This study investigates how compositional effects interact with the flow behavior during near miscible (and immiscible) CO2-oil displacements in heterogeneous systems. A series of numerical simulations modeling 1D slim-tube and 2D areal systems were performed using a fully compositional simulator. With negligible numerical dispersion, the fine-scale (Δx=0.005m) slim-tube simulations were performed to provide the "truth case" in terms of the compositional effects and oil/component recovery. A number of grid resolutions were tested to examine cell-size effects on the simulation accuracy. It was found that coarse cell size not only leads to spreading of the displacing front, but also lowers the displacement efficiency by reducing the component stripping effects, as noted by
To summarize, compositional effects can have a very significant impact on the prediction of near-miscible CO2 EOR projects. Issues such as front stability, local displacement efficiency and formation of fingering/channeling during CO2 near-miscible displacement can lead to behavior that is significantly different from immiscible flooding in these systems. The process of mass transfer between CO2 and oil can be hampered to a certain degree by unstable flow depending on the level of heterogeneity. This leads to a further reduction in component recovery, particularly of the heavier components. Lastly, the appropriate upscaling methods considering mass transfer still require further investigation for CO2 near-miscible displacement in field-scale applications. The complete dataset and results of this study are available online as a model case example for testing out potential upscaling techniques for compositional flows in heterogeneous systems (
Gas injection is a widely applied enhanced oil recovery method. However, poor vertical and areal sweep efficiency result in inefficient oil displacement. For improving gas mobility control, Water-Alternating- Gas injection has often been applied. The goal of this study was to compare several immiscible nitrogen injection schemes and to investigate how rock-fluid and fluid-fluid interactions control the immiscible flooding process. Well-controlled core-flood experiments were performed in Bentheimer sandstone cores. Nitrogen was injected into cores saturated with n-hexadecane at connate water saturation at constant pressures (5 and 10 bar) and while varying backpressure (5 to 60 bar). Nitrogen was also injected at residual oil to waterflood and a Water-Alternating-Gas injection scheme was assessed. Coreflood results clearly demonstrated the beneficial effects of Water-Alternating-Gas injection over continuous gas injection. The findings in this study suggest that a) an increase in pressure favours oil recovery slightly during continuous nitrogen injection at connate water saturation, b) residual oil saturation for immiscible nitrogen flooding is lower under three-phase flow compared to two-phase flow and c) the relatively high oil recovery, i.e. lower ultimate residual oil saturation, by Water-Alternating- Gas injection is most likely related to an increase in trapped gas saturation.
We investigated the combined contributions of gravity drainage and miscibility as recovery mechanisms during CO2 flooding. The effects of gravity stable and unstable CO2 fronts under immiscible, near miscible and miscible displacements of crude oil by CO2 are presented. We contrast our results in porous media, with slim tube experiments, core floods, and bead packed tubes.
Standard slim-tube, vertically and horizontally oriented bead packed tubes, as well as vertical and horizontal reservoir core flood experiments, were used to investigate the role of the gravitational forces in improving oil recovery under different conditions regarding the crude oil – CO2 miscibility. Three crude oils with different minimum miscibility pressure (MMP) values were used in this study.
Our results show the gravity drainage mechanism has a much greater significance than previously thought when compared to the effects of phase behavior or the miscibility alone. Not surprisingly, vertically stable, downward displacement resulted in better performance compared to horizontal displacement in all cores and bead packed tubes in our experiments. Recovery is only slightly higher in the gravity stable floods when miscibility is achieved. However, in immiscible and near miscible displacements, recovery is significantly higher in the gravity stable floods, reaching up to 90% RF at 250 psi below the MMP value, compared to only 33% in horizontal floods. Our results suggest that achieving miscibility is not necessary to obtain high recovery efficiency during a gravity-stable displacement. Breakthrough is reached faster in horizontal floods as a consequence of fingering and gravity override.
This work challenges the paradigm that miscibility is required to achieve high recovery factors during CO2 flooding, and highlights the overlooked role of gravity drainage as a displacement mechanism. This finding has an essential impact on field operations as it allows for lower operating pressures in CO2 flooding processes under stable gravity displacement that will result in positive impact on economics. The relevance of our results is exacerbated by the current low crude oil price environment.
Depth to Surface Resistivity (DSR) has been shown to be effective at mapping CO2, water flood, and residual oil aerially and vertically. Provided there is sufficient resistivity contrast between injected and in-situ fluids and subject to the reservoir depth and overburden resistivity, the technique is applicable for monitoring IOR/EOR fields. This information can be used to evaluate cap rock integrity, fluid loss to faults, and migration paths. The following paper presents a study of a CO2 flood followed by water alternating gas (WAG) injection.
