Application of Polymers for Chemical Enhanced Oil Recovery: A Review

Afeez Gbadamosi, Shirish Patil*, Muhammad Shahzad Kamal, Ahmad A. Adewunmi, Adeyinka S. Yusuff, Augustine Agi, Jeffrey Oseh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Polymers play a significant role in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) due to their viscoelastic properties and macromolecular structure. Herein, the mechanisms of the application of polymeric materials for enhanced oil recovery are elucidated. Subsequently, the polymer types used for EOR, namely synthetic polymers and natural polymers (biopolymers), and their properties are discussed. Moreover, the numerous applications for EOR such as polymer flooding, polymer foam flooding, alkali–polymer flooding, surfactant–polymer flooding, alkali–surfactant–polymer flooding, and polymeric nanofluid flooding are appraised and evaluated. Most of the polymers exhibit pseudo-plastic behavior in the presence of shear forces. The biopolymers exhibit better salt tolerance and thermal stability but are susceptible to plugging and biodegradation. As for associative synthetic polyacrylamide, several complexities are involved in unlocking its full potential. Hence, hydrolyzed polyacrylamide remains the most coveted polymer for field application of polymer floods. Finally, alkali–surfactant–polymer flooding shows good efficiency at pilot and field scales, while a recently devised polymeric nanofluid shows good potential for field application of polymer flooding for EOR.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1433
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • biopolymer
  • enhanced oil recovery
  • hydrophobically associating polyacrylamide
  • polyacrylamide
  • polymer
  • rheology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics


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