The in-situ steam based technology is still the main exploitation method for bitumen and heavy oil resources all over the world. But most of the steam-based processes (e.g., cyclic steam stimulation, steam drive and steam assisted gravity drainage) in heavy oilfields have entered into anexhaustion stage. Considering the long-lasting steam-rock interaction, how to further enhance the heavy oil recovery in the post-steam injection era is currently challenging the EOR (enhanced oil recovery) techniques. In this paper, we present a comprehensive review of the EOR processes in the post steam injection era both in experimental and field cases. Specifically, the paper presents an overview on the recovery mechanisms and field performance of thermal EOR processes by reservoir lithology (sandstone and carbonate formations) and offshore versus onshore oilfields. Typical processes include thein-situ combustion process, the thermal/-solvent process, the thermal-NCG (non-condensable gas, e.g., N2, flue gas and air) process, and the thermal-chemical (e.g., polymer, surfactant, gel and foam) process. Some new in-situ upgrading processes are also involved in this work. Furthermore, this review also presents the current operations and future trends on some heavy oil EOR projects in Canada, Venezuela, USA and China.
This review showsthat the offshore heavy oilfields will be the future exploitation focus. Moreover, currently several steam-based projects and thermal-NCG projects have been operated in Emeraude Field in Congo and Bohai Bay in China. A growing trend is also found for the in-situ combustion technique and solvent assisted process both in offshore and onshore heavy oil fields, such as the EOR projects in North America, North Sea, Bohai Bay and Xinjiang. The multicomponent thermal fluids injection process in offshore and the thermal-CO2and thermal-chemical (surfactant, foam) processes in onshore heavy oil reservoirs are some of the opportunities identified for the next decade based on preliminary evaluations and proposed or ongoing pilot projects. Furthermore, the new processes of in-situ catalytic upgrading (e.g., addition of catalyst, steam-nanoparticles), electromagnetic heating and electro-thermal dynamic stripping (ETDSP) and some improvement processes on a wellbore configuration (FCD) have also gained more and more attention. In addition, there are some newly proposed recovery techniques that are still limitedto the laboratory scale with needs for further investigations. In such a time of low oil prices, cost optimization will be the top concerns of all the oil companies in the world. This critical review will help to identify the next challenges and opportunities in the EOR potential of bitumen and heavy oil production in the post steam injection era.
Hosseininoosheri, P. (The University of Texas at Austin) | Hosseini, S. A. (The University of Texas at Austin) | Nunez-Lopez, V. (The University of Texas at Austin) | Lake, L. W. (The University of Texas at Austin)
The relative partitioning of CO2 during and after CO2 injection in a CO2-EOR process is affected by several parameters. While many geological properties cannot be changed in a specific hydrocarbon (HC) reservoir, it could be shown that an intelligent selection of CO2 injection strategy improves both the incremental oil recovery and CO2 storage capacity and security. Therefore, we investigated and discussed the partitioning of CO2 among different phases (oil, gas, and brine) after two well-known CO2 inejction schemes using field-scale compositional reservoir flow modeling in the SACROC (Scurry Area Canyon Reef Operators Committee) unit, Permian Basin. First, we used a high-resolution geocellular model, which was constructed from wireline logs, seismic surveys, core data, and stratigraphic interpretation. As the initial distribution of fluids plays an important role in CO2 partitioning, a comprehensive pressure-production history matching of primary, secondary, and tertiary recovery was completed. The hysteresis model was used to calculate the amount of CO2 trapped as residual. CO2 solubility into brine was verified based on previous experiments. The model results showed a new understanding of relative CO2 partitioning in porous media after a CO2-EOR process. We compared the contribution of CO2 trapping mechanisms and the sweep efficiency of Walter-Alternating-Gas (WAG) and Continous-Gas-Injection (CGI). We found that WAG injection showed a significantly superior behaviour over CGI. WAG not only decreased the amount of mobile CO2 (structural trapping), but also resulted in a competitive incremental oil recovery in comparison with CGI. Thus, clearly WAG injection ispreferred as it strongly enhances CO2 storage efficiency and containment security. The present work provides valuable insights for optimizing oil production and CO2 storage in carbonate reservoirs like SACROC unit. In other words, this work helps decision makers to set storage goals based on optimized project risks.
