Enhanced oil displacement in a reservoir is highly affected by wettability alterations in conjunction with the lowering of viscosities during steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) for bitumen extraction. The impartation of energy in the form of heat to the fluid by injecting steam triggers an alteration to a more water-wet state during SAGD. However, the presence of three distinct phases in the reservoir has implications for the effective modeling of the complex fluid dynamics. Dependency of the relative permeability endpoints on the temperature realized as a function of the introduction of steam is difficult to model. Optimization of any steam process requires simulation in order to adequately characterize years of flow and so a model that is capable of representing three phase flow is necessary. To obtain this a pseudo-two phase relative permeability is proposed that assumes fractional flow theory is valid and treats the experiments as a waterflood.
In this study, experimental recovery data for two SAGD experiments and one hot water flood are empirically matched by manipulating relative permeabilities. The analytical approach implemented allows for the representation of fluid flow in the reservoir by achieving a pseudo-two phase relative permeability that results in comparable performance to the experiments. Waterflooding techniques were utilized which allowed for the negation of the steam phase in the model and so two-phase flow was established.
The sensitivity of the relative permeability curves to temperature change results in the inability to formulate a generic three-phase curve and so the pseudo-two phase curve is valuable for the purpose of simulation. The methodology presented enables the formulation of a simplified relative permeability that is unique to each process used and in that specific location. The model that was established was validated and proven credible by the good match with the experimentally obtained values.
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.
Alkaline-surfactant-polymer (ASP) flooding of a viscous oil (100 cp) is studied here in a two-dimensional (2D) sand pack. An ASP formulation was developed by studying the phase behavior of the oil with several alkaline-surfactant formulations. The effectiveness of the ASP formulation was validated in a 1D sand pack by conducting a water flood followed by a stable ASP flood. Reservoir sand was then packed into a 2D square steel cell similar to a quarter five-spot pattern. Several ASP floods were then conducted in this 2D cell to study both the displacement and sweep efficiency of ASP floods. First, the polymer concentration was varied to find an optimum polymer concentration. Then the waterflood extent was varied (0–1 PV) after which the ASP flood was initiated. The oil recovery, oil cut, effluent concentration and pressure drop were monitored during the floods. The tertiary ASP flood was very effective in 1D and validated the ASP formulation. The 2D tertiary ASP flood also recovered most of the oil (~98% of OOIP) when the ASP slug viscosity exceeded the oil viscosity, but the pressure gradients were high at ~ 1ft/d injection. When the ASP slug viscosity was lowered to ~1/3 of oil viscosity, oil recovery dropped slightly to 90% OOIP. However, it also decreased the pressure gradient 5 times, which would give good flow rates in the field conditions. As the extent of waterflood preceding ASP got shorter, the oil was recovered faster (for the same pore volumes injected), but the pressure gradient was higher for the ASP flood than the water flood. The ultimate recovery was independent of the extent of waterflood.
Microemulsion properties significantly impact any EOR process that relies on surfactants or soaps to generate ultralow interfacial tension to displace trapped oil. Unfavorable microemulsion viscosity can lead to high chemical retention, low oil recovery, and overall unfavorable performance across all modes. Controlling microemulsion properties is important in conventional approaches like surfactant-polymer (SP) and alkaline-surfactant-polymer (ASP) flooding, in addition to new applications like gravity stable displacements, spontaneous imbibition in fractured carbonates and unstable floods of viscous oil. Despite the central importance, microemulsion viscosity and rheology remain poorly understood.
This paper describes the results of an extensive experimental microemulsion study. We evaluated the effect of polymer on microemulsion viscosity in different microemulsion phase types (i.e. oil in water, bi-continuous, water in oil emulsions). We measured microemulsion viscosities across a broad salinity range for several crudes from light (API >30°) to heavy oils (API<14°) and observed Newtonian rheology for all phase types. The effect of cosolvents on microemulsion viscosity was also evaluated. Finally, we evaluated microemulsions with and without alkali to help understand potential differences between ASP and SP microemulsions.
We include many observations consistent with earlier literature using recently developed surfactants and report the microemulsion viscosity details for many high performance surfactant formulations across a wide range of conditions. We have also describe several observations, including polymer decreasing the required time to achieve equilibrium in microemulsion pipettes and the qualitative change in microemulsion behavior with and without polymer in Windsor Type III microemulsions.
