Gel Polymer Treatments

The Tertiary Oil Recovery Project (TORP) at the University of Kansas has a long history of research and field applications related to gelled polymers. Gel polymer treatments are nothing new to the midcontinent, however recent treatments in Kansas Arbuckle producing wells are proving to be more effective in controlling water production and increasing oil production than past treatments.

TORP is working with service companies and oil operators to develop a database on the treatments conducted to date and investigating areas where university engineers and scientists can be of assistance in better defining where and how to apply this technology. Questions looking to be answered include candidate well selection, treatment volumes and modeling what actually occurs during and after the treatments.

Comparing recent treatments to earlier ones indicate several differences. Recent successful treatments are using the MARCITSM technology and much larger volumes of gel. Recent treatment volumes range from 1,500 to 5,000 barrels versus the few hundred barrels historically used. MARCITSM is the acronym for MARathon Conformance Improvement Treatment. This polymer gel was developed in the mid-1980’s by Marathon Oil Company and licensed to various service companies in the early 1990’s. The MARCITSM technology consists of mixing dry polymer [Cr(III)carboxylate/acrylamide] in water and crosslinking it with chromium triacetate at the surface.

Since 2001, operators have treated nearly 250 central Kansas Arbuckle producing wells with MARCITSM gel polymer. To one degree or another, the wells have successfully responded to the treatments. For some wells, oil production has increased from approximately 5 BOPD to over 200 BOPD for several days after the treatments (+/- 14 days) and has stabilized at between 10 and 30 BOPD for six months or longer. For the same wells, water production has dropped from over 1500 BWPD in many cases to between 100 and 200 BWPD and has remained at the lower volumes for a year or longer. Other wells have not responded as favorably, but have still seen an increase in oil production and a decrease in water production. In some cases no significant oil benefits are seen, but water production is still reduced. Operators indicate that the $40,000 to $50,000 gel treatments in most instances pay out in weeks to months.
Updated March 2004
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