Polymer flooding is a widely used commercial process with a low cost per barrel of produced oil, For this application, hydrolyzed polyacrylamide (HPAM) polymers are the most widely used type of polymer. In an era of low cost oil, it is becoming even more essential to optimize the polymer flooding design under realistic reservoir conditions. The objective of this research was to better understand and predict the behavior of HPAM polymers and their effect on residual oil saturation, in order to improve the capability of optimizing field design and performance. The corefloods were performed under typical field conditions of low pressure gradients and low capillary numbers. The polymer floods of the viscous oils recovered much more oil than the water floods, with up to 24% lower oil saturation after the polymer flood than the water flood. The experimental data are in good agreement with the fractional flow analysis using the assumptions that the true residual oil saturations and end point relative permeabilities are the same for both water and polymer. This suggests that for more viscous oils, the oil saturation at the end of water flood (i.e. at greater than 99% water cut) is better described as ‘emaining’ oil saturation rather than the true ‘esidual’ oil saturation. This was true for all of the corefloods regardless of the core permeability and without the need for assuming a permeability reduction factor in the fractional flow analysis.
Yeganeh, Mohsen (ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co.) | Hegner, Jessica (ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co.) | Lewandowski, Eric (ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co.) | Mohan, Aruna (ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co.) | Lake, Larry W. (The University of Texas at Austin) | Cherney, Dan (ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co.) | Jusufi, Arben (ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co.) | Jaishankar, Aditya (ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co.)
A capillary desaturation curve (CDC) depicts the relationship between residual oil saturation, Sor, (i.e. oil left behind in a well-swept permeable medium) and capillary number. A CDC is one of the most fundamental curves of oil recovery as it reveals flow conditions required for good oil displacement in porous media. Despite the importance of this critical curve, the fundamentals describing the physics of a CDC are still incomplete.
We present a physical model to describe the capillary desaturation curve. The model balances the capillary pressure and applied viscous stresses caused by flow and takes advantage of contact angle hysteresis that occurs in porous media. It defines a critical oil ganglia length that depends inversely on capillary number and depends on porosity, permeability, and wettability. We have combined the critical oil ganglia expression and ganglia length distribution in porous media to arrive at an expression for the capillary desaturation curve. The model suggests that when a trapped oil ganglion is larger than the critical ganglia length, the applied pressure difference can mobilize the trapped oil ganglion. We describe the differences and similarities between our critical ganglia length expression and previously reported expressions. The model describing the relationship between residual oil saturation and capillary number was successfully verified with microfluidic experiments using various crude oils and displacing fluids. We have also demonstrated that the model applies to previously reported coreflood CDCs from sandstone and carbonate media. Extension of the model led to a single curve representation of variations in Sor with reduced pressure. This representation is independent of the chemistry of the displacing fluid.
Jahanbakhsh, A. (Centre for Enhanced Oil Recovery and CO2 Solutions, Institute of Petroleum Engineering, Heriot-Watt University) | Sohrabi, M. (Centre for Enhanced Oil Recovery and CO2 Solutions, Institute of Petroleum Engineering, Heriot-Watt University) | Fatemi, S. M. (Centre for Enhanced Oil Recovery and CO2 Solutions, Institute of Petroleum Engineering, Heriot-Watt University) | Shahverdi, H. (Centre for Enhanced Oil Recovery and CO2 Solutions, Institute of Petroleum Engineering, Heriot-Watt University)
Gas/oil interfacial tension (IFT) is one of the most important parameters that impact the performance of gas injection in an oil reservoir. The choice or design of the composition of the gas injected for EOR is usually affected by the gas/oil IFT. In conventional reservoir simulation, IFT does not explicitly appear in the equations of flow and therefore its effect must be captured by the shape and values of relative permeability curves. A few studies have been previously reported for IFT effect on two-phase flow but very little have been done to investigate gas/oil IFT effect under three-phase flow conditions. The objective of this study is, firstly, to investigate the impact of gas/oil IFT reduction on two- and three-phase relative permeabilities using coreflood experiments. Secondly, to investigate the effect of changing gas/oil IFT value (immiscible and near-miscible) on the performance of WAG injections and residual oil saturation reduction at laboratory scale.
Two- and three-phase (WAG) coreflood experiments have been performed on water-wet and mixed-wet cores at three different gas/oil IFT conditions. These experiments were conducted on Clashach sandstone cores with a permeability of 65 and 1000 mD. The two- and three-phase relative permeabilities were estimated from the results of the coreflood experiments using our in-house software (3RPSim) and were compared with each other on the basis of their gas/oil IFT values. Moreover, the impact of gas/oil IFT reduction on the performance of gas and WAG injection and in particular on the reduction of residual oil saturation was investigated. The results of our studies were also compared with the existing literature on the laboratory investigation of WAG injection.
The results show that in two-phase gas/oil systems, the relative permeability of non-wetting phase is more affected by a reduction in the gas/oil IFT compared of the relative permeability of the wetting phase. Comparing the curvature of the gas and oil relative permeability curves shows that although the curvature decreases by a reduction in gas/oil IFT but it is still far away from straight line even at ultra-low IFT values. In three-phase flow system, reduction of gas/oil IFT affects the relative permeabilities of all the three phases (gas, oil and water).
The results show that at high gas/oil IFT or immiscible WAG injection, the most reduction in residual oil saturation is achieved in the first injection cycle and further WAG cycles do not result in a significant additional reduction in oil saturation. On the contrary, at low gas/oil IFT or near-miscible WAG injection, the residual oil saturation keeps decreasing as the number of WAG cycles increases. Moreover, the reduction in residual oil saturation was more effective when the immiscible WAG experiments started with gas injection (secondary WAG).
Three-phase relative permeability can vary greatly from two-phase relative permeability as mechanisms such as flow coupling, double displacement, and layer drainage flow regime play a role in three-phase flow. These are on top of the dependency of three-phase relative permeability on two saturations and saturation path/history. The net result is that it is difficult to model/predict relative permeabilities in three-phase space. In this work, we present three-phase oil relative permeability data measured along 11 saturation paths, in a water-wet consolidated (Berea sandstone) and unconsolidated (sandpack) porous media. These saturation paths cover a wide swath of the three-phase saturation space, providing a better physical understanding of the complete three-phase phase space. Three different oils (crude oil, mineral oil, and n-octane) are used in the experiments; the varying viscosities, spreading coefficients, and composition of the oils allows us to investigate the effect of different drainage mechanisms on relative permeability curves. Our data show that there are significant variations between the curves depending on the media, final water saturation, and fluids. In particular, when the media and fluids are held constant, oil relative permeability can vary an order of magnitude at the same oil saturation, depending on the initial condition and water saturation. We find that within each media, all the curves represent a similar shape, but reach to a different residual saturation. This suggests that residual oil saturation is the key parameter in observed relative permeability differences along different saturation paths. We examine this hypothesis with the most common three-phase relative permeability models, i.e. Saturation Weighted Interpolation, Stone I and II, where we vary residual oil saturation to fit the experimental data. We find that if residual oil saturation is used as a fitting parameter, the models predict experimental data well. Otherwise, without varying residual oil saturation, these relative permeability models perform poorly in predicting experimental data.