Hosseininoosheri, P. (The University of Texas at Austin) | Hosseini, S. A. (The University of Texas at Austin) | Nunez-Lopez, V. (The University of Texas at Austin) | Lake, L. W. (The University of Texas at Austin)
The relative partitioning of CO2 during and after CO2 injection in a CO2-EOR process is affected by several parameters. While many geological properties cannot be changed in a specific hydrocarbon (HC) reservoir, it could be shown that an intelligent selection of CO2 injection strategy improves both the incremental oil recovery and CO2 storage capacity and security. Therefore, we investigated and discussed the partitioning of CO2 among different phases (oil, gas, and brine) after two well-known CO2 inejction schemes using field-scale compositional reservoir flow modeling in the SACROC (Scurry Area Canyon Reef Operators Committee) unit, Permian Basin. First, we used a high-resolution geocellular model, which was constructed from wireline logs, seismic surveys, core data, and stratigraphic interpretation. As the initial distribution of fluids plays an important role in CO2 partitioning, a comprehensive pressure-production history matching of primary, secondary, and tertiary recovery was completed. The hysteresis model was used to calculate the amount of CO2 trapped as residual. CO2 solubility into brine was verified based on previous experiments. The model results showed a new understanding of relative CO2 partitioning in porous media after a CO2-EOR process. We compared the contribution of CO2 trapping mechanisms and the sweep efficiency of Walter-Alternating-Gas (WAG) and Continous-Gas-Injection (CGI). We found that WAG injection showed a significantly superior behaviour over CGI. WAG not only decreased the amount of mobile CO2 (structural trapping), but also resulted in a competitive incremental oil recovery in comparison with CGI. Thus, clearly WAG injection ispreferred as it strongly enhances CO2 storage efficiency and containment security. The present work provides valuable insights for optimizing oil production and CO2 storage in carbonate reservoirs like SACROC unit. In other words, this work helps decision makers to set storage goals based on optimized project risks.
Chen, Szu-Ying (University of California at Santa Barbara) | Kaufman, Yair (University of California at Santa Barbara) | Kristiansen, Kai (University of California at Santa Barbara) | Howard, A. Dobbs (University of California at Santa Barbara) | Nicholas, A. Cadirov (University of California at Santa Barbara) | Seo, Dongjin (University of California at Santa Barbara) | Alex, M. Schrader (University of California at Santa Barbara) | Roberto, C. Andresen Eguiluz (University of California at Santa Barbara) | Mohammed, B. Alotaibi (Saudi Aramco) | Subhash, C. Ayirala (Saudi Aramco) | James, R. Boles (UCSB) | Ali, A. Yousef (Saudi Aramco) | Jacob, N. Israelachvili (UCSB)
Waterflooding via injection of chemistry-optimized low-salinity – also, low ionic strength/concentration – waters, such as SmartWater, is becoming increasingly attractive for improved oil recovery, especially in carbonate reservoirs. In this manuscript, we describe the results from a series of experiments and theoretical modeling to determine the mechanisms that govern the
We measured various interrelated crude-oil(
The results presented in this manuscript are of practical significance to provide a better understanding of SmartWater flooding mechanisms in carbonates at multiple length scales, including subnano-, nano-, micro-, and macroscopic scales. The new fundamental understandings presented in this study will also guide the optimization of SmartWater flooding processes in other reservoir systems.
Aqueous foam has been demonstrated through laboratory and field experiments to be a promising conformance control technique. This study explores the foaming behavior of a CO2-soluble, cationic, amine-based surfactant. A distinguishing feature of this surfactant is its ability to dissolve in supercritical CO2 and to form Wormlike Micelles (WLM) at elevated salinity. Presence of WLM led to an increase in viscosity of the aqueous surfactant solution. Our study investigates how the presence of WLM structures affect transient foam behavior in a homogenous porous media (sand pack).
Sand pack foam flooding experiments were performed with two aqueous phase salinities: low salinity (15 wt. % NaCl) associated with spherical-shaped micelle and high salinity (20 wt. % NaCl) associated with WLM. We compared the onset of strong foam propagation and foam apparent viscosity buildup rate between the two salinity cases. The effect of WLM presence in transient foam behavior was investigated for co-injection and water-alternating-gas (WAG) injection strategies. In all foam flooding experiments, the surfactant was delivered in the CO2 phase.
