skip to main content

our operations

polymers could have big potential in Kuwait

2 min read | may 08, 2024

Technology could help enhance oil recovery in Kuwait.

Chevron is testing polymers—long-chained molecules—for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) at a field in Kuwait. This trial could help unlock more potential in what’s already a promising resource.

“Chevron is a leader in EOR,” said Varadarajan Dwarakanath, team lead for chemical EOR mechanisms.

what is EOR?

EOR employs substances and techniques to boost recovery, enabling operators to tap up to 60% of the estimated oil.

Recovery methods include:

steam enhanced oil recovery illustration

Steam injection, referred to as thermal recovery, reduces the oil’s viscosity. This allows it to flow more easily to the wells.

gas enhanced oil recovery illustration

Gas injection uses gases, such as carbon dioxide, that expand in the reservoir and push the oil toward the production well.

chemical enhanced oil recovery illustration

Chemical injection involves the use of chemicals that influence the viscosity of other injected liquids to move the oil.

so why is EOR necessary?

Even after all the steps involved in primary oil recovery, huge volumes of oil can remain in a reservoir.

Saudi Arabian Chevron and Kuwait Gulf Oil Company, working together in onshore Kuwait operations, tested polymers last year for EOR.

“This project, if it’s as successful as our analytical models, could add significant incremental oil production to our operations.”

don stelling

senior vice president of operations
saudi arabian chevron

what are polymers for?

Steam injection was used initially at a Partitioned Zone reservoir to help move the oil. However, polymer EOR can have lower carbon intensity than steam injection and does not require the same amount of water over the life of a project.

Using water alone without polymers can recover additional oil, but it is less efficient. To avoid something called hydrodynamic instability, or fingers, in the oil column, polymers are needed.

more on that

Because water follows the path of least resistance, these fingers can leave a lot of oil behind—the difference between moving liquids with a rake and moving them with a shovel. Polymers influence the viscosity of the injected water enough to establish a more cohesive column of liquid to push the oil to the production well.

A multi-well test, targeted for the end of 2024, could stimulate production in what Chevron believes is a multi-billion-barrel resource. If successful, the approach could be replicated elsewhere in the region.

topics covered

chevron email updates