The Pelican Lake heavy oil field located in northern Alberta (Canada) has had a remarkable history since its discovery in the early 1970s. Initial production using vertical wells was poor because of the thin (less than 5m) reservoir formation and high oil viscosity (600 to over 40,000cp). The field began to reach its full potential with the introduction of horizontal drilling and was one of the first fields worldwide to be developed with horizontal wells. Still, with primary recovery less than 10% and several billion barrels of oil in place, the prize for EOR is large.
Initially, polymer flooding had not been considered as a viable EOR technology for Pelican Lake due to the high viscosity of the oil, until the idea came of combining it with horizontal wells. A first - unsuccessful - pilot was implemented in 1997 but the lessons drawn from that failure were learnt and a second pilot met with success in 2006. The response to polymer injection in this pilot was excellent, oil rate climbing from 43bopd to over 700bopd and remaining high for over 6 years now; the water-cut has generally remained below 60%.
This paper presents the history of the field then focuses on the polymer flooding aspects. It describes the preparation and results of the two polymer flood pilots as well as the extension of the flood to the rest of the field (currently in progress).
Polymer flooding has generally been applied in light or medium gravity oil and even today, standard industry screening criteria limit its use to viscosities up to 150cp only. Pelican Lake is the first successful application of polymer flooding in much higher viscosity oil (1,000-2,500cp) and as such, it opens a new avenue for the development of heavy oil resources that are not accessible to thermal methods.
Two commercial Alkali Surfactant Polymer (ASP) floods became operational in the Taber area of Alberta, Canada in 2006 and 2008. Both of these floods used NaOH as the Alkali. Throughout the course of both projects extreme scale deposition was observed in downhole production equipment, gathering systems, and in the production facility. Early in the life of the floods the scale composition was predominantly calcium carbonate, however over time the scale changed to consist of greater amounts of amorphous silicate.
Scale inhibition and remediation strategies have been developed which include a comprehensive monitoring program, chemical scale inhibition, and mechanical scale prevention techniques. As a result of the large amount of data gathered, models were created to predict scale severity, content, and develop specific mitigation plans. Although clear field wide scaling trends can be identified over the life of these projects, scale mitigation strategies still need to be customized for each well.
Although scale remains an operational challenge in these fields, with proper mitigation procedures it can be managed. This report documents the success in reducing the impact of the scale problem and slowing the depositional rate. When designing ASP floods it is important to plan for scale deposition and be proactive on scale mitigation.
Various techniques of Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) exist and amongst them water and gas injection are the most widely used. It has been shown that combining water and gas injection in a WAG (water alternating gas) scheme can result in additional oil recovery. Interest in WAG injection has increasingly grown in recent times with many reservoirs around the world now under WAG injection.
Numerical simulation of WAG requires reliable three-phase relative permeability and hysteresis data which are normally obtained from models available in commercial simulators. This paper utilizes core-flood experimental data from literature to investigate validity of these models.
The findings from this study provide evidence that different three-phase relative permeability models were found to behave differently giving varying recovery factors in a WAG simulation scheme. While the effect of irreversible hysteresis was studied, it was observed here that imbibition (stage I) and drainage (stage II) processes gave results that deviated from conventional hysteresis. Simulations were run with and without hysteresis for different three phase relative permeability models with different effects observed for the recovery factor.
The results of this work show that a good understanding of the three phase relative permeability model in use is very important for a more robust reservoir simulation model. Also, the effect of irreversible hysteresis in WAG injection should be adequately modelled in order to obtain reliable results. Lastly, the results reveal the importance of optimum WAG ratio for maximizing oil recovery by preventing a gas tongue forming at the top of the reservoir and a water tongue forming at the bottom of the reservoir.
This paper illustrates an innovative field-scale application of injecting condensate gas and recycling gas in Jake field, Sudan. This field has two production series, namely AG condensate gas pools and Bentiu oil pool from bottom to up, with the former 3520 ft. below the Bentiu reservoir and 1695 psi of initial reservoir pressure difference. Bentiu pool of Jake field is a medium crude oil (29 API) pool with strong aquifer support. Well productivity was 500 BOPD. Operator intended to inject high-pressure condensate gas into Bentiu pool to increase field output, whereas was confronted with following challenges: 1) injection of condensate gas in an easy-to-operate wellbore configuration; 2) optimization of injection parameters to achieve highest output; 3) suppress aquifer water breakthrough.
Field scale application had been optimized and implemented since 2010:1) High-pressure condensate gas had been injected into two updip crest Bentiu wells in the same well bore, following a huff-and-puff process, well output amounted 4,000 to 13,800 BOPD under natural flow; 2) 1/4 recycling gas volume from compressors was re-injected into 12 downdip wells at controllable pressure to avoid early water breakthrough; 3) The remaining recycling gas was utilized to gas-lift other five updip wells.
Oil producers were reduced from 19 to 7 comparing to original field development plan, while oil rate ascended from 22,000 to 30,000 BOPD, with watercut dropping to 7% from 15%, achieving a high offtake rate of 6%. Reservoir simulation indicated ultimate recovery factor is expected to be over 50% with such full-field gas injection.
