21.12.2016A PhD student who is working on polymer flooding as a method to enhance oil recovery.What is your role in The National IOR Centre of Norway?
I am a PhD student working in task 1, theme 1 of the National IOR Centre of Norway. Professor Aksel Hiorth is my main PhD supervisor, and I am also working closely together with Arild Lohne here at IRIS.
What is the purpose of your research?
I work with numerical simulations of EOR processes. The main goal of my research is to obtain better interpretations of laboratory experiments. My focus is mainly on understanding the underlying processes that determine the outcome of the experiments, and not so much on the numerics as such (although that is clearly important too).
By incorporating more physics and/or chemistry into our simulation models, we can obtain a better understanding of the factors that are important at the core scale. We can then use the results as a basis for upscaling to the field.
What have you been working on lately?
I have been working mainly with models for polymer flooding. Earlier this autumn I participated at the ECMOR XV conference (European Conference on the Mathematics of Oil Recovery) in Amsterdam, where I had a poster presentation.
I presented a new simulation model for viscoelastic polymers which has been developed at IRIS. I have also presented the same model at two other occasions, first at the Lunch and Learn seminar at UiS, and later at the NFiP seminar at the Petroleum Museum in Stavanger.
How can your research contribute to improved oil recovery?
Polymer flooding is a promising EOR method that has been selected as one of the main areas for further investigation in the National IOR Centre of Norway, along with smart water technologies. The main idea behind polymer flooding is that by increasing the aqueous phase viscosity, one will improve (lower) the mobility ratio between water and oil, and thus the oil will be forced out more efficiently. However, when using polymers at the field scale there are several critical issues that needs to be addressed, such as the issue of polymer degradation in porous media. If proper care is not taken, one may actually risk to destroy most of the injected chemicals before they even enter the formation. Obviously this is something that needs to be avoided if polymer flooding is to become a viable EOR strategy in practice.
By using simulation models that provide a reasonable description of the underlying physics, one may hope to obtain useful predictions for what is going to happen at the field under realistic conditions. In particular, we hope that our model can be a used to predict the amount of polymer that gets degraded in the vicinity of an injection well. Based on the model results, we can then suggest possible measures to help avoid detrimental outcomes in the field.
What are the most important results of your research so far?
So far, the new polymer simulation model has been applied successfully to interpret core scale experiments involving polymer shear thickening and polymer mechanical degradation. It is our experience that most available simulation codes do not include an adequate description of these phenomena, especially the latter. This is something that we hope to build upon in order to interpret new types of experiments in the future!