Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) techniques are used to increase oil recovery from a reservoir over and above the amount expected from primary recovery alone. At our leading edge Pelican Lake operations, we have pioneered polymer flooding to increase resource recovery by up to 25 per cent; that is four times what is achievable on primary production. This project illustrates how Canadian Natural takes R&D from pilot to commercialization.
Our Pelican Lake field hosts one of the largest polymer flood operations in North America. Polymer flooding involves using a non-toxic thickener that is dissolved in water to increase its viscosity. The polymer solution is injected into the reservoir to displace (sweep) the crude oil towards production wells to increase recovery.
Since our first pilot project in 2005, Canadian Natural continues to effectively advance polymer flooding techniques and field performance through field trials, pilots and on-going monitoring and optimization of the flood to further enhance operational efficiencies and resource recovery.
Improving polymer performance and reducing costs
Understanding the impacts of water quality on injection wells and polymer flood performance is essential to maximize our sweep capabilities and increase oil production. Through different studies and field trials, including water treatment technology, we are investigating how to improve the quality of the water available for injection and increase injectivity into the reservoir.
Through extensive research and trails conducted on different polymers, we continue to create savings by reducing the amount of polymer needed. We are also conducting an injection well clean out program to further increase injection rates and incrementally improve oil production rates.
The Pelican Lake facilities were originally designed for primary recovery methods. To support our polymer EOR program, we initiated a well pad optimization program in 2011 to upgrade pads and pipelines. Our Asset Integrity and Facilities groups continue to work together to ensure the asset integrity of our operations for the duration of their productive life span, which is expected to be more than 30 years.