Skauge, T. (CIPR Uni Research) | Skauge, A. (CIPR Uni Research) | Salmo, I. C. (CIPR Uni Research) | Ormehaug, P. A. (CIPR Uni Research) | Al-Azri, N. (PDO) | Wassing, L. M. (Shell Global Solutions International BV) | Glasbergen, G. (Shell Global Solutions International BV) | Van Wunnik, J. N. (Shell Global Solutions International BV) | Masalmeh, S. K. (Shell Global Solutions International BV)
Polymer injectivity is a critical parameter for implementation of polymer flood projects. An improved understanding of polymer injectivity is important in order to facilitate an increase in polymer EOR implementation. Typically, injectivity studies are performed using linear core floods. Here we demonstrate that polymer flow in radial and linear models may be significantly different and discuss the concept in theoretical and experimental terms.
Linear core floods using partially hydrolyzed polyacrylamides (HPAM) were performed at various rates to determine in-situ viscosity and polymer injectivity. Radial polymer floods were performed on Bentheimer discs (30 cm diameter, 2-3 cm thickness) with pressure taps distributed between a central injector and the perimeter production well. The in-situ rheological data are also compared to bulk rheology. The experimental set up allowed a detailed analysis of pressure changes from well injection to production line in the radial models and using internal pressure taps in linear cores.
Linear core floods show degradation of polymer at high flow rates and a severe degree of shear thickening leading to presumably high injection pressures. This is in agreement with current literature. However, the radial injectivity experiments show a significant reduction in differential pressure compared to the linear core floods. Onset of shear thickening occurs at significantly higher flow velocities than for linear core floods. These data confirm that polymer flow is significantly different in linear and radial flow. This is partly explained by the fact that linear floods are being performed at steady state conditions, while radial injections go through transient (unsteady state) and semi-transient pressure regimes.
History matching of polymer injectivity was performed for radial injection experiments. Differences in polymer injectivity are discussed in the framework of theoretical and experimental considerations. The results may have impact on evaluation of polymer flood projects as polymer injectivity is a key risk factor for implementation.
Enhanced oil displacement in a reservoir is highly affected by wettability alterations in conjunction with the lowering of viscosities during steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) for bitumen extraction. The impartation of energy in the form of heat to the fluid by injecting steam triggers an alteration to a more water-wet state during SAGD. However, the presence of three distinct phases in the reservoir has implications for the effective modeling of the complex fluid dynamics. Dependency of the relative permeability endpoints on the temperature realized as a function of the introduction of steam is difficult to model. Optimization of any steam process requires simulation in order to adequately characterize years of flow and so a model that is capable of representing three phase flow is necessary. To obtain this a pseudo-two phase relative permeability is proposed that assumes fractional flow theory is valid and treats the experiments as a waterflood.
In this study, experimental recovery data for two SAGD experiments and one hot water flood are empirically matched by manipulating relative permeabilities. The analytical approach implemented allows for the representation of fluid flow in the reservoir by achieving a pseudo-two phase relative permeability that results in comparable performance to the experiments. Waterflooding techniques were utilized which allowed for the negation of the steam phase in the model and so two-phase flow was established.
The sensitivity of the relative permeability curves to temperature change results in the inability to formulate a generic three-phase curve and so the pseudo-two phase curve is valuable for the purpose of simulation. The methodology presented enables the formulation of a simplified relative permeability that is unique to each process used and in that specific location. The model that was established was validated and proven credible by the good match with the experimentally obtained values.
Luo, Haishan (The University of Texas at Austin) | Mohanty, Kishore K. (The University of Texas at Austin) | Delshad, Mojdeh (The University of Texas at Austin) | Pope, Gary A. (The University of Texas at Austin)
Upscaling of unstable immiscible flow remains an unsolved challenge for the oil industry. The absence of a reliable upscaling approach greatly hinders the effective reservoir simulation and optimization of heavy oil recoveries using waterflood, polymer flood and other chemical floods, which are inherently unstable processes. The difficulty in upscaling unstable flow lies in estimating the propagation of fingers smaller than the gridblock size. Using classical relative permeabilities obtained from stable flow analysis can lead to incorrect oil recovery and pressure drop in reservoir simulations.
