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.
SmartWater flooding through injection of chemistry optimized waters by tuning individual ions is recently getting more attention in the industry for improved oil recovery in carbonate reservoirs. Most of the research studies described so far in this area have been limited to studying the interactions at rock-fluids interfaces by measuring contact angles, zeta potential, and adhesion forces. The other widely reported interfacial tension data at oil-water interfaces do not consider the formation of interfacial monolayer and the interfacial tension is estimated as an average parameter relying on the properties of two individual bulk phases. As a result, such measurements have serious shortcomings to provide any details on complex microscopic scale interactions occurring directly at the interface between crude oil and water to understand the SmartWater flood recovery mechanism.
In this study, two novel interfacial instruments of interfacial shear rheometer and surface potential sensor were used to study microscopic scale interactions of various individual water ions at both air-water and complex crude oil-water interfaces. The measured interfacial rheology data indicated totally different interfacial behavior at crude oil-water interface when compared to air-water interface due to presence of crude oil functional groups. Viscous dominated response was observed at crude oil-water interface for all brine compositions. These interfaces behaved like a viscous fluid without exhibiting viscoelastic solid like properties. Lower interfacial viscous modulus was observed for certain key ions such as calcium, magnesium, and sodium. The interfacial viscous modulus was found to be substantially much higher for sulfates, besides exhibiting some elasticity. The surface potential was gradually decreased by replacing seawater with calcium only brine. The better surface activity with seawater can be attributed to adsorption of more key water ions at the surface.
The interesting results observed with certain water ions at fluid-fluid interfaces are expected to work in tandem with rock-fluids interactions to impact oil recovery in SmartWater flood. At first, they play a role to control the accessibility of active water ions to approach the rock surface, interact with it and subsequently alter wettability. Next oil droplets adhering to the rock surface will be detached and released due to favorable interactions occurring at rock-fluids interfaces. The interfacial film between oil and water can then quickly be destabilized due to less viscous interfaces observed with certain ions to promote drop-drop coalescence and easy mobilization of released oil droplets. This coalescence process is sequential and it would continue until the formation of small oil bank.
This is the first study that showed added importance of fluid-fluid interactions in SmartWater flood by using direct measurements on individual water ions at crude oil-water interface. In addition, a new oil recovery mechanism was proposed by combining both the interactions occurring at fluid-fluid and rock-fluids interfaces. The new fundamental knowledge gained in this study will provide an important guidance on how to synergize water ion interactions at fluid-fluid interfaces with those at rock-fluids interfaces to optimize oil recovery from SmartWater flood.
Preliminary studies have been done to characterize rock-fluid properties, and flow mechanisms in the shale reservoirs. Most of these studies, through modifying methods used for conventional reservoirs, fail to capture dynamic features of shale rock and fluids in confined nano-pore space. In unconventional reservoirs, interactions between the wall of shale and the contained fluid significantly affect phase and flow behaviors. The inability to model capillarity with the consideration of pore size distribution characteristics using commercial software may lead to an inaccurate oil production performance in Bakken. This paper presents a novel formulation that consistently evaluates capillary force and adsorption using pore size distribution (PSD) directly from core measurements. The new findings could better address differences in flow mechanisms in unconventional reservoirs, and thus lead to an optimized IOR practice.
Wang, D. (University of North Dakota) | Dawson, M. (Statoil Gulf Services LLC) | Butler, R. (University of North Dakota) | Li, H. (Statoil Gulf Services LLC) | Zhang, J. (University of North Dakota) | Olatunji, K. (University of North Dakota)
With the recent dramatic drop in oil price, production from ultra-tight resources, like the Bakken formation, may drop substantially. Since expenditures for drilling, completion, and fracking have already been made, existing wells will continue to flow, but oil rates will decline—rapidly in many cases. In a low oil-price environment, what can be done to sustain oil production from these tight formations?
We are testing a surfactant imbibition process to recovery oil from shales. We measured surfactant imbibition rates and oil recovery values in laboratory cores from the Bakken shale. After optimizing surfactant formulations at reservoir conditions, we observed oil recovery values up to 10–20% OOIP incremental over brine imbibition. However, whether or not surfactant imbibition will be a viable recovery process depends on achieving sufficiently high oil production rates in a field setting—which requires that we identify conditions that will maximize imbibition rate, as well as total oil recovery. In this paper, we describe laboratory evaluations of oil recovery using different core plugs. These recovery studies involved
(1) surfactant formulation optimization on concentration, salinity and pH, (2) characterization of phase behavior, (3) spontaneous imbibition, and (4) forced imbibition (flooding) with gravity drainage assistance.
