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.
Alkaline-surfactant-polymer (ASP) flooding of a viscous oil (100 cp) is studied here in a two-dimensional (2D) sand pack. An ASP formulation was developed by studying the phase behavior of the oil with several alkaline-surfactant formulations. The effectiveness of the ASP formulation was validated in a 1D sand pack by conducting a water flood followed by a stable ASP flood. Reservoir sand was then packed into a 2D square steel cell similar to a quarter five-spot pattern. Several ASP floods were then conducted in this 2D cell to study both the displacement and sweep efficiency of ASP floods. First, the polymer concentration was varied to find an optimum polymer concentration. Then the waterflood extent was varied (0–1 PV) after which the ASP flood was initiated. The oil recovery, oil cut, effluent concentration and pressure drop were monitored during the floods. The tertiary ASP flood was very effective in 1D and validated the ASP formulation. The 2D tertiary ASP flood also recovered most of the oil (~98% of OOIP) when the ASP slug viscosity exceeded the oil viscosity, but the pressure gradients were high at ~ 1ft/d injection. When the ASP slug viscosity was lowered to ~1/3 of oil viscosity, oil recovery dropped slightly to 90% OOIP. However, it also decreased the pressure gradient 5 times, which would give good flow rates in the field conditions. As the extent of waterflood preceding ASP got shorter, the oil was recovered faster (for the same pore volumes injected), but the pressure gradient was higher for the ASP flood than the water flood. The ultimate recovery was independent of the extent of waterflood.
Achieving maximum oil recovery utilizing CO2 has limitations when operating at, or very close, to the Minimum Miscibility Pressure (MMP) of the CO2 in the oil. A modular source of CO2 would allow Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) flooding of "stranded" and shallow reservoirs. Unfortunately, modular sources of CO2 production often include CO and N2 mixed with the CO2. Thus, testing for EOR application of a mixed gas-containing CO2, N2, and CO was initiated.
Bench scale testing using Rising Bubble Apparatus (RBA), Slim Tubes, and linear core flood have been conducted on oils ranging from 16-42° gravities having viscosities of 0.5-280 cp. All tests were conducted at reservoir temperatures and pressures. CO, being a strong reducing agent, was further tested on reservoir rock containing swelling clays with hydrated ferric hydroxides. Due to the apparent reduction of the ferric hydroxide, and the liberation of its water of hydration, an increase in matrix permeability and clay stabilization, was observed.
For most oils tested, the CO2/CO mixture increased rate of oil recovery by 2-3X, using only 50-60% as much gas/bo as compared to pure CO2. Recovery factors of 80%, at immiscible pressures 30-40% below CO2 MMP, were achieved. Addition of 15% N2 (v/v) to the CO2/CO mixture did not impair oil recovery. Interfacial testing (IFT) of oils, using pure CO, demonstrated a lowering of the IFT. RBA testing of asphaltine-rich heavy oils has shown that a mixture of CO2/CO dissolves into the oil at a far faster rate than either CO2 or CO individually and faster than the sum of both individual gases. A similar test using non-asphaltine type oils did not display this unique characteristic. Slim tube testing suggests that CO facilitates the mobilization of asphaltine-rich heavy oils and lowers viscosity. A linear corefloods of a reservoir containing 5% smectite + illite/smectite + and chlorite demonstrated a 275% increase in matrix permeability. Packed column tests, containing quartz sand and bentonite, demonstrated up to 300-900% increase in permeability in the presence of CO.
Thus a method to recover oil faster, from stranded reservoirs, at pressures below MMP, using significantly less gas, appears possible. In addition the use of CO, either alone or in combination with CO2 and/or N2, has been shown to increase matrix permeability. Such a gas mixture may be beneficial to achieving low pressure EOR from shallow, "stranded" reservoirs, non-conventional shale oil reservoirs, and viscous, heavy oil reservoirs at low temperatures. Incorporation of CO, or CO2/CO, in a frac fluid, or alternately as a post frac cleanup for shale oil and gas applications appears to warrant investigation.
