This paper examines oil displacement as a function of polymer solution viscosity during laboratory studies in support of a polymer flood in the Cactus Lake reservoir in Canada. When displacing 1610-cp crude oil from field cores (at 27°C and 1 ft/d), oil recovery efficiency increased with polymer solution viscosity up to 25 cp (7.3 s-1). No significant benefit was noted from injecting polymer solutions more viscous than 25 cp. Much of the paper explores why this result occurred. That is, was it due to the core, the oil, the saturation history, the relative permeability characteristics, emulsification, or simply the nature of the test? Floods in field cores examined relative permeability for different saturation histories—including native state, cleaned/water-saturated first, and cleaned/oil-saturated first. In addition to the field cores and crude oil, studies were performed using hydrophobic (oil-wet) polyethylene cores and refined oils with viscosities ranging from 2.9 to 1000 cp. In nine field cores, relative permeability to water (
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.
Spontaneous and forced imbibition are recognized as important recovery mechanisms in naturally fractured reservoirs as the capillary force controls the movement of the fluid between the matrix and the fracture. For unconventional reservoirs, imbibition is also important as the capillary pressure is more dominant in these tighter formations, and the theoretical understanding of the flow mechanism for the imbibition process will benefit the understanding of important multiphase flow phenomenons like water blocking. In this paper, a new semi-analytic method is presented to examine the interaction between spontaneous and forced imbibition and to quantitatively represent the transient imbibition process. The methodology solves the partial differential equation of unsteady state immiscible, incompressible flow with arbitrary saturation-dependent functions using the normalized water flux concept, which is very identical to the fractional flow terminology used in traditional Buckley-Leverett analysis. The result gives a universal inherent relationship between time, normalized water flux, saturation profile and the ratio between co-current and total flux. The current analysis also develops a novel stability envelope outside of which the flow becomes unstable due to strong capillary forces, and the characteristic dimensionless parameter shown in the envelope is derived from the intrinsic properties of the rock and fluid system and can describe the relative magnitude of capillary and viscous forces at the continuum scale. This dimensionless parameter is consistently applicable in both capillary dominated and viscous dominated flow conditions.
Ross, T. S. (New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology) | Rahnema, H. (New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology) | Nwachukwu, C. (New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology) | Alebiosu, O. (ConocoPhillips Co) | Shabani, B. (Oklahoma State University)
Steam injection—a thermal-based enhanced oil recovery (EOR) process—is used to improve fluid mobility within a reservoir, and it is well known that it yields positive results in heavy-oil reservoirs. In theory, steam injection has the potential of being applied in light-oil reservoirs to enable vaporization of in-situ reservoir fluids, but field developments and scientific studies of this application are sparse. Conventional displacement methods like water-flooding and gas-flooding have been applied to some extent, however, oil extraction in such reservoirs relies on recovery mechanisms like capillary imbibition or gravity drainage to recover oil from the reservoir matrix. Furthermore, low-permeability reservoir rocks are associated with low gravity drainage and high residual oil saturation.
The objective of this study is to evaluate the potential of steam injection for light (47°API) oil extraction in naturally-fractured reservoirs. It is theorized that this method will serve as an effective tool for recovery of light hydrocarbons through naturally-fractured networks with the benefit of heat conduction through the rock matrix. This research investigates the application of light-oil steamflood (LOSF) in naturally- fractured reservoirs (NFR).
A simulation model comprised of a matrix block surrounded by fracture network was used to study oil recovery potential under steam injection. To simulate gravity drainage, steam was injected through a horizontal well completed in the upper section of the fracture network, while the production well was completed at the bottom of the fracture network. The simulation included two different porous media: (1) natural fractures and (2) matrix blocks. Each of these porous media was assumed to be homogeneous and characterized based on typical reservoir properties for carbonate formations. This study also analyzed the impact of different recovery mechanisms during steam injection for a light-oil sample in NFR, with reservoir sensitivity examined, based on varying amounts of vaporization, injection rate, permeability, matrix height and capillary pressure. Of these, vaporization was found to be the dominant factor in the application of LOSF in NFR, as described in detail within the results.
Holubnyak, Yevhen (Kansas Geological Survey) | Watney, Willard (Kansas Geological Survey) | Hollenbach, Jennifer (Kansas Geological Survey) | Rush, Jason (Kansas Geological Survey) | Fazelalavi, Mina (Kansas Geological Survey) | Bidgoli, Tandis (Kansas Geological Survey) | Wreath, Dana (Berexco LLC)
Baseline geologic characterization, geologic model development, studies of oil composition and properties, miscibility pressure estimations, geochemical characterization, reservoir modelling were performed. In March of 2015 the injection well (class II) KGS 2-32 was drilled, cored, and logged through an entire anticipated injection interval. Whole core samples were obtained and tested for porosity and permeability, relative permeability, and capillary pressure. The Drill Stem Test (DST) was also conducted to estimate injection interval permeability and pore-pressure. After the injection well KGS 2-32 was acidized, Step Rate (SRT) and Interference (IT) tests were conducted and analysed for permeability, well pattern communication, and fracture closing pressure.
