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.
Luo, Haishan (The University of Texas at Austin) | Mohanty, Kishore K. (The University of Texas at Austin) | Delshad, Mojdeh (The University of Texas at Austin) | Pope, Gary A. (The University of Texas at Austin)
Upscaling of unstable immiscible flow remains an unsolved challenge for the oil industry. The absence of a reliable upscaling approach greatly hinders the effective reservoir simulation and optimization of heavy oil recoveries using waterflood, polymer flood and other chemical floods, which are inherently unstable processes. The difficulty in upscaling unstable flow lies in estimating the propagation of fingers smaller than the gridblock size. Using classical relative permeabilities obtained from stable flow analysis can lead to incorrect oil recovery and pressure drop in reservoir simulations.
In a recent study based on abundant experimental data, it is found that the heavy-oil recovery by waterfloods and polymer floods has a power-law correlation with a dimensionless number (named viscous finger number in this paper), which is a combination of viscosity ratio, capillary number, permeability, and the cross-section area of the core. Based upon this important finding as well as the features of unstable immiscible floods, an effective-finger model is developed in this paper. A porous medium domain is dynamically identified as three effective zones, which are two-phase flow zone, oil single-phase flow zone, and bypassed oil (isolated oil island) zone, respectively. Flow functions are derived according to effective flows in these zones. This new model is capable of history-matching a set of heavy-oil waterflood corefloods under different viscosity ratios and injection rates. Model parameters obtained from the history match also have a power-law correlation with the viscous finger number.
The build-up of this correlation contains reasonable physical meanings to quantitatively characterize the upscaled behavior of viscous fingering effects. Having such a correlation enables the estimation of model parameters in any gridblock of the reservoir by knowing the local viscous finger number in reservoir simulations. The model is applied to several heavy-oil field cases with waterfloods and polymer floods with different heterogeneities. Oil recovery in water flooding of viscous oils is overpredicted by classical simulation methods which do not incorporate viscous fingering properly. Simulation results indicate that the new model reasonably differentiates the oil recoveries at different viscous finger numbers, e.g., lower injection rate leads to higher oil recovery. In contrast, classical simulations obtain close oil recoveries under different injection rates or degrees of polymer shear-thinning, which is apparently incorrect for unstable floods. Moreover, coarse-grid simulations using the new model are able to obtain consistent saturation and pressure maps with fine-grid simulations when the correlation lengths are not smaller than the coarse gridblock size. Furthermore, it is well captured by the model that the shear-shinning polymer solution can strengthen the fingering in high-permeability regions due to increased capillary number and viscosity ratio, which is not observed in waterflood. As a whole, the new model shows encouraging capability to simulate unstable water and polymer floods in heavy oil reservoirs, and hence can facilitate the optimization of heavy-oil EOR projects.
The Green River, Utah holds the world's greatest oil shale resources. However, the hydrocarbon, which is namely kerogen, extraction from shales is limited due to environmental and technical challenges. In this study, we investigated the effectiveness of the combustion process for shale oil extraction. Samples collected from the Green River formation were first characterized by X-ray Diffraction (XRD) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). Then, series of dry combustion tests were conducted at different heating rates and wet combustion tests by water addition. The combustion efficiency was enhanced by mixing oil shale samples with an iron based catalyst. The effectiveness of dry, wet, and catalyst added combustion processes was examined by the thermal decomposition temperature of kerogen. Because the conventional oil shale extraction methods are pyrolysis (retorting) and steaming, the same experiments were conducted also under nitrogen injection to mimic retorting. It has been observed that the combustion process is a more efficient method for the extraction of kerogen from oil shale than the conventional techniques. The addition of water and catalyst to combustion has been found to lower the required temperature for kerogen decomposition for lower heating rate. This study provides insight for the optimization of the thermal methods for the kerogen extraction.
Preliminary studies have been done to characterize rock-fluid properties, and flow mechanisms in the shale reservoirs. Most of these studies, through modifying methods used for conventional reservoirs, fail to capture dynamic features of shale rock and fluids in confined nano-pore space. In unconventional reservoirs, interactions between the wall of shale and the contained fluid significantly affect phase and flow behaviors. The inability to model capillarity with the consideration of pore size distribution characteristics using commercial software may lead to an inaccurate oil production performance in Bakken. This paper presents a novel formulation that consistently evaluates capillary force and adsorption using pore size distribution (PSD) directly from core measurements. The new findings could better address differences in flow mechanisms in unconventional reservoirs, and thus lead to an optimized IOR practice.
Once a shale gas condensate reservoir is produced, the reservoir pressure falls below the dew-point pressure, and the condensate liquid will be formed in the pore space; the condensate can then accumulate near the wellbore. This condensate blockage would reduce the gas relative permeability and decrease the gas production. The condensate is formed by the heavy components in reservoir fluid, and these heavy componenets are very valuable economically in the industry. Therefore, operators are seeking ways to maximize condensate recovery from gas-condensate reservoirs.
