Khodaparast, Pooya (Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering and EMS Energy Institute, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park) | Johns, Russell T. (Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering and EMS Energy Institute, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park)
Surfactant floods can attain high oil recovery if optimum conditions with ultra-low interfacial tensions (IFT) are achieved in the reservoir. A new equation-of-state (EoS) phase behavior model based on the hydrophilic-lipophilic difference (HLD-NAC) has been shown to fit and predict phase behavior data continuously throughout the Winsor I, II, III, and IV regions. The state-of-the-art for viscosity estimation, however, uses empirical non-predictive models based on fits to salinity scans, even though other parameters change, such as the phase number and compositions. In this paper, we develop the first-of-its-kind microemulsion viscosity model that gives continuous viscosity estimates in composition space. This model is coupled to our existing HLD-NAC phase behavior EoS.
The results show that experimentally measured viscosities in all Winsor regions (two and three-phase) are a function of phase composition, temperature, pressure, salinity, and
Current HLD-NAC theory and most simulators represent multicomponent mixtures with three lumped components, where the excess phases are also assumed pure. This can cause significant errors, and discontinuities in chemical flooding simulation for surfactant mixtures. We coupled the HLD-NAC and pseudo-phase models to develop an EOS for microemulsions where surfactant, polymer, alcohol, alkali and monovalent/divalent ions can partition differently into the excess phases and microemulsion phase as temperature and pressure are changed.
We develop a pseudo-phase model to calculate partitioning of components between lumped components or namely pseudo-phases. The pseudo-phase model is based on a transformed composition space. The partitioning model is based on different mechanisms such as cation exchange like reactions for ions and surfactant hydration properties. Next, the three-pseudo-component HLD-NAC EOS is used to calculate curvature of the interface and microemulsion phase composition based on pseudo-phases. That is, the microemulsion phase consists of a curved ruled surface between water and oil pseudo-phases. Polymer partitioning is updated based on micelle radius. Finally, the phase compositions are converted back from pseudo-phase space to the original composition space.
This model is the first comprehensive and mechanistic flash calculation algorithm based on HLD-NAC and pseudo-phase theory to calculate microemulsion properties for mixtures without the assumption of pure excess phases. This algorithm allows for modeling of the chromatographic separation of surfactant, soap, alcohol, alkali and polymer components in chemical flooding processes. Current microemulsion models usually ignore the differing partitioning of components between excess and microemulsion phases, generating discontinuities that slow computational time and adversely impact accuracy.
Aqueous foam has been demonstrated through laboratory and field experiments to be a promising conformance control technique. This study explores the foaming behavior of a CO2-soluble, cationic, amine-based surfactant. A distinguishing feature of this surfactant is its ability to dissolve in supercritical CO2 and to form Wormlike Micelles (WLM) at elevated salinity. Presence of WLM led to an increase in viscosity of the aqueous surfactant solution. Our study investigates how the presence of WLM structures affect transient foam behavior in a homogenous porous media (sand pack).
Sand pack foam flooding experiments were performed with two aqueous phase salinities: low salinity (15 wt. % NaCl) associated with spherical-shaped micelle and high salinity (20 wt. % NaCl) associated with WLM. We compared the onset of strong foam propagation and foam apparent viscosity buildup rate between the two salinity cases. The effect of WLM presence in transient foam behavior was investigated for co-injection and water-alternating-gas (WAG) injection strategies. In all foam flooding experiments, the surfactant was delivered in the CO2 phase.
Strong foam was generated in all foam flooding experiments, with an apparent foam viscosity of at least 600 cp for co-injection and 200 cp for WAG floods after five total injected pore volumes. The observed strong foam indicated that the delivery of surfactant in the CO2 phase was successful and that the surfactant molecules partition to the water phase in the sand pack. In comparison to the low salinity cases, the high salinity foam floods associated with the presence of WLM led to better foam performance. We observed an earlier onset of strong foam propagation as well as a higher apparent viscosity buildup rate. Better foam performance at higher salinity may be attributed in large part to the presence of WLM structures in the foam liquid phase. Entanglement of these WLM structures may have led to in-situ viscosification of the foam liquid phase and an increase in disjoining pressure between foam films. Both phenomena may have reduced the rate of foam film coalescence.
WLM structures behave similarly to polymer molecules. Our study may offer evidence that WLM is a valid alternative to polymer as an additive to enhance foam conformance control performance. Some potential advantages of WLM over polymer include: Delivery of surfactant in the gas phase (to alleviate the injectivity issue typically associated with high viscosity polymer-surfactant solution), resistance to extreme temperature and salinity, and reversible shear degradation.
