Experimental investigation of flow diversion and dynamic retention during polymer flooding in high salinity fractured carbonates using CT imaging

Shehzad Ahmed, Alvinda Sri Hanamertani, Waleed Alameri, Emad W. Al-Shalabi, Muhammad Rehan Hashmet

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Scopus citations


    The successful record of polymer flooding in improving oil production from sandstone reservoirs has encouraged the expansion of its application in carbonate reservoirs. However, the existence of natural fractures, high permeability contrast, and harsh conditions of carbonate reservoirs provide significant challenges for achieving an optimized performance of polymer flooding. It is crucial to establish an appropriate polymer that can offer an optimum flow behavior for in-depth mobility control under reservoir conditions. This study presents in-situ saturation monitoring to evaluate the mobility control effect and identify the flow diversion during polymer injection in high salinity fractured and unfractured carbonate rocks. A synthetic polymer, acrylamido tertio-butyl sulfonate (ATBS) was used and prepared in 200,000 ppm brine salinity. The flow behavior of polymer solution was investigated in bulk rheology tests followed by single-phase core flooding experiments. The flooding apparatus was coupled with a CT scanner to produce 3D images for determining the fluid saturation distribution and inaccessible pore volume (IPV) in real time. Accordingly, flow diversion across fracture-matrix system during polymer injection and the dynamic retention after brine post-flush were identified. The flow experiments showed a shear thickening behavior for the injected polymer solution in the fractured core and no degradation was noticed under in-situ conditions. Based on the fluid saturation profiles, the established flow resistance in the fracture region was prominent to induce flow diversion from the fracture into the matrix. Compared to the case in unfractured rock, the IPV in the fractured rock was approximately 2.5 times higher which was at 53% after 1 PV injection. An additional 23% of IPV was subsequently penetrated upon a continuous polymer injection for 5 PV. In post-flush stage, the fractured core retained about 87% of the injected polymer solution at 1 PV which was then minimized to 7% after 10 PV injection. The entrapped polymer in the fractured core was potentially induced by hydrodynamic retention. This work ascertained the potential of polymer flooding to effectively sweep the fractured carbonates at high salinity environment under certain circumstances for a better conformance.

    Original languageBritish English
    Article number211349
    JournalGeoenergy Science and Engineering
    StatePublished - Feb 2023


    • Fractured carbonate
    • In-situ saturation monitoring
    • Inaccessible pore volume
    • Mobility control
    • Polymer flooding


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