Huff-n-puff gas injection is an effective approach for enhancing condensate recovery in shale gas condensate reservoirs, as shown by our earlier papers (
In this experimental study, a binary gas condensate mixture was used to investigate the dominant mechanism. The core was saturated with a gas condensate mixture at 2200 psi to simulate the initial reservoir condition. Then, the pressure was depleted to 1500 psi, which was lower than the dew point pressure. During the depletion, the produced gas was collected in a vacuumed gas sample bag. After depletion, the huff-n-puff method was applied. After every cycle of huff-n-puff, the produced gas was collected. GC was used to analyze the compositions of the different gas samples. Also, a CT scanner was used to determine the condensate saturation in the core. From the GC analysis, by comparing the gas sample after primary depletion with the gas sample after the first cycle, it was found that the heavy component-butane increased significantly. This means that most of the heavy components of condensate were revaporized and flew out with the dry gas. This proves the revaporization mechanism of the huff-n-puff gas injection.
Our experiment results show that huff-n-puff was an effective way to enhance the condensate recovery, and revaporization was the main mechanism of huff-n-puff. When the pressure was increased in the huff process, the heavy components were revaporized and flowed out with gas in the puff process. Though in the gas flooding method, the reservoir pressure was also increased, but the near-wellbore pressure was not increased very much in the shale gas reservoirs; thus, heavy components would still be formed near the wellbore. However, in the huff-n-puff method, because of the same well, the pressure near the wellbore would be higher than the dew point pressure in the beginning of production process. Therefore, the heavy component would be recovered with gas. Our GC results visually showed the revaporization mechanism of huff-n-puff in the shale gas condensate.
Achieving maximum oil recovery utilizing CO2 has limitations when operating at, or very close, to the Minimum Miscibility Pressure (MMP) of the CO2 in the oil. A modular source of CO2 would allow Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) flooding of "stranded" and shallow reservoirs. Unfortunately, modular sources of CO2 production often include CO and N2 mixed with the CO2. Thus, testing for EOR application of a mixed gas-containing CO2, N2, and CO was initiated.
Bench scale testing using Rising Bubble Apparatus (RBA), Slim Tubes, and linear core flood have been conducted on oils ranging from 16-42° gravities having viscosities of 0.5-280 cp. All tests were conducted at reservoir temperatures and pressures. CO, being a strong reducing agent, was further tested on reservoir rock containing swelling clays with hydrated ferric hydroxides. Due to the apparent reduction of the ferric hydroxide, and the liberation of its water of hydration, an increase in matrix permeability and clay stabilization, was observed.
For most oils tested, the CO2/CO mixture increased rate of oil recovery by 2-3X, using only 50-60% as much gas/bo as compared to pure CO2. Recovery factors of 80%, at immiscible pressures 30-40% below CO2 MMP, were achieved. Addition of 15% N2 (v/v) to the CO2/CO mixture did not impair oil recovery. Interfacial testing (IFT) of oils, using pure CO, demonstrated a lowering of the IFT. RBA testing of asphaltine-rich heavy oils has shown that a mixture of CO2/CO dissolves into the oil at a far faster rate than either CO2 or CO individually and faster than the sum of both individual gases. A similar test using non-asphaltine type oils did not display this unique characteristic. Slim tube testing suggests that CO facilitates the mobilization of asphaltine-rich heavy oils and lowers viscosity. A linear corefloods of a reservoir containing 5% smectite + illite/smectite + and chlorite demonstrated a 275% increase in matrix permeability. Packed column tests, containing quartz sand and bentonite, demonstrated up to 300-900% increase in permeability in the presence of CO.
Thus a method to recover oil faster, from stranded reservoirs, at pressures below MMP, using significantly less gas, appears possible. In addition the use of CO, either alone or in combination with CO2 and/or N2, has been shown to increase matrix permeability. Such a gas mixture may be beneficial to achieving low pressure EOR from shallow, "stranded" reservoirs, non-conventional shale oil reservoirs, and viscous, heavy oil reservoirs at low temperatures. Incorporation of CO, or CO2/CO, in a frac fluid, or alternately as a post frac cleanup for shale oil and gas applications appears to warrant investigation.