Fortenberry, R. (Ultimate EOR Services) | Delshad, M. (Ultimate EOR Services) | Suniga, P. (Ultimate EOR Services) | Koyassan Veedu, F. (DeGolyer & MacNaughton) | Wang, P. (DeGolyer & MacNaughton) | Al-Kaaoud, H. (Kuwait Oil Company) | Singh, B. B. (Kuwait Oil Company) | Tiwari, S. (Kuwait Oil Company) | Baroon, B. (Kuwait Oil Company) | Pope, G. A. (University of Texas at Austin)
Our team has developed a new simulation model for an upcoming 5-spot Alkaline-Surfactant-Polymer (ASP) pilot in the Sabriyah Mauddud reservoir in Kuwait. We present new pilot simulation results based on new data from pilot wells and an updated geocelluar reservoir model. New cores and well logs were used to update the geocellular model, including initial fluid distributions, permeability and layer flow allocation.
From the updated geocellular model a smaller dynamic sector model was extracted to history match field performance of a waterflood pattern. From the dynamic model a yet smaller pilot model was extracted and refined to simulate the 5-spot ASP pilot.
We used this pilot model to evaluate injection composition, zonal completions, observation well locations, interwell tracer test design and predicted performance of ASP flooding. A sensitivity analysis for some important design variables and pilot performance benchmarks is also included. We used multiple interwell tracer test simulations to estimate reservoir sweep efficiency for both water and ASP fluids, and to help us understand how well operations will affect this unconfined ASP pilot. This work details some crucial aspects of pre-ASP pilot design and implementation.
Production from liquid-rich shale has become an important contributor to domestic production in the United States, but recovery factors are low. Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) methods require injectivity and interwell communication on reasonable time scales. We conduct a feasibility study for the application of recycled lean gas injection to displace reservoir fluids between zipper fracs in liquid-rich shales.
Using new analytical solutions to the Diffusivity equation for arbitrarily-oriented line sources/sinks plus superposition, we analyze the time for inter-fracture communication development, i.e. interference, and productivity index for both classical bi-wing fractures in a zipper configuration and complex fracture networks. We are able to map both pressure and pressure temporal derivative as a function of time and space for production and/or injection from parallel motherbores under the infinite conductivity wellbore and fracture assumption. The infinite conductivity assumption could be later relaxed for more general cases.
We couch the results in terms of geometrical spacing requirement for both horizontal wells and stimulation treatments to achieve reasonable time frames for inter-fracture communication and sweep for parameters typical of various shale plays. We further analyze whether spacing currently considered for primary production is sufficient for direct implementation of EOR or if current practice should be modified with EOR in the field development plan.
Compositional reservoir simulation plays a vital role in the development of conventional and unconventional reservoirs. Two major building blocks of compositional simulation are phase behavior and fluid transport computations. The oil and gas reserves and flow of reservoir fluids are strongly dependent on phase behavior. In conventional reservoirs, capillary pressure is relatively small and is typically ignored in phase behavior calculations. However, large capillary pressure values are encountered in tight formations such as shales; and therefore, its effects should not be ignored in phase equilibria calculations. Neglecting the effects of capillary pressure on phase behavior can lead to an inaccurate estimation of original oil and gas in place as well as recovery performance. In spite of this, the effect of capillary pressure on phase behavior in tight reservoirs has not been well studied using compositional simulation, especially for hydraulically-fractured reservoirs.
In this paper, we develop a new compositional reservoir simulator capable of modeling discrete fractures and incorporating the effect of capillary pressure on phase behavior. Large-scale natural and hydraulic fractures in tight rocks and shales are modeled with a technique called Embedded Discrete Fracture Model (EDFM) where fractures are modeled explicitly without using local grid refinement or an unstructured grid. Flow of hydrocarbons occurs simultaneously within similar and different porosity types. Capillary pressure is considered in both flow and flash calculations, where simulations also include variable pore size as a function of gas saturation in each grid block. We examine the impact of capillary pressure on the original oil in place and cumulative oil production for different initial reservoir pressures (above and below the bubble-point pressure) on Bakken and Eagle Ford fluids. The importance of capillary pressure on both flow and flash calculations from hydraulically fractured horizontal wells during primary depletion in fractured tight reservoirs using Bakken fluid composition is demonstrated.
