Upscaling Polymer Enhanced Oil Recovery Processes

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Aeronautics


This PhD program will focus on improving the field scale modelling of polymer injection for EOR. In this process polymers are used to control the mobility of injected water, to prevent early breakthrough of water at production wells and reduce the amount of bypassed oil left in the reservoir. Upscaling is important for polymer simulations, but numerical upscaling of grid cell properties is not sufficient without better understanding of polymer physics in the reservoir. Improvements are needed to develop more accurate models of changes in polymer properties due to mixing and decay over time, shear effects (polymer solutions often exhibit non-Newtonian flow behaviour), mechanical degradation and the impact of polymer adsorption on reservoir rock properties.
The objective of the PhD research will be to improve understanding of the physics of polymer EOR processes and develop methodologies for upscaling in time and space. The student will investigate current knowledge and build simulation models of the multiple phenomena related to the behaviour of aqueous polymer solutions at different scales. Topics to be considered include adsorption, degradation and non-Newtonian flow. There is particular interest in predicting polymer performance in different regions of the reservoir, e.g. near or distant from the injection well, where shear effects may be highly significant. These investigations may comprise a mixture of mathematical analysis to develop new mathematical models of the physics (e.g. for upscaling in the near well bore region) and code development.
The results of the simulation studies will be used to make recommendations on the design and implementation of polymer injection schemes, taking into account practical issues such as injectivity, as well as the requirement to optimize oil recovery.
Deliverables from the PhD project may include definitions of requirements for enhancements to the commercial software tools, for better quality polymer modelling or for better workflows to be used in future studies.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R512540/1 01/10/2017 31/03/2022
2300439 Studentship EP/R512540/1 01/10/2017 31/12/2021 Irfan Tai