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.
The application of surfactants to improve oil recovery in conventional reservoirs via wettability alteration and enhancement of spontaneous imbibition has been extensively studied in the literature. However, little work has been performed yet to investigate the interaction of these surfactants with ultra-tight oil-rich shale reservoirs such as Wolfcamp shale. The use of horizontal drilling and massive multistage hydraulic fracturing has made primary oil recovery from these ultra-tight oil-rich shale reservoirs possible. With declining production from existing shale wells, it is essential to explore potential "beyond primary" strategies in shale oil development. This paper analyzes the potential of surfactants in altering wettability and improving the process of spontaneous imbibition in oil rich shales demonstrating nanodarcy range permeability, relevant to stimulation and "beyond primary" chemical EOR applications in shales.
Novel proprietary surfactant blends along with traditional nonionic surfactants were investigated in this study using Wolfcamp shale core samples exhibiting nanodarcy permeability. X-ray diffraction analysis was performed which indicated that Wolfcamp shale has mixed mineralogy, with quartz, calcite, and dolomite acting as the major minerals in varying proportions depending on the interval depth. Contact angle and interfacial tension measurements were performed at reservoir temperature to identify the state of native wettability and the impact of surfactants in altering wettability. Thereafter, spontaneous imbibition experiments were performed using 3D computed tomography methods to understand the improvement in the magnitude of imbibition penetration due to surfactant addition. Contact angle and spontaneous imbibition experiments showed that Wolfcamp shale is intermediate-wet and surfactants have the potential to alter the native wettability to a preferentially water-wet state and improve oil recovery due to enhanced spontaneous imbibition.
Surfactants which altered the wettability significantly, but lowered the interfacial tension only slightly showed the highest oil recoveries due to the creation of strong capillary driven forces directly responsible for effective spontaneous imbibition. The potential of surfactants in altering wettability and improving oil recovery via enhanced spontaneous imbibition in ultra-tight oil-rich shales was verified in this study. The effectiveness of traditional nonionic surfactants in altering wettability and improving oil recovery was found to be comparable to that of novel, more expensive proprietary surfactant blends, and hence, the traditional nonionic surfactants provide a cost effective option for stimulation and EOR applications in Wolfcamp shale. Overall, this paper presents the theory behind surfactant interaction with ultra-tight shales and provides experimental results to validate the viability of surfactant induced improved oil recovery in shales.
There is considerable and timely interest in oil and condensate production from liquid-rich regions, placing emphasis on the ability to predict the behavior of gas condensate bank developments and saturation dynamics in shale gas reservoirs. As the pressure in the near-wellbore region drops below the dew-point, liquid droplets are formed and tend to be trapped in small pores. It has been suggested that the injection of CO2 into shale gas reservoirs can be a feasible option to enhance recovery of natural gas and valuable condensate oil, while at the same time sequestering CO2 underground. This work develops simulation capabilities to understand and predict complex transport processes and phase behavior in these reservoirs for efficient and environmentally friendly production management.
Although liquid-rich shale plays are economically producible, existing simulation techniques fail to include many of the production phenomena associated with the fluid system that consists of multiple gas species or phases. In this work, we develop a multicomponent compositional simulator for the modeling of gas-condensate shale reservoirs with complex fracture systems. Related storage and transport mechanisms such as multicomponent apparent permeability (MAP), sorption and molecular diffusion are considered. In order to accurately capture the complicated phase behavior of the multiphase fluids, an equation of State (EOS) based phase package is incorporated into the simulator. Due to the large capillary pressure that exists in the nanopores of ultra-tight shale matrix, the phase package considers the effect of capillary pressure on phase equilibrium calculations. A modified negative-flash algorithm that combines Newton's method and successive substitution iteration (SSI) is used for phase stability analysis under the effect of capillary pressure between oil and gas phases.
In addition, a lower-dimensional discrete fracture and matrix (DFM) model is implemented. The DFM model is based on unstructured gridding, and can accurately and efficiently handle the non-ideal geometries of hydraulic fracture in stimulated unconventional formation. Optimized local grid refinement (LGR) is employed to capture the extremely sharp potential gradient and saturation dynamics in the ultra-tight matrix around fracture.
We apply the developed simulator to study the combined effects of capillary pressure and multicomponent storage and transport mechanisms that are closely associated with the phase behavior and hydrocarbon recovery in gas-condensate shale reservoirs. We present preliminary simulation studies to show the applicability of CO2 huff-n-puff for the purpose of enhanced hydrocarbons recovery. Several design components such as the number of cycles and the length of injection period in the huff-n-puff process are also briefly investigated.