Studying the Effectiveness of Polyacrylamide (PAM) Application in Hydrocarbon Reservoirs at Different Operational Conditions

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The water-soluble polymer PAM (polyacrylamide) is used in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations. It is pumped into water injection wells to increase the viscosity of the injected water and in turn to direct more oil towards production wells. This EOR process is proven to be sensitive to operational well conditions such as hydrocarbon reservoir temperature, as well as the salinity of the injected water and/or formation water. These operational conditions lead to technical challenges ranging from the solubility of PAM in injection water to the behaviour of PAM inside the reservoir. To gain a clear picture of the functionality of PAM in EOR applications, this report characterizes its behaviour of in terms of degree of hydrolysis and changes in solution viscosity determined using Perkin Elmer spectrum 100 Fourier transform infrared-Attenuated total reflection (FTIR)-ATR and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H NMR) and a Fann model 35 Couette and Cole Parmer rotational viscometer, respectively. Different shear rates were investigated to determine the effect of shear on PAM gel stability. Experiments were performed for PAM mixed with formation brine at 50, 70, and 90 °C for ageing times of up to 30 days. The results indicate that the degree of hydrolysis achieved after 30 days is much higher in saline solutions than in pure water, and that this effect is more pronounced at higher temperatures. For example, after 30 days at 50 °C, the hydrolysis level was observed to be 53%, rising to 65% at 70 °C and 75% at 90 °C in PAM mixed with brines. Similar trends were observed with viscosity, where lower viscosity was observed for samples at higher temperatures and salinities. It is thus reasonable to conclude that the degree of hydrolysis causes changes in the viscosity of the polymer gel, leading to a decline in its performance as it ages
Original languageEnglish
Article numberen11092201
Pages (from-to)2201
Number of pages17
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2018


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