Strong foam was generated in all foam flooding experiments, with an apparent foam viscosity of at least 600 cp for co-injection and 200 cp for WAG floods after five total injected pore volumes. The observed strong foam indicated that the delivery of surfactant in the CO2 phase was successful and that the surfactant molecules partition to the water phase in the sand pack. In comparison to the low salinity cases, the high salinity foam floods associated with the presence of WLM led to better foam performance. We observed an earlier onset of strong foam propagation as well as a higher apparent viscosity buildup rate. Better foam performance at higher salinity may be attributed in large part to the presence of WLM structures in the foam liquid phase. Entanglement of these WLM structures may have led to in-situ viscosification of the foam liquid phase and an increase in disjoining pressure between foam films. Both phenomena may have reduced the rate of foam film coalescence.
WLM structures behave similarly to polymer molecules. Our study may offer evidence that WLM is a valid alternative to polymer as an additive to enhance foam conformance control performance. Some potential advantages of WLM over polymer include: Delivery of surfactant in the gas phase (to alleviate the injectivity issue typically associated with high viscosity polymer-surfactant solution), resistance to extreme temperature and salinity, and reversible shear degradation.
Sheng, Kai (The University of Texas At Austin) | Argüelles-Vivas, Francisco J. (The University of Texas At Austin) | Baek, Kwang Hoon (The University of Texas At Austin) | Okuno, Ryosuke (The University of Texas At Austin)
Water is the dominant component in steam injection processes, such as steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD). The central hypothesis in this research is that in-situ oil transport can be enhanced by generating oil-in-water emulsion, where the water-continuous phase acts as an effective oil carrier. As part of the research project, this paper presents an experimental study of how oil-in-water emulsion can improve oil transport in porous media at elevated temperatures from 373 K to 443 K.
Dimethyl amine (DEA) was selected as the organic alkali to form oil-in-water emulsions with Athabasca bitumen and NaCl brine at 1000 ppm salinity and 0.5 wt% alkali concentration. This composition had been confirmed to be optimal in terms of oil solubility in the water-external emulsion phase at a wide range of temperatures. Then, flow experiments with a glass-beads pack were conducted to measure effective viscosities for emulsion samples at shear rates from 5 to 80 sec−1.
Results show that the effective emulsion viscosity is not sensitive to temperature. At an estimated shear rate of 11 sec−1, for example, the emulsion viscosity was 35 cp at 373 K and 31 cp 403 K. The efficiency of in-situ bitumen transport was evaluated by calculating bitumen molar flow rate under gravity drainage with the new experimental data. Results show that oil-in-water emulsion can enhance in-situ bitumen transport by 1.5 to 7 times at temperatures below 403 K, in comparison with the gravity drainage of oil-water two phases in conventional SAGD. This is mainly because the mobility of the bitumen-containing phase is enhanced by the reduced viscosity and increased effective permeability. A marked difference between alkaline solvents and conventional hydrocarbon solvents is that only a small amount of alkaline solvent enables to enhance in-situ transport of bitumen.
Andersen, Pål Østebø (Dept. of Energy Resources, University of Stavanger) | Lohne, Arild (The National IOR Centre of Norway, University of Stavanger) | Stavland, Arne (The National IOR Centre of Norway, University of Stavanger) | Hiorth, Aksel (Dept. of Energy Resources, University of Stavanger) | Brattekås, Bergit (Dept. of Energy Resources, University of Stavanger)
Capillary spontaneous imbibition of solvent (brine bound in gel) from formed polymer gel into an adjacent, oil-saturated porous medium was recently observed in laboratory experiments. Loss of solvent from the gel by spontaneous imbibition may influence the blocking capacity of the gel residing in a fracture, by decreasing the gel volume, and may contribute to gel failure, often observed in water-wet oil fields. Formed gel cannot enter significantly into porous rock, which has important implications for spontaneous imbibition: the gel particle network itself is not imbibed, and remains close to the rock matrix surface, while gel solvent can leave the gel and progress into the matrix due to capillary forces. Polymer gel is an inherently complex fluid and modelling of its behavior is, as such, complicated. Accurate description and quantification of gel properties and behaviour on the laboratory scale is, however, necessary to predict the performance of gel placed in an oil field, particularly in fractured formations. In this work, we present an original modelling approach, to simulate and interpret spontaneous solvent imbibition from Cr(III)-Acetate HPAM gel into oil-saturated chalk core plugs. A theory describing solvent flow within a gel network is detailed, and was implemented into an in-house simulator. Simulations of spontaneous imbibition from gel was performed, and compared to free spontaneous imbibition of water. A good overall match was achieved between experiments and simulations on the core scale, which validates the proposed gel model.