In a recent study based on abundant experimental data, it is found that the heavy-oil recovery by waterfloods and polymer floods has a power-law correlation with a dimensionless number (named viscous finger number in this paper), which is a combination of viscosity ratio, capillary number, permeability, and the cross-section area of the core. Based upon this important finding as well as the features of unstable immiscible floods, an effective-finger model is developed in this paper. A porous medium domain is dynamically identified as three effective zones, which are two-phase flow zone, oil single-phase flow zone, and bypassed oil (isolated oil island) zone, respectively. Flow functions are derived according to effective flows in these zones. This new model is capable of history-matching a set of heavy-oil waterflood corefloods under different viscosity ratios and injection rates. Model parameters obtained from the history match also have a power-law correlation with the viscous finger number.
The build-up of this correlation contains reasonable physical meanings to quantitatively characterize the upscaled behavior of viscous fingering effects. Having such a correlation enables the estimation of model parameters in any gridblock of the reservoir by knowing the local viscous finger number in reservoir simulations. The model is applied to several heavy-oil field cases with waterfloods and polymer floods with different heterogeneities. Oil recovery in water flooding of viscous oils is overpredicted by classical simulation methods which do not incorporate viscous fingering properly. Simulation results indicate that the new model reasonably differentiates the oil recoveries at different viscous finger numbers, e.g., lower injection rate leads to higher oil recovery. In contrast, classical simulations obtain close oil recoveries under different injection rates or degrees of polymer shear-thinning, which is apparently incorrect for unstable floods. Moreover, coarse-grid simulations using the new model are able to obtain consistent saturation and pressure maps with fine-grid simulations when the correlation lengths are not smaller than the coarse gridblock size. Furthermore, it is well captured by the model that the shear-shinning polymer solution can strengthen the fingering in high-permeability regions due to increased capillary number and viscosity ratio, which is not observed in waterflood. As a whole, the new model shows encouraging capability to simulate unstable water and polymer floods in heavy oil reservoirs, and hence can facilitate the optimization of heavy-oil EOR projects.
Waterflood implementation accounts for more than half of the oil production worldwide. Despite the observations and extensive research from a large number of floods and thousands of simulation studies, managing waterfloods and Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) floods is still a technical challenge. A major contributor to this challenge are waterflood induced fractures (WIF). Managing waterfloods is a multivariable problem although WIF are one aspect, it is by no means the only controlling factor.
The best evidence that WIF are one of the main factors controlling flow in reservoirs is the insensitivity of injection pressure to injection rates. With our experience, in hundreds of waterfloods, we have frequently observed this phenomenon in the field data. If fluid flow depended on diffusive Darcy flow alone, we would expect higher injection rates with higher injection pressures. However, it is common to observed relatively constant injection pressures over a wide range of water injection rates. Rapid well communication and changes in water cuts that vary with injection rates also support an interpretation of high permeability induced fractures between injector and producer. In some reservoirs, interwell tracer data can be used to determine the influence of induced fracture features. The interwell tracers usually show very fast water movement.
Induced fractures in waterfloods and EOR projects can be caused by a number of mechanisms such as but not limited to, pressure depletion, changing pressure regimes, thermal effects, or plugging effects. These fractures can either be beneficial to the reservoir performance or effect performance negatively. Benefits include improved injectivity and increased throughput of the displacing fluid. Negative effects can come in the form of reduced volumetric sweep efficiency, impaired ultimate recovery or injected fluid losses out of zone.
Case studies, theory, and available literature from Western Canada will be reviewed in order to suggest and improve reservoir management strategies for waterfloods. We have completed hundreds of waterflood feasibility, waterflood management and EOR flood studies worldwide and continue to be amazed and humbled by the complexity that many waterfloods and EOR floods exhibit due to induced fracturing. WIF and EOR induced fractures (EIF) are common and should be analysed to optimize production. Growth of the WIF, response to waterflood with the presence of WIF, implication of WIF and reservoir management are the main areas which will be addressed.
Thrasher, David (BP Exploration) | Nottingham, Derek (BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.) | Stechauner, Bernhard (BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.) | Ohms, Danielle (BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.) | Stechauner, Gerda (BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.) | Singh, Praveen K. (BP America Inc.) | Angarita, Monica Lara (BP Exploration)
Waterflood conformance control due to reservoir heterogeneity is a common challenge to many oilfield developments. This paper describes the application at-scale of a thermally-activated polymer particle system (TAP) for improving waterflood sweep efficiency in the Prudhoe Bay field, Alaska. Since 2004, the technology has been successfully deployed 91 times in Prudhoe Bay Unit on the North Slope of Alaska as part of an approved Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) program. A total of 1.6 million gallons of chemical polymer particles have been injected into approximately half of the available waterflood patterns.
