Imqam, Abdulmhsin (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Wang, Ze (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Bai, Baojun (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Delshad, Mojdeh (The University of Texas at Austin)
Preformed particle gels (PPG) have been successfully applied as a plugging agent to solve the conformance problem in fractured reservoirs. They are injected to plug fractures and then divert displacing fluid into poorly swept zones and areas. However, PPG propagation and plugging mechanisms through open fractures have not been studied thoroughly. This paper investigated the influence of some factors (particle size, brine concentration, heterogeneity, injection flow rate, and brine salinity) on gel injectivity and plugging performance for water flow through opening fractures. Five-foot tubes were used to mimic opening fractures. Three models were designed to gain understanding on how fracture geometry and PPG properties affect gel injection and plugging efficiency, including (1) single fracture with uniform fracture width, (2) single fracture with different widths, and (3) two parallel fractures with different width ratios between each other. Results from single uniform fracture experiments showed that PPG injection pressure was more sensitive to gel strength than gel particle size. When large PPG size and high gel strength were used, high injection pressure and large injection pore volume were required for PPG and brine to reach fracture outlets. Results from single heterogeneous fracture model experiments showed PPG injection pressure increased as the fracture heterogeneity in sections increased. Particle gel accumulated at the choke point within each fracture and caused injection pressure to increase accordingly. Furthermore, results showed that having a lower salinity within a fracture, which was less than the brine salinity that was used to prepare PPG, would improve the PPG plugging efficiency for water flow. Parallel fracture models results showed that when weak PPG was used, a large volume of PPG flowed into a large fracture width and a small portion of the gel particle volume flowed into small fracture width. However, with increased gel strength and fracture width ratio, PPG only flowed through larger fracture widths. This paper demonstrates important impact elements of gel propagation and water flow for different opening fracture situations.
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.
Production from liquid-rich shale has become an important contributor to domestic production in the United States, but recovery factors are low. Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) methods require injectivity and interwell communication on reasonable time scales. We conduct a feasibility study for the application of recycled lean gas injection to displace reservoir fluids between zipper fracs in liquid-rich shales.
Using new analytical solutions to the Diffusivity equation for arbitrarily-oriented line sources/sinks plus superposition, we analyze the time for inter-fracture communication development, i.e. interference, and productivity index for both classical bi-wing fractures in a zipper configuration and complex fracture networks. We are able to map both pressure and pressure temporal derivative as a function of time and space for production and/or injection from parallel motherbores under the infinite conductivity wellbore and fracture assumption. The infinite conductivity assumption could be later relaxed for more general cases.
We couch the results in terms of geometrical spacing requirement for both horizontal wells and stimulation treatments to achieve reasonable time frames for inter-fracture communication and sweep for parameters typical of various shale plays. We further analyze whether spacing currently considered for primary production is sufficient for direct implementation of EOR or if current practice should be modified with EOR in the field development plan.
Compositional reservoir simulation plays a vital role in the development of conventional and unconventional reservoirs. Two major building blocks of compositional simulation are phase behavior and fluid transport computations. The oil and gas reserves and flow of reservoir fluids are strongly dependent on phase behavior. In conventional reservoirs, capillary pressure is relatively small and is typically ignored in phase behavior calculations. However, large capillary pressure values are encountered in tight formations such as shales; and therefore, its effects should not be ignored in phase equilibria calculations. Neglecting the effects of capillary pressure on phase behavior can lead to an inaccurate estimation of original oil and gas in place as well as recovery performance. In spite of this, the effect of capillary pressure on phase behavior in tight reservoirs has not been well studied using compositional simulation, especially for hydraulically-fractured reservoirs.
In this paper, we develop a new compositional reservoir simulator capable of modeling discrete fractures and incorporating the effect of capillary pressure on phase behavior. Large-scale natural and hydraulic fractures in tight rocks and shales are modeled with a technique called Embedded Discrete Fracture Model (EDFM) where fractures are modeled explicitly without using local grid refinement or an unstructured grid. Flow of hydrocarbons occurs simultaneously within similar and different porosity types. Capillary pressure is considered in both flow and flash calculations, where simulations also include variable pore size as a function of gas saturation in each grid block. We examine the impact of capillary pressure on the original oil in place and cumulative oil production for different initial reservoir pressures (above and below the bubble-point pressure) on Bakken and Eagle Ford fluids. The importance of capillary pressure on both flow and flash calculations from hydraulically fractured horizontal wells during primary depletion in fractured tight reservoirs using Bakken fluid composition is demonstrated.