The application of surfactants to improve oil recovery in conventional reservoirs via wettability alteration and enhancement of spontaneous imbibition has been extensively studied in the literature. However, little work has been performed yet to investigate the interaction of these surfactants with ultra-tight oil-rich shale reservoirs such as Wolfcamp shale. The use of horizontal drilling and massive multistage hydraulic fracturing has made primary oil recovery from these ultra-tight oil-rich shale reservoirs possible. With declining production from existing shale wells, it is essential to explore potential "beyond primary" strategies in shale oil development. This paper analyzes the potential of surfactants in altering wettability and improving the process of spontaneous imbibition in oil rich shales demonstrating nanodarcy range permeability, relevant to stimulation and "beyond primary" chemical EOR applications in shales.
Novel proprietary surfactant blends along with traditional nonionic surfactants were investigated in this study using Wolfcamp shale core samples exhibiting nanodarcy permeability. X-ray diffraction analysis was performed which indicated that Wolfcamp shale has mixed mineralogy, with quartz, calcite, and dolomite acting as the major minerals in varying proportions depending on the interval depth. Contact angle and interfacial tension measurements were performed at reservoir temperature to identify the state of native wettability and the impact of surfactants in altering wettability. Thereafter, spontaneous imbibition experiments were performed using 3D computed tomography methods to understand the improvement in the magnitude of imbibition penetration due to surfactant addition. Contact angle and spontaneous imbibition experiments showed that Wolfcamp shale is intermediate-wet and surfactants have the potential to alter the native wettability to a preferentially water-wet state and improve oil recovery due to enhanced spontaneous imbibition.
Surfactants which altered the wettability significantly, but lowered the interfacial tension only slightly showed the highest oil recoveries due to the creation of strong capillary driven forces directly responsible for effective spontaneous imbibition. The potential of surfactants in altering wettability and improving oil recovery via enhanced spontaneous imbibition in ultra-tight oil-rich shales was verified in this study. The effectiveness of traditional nonionic surfactants in altering wettability and improving oil recovery was found to be comparable to that of novel, more expensive proprietary surfactant blends, and hence, the traditional nonionic surfactants provide a cost effective option for stimulation and EOR applications in Wolfcamp shale. Overall, this paper presents the theory behind surfactant interaction with ultra-tight shales and provides experimental results to validate the viability of surfactant induced improved oil recovery in shales.
Fortenberry, R. (Ultimate EOR Services) | Delshad, M. (Ultimate EOR Services) | Suniga, P. (Ultimate EOR Services) | Koyassan Veedu, F. (DeGolyer & MacNaughton) | Wang, P. (DeGolyer & MacNaughton) | Al-Kaaoud, H. (Kuwait Oil Company) | Singh, B. B. (Kuwait Oil Company) | Tiwari, S. (Kuwait Oil Company) | Baroon, B. (Kuwait Oil Company) | Pope, G. A. (University of Texas at Austin)
Our team has developed a new simulation model for an upcoming 5-spot Alkaline-Surfactant-Polymer (ASP) pilot in the Sabriyah Mauddud reservoir in Kuwait. We present new pilot simulation results based on new data from pilot wells and an updated geocelluar reservoir model. New cores and well logs were used to update the geocellular model, including initial fluid distributions, permeability and layer flow allocation.
From the updated geocellular model a smaller dynamic sector model was extracted to history match field performance of a waterflood pattern. From the dynamic model a yet smaller pilot model was extracted and refined to simulate the 5-spot ASP pilot.
We used this pilot model to evaluate injection composition, zonal completions, observation well locations, interwell tracer test design and predicted performance of ASP flooding. A sensitivity analysis for some important design variables and pilot performance benchmarks is also included. We used multiple interwell tracer test simulations to estimate reservoir sweep efficiency for both water and ASP fluids, and to help us understand how well operations will affect this unconfined ASP pilot. This work details some crucial aspects of pre-ASP pilot design and implementation.
Okwen, Roland T. (Illinois State Geological Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) | Frailey, Scott M. (Illinois State Geological Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Historically, deep oil reservoirs with temperatures and pressures above the critical point of carbon dioxide (CO2) are generally preferred over shallower reservoirs in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and CO2 storage operations because of high recovery and storage efficiencies associated with miscible floods. As a result, shallower reservoirs containing significant volumes of recoverable resource are generally overlooked. However, basins with relatively low geothermal gradients and high fracture gradients, such as the Illinois Basin, can sustain pressures above the vapor pressure of CO2 where CO2 changes from a gas to liquid. Liquid CO2 has fluid properties similar to that of supercritical CO2 and is more readily miscible with oil.
