Post-fracturing production data analysis indicates stimulation of some west Texas wells with surfactant additives did not enhance production as high as expected. Analysis of flowback and produced water for surfactant residues revealed 99% of surfactant was retained inside wells (
Literature precedent exists that polyelectrolyte (PET)-based SAs could significantly reduce surfactant adsorption not only onto a variety of outcrop minerals (Carlpool dolomite, calcite, kaolinite, Berea sandstone, Indiana limestone, etc.) and metal oxide nanoparticles, but also unconventional shale formulations in which surface area can be up to 700 m2/g. In this study, the adsorptions of surfactant and SA to proppants were first examined. Results indicate no adsorption was observed to proppant for both surfactants and PET-based SAs. SAs (0.5 to 1 gal/1,000 gal (gpt)) were then injected with surfactant (1 to 3 gpt) at an appropriate ratio into column-packed shale formulations (primarily composed of calcite, dolomite, quartz, illite, pyrite, and plagioclase feldspar) to investigate its effectiveness in controlling surfactant retention caused by adsorption. Laboratory testing revealed injection of 3 gpt mixture of surfactant and SA has a similar adsorption profile (surface tension as a function of time) as 3 gpt surfactant alone based on the dynamic surface tension measurement. Notably, the addition of SAs resulted in lower surface tension and enhanced hydrocarbon solubility; and thus, an improved oil recovery by surfactant was achieved as evidenced by the oil recovery tests. Additionally, 68% friction reduction of the fracturing fluid with surfactant and SA was sufficient for the field operation compared to the guar-based fluid used in the hydraulic fracturing applications.
As a result of the laboratory findings, field trials were executed on a three well pad in the Permian basin (PB). For the first 30 days oil and gas production appeared to be significantly higher than the average production from offset wells in the same area that were previously fractured with the same surfactant.
Fluorinated benzoic acids (FBA) have been widely used in the oil industry as conservative tracers. However, some of these tracers have been shown to rapidly degrade when tested at temperatures above 121°C within three weeks. Naphthalene sulfonates (NSAs) have been shown to be excellent tracers in geothermal applications. However, a broader study was required to determine tracer conservation in reservoir fluids and formations typically encountered in the oil field.
In this study we compare the oil field industry standard FBA tracers to NSA tracers under dynamic test conditions in the presence of reservoir oil, sandstone, carbonates and clays. We also compare the two sets of tracers under static conditions in the presence of four crude oils and different clay mineralogy to establish tracer conservation. Seven different sodium salts of naphthalene sulfonic acids were tested to determine if the tracers were adsorbed onto natural porous media (reservoir rock) at reservoir conditions. A broad range of conditions were selected to target typical reservoirs encountered. In addition, reservoir rock and a pseudo formation containing 10 Wt.% clay in silica sand were used in sand packs saturated with surrogate brine to ensure the tracer recovery under dynamic conditions.
High pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC-FLD) separation was used for simultaneous detection of seven NSAs while FBAs were analyzed using HPLC-UV. GC analysis of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) was used as a standard against which the others were measured.
Dynamic tracer tests demonstrated that the sodium salts of naphthalene sulfonates behaved similarly to the control, IPA, with none of the tracers adsorbing on to the rock surface or partitioning into the oil phase. The naphthalene sulfonates can be successfully used as conservative tracers most specifically for high temperature applications. NSA tracers are an attractive replacement for conservative FBA tracers in the oil field due to their superior thermal stability, solubility in oil field brine, lower detection limits and cost.
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.
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.
Production from tight formation resources leads the growth in U.S. crude oil production. Compared with chemical flooding and water flooding, gas injection is a promising EOR approach in shale reservoirs. A limited number of experimental studies concerning gas flooding in the literature focus on unconventional plays. This study is a laboratory investigation of gas flooding to recover light crude oil from nano-permeable shale reservoirs.
In this work, the N2 flooding process was applied to Eagle Ford core plugs saturated with dead oil. To investigate the effects of flooding time and injection pressure on the recovery factor, two groups of core-flood tests were performed. In group one, flooding time ranged from 1 to 5 days in increments of 1 day; in the other group, the injection pressure ranged from 1,000 psi to 5,000 psi in increments of 1,000 psi. The experimental setup was monitored using X-ray CT that helped to visualize phase flow and estimate the recovery efficiency during the test.