Once the polymer particles activate deep in the reservoir, they provide resistance to water flow in the thief (swept) zones. The treatment design workflow applies a thermal model which accounts for the impact of the temperature distribution in the reservoir on activation of the polymer particles. Challenges associated with performance evaluation of the treatment program in a normal operational setting (as opposed to field trial) have been addressed, particularly in relation to interferences to interpretation resulting from the ongoing application of miscible gas EOR in the waterflood areas.
Of the 44 treatments deployed between 2008 and 2012, 22 were sufficiently mature to have performance data which was not adversely impacted by interferences from well work, changes to operating conditions, or miscible gas breakthrough. So far, only one of the 22 patterns has not indicated an incremental oil response, while in two patterns the response had started too recently to be able to extrapolate the overall response magnitude. The analysis showed overall positive responses from the treatments that are competitive with other well work on cost/bbl and project economics. Results from this study provide insights on key controls on waterflood sweep improvements, and inform future candidate selection and optimization of treatment designs.
The production performance analysis was corroborated by wellhead injectivity, repeat pressure fall-off tests, and reservoir modeling. This paper documents a good case history of waterflood sweep improvement.
Polymer transport and preparation can present a key challenge in chemical EOR project implementation.
Hydrolyzed polyacrylamide in emulsion form presents some advantages, including an easier transportation and a simplification of the injection process. The trade off is a lower active concentration (~30% - 50%), which increases the volumes to be transported, as well as the presence of oil and emulsifiers, which may have unintended effects in the reservoir.
In this article, we compare two industrial and commercially-available polymers, one in powder form from the gel process, and the other in an inverse emulsion, with similar viscosifying power.
Properties of both polymers are investigated through rheological and screen factor measurements, filterability tests on bulk solutions, shear thickening behavior and resistance to shear degradation in porous medium. The likely origin of the observed differences is discussed in light of the two polymerization methods (bulk vs. emulsion) that lead to differences in polydispersity. Mobility reduction and residual resistance factor measurements during propagation tests at low velocity give some insight on the propagation of the stabilized oil droplets coming from the injected emulsion. Finally, oil recovery efficiency is investigated through secondary polymer injections on sandpacks. No significant difference was observed between the polymers in term of oil recovery or pressure behavior.
These results are relevant to oil companies planning polymer or surfactant-polymer pilots and considering the tradeoffs between emulsion and powder polymers.
Alexis, Dennis (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Varadarajan, Dwarakanath (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Kim, Do Hoon (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Winslow, Greg (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Malik, Taimur (Chevron Energy Technology Company)
Performance of current synthetic EOR polymers is primarily constrained by salinity, temperature and shear which restrict their application to low to moderate salinity, low to moderate temperature and relatively high permeability reservoirs. The primary goal of the current work is to qualify recently developed associative polymers (AP) for EOR applications as well as to study their behavior in porous media. We also compare their performance with conventional non-associative polymers. In this work, we present the evaluation of several associative polymers. Two broad types of associative polymers were tested, one with a partially hydrolyzed poly acrylamide (HPAM) backbone and the other with a sulfonated HPAM backbone. The concentrations of the tested polymer vary between 75 ppm and 1000 ppm. We demonstrate the applicability of these innovative AP's through the carefully controlled lab experiments: (1) Corefloods in sandpacks to compare the sweep behaviors with conventional HPAM's. (2) Single phase flooding experiments are carried out in consolidated outcrop rocks to identify optimal polymer concentrations to achieve the desired in-situ resistance. (3) One dimensional displacement experiments with 8 cP and 90 cP oil are carried out in both unconsolidated and consolidated rocks at different temperatures to validate improved oil recovery. Results generally indicate that associative polymers require lower polymer concentration to generate high resistance factors in porous media and have stable long term injectivity behavior in high permeability rocks (>1D). Associative polymers with HPAM backbone have better filterability and injectivity in comparison to those with HPAM sulfonated backbone in low permeability(<300mD) rocks. Improved oil recovery in high permeability rocks compare well with conventional HPAM and sulfonated HPAM polymers. Based on the laboratory results, we are able to establish the selection baseline for associative polymers in different permeability rocks, salinities and temperatures. Such information can be used to select and screen the appropriate associative polymers, resulting in extending their applicability envelope in EOR.
During an Alkaline-Surfactant-Polymer (
In this study, steady-state (
For brine/oil systems some dependence of apparent viscosity on rock permeability was observed; for systems with surfactants no such trend was noticable. The addition of surfactants substantially reduced the apparent viscosities; the viscosity reducing impact of surfactants could be balanced by the addition of polymer. Fractional flow analysis showed that the addition of surfactants reduces the impact of capillary forces resulting in straightened relative permeability curves and higher aqueous phase relative permeability end points.
