Recovery of Oil from High Salinity Reservoir Using Chemical Flooding: From Laboratory to Field Tests

Shiau, Bor Jier Ben (University of Oklahoma) | Hsu, Tzu-Ping (University of Oklahoma) | Lohateeraparp, Prapas (University of Oklahoma) | Rojas, Mario R. (University of Oklahoma) | Budhathoki, Mahesh (University of Oklahoma) | Raj, Ajay (University of Oklahoma) | Wan, Wei (University of Oklahoma) | Bang, Sangho (University of Oklahoma) | Harwell, Jeffrey H. (University of Oklahoma)


Reservoirs containing very high total dissolved solids and high hardness make the design of a surfactant polymer (SP) flood extremely difficult because surfactant tends to precipitate and separate under these conditions. Beside divalent ions, Ca2+, Mg2+, presence of iron in the brine can be a challenging issue. Different surfactant formulations are evaluated and incorporate cosurfactants and co-solvents which minimize viscous macroemulsions, promote rapid coalescence under Winsor Type III conditions, and stabilize the chemical solution by reducing precipitation and phase separation. The optimal surfactant formulations were further evaluated in one-dimensional sand packs and coreflood tests using Berea sandstone, reservoir oils, and brines at reservoir temperatures. Using similar injection protocols, 3 pore volumes of surfactant-only system, experimental results show the oil recovery ranging from 45 % to 70% of the residual oil (Sor) after water flooding. The level of surfactant loading is less than 0.5 wt%. A single-well test was conducted to confirm laboratory results in situ in the presence of high-salinity formation water containing 102,300 mg/L total dissolved solids (TDS). The aim of ongoing test is to confirm the effectiveness of the high-salinity surfactant-only formulation (0.46 wt% of surfactant). In this effort, we plan to conduct multiple single-well tests at different wells to minimize the design risks involved for the surfactant pilot test. A pilot test at a sandstone reservoir is scheduled to be performed in July of 2013 to further evaluate the effectiveness of surfactant formulation and address technical issues related to scale-up.