Yu, Wei (Texas A&M University) | Zhang, Yuan (China University of Geosciences Beijing) | Varavei, Abdoljalil (The University of Texas at Austin) | Sepehrnoori, Kamy (The University of Texas at Austin) | Zhang, Tongwei (The University of Texas at Austin) | Wu, Kan (Texas A&M University) | Miao, Jijun (SimTech LLC)
The effectiveness of CO2 injection as a Huff-n-Puff process in tight oil reservoirs with complex fractures needs to be investigated due to the fast decline of primary production and low recovery factor. Although numerous experimental and numerical studies have proven the potential of CO2 Huff-n-Puff, relatively few numerical compositional models exist to comprehensively and efficiently simulate and evaluate CO2 Huff-n-Puff considering CO2 molecular diffusion, nanopore confinement, and complex fractures based on an actual tight-oil well. The objective of this study is to introduce a numerical compositional model with an embedded discrete fracture model (EDFM) method to simulate CO2 Huff-n-Puff in an actual Eagle Ford tight oil well. Through non-neighboring connections, the EDFM method can properly and efficiently handle any complex fracture geometries without the need of local grid refinement (LGR) nearby fractures. Based on the actual Eagle Ford well, we build a 3D reservoir model including one horizontal well and multiple hydraulic and natural fractures. Six fluid pseudocomponents were considered. We performed history matching with measured flow rates and bottomhole pressure using the EDFM and LGR methods. The comparison results show that a good history match was obtained and a great agreement between EDFM and LGR was achieved. However, the EDFM method performs faster than the LGR method. After history matching, we evaluated the CO2 Huff-n-Puff effectiveness considering CO2 molecular diffusion and nanopore confinement. The traditional phase equilibrium calculation was modified to calculate the critical fluid properties with nanopore confinement. The simulation results show that the CO2 Huff-n-Puff with smaller CO2 diffusion coefficients underperforms the primary production without CO2 injection; nevertheless, the CO2 Huff-n-Puff with larger CO2 diffusion coefficients performs better than the primary production. In addition, both CO2 molecular diffusion and nanopore confinement are favorable for the CO2 Huff-n-Puff effectiveness. The relative increase of cumulative oil production after 7300 days with CO2 diffusion coefficient of 0.01 cm2/s and nanopore size of 10 nm is about 12% for this actual Eagle Ford well. Furthermore, when considering complex natural fractures, the relative increase of cumulative oil production is about 8%. This study provides critical insights into a better understanding of the impacts of CO2 molecular diffusion, nanopore confinement, and complex natural fractures on well performance during CO2 Huff-n-Puff process in the Eagle Ford tight oil reservoirs.
Ross, T. S. (New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology) | Rahnema, H. (New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology) | Nwachukwu, C. (New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology) | Alebiosu, O. (ConocoPhillips Co) | Shabani, B. (Oklahoma State University)
Steam injection—a thermal-based enhanced oil recovery (EOR) process—is used to improve fluid mobility within a reservoir, and it is well known that it yields positive results in heavy-oil reservoirs. In theory, steam injection has the potential of being applied in light-oil reservoirs to enable vaporization of in-situ reservoir fluids, but field developments and scientific studies of this application are sparse. Conventional displacement methods like water-flooding and gas-flooding have been applied to some extent, however, oil extraction in such reservoirs relies on recovery mechanisms like capillary imbibition or gravity drainage to recover oil from the reservoir matrix. Furthermore, low-permeability reservoir rocks are associated with low gravity drainage and high residual oil saturation.
The objective of this study is to evaluate the potential of steam injection for light (47°API) oil extraction in naturally-fractured reservoirs. It is theorized that this method will serve as an effective tool for recovery of light hydrocarbons through naturally-fractured networks with the benefit of heat conduction through the rock matrix. This research investigates the application of light-oil steamflood (LOSF) in naturally- fractured reservoirs (NFR).
