We present the first comprehensive experimental evaluation of CO2 EOR in organic rich shale. Experiments in preserved core demonstrated the potential of CO2 to extract the naturally occurring oil in organic rich shale reservoirs, whereas tests in re-saturated core plugs were used to compute accurate recovery factors, and evaluate the effect of soak time, operating pressure, and the relevance of slim-tube MMP on recovery. 18 core-flooding experiments were conducted in sidewall cores from different shale plays.
The cores re-saturated with crude oil, were first cleaned by Dean-Stark extraction, and submitted to porosity and compressibility determination. The re-saturation, confirmed by CT-scanning, was attained by aging the core plugs at high pressure for two to four months. In all experiments, glass beads surrounding core samples were used to simulate the proppant and physically recreate in the laboratory a hydraulic fracture connected to the shale matrix. The slim-tube MMP was measured with CO2, and core-flooding experiments were performed below, close to, and above the MMP. The displacement equipment was coupled to a medical CT-scanner that enabled us to track the changes in composition and saturation taking place within the shale cores during the experiments. Continuous CO2 injection and huff-and-puff were evaluated using soak time from zero to 22 hours. Fixed reservoir temperature was used in all the experiments.
Recovery factors ranged from 1.7 to 40%. The wide variation was the result of different experimental conditions for pressure and soak time. Both operational parameters were found to significantly affect the recovery. Increasing soak time at constant pressure consistently resulted in significant increase in recovery. The increase varied from 78 to 464% for different pressures and oil composition. Similarly, increasing operating pressure at constant soak time resulted in significant increase in recovery factor from 44 to 338% depending on soak time and oil composition. Unlike the typical response during CO2 EOR in conventional rocks, in organic rich shale, further pressure increases beyond the slim-tube MMP continued to increase the recovery factor significantly. In all runs, almost all oil recovery occurred within three days from the start of the experiment, and in all huff-and-puff tests the highest rate of recovery was observed in the first cycle, implying oil recovery with CO2 is a fast process, in comparison to oil re-saturation of the samples which occurs at a significantly slower rate.
This investigation demonstrates CO2 EOR is a technically feasible method to extract significant amounts of crude oil from organic rich shale reservoirs and it provides operational understanding of how to manage pressure and soak time to maximize recovery. The recovery factors obtained in this investigation, in the context of the vast reserves of crude oil contained in organic rich shale, can sustain a second shale revolution and further capitalize oilfield infrastructure.