Phase behavior calculations show that bubble-point pressure is suppressed allowing the production to remain in the single-phase region for a longer period of time and altering phase compositions and fluid properties such as density and viscosity of equilibrium liquid and vapor. The results show that bubble-point suppression is larger in the Eagle Ford shale than for Bakken. When capillary pressure is considered, we found an increase in original oil in place up to 4.1% for Bakken and 46.33% for the Eagle Ford crude. Depending on the initial reservoir pressure, cumulative primary production after one year increases owing to capillary pressure by approximately 9.0 – 38.2% for Bakken oil and 7.2 – 154% for Eagle Ford oil. The recovery increase caused by capillary pressure becomes more significant when reservoir pressure is far below bubble-point pressure. The simulation results with hydraulically fractured wells give similar recovery differences; cumulative oil production after 1 year is 3.5 – 5.2% greater when capillary pressure is considered in phase behavior calculations for Bakken.
This paper addresses two questions for polymer flooding. First, what polymer solution viscosity should be injected? A base-case reservoir-engineering method is present for making that decision, which focuses on waterflood mobility ratios and the permeability contrast in the reservoir. However, some current field applications use injected polymer viscosities that deviate substantially from this methodology. At one end of the range, Canadian projects inject only 30-cp polymer solutions to displace 1000-3000-cp oil. Logic given to support this choice include (1) the mobility ratio in an unfavorable displacement is not as bad as indicated by the endpoint mobility ratio, (2) economics limit use of higher polymer concentrations, (3) some improvement in mobility ratio is better than a straight waterflood, (4) a belief that the polymer will provide a substantial residual resistance factor (permeability reduction), and (5) injectivity limits the allowable viscosity of the injected fluid. At the other end of the range, a project in Daqing, China, injected 150-300-cp polymer solutions to displace 10-cp oil. The primary reason given for this choice was a belief that high molecular weight viscoelastic HPAM polymers can reduce the residual oil saturation below that expected for a waterflood or for less viscous polymer floods. This paper will examine the validity of each of these beliefs.
The second question is: when should polymer injection be stopped or reduced? For existing polymer floods, this question is particularly relevant in the current low oil-price environment. Should these projects be switched to water injection immediately? Should the polymer concentration be reduced or graded? Should the polymer concentration stay the same but reduce the injection rate? These questions are discussed.
Liang, Tianbo (The University of Texas at Austin) | Achour, Sofiane H. (The University of Texas at Austin) | Longoria, Rafael A. (The University of Texas at Austin) | DiCarlo, David A. (The University of Texas at Austin) | Nguyen, Quoc P. (The University of Texas at Austin)
Significant amount of fracturing fluid is lost after hydraulic fracturing, and it is believed that the loss of fluid into the matrix can hinder the hydrocarbon production. One way to reduce this damage is to use the surfactants. Robust surfactant formulations have been developed for chemical enhanced oil recovery (CEOR); similar ideas are introduced in this study to reduce water blocks in low permeability reservoirs. Here we present an experimental investigation based on a coreflood sequence that simulates fluid invasion, flowback, and hydrocarbon production within the rock near the fracture face. Different levels of IFT reductions are tested and compared in order to explore the best condition that maximizes the permeability enhancement. The effect of in-situ microemulsion generation to mobilize the trapped water is also studied. From this work, we recognize the mechanism responsible for the permeability damage in matrix and we suggest criteria to optimize the performance of surfactant additives so as to enhance the hydrocarbon production from low permeability gas/oil reservoirs after hydraulic fracturing.
The goal of this research is to improve oil recovery by reducing bypassing due to fractures, common in carbonate reservoirs. Salinity sensitive polymeric particles (SSPP) are synthesized in this study, which can plug fractures in reservoir rocks and divert fluid flow into the matrix. SSPP swell in brine; the swelling is a function of brine salinity. SSPP expand many times (~70 times) in DI water, but swell only about 3 times in very high salinity (20 wt% NaCl) brine. The swelling of the particles is independent of pH in the range of 2 to 12.6. The swelling process is reversible with salinity. These particles are stable at 60 °C for at least several months. Core flood results show that these small particles can be transported through fractures during high salinity brine injection and plug the fractures during low salinity brine injection. Then the injectant fluid flow is diverted into the matrix and recovers oil from previously unswept matrix. SSPP injection increases waterflood recovery in cores with full fractures and half fracture connected to the inlet. The SSPP placement also increases oil recovery for tertiary miscible floods.
One of the primary problems for mature oilfield operators is the production of undesired fluids, such as water or gas. Cantarell is a mature field wherein one of the greatest challenges is managing produced water. Mature oil fields experience severe water production, which can be challenging in naturally fractured carbonate reservoirs that produce through a thick layer of oil. A new technology combining two conformance systems was used to alleviate water production in a well in this field, returning production to optimal levels.
