Rohilla, Neeraj (TIORCO, a Nalco Champion Company) | Ravikiran, Ravi (Stepan Company) | Carlisle, Charlie T. (Chemical Tracers Inc.) | Jones, Nick (University of Wyoming) | Davis, Marron B. (Sunshine Valley Petroleum Corporation) | Finch, Kenneth B. H. (TIORCO, a Nalco Champion Company)
Sandstone reservoirs containing significant amount of clays (30-40 wt%) with moderate permeability (20-50 mD) provide a unique challenge to surfactant based enhanced oil recovery (EOR) processes. A critical risk factor for these types of reservoirs is adsorption of surfactants due to greater surface area attributed to clays. Clays also have high cation exchange capacity (CEC) and can release significant amounts of di-valents that lead to increased retention of the surfactant. These factors could adversely affect the economics of a flood.
We present a case study where a robust formulation was designed and tested in lab/field for a reservoir located in Wyoming, USA and contains up to 35-40 wt% clays (predominately Kaolinite and Illite). The residual oil saturation is high (Sor=0.4) while the permeability of the formation is between 20-50 mD. The reservoir has been waterflooded historically with low salinity water which has led to formation permeability damage. Due to high levels of clays, adsorption of the surfactant on the rock surface was determined to be between 3-4 mg/g rock by static adsorption tests.
This publication demonstrates how the following challenges have been successfully addressed in the lab as well as in the field in the form of single well chemical tracer test (SWCTT).
Designed a robust alkaline-surfactant-polymer (ASP) formulation that showed ultra-low interfacial tension (IFT) values and aqueous solubility remains soluble in the aqueous solution over a broad range of salinity. Mitigated surfactant adsorption issues to make the cEOR solution economic. A sacrificial agent was identified that acted synergistically with alkali and also did not alter the optimum salinity of the formulation. Performed restored state core analysis using the available damaged core material. The main challenge being restoration of the coreplugs to current reservoir conditions for coreflood experiment without causing additional formation damage due to injection of low salinity formation brine. Designed a flood that utilized a pre-flush to provide a favorable salinity gradient and to inject sacrificial agent ahead of the surfactant front. Performed polymer screening to select right molecular weight of polymer so that the right balance of mobility control and injectivity in the reservoir can be obtained.
Designed a robust alkaline-surfactant-polymer (ASP) formulation that showed ultra-low interfacial tension (IFT) values and aqueous solubility remains soluble in the aqueous solution over a broad range of salinity.
Mitigated surfactant adsorption issues to make the cEOR solution economic. A sacrificial agent was identified that acted synergistically with alkali and also did not alter the optimum salinity of the formulation.
Performed restored state core analysis using the available damaged core material. The main challenge being restoration of the coreplugs to current reservoir conditions for coreflood experiment without causing additional formation damage due to injection of low salinity formation brine.
Designed a flood that utilized a pre-flush to provide a favorable salinity gradient and to inject sacrificial agent ahead of the surfactant front.
Performed polymer screening to select right molecular weight of polymer so that the right balance of mobility control and injectivity in the reservoir can be obtained.
During an Alkaline-Surfactant-Polymer (
In this study, steady-state (
For brine/oil systems some dependence of apparent viscosity on rock permeability was observed; for systems with surfactants no such trend was noticable. The addition of surfactants substantially reduced the apparent viscosities; the viscosity reducing impact of surfactants could be balanced by the addition of polymer. Fractional flow analysis showed that the addition of surfactants reduces the impact of capillary forces resulting in straightened relative permeability curves and higher aqueous phase relative permeability end points.
It is anticipated that this study leads to a fast and fit for purpose characterization method of
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.
Wettability of the rock is an important parameter in determining oil recovery. It determines the fluid behavior and the fluid distribution in the reservoir. Aging of the rock changes the wettability of the rock and can affect the residual oil saturation. This paper investigates the effect of aging on the oil recovery during the Water-Alternating-CO2 injection (WACO2) process using 20 in. outcrop Grey Berea sandstone cores under immiscible conditions.