All Faces Open (AFO) and Two Ends Open - Free Spontaneous Imbibition (TEOFSI) boundary conditions were used in the experiments, and formed the basis for simulation. Spontaneous imbibition occurs at the core end faces that are open to flow and exposed to gel (different for the two boundary conditions). The gel surrounding the core was discretized and included as a part of the total grid to capture transient behavior. The surrounding gel is treated as a compressible porous medium where the gel's polymer structure constitutes the matrix having constant solid volume while the gel porosity is a function of pore pressure. The gel permeability is modelled as function of gel porosity using a Kozeny-Carman approach. The flow equations for the gel and core domains were solved simultaneously by implementing the proposed description into the core scale simulator IORCoreSim. Two properties were identified to control the transport of water from gel into the adjacent matrix: the permeability and compressibility of the gel. The flow of water from the gel was observed in simulations to occur in a transient manner, driven by the coupled gradients in gel fluid pressure and gel porosity, where the gel porosity initially decreases in a layer close to the core surface due to reduced aqueous pressure. Gel porosity continued to decrease in layers away from the core surface; the propagation rate was controlled by two main gel parameters: (i) Gel compressibility controlled the pressure gradient within the gel network, and the amount of water transported from the outer part of the gel towards the core surface to balance the pore pressure. (ii) Gel permeability limited how fast water could flow within the gel at a given pressure gradient, thus increasing the time scale of the overall imbibition process.
Smart water and low salinity waterflooding has been established as an effective recovery method in carbonate reservoirs by demonstrating a significant incremental oil recoveries in secondary and tertiary modes compared to seawater injection. Therefore, understanding of multiphase flow phenomena in reservoir rocks is critical to optimize injected water formulations for substantial increase in oil recovery. Characterization of fluid-fluid and fluid-rock interactions have been extensively conducted at micro- and macroscopic scale, attempting to reveal the underlying mechanisms responsible for wettability alteration. Indeed, routine methods for assessing macro-wettability of fluids on rock surfaces (contact angle) include the sessile drop and captive bubble techniques. However, these two techniques can provide different contact angle depending on rock surface heterogeneities, roughness and drop size. Thus, contact angle measured at macroscale can only be used to characterize the average wettability and a direct visualization at nanoscale is needed to identify oil and brine distribution in the carbonate matrix and wettability state at the pore scale. The application of ion-beam milling techniques allows investigation of the porosity at the nanometer scale using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Imaging of carbonate porosity by SEM of surfaces prepared by broad ion beam (BIB) and under cryogenic conditions allow to investigate preserved fluids inside the rock porosity and, combined with energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) identify crude oil and brine distributions and quantify carbonate-oil interfaces and wettability state. The experiments have been conducted on carbonate rock samples aged in crude oil and saturated with brines at high and reduced ionic strength. This study established an experimental protocol using Cryogenic high resolution broad ion beam (Cryo-BIB SEM) equipped with energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS). The results show that ion-BIB milling provides a smooth surface area with large cross-section of few mm2. High resolution imaging analysis allowed identification of the different phases, chemical mapping and distribution of oil, brine within the porous matrix. Segmentation of rock-oil-brine interface allowed an estimation of the in-situ contact angle and showed the effect of injected salinity brine on the 2D contact angle and more accurate description of the carbonate wettability at nanoscale.
CO2 enhanced oil recovery is usually affected by poor sweep efficiency due to unfavorable mobility contrast between the injected CO2 and oil. To alleviate this problem, CO2 is added to the injected brine and transported in the reservoir by flood water. Therefore, Carbonated Water Injection (CWI), takes advantage of both CO2 and water flooding processes. Furthermore, geochemical reactions between the injected carbonated brine and rock can alter petrophysical properties of the reservoir and affect final oil recovery. While there are several CWI coreflood experiments reported in the literature, simulation studies for this process are scarce.
Accurate modeling of CWI performance requires a simulator with the ability to capture true physics of the CWI process. In this study, a compositional reservoir simulator developed at The University of Texas at Austin, UTCOMP, coupled with a state-of-the-art geochemical package developed by United States Geological Survey, IPhreeqc, is used to model CWI process. We considered the impact of CO2 mass transfer between brine and hydrocarbon phases based on thermodynamic constrains at the reservoir condition. In order to validate our simulation approach, the results of our CWI simulations were compared with a recently published coreflood experiment. Moreover, we investigated the fluid-rock interactions in CWI.
The results of the simulations, indicated that prior to water breakthrough the main drive mechanism is displacement. But as more carbonated water is injected, CO2 diffuses more into the trapped oil left behind, which results in oil swelling and subsequent oil viscosity reduction. Moreover, reaction of carbonate minerals such as calcite with carbonated brine results in dissolution of the main rock matrix which consequently creates wormholes similar to carbonates acidizing.
