Solvent Leakoff During Gel Placement in Fractures: Extension to Oil-Saturated Porous Media

Brattekås, B. (The National IOR Centre of Norway, University of Stavanger) | Ersland, G. (University of Bergen) | Seright, R. S. (New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology)



Crosslinked polymers extrude through fractures during placement of many conformance improvement treatments, as well as during hydraulic fracturing. Dehydration of polymer gel during extrusion through fractures has often been observed, and was extensively investigated during the last decades. Injection of highly-viscous gel increases the pressure in a fracture, which promotes gel dehydration by solvent leakoff into the adjacent matrix. The present comprehension of gel behavior dictates that the rate of solvent leakoff will be controlled by the gel and fracture properties, and to a less extent impacted by the properties of an adjacent porous medium. However; several experimental results, presented in this work, indicate that solvent leakoff deviates from expected behavior when oil is present in the fracture-adjacent matrix. We investigated solvent leakoff from Cr(III)-Acetate-HPAM gels during extrusion through oil-saturated, fractured core plugs. The matrix properties were varied to evaluate the impact of pore size, permeability and heterogeneity on gel dehydration and solvent leakoff rate. A deviating leakoff behavior during gel propagation through fractured, oil-saturated core plugs was observed, associated with the formation of a capillary driven displacement front in the matrix. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) was used to image water leakoff in a fractured, oil-saturated carbonate core plug and verified the position and existence of a stable displacement front. The use of MRI also identified the presence of wormholes in the gel, during and after gel placement, which supports gel behavior similar to the previously proposed Seright filter-cake model. An explanation is offered for when the matrix impacts gel dehydration and supported by imaging. Our results show that the properties of a reservoir rock may impact gel dehydration; which, in turn, strongly impacts the depth of gel penetration into a fracture network, and the gel strength during chase floods.