In the present work, two coreflood experiments were performed. Both cores were aged for a period of 30 days at 149°F. This study is a continued research and compares the performance of WACO2 injection in aged cores to previously published work with unaged cores. All experiments were done at 500 psi and in the secondary recovery mode. The wettability of the Rock- Brine-CO2-Oil system for aged cores was determined by contact angle measurements using formation brine (174,156 ppm), seawater brine (54,680 ppm) and low-salinity brine (5,000 ppm NaCl). The interfacial tension (IFT) of the Brine-Oil-N2 and Brine-Oil-CO2 system was also measured using the axisymmetric drop shape analysis (ADSA) method. Computerized tomography (CT) scans were obtained for each core in its various states: dry state, 100% water-saturated state, oil saturated state with irreducible water saturation, and residual oil-saturated state. The CT scans were used to determine the porosity profile of the cores.
The contact angle measurements of the Rock - Brine - CO2 - Oil system indicated an increase in contact angles after the aging of the cores. Low-salinity brine showed the most water-wet state (55°) and seawater brine showed the most oil-wet state (96°) of the rock. This may be because of the increased concentration of divalent ions on the surface of the rock during seawater brine injection. Ion binding is the dominant mechanism in the oil-wet nature of the rock. The previously published work stated that the coreflood experiments of the unaged cores resulted in an oil recovery of 61.7 and 64.6% OOIP during low-salinity water-alternating-CO2 and seawater-alternating-CO2 injection, respectively. In aged cores, the oil recovery increased to 97.7 and 76.1% OOIP during the low-salinity water-alternating-CO2 and seawater-alternating-CO2 injection, respectively. The improved oil recovery was attributed to the wettability alteration when the rock was aged.
The interfacial tension measurements of brine/oil/nitrogen and brine/oil/CO2 systems showed that the salinity of the brine had an effect on the IFT. Low-salinity brine (5,000 ppm) yielded the highest IFT values and seawater brine produced the least. Monovalent ions had a weak effect on the interfacial activity between the oil and the brine. When multivalent ions were present, the IFT values were influenced by the salting effect of the brines. During the IFT measurements of brine/oil/CO2 system, the IFT values showed an increasing trend as a function of time and then stabilized. The increase in IFT was because of the initial mass transfer between the CO2, brine, and oil phases.
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.
This paper addresses two questions for polymer flooding. First, what polymer solution viscosity should be injected? A base-case reservoir-engineering method is present for making that decision, which focuses on waterflood mobility ratios and the permeability contrast in the reservoir. However, some current field applications use injected polymer viscosities that deviate substantially from this methodology. At one end of the range, Canadian projects inject only 30-cp polymer solutions to displace 1000-3000-cp oil. Logic given to support this choice include (1) the mobility ratio in an unfavorable displacement is not as bad as indicated by the endpoint mobility ratio, (2) economics limit use of higher polymer concentrations, (3) some improvement in mobility ratio is better than a straight waterflood, (4) a belief that the polymer will provide a substantial residual resistance factor (permeability reduction), and (5) injectivity limits the allowable viscosity of the injected fluid. At the other end of the range, a project in Daqing, China, injected 150-300-cp polymer solutions to displace 10-cp oil. The primary reason given for this choice was a belief that high molecular weight viscoelastic HPAM polymers can reduce the residual oil saturation below that expected for a waterflood or for less viscous polymer floods. This paper will examine the validity of each of these beliefs.
The second question is: when should polymer injection be stopped or reduced? For existing polymer floods, this question is particularly relevant in the current low oil-price environment. Should these projects be switched to water injection immediately? Should the polymer concentration be reduced or graded? Should the polymer concentration stay the same but reduce the injection rate? These questions are discussed.
Water-based polymers are often used to improve oil recovery by increasing displacement sweep efficiency. However, recent laboratory and field work has suggested these polymers, which are often viscoelastic, may also reduce residual oil saturation. The objective of this work is to investigate the effect of viscoelastic polymers on residual oil saturation in Bentheimer sandstones and identify conditions and mechanisms for the improved recovery. Bentheimer sandstones were saturated with a heavy oil (120cp) and then waterflooded to residual oil saturation using brine followed by an inelastic Newtonian fluid (diluted glycerin). These floods were followed by injection of a viscoelastic polymer, hydrolyzed polyacrylamide (HPAM).