It is anticipated that this study leads to a fast and fit for purpose characterization method of
Hou, Binchi (Research Institute of Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum (Group) CO., LTD.) | Liu, Hongliang (China Petroleum Logging TuHa Business Division) | Bian, Huiyuan (Xi'an University of Science and Technology) | Wang, Chengrong (China Petroleum Logging TuHa Business Division) | Xie, Ronghua (Daqing Oilfield CO.LTD., PetroChina) | Li, Kewen (China University of Geosciences(Beijing)/Stanford University)
Capillary pressure and resistivity in porous rocks are both functions of wetting phase saturation. Theoretically, there should be a relationship between the two parameters. However, few studies have been made regarding this issue. Capillary pressure may be neglected in high permeability reservoirs but not in low permeability reservoirs. It is more difficult to measure capillary pressure than resistivity. It would be useful to infer capillary pressure from resistivity well logging data if a reliable relationship between capillary pressure and resistivity can be found. To confirm the previous study of a power law correlation between capillary pressure and resistivity index and develop a mathematical model with a better accuracy, a series of experiments for simultaneously measuring gas-water capillary pressure and resistivity data at a room temperature in 16 core samples from 2 wells in an oil reservoir were conducted. The permeability of the core samples ranged from 9 to 974 md. The gas-water capillary pressure data were measured with confining pressures using a semi-porous plate technique. We developed the specific experimental apparatus to measure gas-water capillary pressure and resistivity simultaneously. The results demonstrated that the previous power law model correlating capillary pressure and resistivity works well in many cases studied. A more general relationship between the exponent of the power law model and the rock permeability was developed and verified using the experimental data.
Chen, Zhao (New Mexico Inst-Mining & Tech) | Du, Cheng (New Mexico Inst-Mining & Tech) | Kurnia, Ivan (New Mexico Inst-Mining & Tech) | Lou, Junjie (New Mexico Inst-Mining & Tech) | Zhang, Guoyin (New Mexico Petroleum Recovery Research Center) | Yu, Jianjia (New Mexico Petroleum Recovery Research Center) | Lee, Robert L. (New Mexico Petroleum Recovery Research Center)
Hydrodynamic retention is one of the contributors to polymer loss in porous media. In this study, effects of flow rate, polymer molecular weight, and core permeability on hydrodynamic retention were investigated. To quantify hydrodynamic retention, injection of two identical polymer banks at different rates separated by 100 pore volumes of brine flushing was performed. Three HPAM polymers with molecular weights of 6–8 million, 12 million, and 20 million Daltons were tested in a 135 mD sandstone core and xanthan polymer with molecular weight of 2–2.5 million Daltons was tested in an 87 mD sandstone core. The retention of 6–8 million Daltons HPAM in a 1,650 mD sandstone core was also measured. Polymer retention in a fresh core was first measured at low injection rate of 3.11 ft/day. Then, 100 PV of 2% NaCl brine was injected to displace all the mobile polymer molecules in the core till pressure drop across the core became stable. Hydrodynamic retention at elevated flow rates was determined after the completion of retention at lower rates and comparisons with the initial polymer retention were made.
Retention of 96.1 µg/g in the 135 mD core was detected for the 6–8 million HPAM at a flow rate of 3.11 ft/day. Increase of flow rate from 3.11 ft/day to 6.22 ft/day and 12.4 ft/day resulted in incremental retention of 2.27 µg/g and 5.38 µg/g, respectively. The injection of a higher molecular weight polymer at the same rate was performed after retention was satisfied with a lower molecular weight polymer. It was found the degree of hydrodynamic retention was greater when higher molecular weight polymers were injected. When core permeability was changed from 135 mD to 1,650 mD, both the initial and hydrodynamic retention were dramatically decreased. The initial retention of xanthan was 66.7 µg/g in an 87 mD sandstone core, which was smaller compared to the retention of HPAM in the similar core. However, hydrodynamic retention measurements of xanthan gives 3.26 µg/g and 6.38 µg/g increments with the increase of flow rate from 3.11 ft/day to 6.22 ft/day and 12.4 ft/day, which suggested that the retention of xanthan is slightly more sensitive to the change of injection rate than HPAM. This study also implied that measurement of residual resistance factor after polymer injection should be completed after sufficient brine flushing (around 100 PV), otherwise, an overestimated residual resistance factor might be provided.