Utilizing existing resources to the max with cEOR

Susanna Toivonen, Global Key Account Manager at Kemira’s Oil & Gas group, has a strong technical R&D background. This helps her address the questions, challenges and needs customers have relating to cEOR.

When it comes to improving production from existing reservoirs, my customers are mostly interested in three key things:

  1. What options are available?
  2. Are these options economically viable?
  3. How do these options support our sustainability goals?

For example, with cEOR polymer technology, you don’t necessarily find perfect solutions off-the-shelf. In many cases, it’s a co-creation project between the customer and the chemistry provider. This is also one of Kemira’s key strengths. All enhanced extraction methods are not suitable for all reservoirs. That’s why we need to have different technology options available. There are also cases where polymer technology may not be the best option. However, in many cases it does work remarkably well, and is also economically more viable than other options.

Utilizing existing resources to the max is always more viable than looking for completely new sources of oil.

Oil price obviously plays a big role in cEOR operations. However, I think these technologies are now so well understood that almost regardless of the oil price, we can make it work. We just have to do the math right and find the most efficient solutions. If you’re already sitting on a chest of gold, why walk away from it? Utilizing existing resources to the max is always more viable than looking for completely new sources of oil. Polymer injection reduces the CO2 intensity of oil production by reducing the production water cut. This helps operators reach their sustainability targets without cutting the oil production.

A holistic view makes holistic solutions

Key in finding the right solutions and ensuring optimal results is a holistic view of the entire process. Our polymers are tailored considering a range of field conditions, like reservoir permeability, temperature and divalent ion concentration. Other crucial factors include the salinity of the injection and formation fluids, as these also affect the performance of the polymers. Our R&D supports our customers through lab studies, simulations and core flooding activities.

We’re also involved in the design, fabrication and installation of polymer hydration and makedown systems, silos and tanks, and injection skids, which are all tailored for each project. Our MaxXtract cEOR solutions combine the right chemicals and equipment with field services – all tailored to the customer’s needs.

In cEOR operations we’re also talking about significant amounts of water being processed on a daily basis. It takes particular expertise to handle the produced polymer in the process efficiently and appropriately. What really helps is understanding the journey the polymer makes before it’s produced back. Kemira’s 100 years of water treatment expertise is also a great asset.

Challenge us!

My view is that there are many reservoirs out there where cEOR technology could be utilized, but for one reason or another, it has been deemed too difficult. This is perhaps due to the minerology of the field, reservoir temperature or water quality. These cases fascinate me – challenge us, can we look into it together? We’re leading in off-shore polymer technology and continuously developing new polymers, so knowing about these challenges helps us in finding solutions to real-life cases.

Digitalization – simulate what you cannot see

There’s a lot of buzz around digitalization across industries. In oil & gas, digitalizing processes and utilizing data is no new thing. Obviously, there’s continuous development in this field that also benefits the oil & gas industry. Besides being able to make timely decisions, one particularly interesting thing is predictive analytics and simulation – since no-one is able to see underground, these can become significant assets in project planning and decision-making.

There’s a lot of data already available, but turning this data into meaningful information that guides decisions is key. We have also introduced digital tools to our customers’ technology stack, like the KemConnect™ EOR. It is an onsite measurement tool for detecting residual cEOR polyacrylamide polymers in produced water.

Being too self-assured and knowing all the answers off the bat can lead to mistakes.

Problem-solving in remote places – and remotely

My job is so interesting and rewarding – no two days are alike. I’ve been to some exotic places through work, and walked among snakes, reptiles and other creepy crawlies. I’ll go wherever the customer is, however safety is always the first priority. Obviously the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, as traveling is not an option. Still, this hasn’t prevented us from collaborating with our customers around the globe. You just need the right tools and an open mind.

I’m really a problem-solver at heart. Certain humility is required in my job; being too self-assured and knowing all the answers off the bat can lead to mistakes. It is important to ask, listen and investigate. We’re mostly dealing with complex phenomena and conditions. Understanding these cause-and-effect relations and offering problem-solving expertise is something our customers expect from us. Sometimes they just pick up the phone and call me “Susanna, what is your professional view on this?”. It feels good to enjoy this kind of trust. My customer contacts become my team and taskforce on a specific case.

Susanna Toivonen
Global Key Account Manager, Oil & Gas
At Kemira
Since 2002
Wherever I need to be. Home is in Finland.
Topics to watch
Holistic approach to project planning, life of field.
Words to live by/motto
Slice the elephant piece-by-piece. Never give in to defeatism.
Ways to unwind
Very hands-on work at the family summer cottage: mowing the lawn, clearing dry twigs off the garden. Back to basics.
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