Alkaline-surfactant-polymer (ASP) flooding is an effective technique to improve oil recovery. It has been applied typically after a water flood. Recently, there has been a successful field test where an ASP flood was conducted after a polymer flood. Is the ASP flood after a polymer flood more effective than an ASP flood after a water flood? It is difficult to conduct this experiment in exactly the same location in a field. The goal of this study is to answer this question in a laboratory heterogeneous quarter 5-spot model. A heterogeneous quarter 5-spot sand pack of size 10″ × 10″ × 1″ was constructed. Two sands with a permeability contrast of 10:1 were packed into a 2D square steel cell. An alkali-surfactant formulation was identified that produced ultra-low interfacial tension with the reservoir oil (27 cp). In one experiment (WF-ASP), waterflood was conducted first followed by the ASP flood. In a second experiment (PF-ASP), polymer flood was conducted first followed by the ASP flood. The ASP formulation and slug size were kept the same. Secondary water flood of the heterogeneous quarter 5-spot recovered 22% OOIP. Post-waterflood ASP flood recovered 32% OOIP additional oil with a cumulative (WF-ASP) oil recovery of 54%. Secondary polymer flood of the same heterogeneous quarter 5-spot yielded 50% OOIP. Post-polymerflood ASP flood recovered 32% OOIP additional oil with a cumulative (PF-ASP) oil recovery of 82% OOIP. The water flood and the subsequent ASP flood swept a large part of the high permeability region and a small part of the low permeability region. The polymer flood swept all of the high permeability region and most of the low permeability region. The subsequent ASP flood swept the polymer-swept regions. These experiments demonstrate that the polymer flood - ASP flood combination is more effective than the water flood - ASP flood combination.
Mukherjee, Biplab (The Dow Chemical Company) | Patil, Pramod D. (The Dow Chemical Company) | Gao, Michael (The Dow Chemical Company) | Miao, Wenke (The Dow Chemical Company) | Potisek, Stephanie (The Dow Chemical Company) | Rozowski, Pete (The Dow Chemical Company)
Steam injection is a widespread thermal enhanced oil recovery (EOR) method to increase oil mobility. The introduction of steam heats the reservoir, ultimately lowering oil viscosity and in turn enhancing heavy oil recovery. In the steam injection process, recovery of oil is limited by steam channeling due to reservoir heterogeneities. Early breakthrough implies that there is a large consumption of steam and incomplete reservoir drainage. Injection of surfactant with steam and a non-condensable gas such as nitrogen can generate foam
In this paper, a systematic approach to screen surfactants for field applications at high temperature is presented. A feasibility test was conducted with the surfactant formulation (HSF-X) at target reservoir conditions to understand the thermal stability and adsorption behavior of the surfactant. Investigation found that the thermal decomposition and adsorption of the surfactant on sandstone rock under static conditions was mimimum at 200°C. In core flood testing conducted using silica sand and natural sandstone cores, foam generated by injecting N2 and HSF-X surfactant solution was able reduce steam mobility between 40 to 100 times at 100°C and 10 to 15 times at 200°C more compared to steam mobility in the absence of the foam. Finally oil recovery experiments at 200°C using silica sand cores indicated the ability of the HSF-X surfactant to foam in the presence of oil and enhance recovery of oil (a +20% increase in the original oil in place (OOIP) was observed).
This paper summarizes BP's Alaskan viscous oil resource appraisal strategy to de-risk viscous oil resource progression with a goal to improve recovery factor by 10%. A key to recovery improvement is application of improved oil recovery/enhanced oil recovery (IOR/EOR) methods. However, even after detailed studies, moving to the next stage including field pilots is not always easy in the mature and remote Alaskan North Slope.
The paper also covers BP's Alaskan viscous oil technology strategy, extraction technologies selection, simulation and analytical studies, laboratory studies, and field trials for various shortlisted methods. A comprehensive study strategy conducted for progressing chemical EOR processes is discussed. The paper also addresses the challenges of obtaining new core and fluid samples for laboratory studies and logistical and economic considerations for field trials due to location and weather conditions in this part of the world.
Higher stability of the bulk and dynamic foam with polymer addition to the aqueous phase has been demonstrated experimentally. Recent experiments indicated that the efficacy of polymer enhanced foam (PEF) is dependent on polymer type and surfactant-polymer interaction. However, numerical modeling of PEF flow in porous media has been relatively less well understood due to the additional complexity. In this work, we propose modifications to the population-balance foam model for PEF modeling, and their successful use in matching the experimental results.
The population-balance model proposed by Chen and co-workers has been used as development platform. Upon reviewing various aspects in the physics of foam generation, coalescence and mobility reduction in porous media with the addition of polymer, a modified population-balance model was proposed with new parameters pertaining to the polymer effect on the net foam generation and the limiting capillary pressure. The new model was implemented and used to history match foam coreflood experiments with and without polymer.