In this study we propose a novel approach for accurate modeling of carbonated waterflooding process. The results of this study highlight the importance of geochemical reactions in modeling CWI process. Our approach has been validated based on history matching at the backdrop of a recently published coreflood experiment.
The objective of this research was to develop a surfactant formulation for EOR in an oil-wet, high-salinity, fractured dolomite reservoir at ~100°C. A key requirement was achievement of interfacial tension (IFT) sufficiently low to spontaneously displace oil from the matrix by buoyancy. The formulation developed to do so was a blend of lauryl betaine and C15-18 internal olefin sulfonate, supplemented by a smaller amount of i-C13 ethoxylated carboxylate, all thermally stable and commercially available surfactants although the carboxylate not in quantities required for largescale EOR processes. Proportions of the three surfactants for injection in hard sea water were selected using equilibrium phase behavior results and estimates of IFT obtained by a novel technique based on the manner in which oil exits a small, vertically-oriented, rectangular oil-wet capillary cell as it is displaced upward in the cell by surfactant solution. The ability to recover oil from an oil-wet dolomite core was confirmed by an Amott imbibition cell experiment in which 50% recovery was observed for a core initially fully saturated with oil. The formulation's ability to generate strong foam in porous media was presented earlier in SPE-181732-MS. Research at Rice for three additional projects having carbonate reservoirs but different crude oils, brines, and temperatures of at least 60°C demonstrated formulation versatility by showing good oil recovery by core floods with modestly adjusted proportions of the same three surfactants (SPE-184569-MS, 2017; SPE-190259-MS 2018, US Patent 9,856,412). In the first two of these cited studies, the foamed formulation was injected to recover crude oils from a novel model fracture-matrix system.
Kazempour, Mahdi (Nalco-Champion, an Ecolab Company) | Kiani, Mojtaba (Nalco-Champion, an Ecolab Company) | Nguyen, Duy (Nalco-Champion, an Ecolab Company) | Salehi, Mehdi (Nalco-Champion, an Ecolab Company) | Lantz, Mike (Nalco-Champion, an Ecolab Company)
In recent years, the United States (US) has experienced a resurrection in hydrocarbon recovery owing to the extraction of oil and gas from unconventional resources. Due to the ultra-low permeability nature of these reservoirs and their oil-wet characteristics, oil production declines are steep and oil recoveries remain very low (< 12% of OOIP). This challenge endures even with the assistance of hydraulic fracturing advancements and well spacing optimizations. The billions of barrels of remaining oil is a good target for chemical enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technologies.
In this study, after comprehensive laboratory testing, a series of customized chemical formulations was developed to improve oil recovery under the challenging conditions of the Middle Bakken and Niobrara formations (temperature >110 °C, salinity>220,000 ppm, and hardness>15,000 ppm). To examine the performance of the selected formulation in the field-scale, a single well enhancement trial was carried out. A detailed review of the lab and field data (pre-and post-treatment) is discussed in this study. Oil rate decline analysis and numerical simulations were used to obtain more insight about the true effectiveness of the chemical treatments. The results of this field trial reveal that injecting a proper wettability altering agent can improve oil recovery from shale oil reservoirs by up to 25% of the estimated ultimate recovery (EUR). The results of numerical simulations also show that the additional oil recovered in this field trial cannot be achieved by either well shut-in or straight water injection.
The lessons learned from this study provide practical information to optimize similar field trial designs leading to more profitable projects. The concepts and information here can be also translated to other unconventional basins and gas condensate or wet/dry gas reservoirs.
The wettability of tight reservoir rock plays a critical role in affecting relative permeability and in turn oil recovery. However, the link between wettability and its effects on oil recovery remains poorly understood, and the potential to boost oil recovery by varying the wettability has not been fully explored. This work was an attempt to conduct a systematic experimental study to improve our understanding of wettability of tight oil reservoirs and the mechanisms of its alteration on oil recovery improvement. Contact angles of individual rock-forming minerals and reservoir rock samples were first measured in brines with different salinities. Then the minerals were aged separately with a medium crude oil with sufficient polar components to investigate their tendency for wettability alteration. As well, oil and water distributions inside tight core samples were scanned by a synchrotron-based computed tomography scanner. Contact angle measurements for all minerals and reservoir rocks showed initial water-wetting behavior. After aging with crude oil for over two months, polar components from the oil adsorbed onto the solid surfaces to alter their wettability to less water wet. Consequently, this wettability alteration contributed to oil and water redistribution and saturation change in reservoir cores.
The experimental findings suggested that the wettability in tight reservoirs is a strong function of rock mineralogy, formation fluid properties, and saturation history. Preliminary numerical simulation revealed how rock wettability alteration could contribute to improved oil recovery through waterflooding.