Monitoring the distribution of injected fluids in the subsurface with electromagnetic geophysical methods

EOR monitoring

Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) is a technique for increasing the amount of crude oil that can be extracted from an oil field. Following natural oil production and water injection, respectively primary and secondary oil recovery, the recovery of oil is enhanced with tertiary techniques like injection of CO2, surfactants, polymer injection, etc. or a combination. With polymer injection water soluble polymer is injected into the oil-bearing formation to improve the displacement of the oil and thereby increase the oil recovery. Typically, the polymer is injected in one or more injection wells, displacing the oil to the producing wells. Application of the method, however, is limited to oil reservoirs with relative low temperature and salinity.

Wintershall is preparing for an EOR pilot project to test the application of their newly developed biopolymer, Schizophyllan, in one of their oil fields. This polymer can be applied at significant higher temperature and salinity than commercially available polymers. To advance and optimize enhanced oil recovery techniques it is essential to know the spatial propagation and distribution of the injected fluids in the subsurface. To monitor the distribution of injected fluids in the subsurface, we propose here to develop and test electromagnetic geophysical methods, based on 3D simulations and newly collected natural source and controlled source electromagnetic data.

Principal Investigators

  • Oliver Ritter (GFZ Potsdam)

Research scientists  

  • Kristina Tietze (GFZ Potsdam)
  • Cedric Patzer (GFZ Potsdam)

Cooperation Partners 


Experiment time frame  

  • Phase I:  10/2012 - 08/2013
  • Phase II: 01/2014 - 12/2015

Methods & Equipment 

  • Magnetotellurics and Controlled Source Magnetotellurics
  • Spam Mk IV real time instruments (GFZ)
  • Induction coils (Metronix) Ag/AgCl electrodes (GFZ)
  • CSEM transmitter (Metronix)


  • Funding by Wintershall Holding GmbH
  • Magnetotelluric instruments provided by the magnetotelluric component of the geophysical instrument pool (GIPP-MT)

Project details