Lee, Jason (University of Pittsburgh) | Dhuwe, Aman (University of Pittsburgh) | Cummings, Stephen D. (University of Pittsburgh) | Beckman, Eric J. (University of Pittsburgh) | Enick, Robert M. (University of Pittsburgh) | Doherty, Mark (GE Global Research) | O'Brien, Michael (GE Global Research) | Perry, Robert (GE Global Research) | Soong, Yee (US DOE NETL) | Fazio, Jim (US DOE NETL) | McClendon, Thomas R. (US DOE NETL)
CO2 miscible and immiscible displacements and hydrocarbon miscible floods are commonly plagued by low volumetric sweep efficiency, early gas breakthrough, high gas utilization ratios, and significant gas re-compression and recycle. Rather than addressing these problems via the water-alternating-gas (WAG) injection sequence that reduces gas relative permeability or the generation of gas-in-brine foams for reduced mobility, we propose increasing the viscosity of high pressure CO2 or NGL via the dissolution of dilute concentrations of thickening agents.
There are two strategies for increasing the viscosity of high pressure fluids; the dissolution of ultrahigh molecular weight polymers or associating polymers, or the dissolution of small molecules that self-assemble in solution to form viscosity-enhancing linear or helical supramolecular structures. Ideally a very small amount of the thickener will be required (roughly 0.1wt%) to elevate the CO2 or NGL viscosity to the same value as the oil being displaced (typically a 10-100 fold increase). Further, the thickened CO2 or thickened NGL should be a stable, transparent solution that does not require a heating/cooling cycle for viscosity enhancement to occur.
Thickener solubility and viscosity were determined over a 25-100oC range. Each of the three major NGL constituents (ethane, propane and butane) was thickened with an ultrahigh molecular polymer (commercial drag reducing agent), resulting in a 2-30 fold increase in viscosity at polymer concentrations of 0.5wt% or less. The polymer dissolved at the lowest pressure in butane and was most effective as a thickener in butane.
Three small molecule thickeners were identified for the NGL constituents; tri-alkyl-tin fluoride, hydroxyaluminum disoap, and a phosphate ester-crosslinker mixture. Remarkable viscosity enhancements were attained for propane and butane with the tri-alkyl-tin fluoride and aluminum soap; the crosslinked phosphate ester solutions exhibited modest viscosity increases. Only tri-alkyl-tin fluoride thickened ethane.
CO2 thickeners were assessed with a falling ball viscometer and pressure drop associated with flow through Berea sandstone. 4-5 fold increases in viscosity were attained with 1wt% of a high molecular weight polyfluoroacrylate. 3-4 fold increases in viscosity were attained with 1wt% high molecular weight polydimethyl siloxane, but a very large amount of toluene co-solvent was required. Although a remarkably effective small molecule thickener was designed for CO2 (100-fold increase at 1.3wt%), it required a heating/cooling cycle and a very large amount of hexane co-solvent.
We have identified the first polymeric and small molecule thickeners ever reported for ethane. Further, this study presents the largest viscosity increases ever reported for propane and butane with polymers and small molecule thickeners. We have presented the most effective polymeric thickeners for CO2 reported to date. This paper also summarizes numerous molecular architectures that are not viable for CO2 and highlights the most promising compounds that continue to be refined.
Given limited CO2 supply, operational constraints, and pattern specific reservoir performance, WAG schedule can be customized such that NPV or other metrics are optimized. Depending on the WAG schedule, recovery can fluctuate between 5–15% at the pattern scale due to reservoir heterogeneity causing variations in sweep efficiency. An analytical method was developed to optimize WAG schedules that couples traditional reservoir modeling and simulation with machine learning, enabling the discovery of optimal WAG schedules that increase recovery at the pattern level. A history-matched reservoir model of Chaparral Energy's Farnsworth Field, Ochiltree County, TX was sampled intelligently to perform predictive reservoir flow simulations and artificially build an intelligent reservoir model that samples a broad range of possible WAG scenarios for optimization. The intelligent model generates the next "best" sample to investigate in the numerical simulator and converges on the optima, quickly reducing the number of runs investigated. Results in this paper demonstrate that there can be significant improvements in net present value as well as net utilization rates of CO2 using this analytical technique. The WAG design generated by the intelligent reservoir model should be deployed in the field in early 2016 for validation. It is intended that the intelligent reservoir model will be updated on a regular basis as injection and production data is obtained. This effort represents the beginning of a paradigm shift in the application of modeling and simulation tools for significant improvements in field production operations.