Conclusions drawn from field scale injection of condensate gas and recycling gas were as follows:1) condensate gas injection in the same well bore was technically innovative and operationally robust; 2) recycled gas injection into downdip wells helped detain water breakthrough; 3) field scale application had evidenced outstanding success with high output and high offtake rate.
Chemical EOR projects were very active during 1980?s, however, during 90?s the interest in chemical EOR has fallen due to the low oil prices and also technical challenges that the methods poses. While surfactant flooding has difficult design considerations of chemicals, large capital requirements and is very sensitive to local reservoir heterogeneities, alkali can react strongly with minerals in the connate water and reservoir rocks may adversely impact the process. This complex process is yet to be understood. If the field is offshore, chemical EOR becomes even more challenging due to sophisticated logistics, incremental costs, highly deviated wells, larger well spacing and limited well slots on the platform. However, recently there has been a renewed interest in chemical flooding mainly due to valuable insights gained through chemical floods done in the past and better technical understanding of the processes and favorable economic conditions
For robust production forecasts, various uncertainties due to complex chemical processes should be quantified thoroughly. Some of the important uncertainties for full field production forecasts are chemical adsorption on rock surface, interfacial tension (IFT) and residual oil saturation reduction by chemical. Proper coreflood experiments are critical to reduce these uncertainties. Careful matching of coreflood experiments in numerical simulations is also important which provides key inputs for full field forecast. Another important element in the successful commercial application for chemical EOR process is a well-designed pilot. After the completion of pilot, the results should be carefully matched in the simulation model. Once satisfactory match is obtained, the key step would be to upscale the results to the full field level.
Discussed in this paper are the impact of some of these uncertainties and the method used to reduce them. In this paper the workflow and key tasks in dealing with the simulation of chemical EOR process elements like residual oil saturation, IFT reduction and adsorption parameters are discussed. The results show that the incremental oil is very sensitive to the various simulation inputs.
Humphry, Katherine Jane (Shell Global Solutions International) | van der Lee, Merit (Shell Global Solutions International) | Southwick, Jeff G. (Sarawak Shell) | Ineke, Erik M. (Shell Global Solutions International) | van Batenburg, Diederik W (Shell Global Solutions International)
Workflows to assess the technical and economic suitability of an enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technique for a particular field generally involve laboratory testing, such as core flooding experiments, and field-scale reservoir modelling. When building field scale models and interpreting laboratory experiments it is important to understand the flow properties of all phases present.
Alkali-surfactant-polymer flooding (ASP) is an EOR technique under consideration for a number of Malaysian oil fields. In ASP flooding, surface-active molecules decrease the interfacial tension between water and crude oil, increasing the capillary number, and recovering oil trapped in the reservoir pores. The ultra-low interfacial tensions needed for ASP flooding occur when the surface active molecules are equally soluble in the brine and oil phases. Under these conditions, in addition to the brine and oil phases, a third thermodynamically stable phase is formed. This third phase is known as a microemulsion. While the flow properties of crude oil and polymer-enriched brine are well understood, little has been done to characterize the microemulsion phase, particularly with respect to rheology in porous media.
Here, preliminary measurements of microemulsion rheology are presented. Large volumes of microemulsion, with and without polymer, are generated using model alkali-surfactant (AS) and alkali-surfactant-polymer (ASP) systems. These microemulsions are studied using conventional shear rheology. The viscosities measured using a conventional shear rheometer indicate microemulsion viscosities higher than either the AS(P) solution or decane from which they are comprised. Additionally, an in situ, or apparent, viscosity is recovered from core flooding experiments in Berea sandstone, where pressure drop across the core is recorded as a function of the flow rate of the microemulsion through the core. In situ viscosity measurements in Berea sandstone indicate apparent viscosities 1.5 to 6 times larger than those measured in a conventional shear rheometer. The implication of these results for ASP flooding is discussed.
Factors confronting the application of surfactant flood in high temperature, high salinity carbonate reservoirs include: high concentration of divalent ions in the formation brine, the stability of the surfactant in high thermal environment, surfactant adsorption on carbonate rock fabrics and the effect of high salinity and brine mineral composition on the multiphase system, typically encountered in carbonate reservoirs. For preliminary screening purposes, thermal stability, salinity tolerance and emulsification characteristics are given importance, while the capacity to alter the wettability of the reservoir rock towards a water-wet system is desired.
Several surfactants were screened based on their abilities to address issues of high thermal environment, high salinity effects and capacity to create a water-wet environment. A series of akyl-polyglucoside (APG) surfactants were studied which are established as eco-friendly, renewable, nontoxic and bio-degradable surfactant and one of them found to be suitable for the target carbonate reservoir. An unique approach adopted during the screening process for thermal stability was the analysis of the UV-visible light absorption profile of the surfactants after subjecting them to reservoir condition for specific periods. The APG showed salinity tolerance up to 263,000 ppm at 220 oF. During phase study divalent ions are seen to have considerable impact on the nature of microemulsion (middle phase). Incremental recovery between 19-15% was observed for surfactant flood after secondary waterflood and spontaneous imbibition of aqueous phase was enhanced in the presence of surfactant solution. The recovery was correlated with microemulsion phase behavior and wettability alteration.