Significant reduction in residual oil was observed for all core floods performed at constant pressure drop when the polymer had significant elasticity (determined by the dimensionless Deborah number,
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.
XU, Ke (The University of Texas at Austin) | Zhu, Peixi (The University of Texas at Austin) | Tatiana, Colon (Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico) | Huh, Chun (The University of Texas at Austin) | Balhoff, Matthew (The University of Texas at Austin)
Injecting oil-in-water (O/W) emulsions stabilized with nanoparticles or surfactants is a promising option for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in harsh-condition reservoirs. Stability and rheology of flowing emulsion in porous media are key factors for the effectiveness of the EOR method. The objective of this study is to use microfluidics to (1) quantitatively evaluate the synergistic effect of surfactants and nanoparticles on emulsion's dynamic stability and how nanoparticles affects the emulsion properties, and (2) investigate how emulsion properties affect the sweep performance in emulsion flooding.
A microfluidic device with well-defined channel geometry of a high-permeability pathway and multiple parallel low-permeability pathways was created to represent a fracture – matrix dual-permeability system. Measurement of droplets’ coalescence frequency during flow is used to quantify the dynamic stability of emulsions. A nanoparticle aqueous suspension (2 wt%) shows excellent ability to stabilize macro-emulsion when mixed with trace amount of surfactant (0.05 wt%), revealing a synergic effect between nanoparticles and surfactant.
For a stable emulsion, it was observed that flowing emulsion droplets compress each other and then block the high-permeability pathway at a throat structure, which forces the wetting phase into low-permeability pathways. Droplet size shows little correlation with this blocking effect. Water content was observed much higher in the low-permeability pathways than in the high-permeability pathway, indicating different emulsion texture and viscosity in channels of different sizes. Consequently, the assumption of bulk emulsion viscosity in the porous medium is not applicable in the description and modeling of emulsion flooding process.
Flow of emulsions stabilized by the nanoparticle-surfactant synergy shows droplet packing mode different from those stabilized by surfactant only at high local oil saturation region, which is attributed to the interaction among nanoparticles in the thin liquid film between neighboring oil-water interfaces. This effect is believed to be an important contributing mechanism for sweep efficiency attainable from nanoparticle-stabilized emulsion EOR process.
We study Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) through Low Salinity (LS) waterflooding in a brown oil field. LS waterflooding is an emerging EOR technique in which water with reduced salinity is injected into a reservoir to improve oil recovery, as compared with conventional waterflooding, in which High Salinity (HS) brine or seawater are commonly used. The efficiency of this technique can be quantified at the well-scale by a Single Well Chemical Tracer Test (SWCTT), which is an in-situ method for measuring the Remaining Oil Saturation (ROS) after flooding the near-wellbore region with a displacing agent. Two SWCTTs were executed on a sandstone North African field. The tests were realized in sequence with seawater and LS water to evaluate the EOR potential at the well-scale.
Here, we propose the interpretation of these two SWCTTs. They were modeled through numerical simulations because of the presence of several non-idealities in the complex scenario considered. A recently-developed tracer simulator was employed to solve the reactive transport problem. This was used as a fast post-processing tool coupled with a conventional reservoir simulator. Model parameters were estimated within an inverse modeling framework, on the basis of an assisted history matching procedure that exploits the Metropolis Hastings Algorithm (MHA). Results were scaled up on a sector model of the field, and forecast scenarios that consider a field-scale implementation of this technique were defined.
The well-scale displacement efficiency gain associated with LS water, as compared with seawater, was evaluated. It was quantified as a ROS reduction of 8 saturation unit (s.u.), with a P10–P90 range of 3–15 s.u. Reservoir-scale simulations suggest that the associated ultimate oil recovery of the EOR pilot may be increased by 2% with LS water, with a P10–P90 range of 0.7–4.3%.
Overall, the LS EOR potential for a selected field was quantified through a robust and original workflow, based on SWCTT interpretation. This state-of-the-art procedure is now available for further applications. The simulated oil recovery improvement with LS water is promising, and leads the way to the implementation of an inter-well field trial.