This study evaluates the EOR potential of low-temperature reservoirs based on the performance of a miscible liquid CO2 flood pilot at the Mumford Hills oil field in Posey County, Indiana. About 7,000 tons (6,350 tonnes) of CO2 were injected into a Mississippian sandstone reservoir over a period of 1 year to demonstrate miscible CO2 EOR in low-temperature oil reservoirs. The reservoir model was calibrated with available historical primary waterflood, and CO2 flood pilot data. The calibrated reservoir model was used to simulate different full-field CO2 EOR development scenarios. The projected oil recovery factors range between 10% and 14%, which compares well to the Permian Basin supercritical CO2 flood recovery range of 8% to 16%.
The oil recovery factors from the simulated scenarios suggest that liquid CO2 floods in low-temperature oil reservoirs can achieve an incremental oil recovery similar to deeper, supercritical CO2 floods. Re-evaluating previously overlooked shallow depleted reservoirs as potential candidates for liquid CO2 EOR provides the opportunity to increase the development of these shallow oil reservoirs available for miscible CO2 flooding
In the case of surfactant EOR, an optimum formulation of surfactant has to be injected in the reservoir. This so-called optimum formulation corresponds to a minimum in the interfacial tension and a maximum in oil recovery and may be obtained with an appropriate balance of the hydrophobic and hydrophilic affinities of the surfactant. Salinity—scan tests are generally used to screen phase behavior of surfactant formulations before conducting time-consuming coreflood tests. The objective of this study was to develop a high-throughput dynamic microfluidic tensiometer, with the aim of studying interfacial phenomena between EOR injected formulations and crude oils and of optimizing chemical EOR processes for pilot or field applications.
We have selected a method based on the Rayleigh-Plateau instability and the analysis of the droplets to jetting transition in a coaxial flow of two fluids. In fact, in coaxial flows, the transition between a droplet and a jetting regime depends on the velocities of each phase, the viscosity ratio, the confinement and the interfacial tension (IFT). As the three first parameters are known, the dynamic interfacial tension can be calculated. This microfluidic device has been specifically designed to support high temperatures (up to 150°C), high pressures (up to 150 bars) and is compatible with complex fluids such as crude oils and solutions of surfactants and polymers.
The method was first developed and validated on a microfluidic device on model fluids at ambient temperature and atmospheric pressure for IFTs higher than 1 mN/m. It was then successfully applied for the measurement of IFTs over more than four decades. Measurements were also performed with a crude oil and a typical surfactant formulation. The validation of the HP/HT assembly, which has been designed with the aim to work in reservoir conditions, is currently under progress. By using this tensiometer, it would be quite easy to perform in short time numerous salinity scans on real systems in order to get the evolution of IFT and determine the optimal salinity S*.
Suarez, Ricardo G. Suarez (SPE University of Calgary) | Scott, Carlos E. (SPE University of Calgary) | Pereira-Almao, Pedro (SPE University of Calgary) | Hejazi, S. Hossein (SPE University of Calgary)
Nanocatalytic in-situ upgrading is a novel oil recovery method that involves chemical, thermal and miscible processes. In this work the main oil recovery mechanisms of nanocatalytic in-situ upgrading were studied, particularly the ones that promote additional oil production from low matrix permeability blocks.
Heavy oil recovery from Silurian dolomite cores was studied using a cylindrical core holder set-up. Fractures in the system were represented by a gap between the core sample and core holder wall. Oil recovery experiments were conducted in batch-mode using hydrogen and a trimetallic nano-catalyst. The cores were fully saturated with heavy-oil and the fractures were filled with hydrogen and vacuum residue with ultra-dispersed nano-catalyst at 300 °C and 1000 psig. The produced oil from the matrix was collected and the recovery factor for each experiment was calculated. Moreover, the residual oil in the core was extracted using a solvent. Both samples (i.e., produced and residual oil) were characterised by laboratory measurements and analytical techniques in order to assess oil quality distribution.
Experimental results revealed a significant increment in oil recovery with hydrogen injection. This increment suggests that during nanocatalytic in-situ upgrading oil is produced due to the presence of hydrogen in gas form. Results also demonstrated that, by use of an ultra-dispersed Ni-W-Mo nano-catalyst, the oils contained in both the fracture and matrix, were upgraded.
This research fosters the understanding of the main recovery mechanisms from carbonate matrix blocks by use of nanocatalytic in-situ upgrading. This study contributes to better understanding a recovery technique that will unlock heavy-oil resources contained in carbonate rocks.
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.