A simulation model comprised of a matrix block surrounded by fracture network was used to study oil recovery potential under steam injection. To simulate gravity drainage, steam was injected through a horizontal well completed in the upper section of the fracture network, while the production well was completed at the bottom of the fracture network. The simulation included two different porous media: (1) natural fractures and (2) matrix blocks. Each of these porous media was assumed to be homogeneous and characterized based on typical reservoir properties for carbonate formations. This study also analyzed the impact of different recovery mechanisms during steam injection for a light-oil sample in NFR, with reservoir sensitivity examined, based on varying amounts of vaporization, injection rate, permeability, matrix height and capillary pressure. Of these, vaporization was found to be the dominant factor in the application of LOSF in NFR, as described in detail within the results.
Holubnyak, Yevhen (Kansas Geological Survey) | Watney, Willard (Kansas Geological Survey) | Hollenbach, Jennifer (Kansas Geological Survey) | Rush, Jason (Kansas Geological Survey) | Fazelalavi, Mina (Kansas Geological Survey) | Bidgoli, Tandis (Kansas Geological Survey) | Wreath, Dana (Berexco LLC)
Baseline geologic characterization, geologic model development, studies of oil composition and properties, miscibility pressure estimations, geochemical characterization, reservoir modelling were performed. In March of 2015 the injection well (class II) KGS 2-32 was drilled, cored, and logged through an entire anticipated injection interval. Whole core samples were obtained and tested for porosity and permeability, relative permeability, and capillary pressure. The Drill Stem Test (DST) was also conducted to estimate injection interval permeability and pore-pressure. After the injection well KGS 2-32 was acidized, Step Rate (SRT) and Interference (IT) tests were conducted and analysed for permeability, well pattern communication, and fracture closing pressure.
Approximately 20,000 metric tons of CO2 was injected in the upper part of the Mississippian reservoir to verify CO2 EOR viability in carbonate reservoirs and evaluate a potential of transitioning to geologic CO2 storage through EOR. Total of 1,101 truckloads, 19,803 metric tons, average of 120 tonnes per day were delivered over the course of injection that lasted from January 9 to June 21, 2016. After cessation of CO2 injection, KGS 2-32 well was converted to water injector and is currently continues to operate. CO2 EOR progression in the field was monitored weekly with fluid level, temperature, and production recording, and formation fluid composition sampling.
As a result of CO2 injection observed incremental average oil production increase is ~68% with only ~18% of injected CO2 produced back. Simple but robust monitoring technologies proved to be very efficient in detection and locating of CO2. High CO2 reservoir retentions with low yields within actively producing field could help to estimate real-world risks of CO2 geological storage.
Wellington filed CO2 EOR was executed in a controlled environment with high efficiency. This case study proves that CO2 EOR could be successfully applied in Kansas carbonate reservoirs if CO2 sources and associated infrastructure is available.
The wettability of tight reservoir rock plays a critical role in affecting relative permeability and in turn oil recovery. However, the link between wettability and its effects on oil recovery remains poorly understood, and the potential to boost oil recovery by varying the wettability has not been fully explored. This work was an attempt to conduct a systematic experimental study to improve our understanding of wettability of tight oil reservoirs and the mechanisms of its alteration on oil recovery improvement. Contact angles of individual rock-forming minerals and reservoir rock samples were first measured in brines with different salinities. Then the minerals were aged separately with a medium crude oil with sufficient polar components to investigate their tendency for wettability alteration. As well, oil and water distributions inside tight core samples were scanned by a synchrotron-based computed tomography scanner. Contact angle measurements for all minerals and reservoir rocks showed initial water-wetting behavior. After aging with crude oil for over two months, polar components from the oil adsorbed onto the solid surfaces to alter their wettability to less water wet. Consequently, this wettability alteration contributed to oil and water redistribution and saturation change in reservoir cores.
The experimental findings suggested that the wettability in tight reservoirs is a strong function of rock mineralogy, formation fluid properties, and saturation history. Preliminary numerical simulation revealed how rock wettability alteration could contribute to improved oil recovery through waterflooding.