Improved Oil Reocvery (IOR) technologies may offer a new strategy to improve the initial production (IP) and slow the production decline from oil-rich shale formations. Early implementation of chemical IOR technologies largely have been overlooked during strategic planning of unconventional reservoirs. The purpose of this study is to improve understanding of the dynamic processes of oil displacement by surfactants and to investigate mechanism of how surfactants extract oil. A successful conventional surfactant "huff-n-puff' treatment is described with a focus on any relationship between increased oil production and the surfactant soaking period. Surfactant chemistry has been considered as one of a few ultimate IOR solutions. Despite being well proven as effective chemicals to recover oil from convenetional reservoris, surfactants commonly are used in hydraulic fracturing of unconventional reservoris are just to promote flow back of the injected aqueous fluid over a relatively short time frame. In order to better understand the functionality of surfactants for obtaining favorable oil interaction with both the stimulation fluid and rock matrix, a specifically-designed "oil-on-a-plate" (OOAP) setup and procedure is employed to examine the penetration of surfactant into the oil-film that is adhereing to a solid surface. In addition to the well-recognized spontaneous imbibition and surface wettability alternation processes, surfactant also can gradually penetrate and mobilize oil droplets, resulting in improved oil recovert. If properly selected and designed, the surfactant additives in stimulation/fracturing fluids could have multi-functions towards improving both IP and the longer-term oil production. Besides serving as a demulsifier and flowback enhancer to boost IP, the surfactants could continuously lift-up and mobilize adsorbed oil to increase recoverable oil in place.
The use of isenthalpic flash has become of interest for the simulation of some heavy oil recovery processes where large temperature changes are experienced. For these thermal simulations energy can be used as a primary variable. This leads to thousands or millions of individual multiphase isenthalpic flash calculations. Robust and efficient algorithms for multiple-phase isenthalpic flash are required to improve the efficiency of compositional simulations for thermal recovery.
The general framework on state function based flash specifications proposed by
Narrow boiling mixtures can be dealt with in the majority of cases without any significant difficulty. This is true of the direct substitution algorithm and the proposed solution procedure. The vast majority of examples can be solved without using Q function maximisation. The challenges associated with multiphase calculations in the Newton steps are investigated. In particular, inadequate initial estimate of the equilibrium type may lead to non-convergent iteration. This can usually be solved by introduction of a new phase and/or elimination of an existing phase. The speed of the method is analysed for a large number of specifications and is found to be only slightly more expensive than isothermal flash in the majority of cases.
When compared with steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) operations in the McMurray Formation, Athabasca Oil Sands, SAGD projects in the Clearwater Formation at Cold Lake did not perform as expected, likely because of reservoir properties. This paper will use the Orion SAGD case study to: (1) investigate the impacts of reservoir properties on the SAGD thermal efficiency by field evidences; (2) identify key geological parameters influencing each well pad; and (3) summarize major geological challenges for Orion SAGD expansion.
Wireline log data were interpreted to characterize reservoir properties, which were used to build 3D models. 3D visualizations and 2D cross sections of the reservoir revealed spatial distribution and heterogeneity of each property. SAGD production performance was analyzed using: (1) temperature profiles that monitored the growth of the steam chamber; (2) cumulative steam-oil ratios (CSORs); and (3) oil production rates (OPRates), which are direct indicators of thermal efficiency.
Results show that impermeable barriers and low-permeability zones were detrimental to steam injectivity and steam chamber growth, as observation wells in Pilot Pads 1 and 3 did not detect any steam saturation. High-permeability zones favored high steam injectivity and mobility, especially in Pad 105. Steam chambers were irregularly shaped by high shale-content zones, as two sharp spikes displayed on the temperature profile in Pad 103. Low oil-saturation zones and thin net-pays increased the CSORs, as seen in Pads 106 and 104. Impermeable barriers are almost horizontal, making no difference on well pad orientation by their dip angles. Lack of porosity variation made it difficult to identify the impact of porosity on each well pad.
The relatively extensive distribution of impermeable barriers between and above well pairs, as well as the relatively large area of low oil saturation and thin net-pay, were identified as major geological challenges.
As one of the unconventional resources, tight oil has become one of the most important contributor of oil reserves and production growth. The successful commercial production of tight oil is mainly reliant on the advancement in horizontal drilling and multistage hydraulic fracturing technique. Development of tight oil reservoirs remains in an early stage. Primary oil recovery factor in these reservoirs is very low, leaving substantial volume of oil trapped underground due to the low porosity, low permeability characteristic of tight oil reservoirs. Thus, investigation of enhanced oil recovery methods is more than imperative in tight oil reservoirs. CO2 Huff-and-Puff technology has been effectively applied in conventional reservoirs and can be tailored to adapt for the characteristics of tight oil reservoirs.
In this study, the performance of water flooding in tight oil reservoir is studied and compared with that of the CO2 Huff-and-Puff process. Sensitivity analysis demonstrates that the performance of CO2 Huff-and-Puff is more sensitive to the length of gas injection and production step in each cycle, compared to the soaking time. The CO2 Huff-and-Puff process is optimized and an adaptive CO2 Huff-and-Puff process is conducted for tight oil reservoirs after primary production. Simulation results show that the adaptive cycle length CO2 Huff-and-Puff process can improve the incremental oil recovery by 11.1% over a fixed cycle length process. Finally, the inter-well interference during CO2 Huff-and-Puff is studied, and it is found that a multi-well asynchronous CO2 Huff-and-Puff pattern can improve the incremental oil recovery by 31.6% over that of a synchronous pattern.