Foam Diversion in Heterogeneous Reservoirs: Effect of Permeability and Injection Method

Al Ayesh, A. H. (Department of Geoscience and Engineering, Delft University of Technology) | Salazar, R. (Department of Geoscience and Engineering, Delft University of Technology) | Farajzadeh, R. | Vincent-Bonnieu, S. | Rossen, W. R.

OnePetro 

Abstract

Foam can divert flow from higherto lower-permeability layers and thereby improve vertical conformance in gas-injection enhanced oil recovery. Recently, Kapetas et al. (2015) measured foam properties in cores from four sandstone formations ranging in permeability from 6 to 1900 md, and presented parameter values for foam model fit to those data. Permeability affects both the mobility reduction of wet foam in the "low-quality" foam regime and the limiting capillary pressure at which foam collapses. Kapetas et al. showed how foam would divert injection between layers of these formations if all layers were full of foam injected at a given quality (gas fractional flow). Here we examine the effects of injection method on diversion in a dynamic foam process using fractional-flow modeling and the model parameters derived by Kapetas et al. Like them, we consider a hypothetical reservoir containing non-communicating layers with the properties of the four formations in their study.

The effectiveness of diversion varies greatly with injection method. In a SAG (surfactant-alternating-gas) process, diversion of the first slug of gas depends on foam behavior at very high foam quality. Mobility in the foam bank during gas injection depends on the nature of a shock front that bypasses most foam qualities usually studied in the laboratory. The foam with the lowest mobility at fixed foam quality does not necessarily give the lowest mobility in a SAG process. In particular, diversion in SAG depends on how and whether foam collapses at low water saturation; this property varies greatly among the foams reported by Kapetas et al. Moreover, diversion depends on the size of the surfactant slug received by each layer before gas injection. This of course favors diversion away from high-permeability layers that receive a large surfactant slug, but there is an optimum surfactant slug size: too little surfactant and diversion from high-permeability layers is not effective; too much and mobility is reduced in low-permeability layers, too. For a SAG process, it is very important to determine if foam collapses completely at irreducible water saturation.

In addition, we show the diversion expected in a foam-injection process as a function of foam quality. The faster propagation of surfactant and foam in the higher-permeability layers aids in diversion, as expected. This depends on foam quality and non-Newtonian foam mobility and varies with time of injection. Injectivity is extremely poor with foam injection, but is not necessarily worse than waterflood in some effective SAG foam processes