Aldhaheri, Munqith (Missan Oil Company, Dept. of Petroleum Engineering, University of Misan) | Wei, Mingzhen (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Zhang, Na (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Bai, Baojun (Missouri University of Science and Technology)
As lifespan extenders, bulk gels have been widely applied to rejuvenate oil production from uneconomic producers in mature oilfields by improving sweep efficiency of IOR/EOR floodings. This paper presents a comprehensive review for the responses of injection-well gel treatments implemented between 1985 and 2014. The survey includes 61 field projects compiled from SPE papers and U.S. DOE reports. Seven parameters related to the oil production response were evaluated according to the reservoir lithology, formation type, and recovery process using the univariate analysis and stacked histograms. The interquartile range method was used to detect the under-performing and over-performing gel projects. Scatterplots were used to identify effects of the injected gel volume and the treatment timing on the treatment responses.
Results indicated that gel treatments have very wide ranges of responses for injection and production wells and for oil and water rates/profiles. The typical incremental oil production is 116 MSTBO per treatment, 15 STBO per gel barrel, or 10 STBO per polymer pound. We identified that gel treatments perform more efficiently in carbonate than in sandstone reservoirs and in naturally-fractured formations than in other formation types. In addition, the incremental oil production considerably increases with the channeling strength and the injected gel volume for all formation types, not just for the matrix-rock reservoirs. Moreover, gel treatments applied in naturally-fractured formations have lower productivities in sandstones than in carbonates based on the normalized performance parameters.
Declining tends were identified for all parameters of the oil production response with the treatment timing indicators. The sooner the gel treatment is applied; the faster the response and the larger the incremental oil production and its rate. It is recommended to allow longer evaluation times for gel treatments applied in matrix-rock formations or in mature polymer floodings as their response times may extend to several months. Gel treatments would perform more efficiently if they are conducted at water cuts <70%, flood lives <20 years, or recovery factors <35%. For different application environments, the present review provides reservoir engineers with updated ideas about what are the low, typical, and high performances of gel treatments when applied successfully and how other treatment aspects affect the performances.
Alfarge, Dheiaa (Iraqi Ministry of Oil, Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Wei, Mingzhen (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Bai, Baojun (Missouri University of Science and Technology)
Improved Oil Recovery (IOR) techniques in Unconventional Liquids Rich Reservoirs (ULR) are still a new concept because there is no commercial project for any IOR technique so far. Carbon dioxide (CO2) based EOR technique has been effectively applied to improve oil recovery in the tight formations of conventional reservoirs. Extending this approach to unconventional formations has been extensively investigated over the last decade because CO2 has unique properties which make it the first option of EOR methods to be tried. However, the applications and mechanisms for CO2-EOR in unconventional reservoirs would not necessarily be the same as in conventional reservoirs due to the complex and poor-quality properties of these plays.
Since the first CO2-EOR huff-n-puff project was conducted in conventional reservoirs in Trinidad and Tobago in 1984, more than 130 additional projects have been put in operation around the world, mainly located in USA, Turkey, and Trinidad and Tobago. In this study, we combined Decline Curve Analysis (DCA) for the production data of these projects with numerical simulation methods to produce one typical graph accounts for the main mechanisms controlling CO2-EOR performance in conventional reservoirs. On the other hand, we have couple of CO2-EOR huff-n-puff pilot tests conducted in Bakken formation between 2008 and 2016. Two engineering-reversed approaches have been integrated to produce a unique type curve for the performance of CO2-EOR huff-n-puff process in shale oil reservoirs. Firstly, a numerical simulation study was conducted to upscale the reported experimental-studies outcomes to the field conditions. As a result, different forward diagnostic plots have been generated from different combinations for CO2 physical mechanisms with different shale-reservoirs conditions. Secondly, different backward diagnostic plots have been produced from the history match with CO2 performances in fields’ pilots performed in some portions of Bakken formation located in North Dakota and Montana. Finally, fitting the backward with the forward diagnostic plots was used to produce another unique type curve to represent CO2-EOR performance in shale oil reservoirs. This study found that the delayed response in the incremental oil production resulted from CO2 injection in shale reservoirs is mainly function of CO2 molecular diffusion mechanism. On the other hand, the CO2 diffusion mechanism has approximately no effect on CO2-EOR performance in conventional reservoirs which have a quick response to CO2 injection. This finding is very well consistent with the experimental reports regarding the role of diffusion in conventional cores versus shale cores. In addition, this study found that kinetics of oil recovery process in productive areas and CO2-diffusivity level are the keys to perform successful CO2-EOR project in shale formations. This paper provides a thorough idea about how CO2-EOR performance is different in the field scale of conventional reservoirs versus shale formations.