In preserved cores, we observed: (1) Formulations using 0.1% surfactant concentration at 4% TDS salinity showed favorable oil recoveries (up to 40% OOIP). (2) Generally, surfactant formulations at optimal concentration and salinity were stable at high temperature (115°C). (3) Injectivity/permeability enhancements up to 75 percent occurred after acidification using acetic acid or HCl. (4) Wettability alteration is the dominant mechanism for surfactant imbibition. Of course, actions that increase fracture width will aid gravity drainage and oil recovery. This information is being used to design and implement a field application of the surfactant imbibition process in an ultra-tight resource.
Once a shale gas condensate reservoir is produced, the reservoir pressure falls below the dew-point pressure, and the condensate liquid will be formed in the pore space; the condensate can then accumulate near the wellbore. This condensate blockage would reduce the gas relative permeability and decrease the gas production. The condensate is formed by the heavy components in reservoir fluid, and these heavy componenets are very valuable economically in the industry. Therefore, operators are seeking ways to maximize condensate recovery from gas-condensate reservoirs.
Huff-n-puff gas injection is an effective approach for enhancing condensate recovery in shale gas condensate reservoirs, as shown by our earlier papers (
In this experimental study, a binary gas condensate mixture was used to investigate the dominant mechanism. The core was saturated with a gas condensate mixture at 2200 psi to simulate the initial reservoir condition. Then, the pressure was depleted to 1500 psi, which was lower than the dew point pressure. During the depletion, the produced gas was collected in a vacuumed gas sample bag. After depletion, the huff-n-puff method was applied. After every cycle of huff-n-puff, the produced gas was collected. GC was used to analyze the compositions of the different gas samples. Also, a CT scanner was used to determine the condensate saturation in the core. From the GC analysis, by comparing the gas sample after primary depletion with the gas sample after the first cycle, it was found that the heavy component-butane increased significantly. This means that most of the heavy components of condensate were revaporized and flew out with the dry gas. This proves the revaporization mechanism of the huff-n-puff gas injection.
Our experiment results show that huff-n-puff was an effective way to enhance the condensate recovery, and revaporization was the main mechanism of huff-n-puff. When the pressure was increased in the huff process, the heavy components were revaporized and flowed out with gas in the puff process. Though in the gas flooding method, the reservoir pressure was also increased, but the near-wellbore pressure was not increased very much in the shale gas reservoirs; thus, heavy components would still be formed near the wellbore. However, in the huff-n-puff method, because of the same well, the pressure near the wellbore would be higher than the dew point pressure in the beginning of production process. Therefore, the heavy component would be recovered with gas. Our GC results visually showed the revaporization mechanism of huff-n-puff in the shale gas condensate.
Prieto, C. A. (CEPSA Research Center) | Rodriguez, R. (CEPSA Research Center) | Romero, P. (CEPSA Research Center) | Blin, N. (CEPSA Research Center) | Panadero, A. (CEPSA Research Center) | Escudero, M. J. (CEPSA Research Center) | Barrio, I. (CEPSA Research Center) | Alvarez, E. (CEPSA Research Center) | Montes, J. (CEPSA EP) | Angulo, R. | Cubillos, H.
The design of an alkali-surfactant-polymer (ASP) formulation for chemical Enhanced Oil Recovery poses multiple challenges from the experimental point of view. The present research examines the laboratory procedures and experimental results aimed at selecting the most suitable chemicals for an ASP pilot trial at the Caracara Sur field (Los Llanos Basin, Colombia). The key challenge was the limited compatibility of the surfactant and polymer selected under reservoir conditions (temperature and total salinity), leading to phase separation of the ASP solution and losses of the activity of both chemicals. An extension of the experimental program was required to re-design the formulation and mitigate risks of damaging the formation in the following field trials. The formulation comprised an alkyl benzene sulfonate as main ingredient, a hydrolyzed polyacrylamide as viscosifying agent and some weak alkali to reach the optimum salinity of the mixture. A mono-alkyl diphenyl disulfonate ether was added as coupling agent to improve compatibility of the ASP mixture. The performance of the selected ASP formulation was assessed by means of interfacial tension measurements, long-term thermal stability tests and dynamic core-flooding tests. The formulation provided ultra-low interfacial tension (< 10-2 mN/m) and viscosity enough to assure an appropriate mobility control. Hence, the formulation was considered to be suitable for further testing in the field pilot.
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.
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.