We present the first comprehensive experimental evaluation of CO2 EOR in organic rich shale. Experiments in preserved core demonstrated the potential of CO2 to extract the naturally occurring oil in organic rich shale reservoirs, whereas tests in re-saturated core plugs were used to compute accurate recovery factors, and evaluate the effect of soak time, operating pressure, and the relevance of slim-tube MMP on recovery. 18 core-flooding experiments were conducted in sidewall cores from different shale plays.
The cores re-saturated with crude oil, were first cleaned by Dean-Stark extraction, and submitted to porosity and compressibility determination. The re-saturation, confirmed by CT-scanning, was attained by aging the core plugs at high pressure for two to four months. In all experiments, glass beads surrounding core samples were used to simulate the proppant and physically recreate in the laboratory a hydraulic fracture connected to the shale matrix. The slim-tube MMP was measured with CO2, and core-flooding experiments were performed below, close to, and above the MMP. The displacement equipment was coupled to a medical CT-scanner that enabled us to track the changes in composition and saturation taking place within the shale cores during the experiments. Continuous CO2 injection and huff-and-puff were evaluated using soak time from zero to 22 hours. Fixed reservoir temperature was used in all the experiments.
Recovery factors ranged from 1.7 to 40%. The wide variation was the result of different experimental conditions for pressure and soak time. Both operational parameters were found to significantly affect the recovery. Increasing soak time at constant pressure consistently resulted in significant increase in recovery. The increase varied from 78 to 464% for different pressures and oil composition. Similarly, increasing operating pressure at constant soak time resulted in significant increase in recovery factor from 44 to 338% depending on soak time and oil composition. Unlike the typical response during CO2 EOR in conventional rocks, in organic rich shale, further pressure increases beyond the slim-tube MMP continued to increase the recovery factor significantly. In all runs, almost all oil recovery occurred within three days from the start of the experiment, and in all huff-and-puff tests the highest rate of recovery was observed in the first cycle, implying oil recovery with CO2 is a fast process, in comparison to oil re-saturation of the samples which occurs at a significantly slower rate.
This investigation demonstrates CO2 EOR is a technically feasible method to extract significant amounts of crude oil from organic rich shale reservoirs and it provides operational understanding of how to manage pressure and soak time to maximize recovery. The recovery factors obtained in this investigation, in the context of the vast reserves of crude oil contained in organic rich shale, can sustain a second shale revolution and further capitalize oilfield infrastructure.
This paper examines a priori equation to describe recovery factors of EOR processes in oil shale plays. The existing studies imply promising future for implementing gas cyclic injection through hydraulically fractured wells completed in shale plays; the EOR agent (a mixture of HC gas or CO2) is injected and after a soaking period, the well is put back on production. However, translation of lab-scale EOR results to field-scale is yet to be resolved. Dynamic penetration volume (DPV) controls the amount of contacted oil by the EOR agent (fluid-fluid interface), slowly grows with
We use a combination of modeling, theoretical, and experimental work to investigate potential recovery loss in well-scale compared to recovery measured in the lab-scale. In our formulation, the recovery in pilot-scale is defined as the product of recovery in lab-scale by field factor. Recovery in lab-scale is a function of pressure drawdown during production (choke effect). Choke-size controls how fast the mixture of gas and vaporized oil components will be produced back after soaking time.
Field factor entails two parameters that control how much of in-situ liquid hydrocarbon can potentially interact with EOR agent; basically, field factor is evaluated as a fraction of reservoir volume prescribed within inter-well spacing accessible to the EOR agent when injection process begins. Field factor is calculated as a product of fraction of stimulated reservoir volume (SRV) accessible to EOR agent (DPV/SRV) at any given time by fraction of reservoir volume stimulated during fracturing; SRV is controlled by the efficiency of fracturing treatment. The pore connectivity loss can occur because of the physical closure of flow path at the fracture-matrix interface and/or two-phase blockage. The limiting two phase phenomena that can potentially prevent the injected gas from getting into pore space because of capillary forces.
Our results suggest that recovery in the pilot-scale can be significantly reduced owing to pore connectivity loss (a factor of two). The pore connectivity is reduced as pore pressure decreases and effective stress increases. We evaluate change of fluid conductivity under stress and differentiate contribution of pore connectivity loss and pore shrinkage. Moreover, our results suggest that chokes size effect observed in the experiments can be explained by loss of pore connectivity.
For the first time, an equation is presented to upscale the EOR results obtained in lab-scale to pilot-scale. The outcome is expected to help operators with the pilot-test performance evaluations.
The recovery factor of Eagle Ford shale is estimated around six percent, which means that considerable amount of oil will be left behind after primary production. A major technique to enhance oil production in Eagle Ford could be gas injection since waterflooding is not plausible. This paper presents a novel inhouse multi-component, multi-phase, dual-porosity numerical model including molecular diffusion. This model evaluates ethane-rich gas EOR schemes to recommend on the injection mechanisms and maximize the production performance in support of field design and applications.
There is a great interest to develop an enhanced oil recovery technique for the unconventional shale reservoirs to increase its oil production beyond the primary production. The model, we present, was developed to address this issue while adhering to the thermodynamic complexities of the confined space, which includes crossing the phase boundaries during phase evolution, the wall effects in efficient and computationally robust procedures. It also determines the effect of molecular diffusion on transport mechanisms. The analysis of production data from Eagle Ford wells is used in conjunction with the simulation results to evaluate the increase in recovery after gas injection.
To model the flow for both primary and enhanced recovery, an appropriate model involving advective flow and molecular diffusion is needed since Darcy flow is by no means the dominant flow mechanism considering the average pore throat size measured in Eagle Ford formation. One major requirement for the process is providing adequate residence time to the injected gas for molecular diffusion to take place across the matrix-fracture interface. The simulation results demonstrate that the ethane-rich produced gas injection as an enhanced oil recovery mechanism will improve the production. In particular, an increase of at eleven percent in cumulative oil production is achieved. Furthermore, we present the usefulness of the formulation in analyzing pressure and rate variation with time as well as forecasting future performance of unconventional reservoirs.
In this paper, we present a new compositional diffusivity model which determines the appropriate injection mechanisms using different gas injection scenarios for the field applications in Eagle Ford. Our method provides a better understanding of the physical phenomena of fluid flow processes in unconventional reservoirs which affect the reservoir performance for both primary and enhanced recovery.
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.
The goal of this work is to develop surfactant systems that can improve oil flow from shale wells after fracturing or re-fracturing. Surfactants can reduce oil-water interfacial tension and wettability of the shale, which in turn can improve water imbibition, increase oil relative permeability and reduce water blockage at the matrix-fracture interface. Temperature in typical shale reservoirs are high and the surfactants need to be aqueous stable to be effective in these treatments. Mixing two surfactants often gives higher aqueous stability than those of the single surfactants. A large number of surfactants (anionic, non-ionic and cationic) and their blends were studied for aqueous stability, contact angle and spontaneous imbibition. Seven single surfactants and nine surfactant blends were found to be stable in both high and low salinity brines at 125 °C. All aqueous stable blends changed wettability of oil-wet shale to preferentially water-wet in both high and low salinity brines. Seven single surfactants and five surfactant blends were tested for imbibition. Surfactant solutions improved water imbibition to the extent of 20% PV. Surfactant blends improved imbibition more than the single surfactants. Imbibition in cores reached a plateau in about 3 days. Surfactant blends have the potential to be used in low salinity fracturing or refracturing fluids to stimulate shale wells.
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.