Field Performances, Effective Times, and Economic Assessments of Polymer Gel Treatments in Controlling Excessive Water Production from Mature Oil Fields


Polymer bulk gels have been widely applied to mitigate excessive water production from mature oil fields by correcting the reservoir permeability heterogeneity. This paper reviews water responses, effective times, and economic assessments of injection-well gel treatments based on 61 field projects. Eight parameters were evaluated per the reservoir type using the descriptive analysis, stacked histograms, and scatterplots. Results show that water production generally continues to increase after the treatment for undeveloped conformance problems. Contrarily, it typically decreases after the reactive gel treatments target developed conformance issues. For the developed problems, gel treatments do not always mitigate the water production where the water cut may stabilize or increase by 17% in 22% of instances. In addition, they often do reduce water production but not dramatically to really low levels where the water cut stays above 70% and reduces by only 10% in most cases. Gel treatments are economically appraised based only on the oil production response, and both water responses (injection and production) are not considered in the evaluation. They have a typical payout time of 9.2 months, cost of incremental oil barrel of 2 $/barrel, and effective time of 1.9 years. In addition, they have better water responses and economics in carbonates than in sandstones and in unconsolidated and naturally fractured reservoirs than in matrix-rock formations. The current review strongly warns reservoir engineers that gel treatments are not superior in alleviating the water production and candidates should be nominated based on this fact to achieve favorable economics and avoid treatment failures.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Conformance improvement; Economic assessments; Enhanced-oil recovery; Field project survey; Gel treatments; Petroleum engineering; Treatment effective time; Water production response

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0195-0738; 1528-8994

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2021 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Aug 2021