Cyclic injection is a process that improves waterflooding efficiency in heterogeneous reservoirs. The concept of cyclic injection is based on (1) pulsed injection and (2) alternating waterflood patterns. Cyclic injection has been successfully applied in a number of sandstone and carbonate oil fields in Russia. In the rest of the world, pulsed injection has had limited application, and only in naturally fractured reservoirs. Although changing the waterflood patterns is a common approach to deal with increasing water cuts, a more systematic approach with both pulsed injection and alternating flow directions is not.
Cyclic injection has the greatest potential for improved recovery in heterogeneous, high-permeability-contrast sandstones and in naturally fractured carbonates and dolomites. The efficiency of the process is high in preferentially water-wet rocks saturated with compressible fluids. Capillary pressures and relative permeability effects are responsible for the improved cyclic oil displacement at the micro level. Improved sweep of the less permeable layers in communication with more permeable thief zones, better horizontal sweep achieved by changing waterflood patterns, and alternating the dominance between gravity and viscous forces are the key effects of cyclic injection on the macro level.
The potential of cyclic injection at the Lower Tilje/Åre formations of the Heidrun Field in the Norwegian Sea has been evaluated. Some of the reservoir levels are highly heterogeneous, with large permeability contrasts vertically and horizontally. The current drainage strategy for these formations is water injection, with gas lift in producers when needed. Cyclic injection will improve waterflooding efficiency at virtually zero additional cost. Improved sweep, accelerated oil production, and reduced water cut are the main positive effects expected from cyclic waterflooding. The reserves are predicted to increase by 5 to 6% from the targeted reservoirs at Heidrun after 10 years of cyclic waterflooding.