Venezuela is well known for its immense reserves of heavy and extra heavy crude oils located in La Faja Petrolífera Del Orinoco (La FPO), in the east of the country, with certified reserves of up to 235 billion barrels. The main production methods that have been applied in La FPO are Cold Production with sand through vertical and horizontal wells, and the application of Thermal IOR/EOR methods (e.g. steam injection, In-situ Combustion, SAGD, etc.) and Chemical EOR methods (e.g. polymer flooding).
One of the main challenges in La FPO is the increase in the recovery factor (with < 10% of recovery factor to date), due to the low mobility of crude oil at reservoir conditions, and the presence of local and regional bodies of water (flushed zones and aquifers) where conventional cold production methods are not efficient. The presence of these bodies of water negatively affects the production profiles and the quality of crude oil, observing high water cuts due to the adverse mobility ratio and the formation of complex emulsions that affect the crude lifting and separation systems.
Due to the current dramatic decline in production of conventional reservoirs in Venezuela and the vital role of La FPO to support Venezuelan oil production, it is important to identify methods and new technologies that allow for the increase in recovery factors in these complex reservoirs. This paper presents a literature review of the applied production methods and those that could be envisaged, including horizontal and dewatering wells as well as reported research work (e.g. Chemical EOR methods), to increase the oil recovery in flushed zones and/or reservoir zones with high water cuts in La FPO.