to Enhance the Recovery of Heavy Oils on Alaska’s North Slope – Pushing Ahead One Year Later, SPE-200814-MS, SPE Western Regional Meeting, April 27-30, 2020, Bakersfield, California, USA. (actual published date April 2021, due to conference postponement).
  9. Samson Ning, John Barnes, Reid Edwards, Walbert Schulpen, Abhijit Dandekar, Yin Zhang, Dave Cercone, Jared Ciferno: First Ever Polymer Flood Field Pilot to Enhance the Recovery of Heavy Oils on Alaska North Slope – Producer Responses and Operational Lessons Learned. Virtually presented at the 2020 SPE ATCE, October 28, 2020.
  10. Samson Ning, John Barnes, Reid Edwards, Kyler Dunford, Abhijit Dandekar, Yin Zhang, Dave Cercone, Jared Ciferno: First Ever Polymer Flood Field Pilot to Enhance the Recovery of Heavy Oils on Alaska North Slope – Polymer Injection Performance, Unconventional Resources Technology Conference Denver, CO July 22-24, 2019.
  11. Zhao, Y., Yin, S., Seright, S.R., Ning, S., Zhang, Y., Bai, B. 2020. Performance of Low Salinity Polymer Flood in Enhancing Heavy Oil Recovery on the Alaska North Slope. Paper URTeC1082 presented (virtually) at the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference, Austin, TX, USA, 20-22 July 2020. 
  12. A. Dhaliwal, Y. Zhang, A.Y. Dandekar, S. Ning, J.A. Barnes, R. Edwards, W. Schulpen, C. David P, J. Ciferno: Experimental Investigation of Polymer Induced Fouling of Heater Tubes in The First Ever Polymer Flood Pilot On Alaska North Slope, SPE Improved Oil Recovery Conference, SPE-200463-MS, 18 - 22 April 2020, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.
  13. H. Chang, Y. Zhang, A.Y. Dandekar, S. Ning, J.A. Barnes, R. Edwards, W. Schulpen, C. David P, J. Ciferno: Experimental Investigation On Separation Behavior of Heavy Oil Emulsion for Polymer Flooding On Alaska North Slope, SPE-200369-MS, SPE Improved Oil Recovery Conference, 18 - 22 April 2020, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.
  14. Wang, D., Li, C. and Seright, R.S., Polymer Retention Evaluation in a Heavy Oil Sand for a Polymer Flooding Application on Alaska’s North Slope, SPE-200428-MS, SPE Improved Oil Recovery Conference, 18 - 22 April 2020, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.
  15. A.Y. Dandekar, B. Bai, J.A. Barnes, D.P. Cercone, J. Ciferno, S.X. Ning, R.S. Seright, B. Sheets, D. Wang and Y. Zhang: First Ever Polymer Flood Field Pilot – A Game Changer to Enhance the Recovery of Heavy Oils on Alaska’s North Slope, SPE-195257-MS, SPE Western Regional Meeting San Jose, California, USA, 23-26 April 2019.

Media and Outreach

  1. Petroleum News Alaska
  2.  Alaska Journal of Commerce
  3.  www.oilprice.com
  4. Polymer-Flood Field Pilot Enhances Recovery of Heavy Oils on Alaska’s North Slope, Journal of Petroleum Technology (April 2020)
  5. Alaska North Slope Field Laboratory - EOR Polymer Flood [PDF] August 2018 - Presented by John Barnes, HILCORP Alaska, 2018 Carbon Storage and Oil and Natural Gas Technologies Review Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA
  6. Two research awards announced at Alaska National Lab Day - [Video] May 2018- KTVF News Center 11, Fairbanks, Alaska 

Presentations, Papers, and Publications