Approximately 20,000 metric tons of CO2 was injected in the upper part of the Mississippian reservoir to verify CO2 EOR viability in carbonate reservoirs and evaluate a potential of transitioning to geologic CO2 storage through EOR. Total of 1,101 truckloads, 19,803 metric tons, average of 120 tonnes per day were delivered over the course of injection that lasted from January 9 to June 21, 2016. After cessation of CO2 injection, KGS 2-32 well was converted to water injector and is currently continues to operate. CO2 EOR progression in the field was monitored weekly with fluid level, temperature, and production recording, and formation fluid composition sampling.
As a result of CO2 injection observed incremental average oil production increase is ~68% with only ~18% of injected CO2 produced back. Simple but robust monitoring technologies proved to be very efficient in detection and locating of CO2. High CO2 reservoir retentions with low yields within actively producing field could help to estimate real-world risks of CO2 geological storage.
Wellington filed CO2 EOR was executed in a controlled environment with high efficiency. This case study proves that CO2 EOR could be successfully applied in Kansas carbonate reservoirs if CO2 sources and associated infrastructure is available.
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.
Åsen, Siv Marie (UiS, IRIS and The National IOR Centre of Norway) | Stavland, Arne (IRIS and The National IOR Centre of Norway) | Strand, Daniel (IRIS and The National IOR Centre of Norway) | Hiorth, Aksel (UiS, IRIS and The National IOR Centre of Norway)
In this work, we challenge the common understanding that mechanical degradation takes place at the rock surface or within the first few mm. The effect of core length on mechanical degradation of synthetic EOR polymers was investigated. We constructed a novel experimental set-up for studying mechanical degradation at different flow rates as a function of distances travelled. The set-up enabled us to evaluate degradation in serial mounted core segments of 3, 5, 8 and 13 cm individually or combined. By recycling we could also evaluate degradation at effective distances up to 20 m. By low rate reinjecting of polymers previously degraded at higher rates, we simulated the effect of radial flow on degradation.
Experiments were performed with two different polymers (high molecular weight HPAM and low molecular weight ATBS) in two different brines (0.5% NaCl and synthetic seawater).
In linear flow at high shear rates, we observed a decline in degradation rate with distance travelled, but a plateau was not observed. Even after 20 m there was still some degradation taking place. The molecular weight (MW) of the degraded polymer could be matched with a power law dependency,
We conclude that in linear flow, the mechanical degradation depends on the core length. However, in radial flow where the velocity decreases by length, the mechanical degradation reaches equilibrium with no further degradation deeper into the formation.
For the experiments where we evaluated degradation over large distances at high shear rates, we observed a decline in degradation rate with distance travelled, but we could not conclude that we reached a plateau. Even after 20 m there is still some degradation taking place. It is important to consider this knowledge when interpreting core scale experiments. However, the observed degradation is associated with high-pressure gradients, in the order of 100 bar/meter, which at field scale is not realistic.
We confirmed previous findings; degradation depends on salinity and molecular weight. Results show that in all experiments with significant degradation, most of the degradation takes place in the first core segment. Moreover, the higher the shear rate and degradation, the higher is the fraction of degradation that occurs in the first core segment.
This paper investigates the impact of aspect ratio on the growth rate of viscous fingers using high resolution numerical simulation in reservoirs with aspect ratios of up to 30:1. The behaviour of fingers in porous media with such high aspect ratios has been overlooked previously in many previous simulation studies due to limited computational power.
Viscous fingering is likely to adversely affect the sweep obtained from any miscible gas injection project. It can also occur during polymer flooding when using chase water following the injection of a polymer slug. It depends upon the viscosity ratio, physical diffusion and dispersion, the geometry of the system and the permeability heterogeneity. It occurs because the interface between a lower viscosity displacing fluid and a higher viscosity displaced fluid is intrinsically unstable. This means that any small perturbation to the interface will cause fingers to grow. It is therefore almost impossible to predict the exact fingering pattern in any given displacement although many previous researchers have shown that it is possible predict average behaviour (such as gas breakthrough time and oil recovery) provided a very refined grid is used such that physical diffusion dominates over numerical diffusion. It is impossible to use such fine grids in field scale simulations. Instead engineers will tend to use standard empirical models such as the Todd and Longstaff or Koval models, calibrated to detailed simulations, to estimate field scale performance.
