Polymer flooding improves oil recovery by improving flood front conformance compared with waterflooding as well as, in some cases, extracting more oil from lower permeability zones in the reservoir by viscous cross-flow. However viscous cross-flow of water from the low permeability zone may also adversely affect the polymer flood by causing the polymer slug to be diluted and possibly to lose its integrity. The extent to which viscous cross-flow improves or reduces recovery depends upon the permeability contrast between the low and high permeability zones, the viscosity ratios of the fluids (oil, water and polymer solution) and the geometry of the layers. This paper uses inspectional analysis to derive the minimum set of 6 dimensionless numbers that can be used to characterise a polymer flood in a two layered model. A series of finely gridded numerical simulations are then performed to determine the contribution of viscous crossflow to oil recovery from secondary and tertiary polymer flooding in this system. We show that viscous cross-flow will only make a positive impact on oil recovery from secondary polymer flooding when the viscosity ratio values of oil to polymer solution is less than 1 and permeability ratio between the layers is less than 50. Furthermore, we show that there is an inverse relationship between the permeability ratio between layers and the amount of degradation the polymer slug experiences due to viscous crossflow in the high permeability layer. As the permeability contrast between layers increases, the slug degradation decreases. Also, the results show that the desired positive impact from viscous crossflow is higher in secondary polymer foods when compared to tertiary polymer floods. Finally, the results can be used to make initial estimates of the contribution of both viscous cross-flow and mobility control in polymer flooding applications without the need to perform extensive and time consuming numerical simulations.


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