Phase behavior calculations show that bubble-point pressure is suppressed allowing the production to remain in the single-phase region for a longer period of time and altering phase compositions and fluid properties such as density and viscosity of equilibrium liquid and vapor. The results show that bubble-point suppression is larger in the Eagle Ford shale than for Bakken. When capillary pressure is considered, we found an increase in original oil in place up to 4.1% for Bakken and 46.33% for the Eagle Ford crude. Depending on the initial reservoir pressure, cumulative primary production after one year increases owing to capillary pressure by approximately 9.0 – 38.2% for Bakken oil and 7.2 – 154% for Eagle Ford oil. The recovery increase caused by capillary pressure becomes more significant when reservoir pressure is far below bubble-point pressure. The simulation results with hydraulically fractured wells give similar recovery differences; cumulative oil production after 1 year is 3.5 – 5.2% greater when capillary pressure is considered in phase behavior calculations for Bakken.
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.
The production and transportation of heavy and extra-heavy crude oil are two of the paramount concerns in the oil industry due to the difficulties associated with heavy crude oil high viscosity. One of the most efficient techniques to improve the recovery and the transportability of such oil is to reduce its viscosity through dilution that can be applied solely or via thermal methods.
In the present work, a new type of plant-based diluent is proposed, and its efficacy in heavy oil viscosity reduction for different concentrations, temperatures and shear rates is studied. Various concentrations of diluent, ranging from 5 to 25 wt%, are added to heavy-oil samples with different concentrations of asphaltene and viscosity, ranging from 48000 to 65000 cp in ambient temperature. A rotational viscometer was then employed to the measure viscosity of the prepared samples at the temperature range of 70 to 190°F and a shear rate of 3 to 50 s-1.
The application of the proposed diluent led to promising results in that in caused the viscosity of the heavy oil samples to reduce by 93% in 75°F and 85% in 190°F with 20 wt% of diluent. To compare the performance of the proposed solvent and the common viscosity-reducing solvents, heavy oil samples were diluted with xylene and toluene with the same concentrations. Results indicated that the application of proposed diluent outperformed all of the commonly used solvents in terms of decreasing viscosity. The application of 20 wt% of the proposed diluent led to a 93% viscosity reduction of the heavy oil samples, which is 15% more than efficiency of adding the same concentration of toluene.
The proposed diluent is a plant-based, non-hazardous substitute to the conventional hazardous diluents, e.g., xylene or toluene, that provides more efficient viscosity reduction compared to its conventional alternatives. Its flashpoint is higher than that of light crude resulting in less evaporation at high temperatures thus a longer period of reduced viscosity can be obtained. Furthermore, due to its high flashpoint, the proposed diluent can be employed in thermal methods more efficiently.
Aldhaheri, Munqith N. (Missan Oil Company, Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Wei, Mingzhen (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Bai, Baojun (Missouri University of Science and Technology)
Polymer gels are increasingly applied to improve sweep efficiency of different IOR/EOR recovery processes. Three in-situ polymer gel systems including bulk gels, colloidal dispersion gels, and weak gels are often used to mitigate water production caused by reservoir heterogeneity and unfavorable mobility ratio of oil and injected fluids. Selecting the most appropriate gel system is a key component for a successful conformance improvement treatment. Screening criteria in terms of reservoir and fluid characteristics have been widely used to identify potential technologies for a specific reservoir. Despite the large number of polymer gel projects, only five, limited-parameters, single-agent criteria or surveys have been sporadically accomplished that suffer from many deficiencies and drawbacks.
This paper presents the first complete applicability guidelines for gel technologies based on their field implementations in injection wells from 1978 to 2015. The data set includes 111 cases histories compiled mainly from SPE papers and U.S. Department of Energy reports. We extracted missing data from some public EOR databases and detected potential outliers by two approaches to ensure data quality. Finally, for each parameter, we evaluated project and treatment frequency distributions and applicability ranges based on successful projects. Extensive comparisons of the developed applicability criteria with the previous surveillance studies are provided and differences are discussed in details as well.
In addition to the parameters that are considered for other EOR technologies, we identified that the applicability evaluations of polymer gels should incorporate the parameters that depict roots and characteristics of conformance issues. The present applicability criteria comprise 16 quantitative parameters including permeability variation, mobility ratio, and three production-related aspects. Application guidelines were established for organically crosslinked bulk gels for the first time, and many experts' opinions in the previous criteria were replaced by detailed property evaluations. In addition, we identified that the applicability criteria of some parameters are considerably influenced by lithology and formation types, and thus, their data were analyzed according to these characteristics. Besides their comprehensiveness of all necessary screening parameters, the novelty of the new criteria lies in their ability to self-check the established validity limits for the screening parameters which resulted from the inclusion and simultaneous evaluation of the project and treatment frequencies.