Use of foams to control CO2 floods conformance is attracting a renewed interest in recent years due its flexibility and ease of application. This application becomes even more attractive in current times of low oil price, as it can be an inexpensive mean to maximize CO2 utilization efficiency and increase production at no capital expenses. However, it is generally recognized that to maximize chances of success of a pilot application, an appropriate foaming formulation must be designed for a given reservoir and characterized in petrophysics lab. This usually requires an extensive laboratory work that is not always compatible with cost constraints.
We present a new cost-effective workflow that focuses on evaluating two formulation performance indicators derived from the population balance model: foam creation (related to foaming power) and resistance to foam destruction (related to foam stabilization against coarsening and coalescence).
We assess these two parameters in representative reservoir conditions by measuring foam mobility reduction in porous media and foam lifetimes. Experimental results and simple scaling arguments show that these two measurements, both of importance to the application, are mostly independent. This shed light on a recurring question pertaining to the relevance of bulk foam experiments to predict foam efficiency in porous media. With this in mind, we present a new approach for measuring mobility reduction in porous media with a higher throughput than usual corefloods experiments. This methodology is based on sandpack experiments as well as serial coreflood experiments that allow multiple successive formulations testing. We show that the link between sandpack and coreflood results is far from being straightforward, and depends on static (geometrical) as well as dynamic (flow) parameters.
Overall, this work provides new insights on the major performance indicators used to evaluate foam efficiency for gas conformance control in oil reservoirs. We build on this understanding to present a novel approach that can help developing more efficient foam EOR solutions. In particular, it allows tailoring foaming agents properties (such as foaminess and foam stabilization) to specific conditions of a given application (oil saturation, vertical heterogeneity, etc…).