At late times in high aspect ratio systems, we find that one finger dominates the displacement and that this finger grows with the square root of time, rather than linearly. We also observe that this single finger tends to split, during which time the solvent oil interface length grows linearly with time before one finger again dominates and grows with the square root of time. This cycle can repeat several times. We also find that industry standard empirical models cannot properly capture the average behavior of the fingering in these cases because they assume linear growth as a function of time. We show that a modified Peclet number can be used to estimate when these empirical models are no longer valid.
Andersen, Pål Østebø (Dept. of Energy Resources, University of Stavanger, The National IOR Centre of Norway, University of Stavanger) | Qiao, Yangyang (Dept. of Energy and Petroleum Technology, University of Stavanger) | Standnes, Dag Chun (Dept. of Energy Resources, University of Stavanger) | Evje, Steinar (The National IOR Centre of Norway, University of Stavanger, Dept. of Energy and Petroleum Technology, University of Stavanger)
This paper presents a numerical study of water displacing oil by combined co-current / counter-current spontaneous imbibition (SI) of water displacing oil from a water-wet matrix block exposed to water at one side and oil at the other. Counter-current flows can induce a stronger viscous coupling than during co-current flows leading to deceleration of the phases. Even as water displaces oil co-currently the saturation gradient in the block induces counter-current capillary diffusion. The extent of counter-current flow may dominate the domain of the matrix block near the water-exposed surfaces, while co-current imbibition may dominate the domain near the oil-exposed surfaces implying that one unique effective relative permeability curve for each phase does not adequately represent the system. As relative permeabilities are routinely measured co-currently it is an open question whether the imbibition rates in the reservoir (depending on a variety of flow regimes and parameters) will in fact be correctly predicted. We present a generalized two phase flow model based on momentum equations from mixture theory that can account dynamically for viscous coupling between the phases and the porous media due to fluid-rock interaction (friction) and fluid-fluid interaction (drag). These momentum equations effectively replace and generalize Darcy's law. The model is parameterized using experimental data from the literature.
We consider a water-wet matrix block in 1D that is exposed to oil on one side and water on the other side. This setup favors co-current SI. We also account for the fact that oil produced counter-currently into water must overcome the socalled capillary back pressure, which represents a resistance for oil to be produced as droplets. This parameter can thus influence the extent of counter-current production and hence, viscous coupling. This complex mixture of flow regimes implies that it is not straightforward to model the system by a single set of relative permeabilities, but rather relies on a generalized momentum equation model that couples the two phases. In particular, directly applying co-currently measured relative permeability curves gives significantly different predictions than the generalized model. It is seen that at high water-to-oil mobility ratios, viscous coupling can lower the imbibition rate and shift the production from less counter-current to more co-current as compared to conventional modelling. Although the viscous coupling effects are triggered by counter-current flow, reducing or eliminating counter-current production via the capillary back pressure does not eliminate the effects of viscous coupling that take place inside the core, which effectively lower the mobility of the system. It was further seen that viscous coupling can increase the remaining oil saturation in standard co-current imbibition setups.
In this paper we investigate the contribution of capillary and viscous cross-flow to oil recovery during secondary polymer flooding. Cross-flow can be an important mechanism in oil displacement processes in vertically communicating stratified reservoirs. Using polymers will change the balance of these contributions. Previous numerical investigations have shown that the amount of viscous cross-flow is controlled by the layer permeability contrast and a dimensionless number that characterises the combined effects of water, polymer and oil viscosities. The highest viscous cross-flow values were observed during favourable mobility ratio floods in reservoirs with a layer permeability ratio close to 3.
The purpose of the laboratory study was to validate previous numerical studies of cross-flow performed using commercial reservoir simulators. A series of experiments were performed in glass beadpack using analogue fluids comprising water, glycerol solution (to represent the polymer) and paraffin oil. All porous medium and fluid properties (including relative permeabilities and capillary pressure curves) needed for the numerical simulations were determined independently of the displacement experiments. Two beadpacks were constructed of two layers of different permeabilities parallel to the principal flow direction. In one of the packs a barrier was placed between the two layers to prevent cross-flow. Comparing the recoveries from these enabled us to quantify the contribution of cross-flow to oil recovery. The mobility ratios examined in the experiments ranged from very unfavourable to very favourable. The layer permeability ratio was approximately 2.5.
Good agreement was obtained between experiments and simulations, without the need for history matching, demonstrating that the simulation correctly captures the physics of crossflow. The incremental oil recoveries attributable to cross-flow and mobility control both fell within the error margins of the experimentally calculated values. The experiments showed that capillary cross-flow dominated over viscous cross-flow on laboratory length scales. Having validated the simulator, we then used it to show that wettability (with and without capillary pressure) can modify the impact of cross-flow on oil recovery.