CO2 is injected into mature reservoirs for both sequestration and EOR. The effect of CO2 flooding on asphaltene stability has been extensively addressed in literature. In contrast, asphaltene / water interaction has not received much attention in literature.
The objective of the paper is to address the asphaltenic oil recovery by water alternating CO2 injection (WACO2) and asphaltene/ions interaction. Different water compositions, such as synthetic seawater (SSW) and low salinity water (LSW), Na2SO4, MgCl2 ions, and ion free water (DW), are used. SO4-2 and Mg+2 ions were selected based on previous work on their interaction with chalk minerals and modifying the surfaces to more water wet. CO2 is injected in miscible mode within the WACO2 recovery process. For simplicity outcrop cores and model oil were used. Model oil consists of n-C10, 0.35wt% asphaltene (extracted from a Middle East crude oil) and natural surfactant (stearic acid, SA). The effects of water injection rates were also investigatd to address the oil recovery efficiency in the cores and assess the water/oil/rock interaction as a function of injection rates. Imbibition process with various water compositions was tested for cores unflooded and flooded with CO2. This is to address the effect of CO2 on the fluids interaction.
It was shown that higher oil recovery was obtained when Mg+2 solution was used as imbibing fluid after CO2 flooding compared to SO4-2 solution. The opposite was observed without the CO2 flooding where higher recovery was obtained when Na2SO4 solution was used as an imbibing solution compared to that with MgCl2 as imbibing fluid.
Shiau, Bor Jier Ben (University of Oklahoma) | Hsu, Tzu-Ping (University of Oklahoma) | Lohateeraparp, Prapas (University of Oklahoma) | Rojas, Mario R. (University of Oklahoma) | Budhathoki, Mahesh (University of Oklahoma) | Raj, Ajay (University of Oklahoma) | Wan, Wei (University of Oklahoma) | Bang, Sangho (University of Oklahoma) | Harwell, Jeffrey H. (University of Oklahoma)
Reservoirs containing very high total dissolved solids and high hardness make the design of a surfactant polymer (SP) flood extremely difficult because surfactant tends to precipitate and separate under these conditions. Beside divalent ions, Ca2+, Mg2+, presence of iron in the brine can be a challenging issue. Different surfactant formulations are evaluated and incorporate cosurfactants and co-solvents which minimize viscous macroemulsions, promote rapid coalescence under Winsor Type III conditions, and stabilize the chemical solution by reducing precipitation and phase separation. The optimal surfactant formulations were further evaluated in one-dimensional sand packs and coreflood tests using Berea sandstone, reservoir oils, and brines at reservoir temperatures. Using similar injection protocols, 3 pore volumes of surfactant-only system, experimental results show the oil recovery ranging from 45 % to 70% of the residual oil (Sor) after water flooding. The level of surfactant loading is less than 0.5 wt%. A single-well test was conducted to confirm laboratory results in situ in the presence of high-salinity formation water containing 102,300 mg/L total dissolved solids (TDS). The aim of ongoing test is to confirm the effectiveness of the high-salinity surfactant-only formulation (0.46 wt% of surfactant). In this effort, we plan to conduct multiple single-well tests at different wells to minimize the design risks involved for the surfactant pilot test. A pilot test at a sandstone reservoir is scheduled to be performed in July of 2013 to further evaluate the effectiveness of surfactant formulation and address technical issues related to scale-up.
As part of the development planning of an alternating water and gas injection scheme for Enchance Oil Recovery in the Bokor Field, a risk evaluation study was carried out to assess the likelihood of injection gas migration from the reservoir to the
seabed. This hazard was identified as a principal HSE risk to the platform installations by the Bokor Field development team. A work flow was constructed which involved the integration of geological and petrophysical based seal evaluations with
coupled fluid-stress geomechanical modeling of the depletion and injection processes over the life of the field to determine reservoir shale seal efficiency and gas leakage risks due to both hydraulic fracturing and fault reactivation. The coupled
geomechanical modeling process incorporated, not only the resulting pressure changes arising due to depletion and injection within the reservoir, but also utilized a consolidation scheme to model the imposed pore pressure changes within the
overburden arising due to stress transfer, and the subsequent dissipation of these excess pore pressures with time. Evidence of fault related gas migration in the geological past is seen by the presence of a shallow gas cloud identified on seismic data sitting above the crest of the structure. The scope of the study included the evaluation of this cloud on various vintages of seismic from 1976 to 2011 to determine whether the size and geometry of the gas cloud was related to previous field development.
The study clearly demonstrates the application of coupled geomechanical modeling in assessing surface and subsurface risks resulting from field development.