Venezuela is widely recognized as an oil producer country of great potential thanks to its huge hydrocarbon resources located in Eastern Venezuela and Maracaibo basins, comprising the largest oil reserves in the world, with around 302 billion barrels according to recent OPEC and EIA estimates .
Despite those immense hydrocarbon resources, oil production in Venezuela is a challenge in mature and waterflooded reservoirs, as well as in thin highly viscous oil reservoirs where thermal IOR/EOR methods are not technically and/or economically feasible. This is the case of many oil fields in Lake Maracaibo and in La Faja Petrolifera Del Orinoco (La FPO), where the application of Chemical Enhanced Oil Recovery (CEOR) methods is being envisaged with a view to increasing oil recovery factors.
The objective of this article is to review most of the Venezuelan CEOR projects reported in the literature to identify the main insights/status of each reported project and its potentiality of application to increase oil recovery. A detailed description of each project and its main conclusions is given.
According to this literature review, CEOR project evaluations for Venezuelan reservoirs have been performed mostly at laboratory and numerical simulation scales, including several pilot test designs. Only 2 executed pilot tests have been reported (ASP flooding at VLA-6/9/21 Field in Lake Maracaibo and polymer flooding at Petrocedeño Field in La FPO). Despite the encouraging results in terms of oil recovery at laboratory scale, the greatest challenges related to the application of CEOR methods in Venezuelan reservoirs are linked to technical and economic aspects (e.g. high adsorption/retention of chemicals, mobility control, complex emulsions, separation of phases, water treatments, costs of investment, oil prices, etc.).