The potential of N2 flooding for improving oil recovery from shale core plugs was examined, and the recovery factor (RF) of each case was presented. The results from group one showed that more oil was produced with a longer flooding time. However, the incremental RF decreased with the increase of flooding time. The oil recovery was significant at the initial period of the recovery process, and a longer flooding time had less effect on extracting more oil. With flooding time constant in 1-day, the results from the second group indicated that RF increased with injection pressure, especially rising pressure, from 1,000 psi to 2,000 psi. The gas breakthrough time became shorter with the increase of injection pressure. The analysis of the CT number showed that the oil recovery process mainly occurred before the gas breakthrough. Once a fluid flow path was established, the injected gas flowed through the limited communication channels; thus, no extra oil could be extracted without increasing the injection pressure. This experimental study illustrates that gas flooding has liquid oil production potential in shale reservoirs.
Aminzadeh, Behdad (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Hoang, Viet (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Inouye, Art (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Izgec, Omer (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Walker, Dustin (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Chung, Doo (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Nizamidin, Nabijan (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Tang, Tom (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Lolley, Chris (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Dwarakanath, Varadarajan (Chevron Energy Technology Company)
Alkali flooding in heavy oil reservoirs is known to stabilize emulsion in-situ and improve the recovery beyond that of conventional waterflood under certain boundary and initial conditions. The overarching goal of this study is to develop a systematic approach to optimize this process and capture underlying recovery mechanisms. Therefore, we experimentally evaluated the performance of alkali flood as a function of emulsion type and viscosity. Phase behavior and viscosity of the microemulsion are modified by introducing seven different surfactants. Microscope imaging techniques are employed to measure the droplet size distribution for type I and II emulsions. Viscosities of generated emulsions are measured with a rotational rheometer at low temperatures and with an electromagnetic viscometer at reservoir conditions. Finally, corefloods are conducted at different conditions to evaluate the performance of displacement as a function of emulsion type and viscosity. Enhanced alkali floods showed an incremental recovery of 8 – 50% beyond that of waterflood. Formation of higher viscosity emulsion has a large contribution on the sweep efficiency and therefore improved oil recovery during alkali flood; however, other mechanisms (e.g. entrainment and entrapment) also have contribute to the incremental recovery. Results of our experiments indicated that the incremental recovery is a strong function of emulsion type, emulsion viscosity, and the droplet size distribution.
Recovery from oil reservoirs could be improved by lowering the injection water salinity or by modifying the water injection chemistry. This has been proposed as a way to increase rock water-wetness. However, we have observed that the presence of sulfate anions in the aqueous phase can change the crude oil-water interfacial rheology drastically, and as a result, the oil recovery factor could be increased solely by alteration of fluid-fluid interactions. The purpose of this research is to show the effect of sulfate anion concentration in seawater injection on oil production through coreflooding results at low temperature.
Interfacial rheological experiments were run with several crude oils and modified seawater to see the effect of different ions on visco-elasticity of the crude oil-brine interface using an AR-G2 rheometer with a dual-wall ring fixture. Based on previous experimental results, carefully selected coreflooding experiments were run to evaluate differential pressure and oil recovery for each selected brine. Coreflooding experiments used Indiana Limestone at 25°C without aging to minimize changes in rock wettability.
The interfacial rheological results show that the visco-elasticity of the crude oil-brine interface is higher for a low-salinity brine compared to a higher-salinity one when individual salts are used, e.g. NaCl or Na2SO4. The difference is more pronounced if ultralow salinities are compared. For the cases with salinity values similar to that of seawater, the effect of sulfate concentration in water on interfacial visco-elasticity is more noticeable. Coreflooding results show that brines with a higher visco-elasticity, corresponding to a higher sulfate concentration in the water injected, yield higher oil recovery factor that those with lower visco-elasticity, including the experiments with salinity lower than 50% of that of seawater. Brine-rock reactions were geochemically simulated to prevent injection conditions that could cause formation damage. Additionally, pH, electrical conductivity and total dissolved solid (TDS) were analyzed in the effluents. Results show that for the model rock used, brine composition does not change significantly from contact with rock surfaces. Since wettability alteration was minimized by use of low-temperature and short ageing time, recovery correlates better with changes in interfacial rheology. For results showing an apparent lack of correspondence with the interfacial rheological response, arguments based on ganglia dynamics might shed light on the observed recovery outcome.
