The Pelican Lake heavy oil field located in northern Alberta (Canada) has had a remarkable history since its discovery in the early 1970s. The reservoir formation is thin (less than 5m) and as the oil is viscous (from 600 to over 40,000cp), initial production using vertical wells was poor. Several methods were used in order to improve production and recovery, including an air injection scheme in the 1990’s. However it is only with the introduction of horizontal drilling that the field began to reach its full potential; indeed Pelican Lake was one of the first fields worldwide to be developed with horizontal then multi-lateral wells. With primary recovery around 5-7% and several billion barrels OOIP, the prize for EOR is large; polymer flood had never been considered in such high viscosity oil until 1995, when the idea of combining polymer flood and horizontal wells gave way to a polymer flood pilot in 1997. This was the first step on the way, and today the field is in the process of being fully converted to polymer flood, with several hundred injection wells already in action. Polymer flooding has the potential to increase recovery to over 20%OOIP at relatively low cost. Pelican Lake is the first successful application of polymer flood in a high viscosity oil reservoir (1,000-2,500cp). This paper presents the history of the field then focuses on the polymer flooding aspects. It describes the preparation and results of the first polymer flood pilots as well as the extension to the field.


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