In addition to the foam apparent viscosity increase due to higher viscosity of the aqueous phase, polymer also impacts foamability and foam stability of bulk foam as indicated in the literature. Our modified population-balance model introduce the viscosity terms in foam generation and coalescence coefficients to account for postulated positive impact on reducing liquid drainage and foam coalescence and negative impact on the characteristic time needed for bubble snap-off in porous media. Additionally, a modification in the limiting capillary pressure was proposed in the new model to include the polymer effect based on our analysis of the disjoining pressure. Two new model parameters are proposed and implemented accordingly. The new foam model succeeded in history-matching the anionic-surfactant-based and nonionic-surfactant-based PEF corefloods with different types of polymers through tuning the two new model parameters. The simulations also captured the transient increasing of the pressure drops induced by polymer transport and adsorption. The proposed model can be used to provide meaningful values of the model parameters that were able to explain the physical mechanisms behind the PEF floods and to guide future experimental design to further constraint the choices of model parameters.
This work provided new methodology to model PEF flow in porous media using the mechanistic population-balance approach for the first time. With proper calibrations of the parameters proposed in the model, the new model can therefore be used to simulate PEF EOR processes to describe the combined effect of foam and polymer on the mobility control of the injectants.
The objective of this research was to develop a model to predict the optimum phase behavior of chemical formulations for a given oil based on the molecular structure of the surfactants and co-solvents. The model is sufficiently accurate to provide a useful guide to an experimental testing program for the development of chemical EOR formulations. There are thousands of combinations of surfactants and co-solvents that could be tested for each oil, so even approximate predictions are very useful in terms of reducing the time and effort required for testing and for prioritizing the chemical combinations to test that are most likely to yield ultra-low IFT at reservoir conditions. The effects of changing molecular structures (e.g. swapping head groups, swapping hydrophobes, increasing the length of hydrophobes, increasing the number of PO and EO groups, adjusting the ratios of surfactants) are shown. The variables with the greatest impact on the optimum salinity and solubilization ratio were identified, and methods are proposed to shift the optimum salinity and the optimum solubilization ratios in any desired direction. The structure-property model was developed and tested using a large dataset consisting of 684 microemulsion phase behavior experiments using 24 oils. The chemical formulations used 85 surfactants and 18 co-solvents in various combinations. Both optimum salinity and optimum solubilization ratio (and thus IFT) are modeled whereas other models have focused almost exclusively on the optimum salinity. Predicting the optimum solubilization ratio is actually of more value because of its relationship to IFT. The models include the effects of co-solvent partitioning, soap formation and the molecular structure of both the surfactants and co-solvents.
Pinnawala Arachchilage, Gayani W. P. (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Spilker, Kerry K. (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Tao, Emily Burdett (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Alexis, Dennis (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Linnemeyer, Harold (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Kim, Do Hoon (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Malik, Taimur (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Dwarakanath, Varadarajan (Chevron Energy Technology Company)
Conducting surfactant phase behavior experiments above 100°C is challenging and requires specialized methods to minimize health and safety risks. Shifts in optimal salinity can be correlated to temperature. However, data above 100°C is sparse and the correlations have not been extensively validated above 110°C. In addition, aqueous stability changes with temperature and is often not characterized. We systematically present shifts in optimal salinity and aqueous stability with temperature and use results from both experiments to optimize co-solvent concentrations at high temperatures
Fredriksen, S. B. (University of Bergen) | Alcorn, Z. P. (University of Bergen) | Frøland, A. (University of Bergen) | Viken, A. (University of Bergen) | Rognmo, A. U. (University of Bergen) | Seland, J. G. (University of Bergen) | Ersland, G. (University of Bergen) | Fernø, M. A. (University of Bergen) | Graue, A. (University of Bergen)
An integrated enhanced oil recovery (IEOR) approach is presented for fractured oil-wet carbonate reservoirs using surfactant pre-floods to alter wettability, establish conditions for capillary continuity and improve tertiary CO2 foam injections. Surfactant pre-floods, prior to CO2 foam injection, alter the wettability of fracture surface towards weakly water-wet conditions to reduce the capillary threshold pressure for foam generation in matrix and create capillary contact between matrix blocks. The capillary connectivity transmits differential pressure across fractures and increases both mobility control and viscous displacement during CO2 foam injection. Outcrop core plugs were aged to reflect conditions of an ongoing CO2 foam field pilot in West Texas. A range of surfactants were screened for their ability to change wetting state from oil-wet to water-wet. A cationic surfactant was the most effective in shifting the moderately oil-wet cores towards weakly water-wet conditions (from an Amott-Harvey index of - 0.56 ± 0.01 to 0.09 ± 0.02), and was used for pre-floods during IEOR. When applying a surfactant pre-flood in a fractured core system, 32 ± 4% points OOIP was additionally recovered by CO2 foam injection after secondary waterflooding. We argue the enhanced oil recovery is attributed to the surfactant successfully reducing the capillary entry pressure of the oil-wet matrix providing capillary continuity and enhancing volumetric sweep during tertiary CO2 foam injection.