Our findings reveal that the injection of water with sulfate can modify the fluid-fluid interactions and consequently the final oil recovery, so in some cases, low-salinity brine injection is not necessarily conducive to an increment in oil production. Findings also indicate that more characterization of the brine-crude oil interface should be carefully conducted as part of the screening of adjusted brine chemistry waterflooding.
Carbonate rocks are typically heterogeneous at many scales; hence foams have the potential to improve both oil displacement efficiency and sweep efficiency in carbonate rocks. However, foams have to overcome two adverse conditions in carbonates: oil-wettability and low permeability. This study evaluates several foam formulations that combine wettability alteration and foaming in low permeability oil-wet carbonate cores. Contact angle experiments were performed on oil-wet calcite plates to evaluate the wettability altering capabilities of the surfactant formulations. Static foam stability tests were conducted to evaluate their foaming performance in bulk. Finally, oil displacement experiments were performed using Texas Cream and Estaillades Limestone cores with crude oil. Two different injection strategies were studied in this work: alternating gas-surfactant-gas injection and co-injection of wettability alteration surfactant with gas at a constant foam quality. Cationic surfactants DTAB and BTC altered the wettability of the oil-wet calcite plate to water-wet, but were ineffective in forming foam. The addition of a non-ionic surfactant Tergitol NP helped in the foaming ability of these formulations. In-house developed Gemini cationic surfactant GC 580 was able to alter the wettability from oil-wet to water-wet and also formed strong bulk foam. Static foam tests showed increase in bulk foam stability with the addition of zwitterionic surfactants to GC 580. Oil displacement experiments in oil-wet carbonate cores revealed that tertiary oil-recovery with injection of a wettability-altering surfactant can recover a significant amount of oil (about 20–25% OOIP) over the secondary water flood and gas flood. The foam rheology in the presence of oil suggested propagation of only weak foam in oil-wet low permeability carbonate cores.
Parsons, C. (Shell Global Solutions International B.V.) | Chernetsky, A. (Shell Global Solutions International B.V.) | Eikmans, D. (Shell Global Solutions International B.V.) | te Riele, P. (Shell Global Solutions International B.V.) | Boersma, D. (Shell Global Solutions International B.V.) | Sersic, I. (Shell Global Solutions International B.V.) | Broos, R. (Shell Global Solutions International B.V.)
In this paper we present a novel Chemical EOR technique in which dimethyl ether (DME), a widely-used industrial compound is utilised as a miscible solvent in conjunction with conventional waterflooding. The end effect of the solvent's application is an increase in oil recovery significantly greater than that typically achieved by waterflood alone.
The method of application is straightforward, taking advantage of DME's solubility in both water and hydrocarbons: water is used as a carrier for DME during injection and upon contact with reservoir fluids, DME preferentially partitions into the hydrocarbon phase thereby swelling and mobilising the oil phase. This is followed by a DME-free water chase to recover the remaining mobile oil and DME. Residual oil saturation after sweep is reduced, significantly below that typically achieved by waterflood alone. Furthermore, the DME can be extracted from the produced wellstream fluids by distillation and/or absorption processes, and re-used for injection.
The DME Enhanced Waterflooding (DEW) technique takes advantage of the unique solubility properties of dimethyl ether to improve oil mobility and reduce residual oil saturations. Significant research into the pressure-volume-temperature (PVT) behaviour of DME and DME/crude oil mixtures has been carried out in recent years; in particular the partitioning behaviour of the solvent and mixing rules for the various mass transfer properties affecting mobility. The PVT-driven behaviour and the overall displacement efficiency of the DEW technique have been observed in core flood experiments using both carbonate and clastic core plugs.
The DEW technique can be deployed in reservoirs with different geologies, fluid properties and conditions (pressure, temperature and salinity), making its application envelope much larger than that of any of the currently available EOR technologies.
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.