The study well (Well A) was shut in because of high water cut (90 to 100%), and post-analysis of this problem showed water coning from fractures in the Lower Cretaceous formation. The well has a unique interval, and perforating a deeper interval was not possible because the water-oil contact (WOC) was close. The solution selected for this case was a combination of two conformance technologies for water control that permit sealing high permeability channels and fractures and, more importantly, help provide selective water control—one is a swelling polymer designed to shut off water channels, fractures, or highly vugular zones, and the other is hydrocarbon-based slurry cement that reacts on contact with water. The result was the recovery of a producer well with 1,197 BOPD with 14% water cut. After 19 months, production averaged 1,300 BOPD for that month with 40 to 66% water cut.
Correctly diagnosing the problem and combining conformance technologies can help operators resume production of wells considered lost because of undesired fluids production. Therefore, this technology could be used to benefit reservoir optimization and production.
With the synergy of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques, commercial production of Unconventional Liquid Reservoirs (ULR) has been successfully demonstrated. Due to the low recovery factor of these reservoirs, it is inevitable that Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) will ensue. Experimental results have shown promising oil recovery potential using CO2. This study investigates oil production mechanisms from the matrix into the fracture by simulating two laboratory experiments as well as several field-scale studies, and evaluates the potential of using CO2 huff-n-puff process to enhance the oil recovery in ULR with nano-Darcy range matrix permeability in complex natural fracture networks.
This study fully explores mechanisms contributing to the oil recovery with numerical modeling of experimental work, and provides a systematic investigation of the effects of various parameters on oil recovery. The core scale modeling utilizes two methods of determining properties that are used to construct 3D heterogeneous models. The findings are then upscaled to the field scale where both simple and complex fractures in a single stage are modeled. The effects of reservoir properties and operational parameters on oil recovery are then investigated. In addition, this study is the first to present simulation results of CO2 huff-n-puff using complex fracture networks which are generated from microseismic-constraint stochastic models.
Diffusion is proven to be the dominant oil recovery mechanism at the laboratory scale. However, the field-scale reservoir simulation indicates diffusion is negligible compared to the well-known mechanisms accompanying multi-contact miscibility. This includes swelling, viscosity reduction, and gas expansion in the matrix. Overall, the CO2 huff-n-puff process was found to be beneficial in both models in terms of enhancing the ultimate oil recovery in ULR.
There is considerable and timely interest in oil and condensate production from liquid-rich regions, placing emphasis on the ability to predict the behavior of gas condensate bank developments and saturation dynamics in shale gas reservoirs. As the pressure in the near-wellbore region drops below the dew-point, liquid droplets are formed and tend to be trapped in small pores. It has been suggested that the injection of CO2 into shale gas reservoirs can be a feasible option to enhance recovery of natural gas and valuable condensate oil, while at the same time sequestering CO2 underground. This work develops simulation capabilities to understand and predict complex transport processes and phase behavior in these reservoirs for efficient and environmentally friendly production management.
Although liquid-rich shale plays are economically producible, existing simulation techniques fail to include many of the production phenomena associated with the fluid system that consists of multiple gas species or phases. In this work, we develop a multicomponent compositional simulator for the modeling of gas-condensate shale reservoirs with complex fracture systems. Related storage and transport mechanisms such as multicomponent apparent permeability (MAP), sorption and molecular diffusion are considered. In order to accurately capture the complicated phase behavior of the multiphase fluids, an equation of State (EOS) based phase package is incorporated into the simulator. Due to the large capillary pressure that exists in the nanopores of ultra-tight shale matrix, the phase package considers the effect of capillary pressure on phase equilibrium calculations. A modified negative-flash algorithm that combines Newton's method and successive substitution iteration (SSI) is used for phase stability analysis under the effect of capillary pressure between oil and gas phases.
In addition, a lower-dimensional discrete fracture and matrix (DFM) model is implemented. The DFM model is based on unstructured gridding, and can accurately and efficiently handle the non-ideal geometries of hydraulic fracture in stimulated unconventional formation. Optimized local grid refinement (LGR) is employed to capture the extremely sharp potential gradient and saturation dynamics in the ultra-tight matrix around fracture.
We apply the developed simulator to study the combined effects of capillary pressure and multicomponent storage and transport mechanisms that are closely associated with the phase behavior and hydrocarbon recovery in gas-condensate shale reservoirs. We present preliminary simulation studies to show the applicability of CO2 huff-n-puff for the purpose of enhanced hydrocarbons recovery. Several design components such as the number of cycles and the length of injection period in the huff-n-puff process are also briefly investigated.