In this paper we present a novel Chemical EOR technique in which dimethyl ether (DME), a widely-used industrial compound is utilised as a miscible solvent in conjunction with conventional waterflooding. The end effect of the solvent’s application is an increase in oil recovery significantly greater than that typically achieved by waterflood alone.

The method of application is straightforward, taking advantage of DME’s solubility in both water and hydrocarbons: water is used as a carrier for DME during injection and upon contact with reservoir fluids, DME preferentially partitions into the hydrocarbon phase thereby swelling and mobilising the oil phase. This is followed by a DME-free water chase to recover the remaining mobile oil and DME. Residual oil saturation after sweep is reduced, significantly below that typically achieved by waterflood alone. Furthermore, the DME can be extracted from the produced wellstream fluids by distillation and/or absorption processes, and re-used for injection.

The DME Enhanced Waterflooding (DEW) technique takes advantage of the unique solubility properties of dimethyl ether to improve oil mobility and reduce residual oil saturations. Significant research into the pressure-volume-temperature (PVT) behaviour of DME and DME/crude oil mixtures has been carried out in recent years; in particular the partitioning behaviour of the solvent and mixing rules for the various mass transfer properties affecting mobility. The PVT-driven behaviour and the overall displacement efficiency of the DEW technique have been observed in core flood experiments using both carbonate and clastic core plugs.

The DEW technique can be deployed in reservoirs with different geologies, fluid properties and conditions (pressure, temperature and salinity), making its application envelope much larger than that of any of the currently available EOR technologies.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. DME Handbook.
    Japan DME Forum. 2007
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Nelson, R., Lide, D. and Maryott, A.
    (1967) Selected values of electric dipole moments for molecules in the gas phase. NSRDS-NBS 10, National Bureau of Standards.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Gatlin, C., and Slobod, R.
    (1960) The Alcohol Slug Process for Increasing Oil Recovery. SPE-1364-G http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/1364-G
  4. Holm, L. W., and Csaszar, A.
    (1962) Oil Recovery by Solvents Mutually Soluble in Oil and Water. SPE-117-PA http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/117-PA
  5. Taber, J. , and Meyer, W.
    (1964). Investigations of Miscible Displacements of Aqueous and Oleic Phases From Porous Media. SPE-707-PA http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/707-PA
  6. Taber, J. , Kamath, I., and Reed, R.
    (1961) Mechanism of Alcohol Displacement of Oil from Porous Media. SPE-1536-G http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/1536-G
  7. Sandrea, R., and Stahl, C.
    (1965) Considerations in the Recovery of Bradford Crude by Composite Solvent Slugs. SPE-1034-PA http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/1034-PA
  8. Totonji, A. H. M., & Ali, S. M. F.
    (1972) Solvent Flooding Displacement Efficiency in Relation to Ternary Phase behavior. SPE-3372-PA http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/3372-PA
  9. Chernetsky, A., Masalmeh, S., Eikmans, D., Boerrigter, P., Parsons, C., Fadili, A. et al.
    (2015) A Novel Enhanced Oil Recovery Technique: Experimental Results and Modelling Workflow of the DME Enhanced Waterflood Technology. Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, 9–12 November. SPE-177919-MS http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/177919-MS
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Baudin, A. and Nordvall, H.
    (2010) How to Initiate and Develop the Market of DME – With Focus on Bio-DME? Report No : CHRISGAS_January 2010_WP16_D133a. Clean Hydrogen-rich Synthesis Gas.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Xia, L.
    (2008) China DME Market Outlook, AsiaChem Consulting, 3rd International DME Conference & 5th Asian DME Conference, 21–24 September 2008.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. KontogeorgisG., VoutsasE., YakoumisI., and TassiosD.
    (1996) An equation of state for associating fluids. Ind Eng Chem Res.; 35:4310–4318. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ie9600203
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Chemicals Evaluated for Carcinogenic Potential
    “”. 2006. USEPA Office of Pesticide Programs, Health Effects Division, Science Information Management Branch (April 2006) http://npic.orst.edu/chemicals_evaluated.pdf
  14. Concise International Chemical Assessment: Diethylene Glycol Dimethyl Ether
    “”. 2002. Report No.41 World Health Organisation (2002) ISBN 92 4 153041 3
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Bingham, E., Cohrssen, B., Powell, C.
    Patty’s Toxicology Vols 1–9 5th ed. John Wiley & Sons. New York, N.Y. (2001)
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Chang, T., and Rudy, S.
    1990. Ozone-forming Potential of Organic Emissions from Alternative-fueled Vehicles. Paper 90-96.3. Presented at the 83rd Annual Meeting and Exhibition of the Air and Waste Mangement Association, Pittsburgh, PA. June 24–29 1990.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. LymanWJ et al
    ; Handbook of Chemical Property Estimation Methods. Washington, DC: Amer Chem Soc pp. 4–9 (1990)
    [Google Scholar]
  18. HowardH. P.
    , (1989), Handbook of Environmental Fate and Exposure Data for Organic Chemicals, pp. 245–251.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error