The improved oil recovery of unconventional shale reservoirs has attracted much interest in recent years. Gas injection, such as CO2 and natural gas, is one of the most considered techniques for its sweep efficiency and effectiveness in low permeability reservoirs. However, the uncertainties of fluid phase behavior in shale reservoirs pose a great challenge in evaluating the performance of gas injection operation. Shale reservoirs are featured with macro-scale to nano-scale pore size distribution in the porous space. In fractures and macropores, the fluid shows bulk behavior, but in nanopores the phase behavior is significantly altered by the confinement effect. The integrated behavior of reservoir fluids in this complex environment remains uncertain.
In this study, we investigate the nano-scale pore size distribution effect on the phase behavior of reservoir fluids in gas injection for shale reservoirs using a multi-scale equation of state modeling. A case of Anadarko Basin shale oil is used. The pore size distribution is discretized as a multi-scale system with pores of specific diameters. The phase equilibria of methane injection into the multi-scale system are calculated. The constant composition expansions are simulated for oil mixed with various fractions of injected gas. Bubble point, swelling factor, criticality and fluid volumetrics are studied in comparison to the behavior of the bulk fluid. It is found that fluid in nanopores becomes supercritical with injected gas, but lowering the pressure below bubble point will turn it into the subcritical state. The swelling factor is slightly higher with nanopores, and bubble point is lower than the bulk. The degree of deviation depends on the amount of injected gas.
Nwachukwu, Azor (The University of Texas at Austin) | Jeong, Hoonyoung (Bureau of Economic Geology) | Sun, Alexander (Bureau of Economic Geology) | Pyrcz, Michael (The University of Texas at Austin) | Lake, Larry W. (The University of Texas at Austin)
The effects of well locations and control parameters on reservoir responses is important during CO2 enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) and water-alternating-gas (WAG) injection. Oil recovery and CO2 storage capacity typically vary with respect to corresponding changes in WAG ratio, slug size, and injector locations. The relationships between control parameters and response variables are usually studied using compositional simulators. However, the computational expense required to run such simulators could hinder their applicability to optimization procedures requiring many evaluations. Surrogate models (proxies) provide inexpensive alternatives for approximating reservoir responses. In this study, a machine learning-based proxy is developed to predict responses to changes in location and control parameters during WAG injection.
Slight adjustments in injector well locations, WAG ratio and slug size could yield dramatic changes in the objective function responses. This complex relationship between control parameters and reservoir-wide responses makes data-driven methods an attractive option. We extend a recently developed machine learning approach in which the primary predictors are physical well locations, and water and gas injection rates, and the primary response is net present value (NPV). Because of the complexity of the response surface, we augmented the predictor variables with well-to-well pairwise connectivities, injector block permeabilities and porosities, and initial injector block saturations. Connectivities are represented by ‘diffusive times of flight’ of the pressure front, which is computed using the Fast Marching Method. Training observations are obtained from a handful of compositional simulations. We then used the Extreme Gradient Boosting method (XGBoost) to build intelligent proxies for making predictions given any set of observations.
We propose a hyperdimensional, simultaneous optimization of well locations and controls using a novel optimization scheme similar Mesh Adaptive Direct Search (MADS). Our optimization scheme was developed to fully take advantage of the speed and statistical output of the proxy. The proposed approach is demonstrated using a case study in which the underlying geology is uncertain. Results show significant correlation between proxy predictions and reservoir simulations, which validates application of the trained proxy. In addition, we demonstrate that simultaneous optimization of location and controls yields improvements over a sequential approach without any significant increase in computational cost.