Skauge, T. (CIPR Uni Research) | Skauge, A. (CIPR Uni Research) | Salmo, I. C. (CIPR Uni Research) | Ormehaug, P. A. (CIPR Uni Research) | Al-Azri, N. (PDO) | Wassing, L. M. (Shell Global Solutions International BV) | Glasbergen, G. (Shell Global Solutions International BV) | Van Wunnik, J. N. (Shell Global Solutions International BV) | Masalmeh, S. K. (Shell Global Solutions International BV)
Polymer injectivity is a critical parameter for implementation of polymer flood projects. An improved understanding of polymer injectivity is important in order to facilitate an increase in polymer EOR implementation. Typically, injectivity studies are performed using linear core floods. Here we demonstrate that polymer flow in radial and linear models may be significantly different and discuss the concept in theoretical and experimental terms.
Linear core floods using partially hydrolyzed polyacrylamides (HPAM) were performed at various rates to determine in-situ viscosity and polymer injectivity. Radial polymer floods were performed on Bentheimer discs (30 cm diameter, 2-3 cm thickness) with pressure taps distributed between a central injector and the perimeter production well. The in-situ rheological data are also compared to bulk rheology. The experimental set up allowed a detailed analysis of pressure changes from well injection to production line in the radial models and using internal pressure taps in linear cores.
Linear core floods show degradation of polymer at high flow rates and a severe degree of shear thickening leading to presumably high injection pressures. This is in agreement with current literature. However, the radial injectivity experiments show a significant reduction in differential pressure compared to the linear core floods. Onset of shear thickening occurs at significantly higher flow velocities than for linear core floods. These data confirm that polymer flow is significantly different in linear and radial flow. This is partly explained by the fact that linear floods are being performed at steady state conditions, while radial injections go through transient (unsteady state) and semi-transient pressure regimes.
History matching of polymer injectivity was performed for radial injection experiments. Differences in polymer injectivity are discussed in the framework of theoretical and experimental considerations. The results may have impact on evaluation of polymer flood projects as polymer injectivity is a key risk factor for implementation.
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.
Jang, Sung Hyun (The University of Texas at Austin) | Liyanage, Pathma Jith (The University of Texas at Austin) | Tagavifar, Mohsen (The University of Texas at Austin) | Chang, Leonard (The University of Texas at Austin) | Upamali, Karasinghe A. N. (The University of Texas at Austin) | Lansakara-P, Dharmika (The University of Texas at Austin) | Weerasooriya, Upali (The University of Texas at Austin) | Pope, Gary A. (The University of Texas at Austin)
The chemical cost to recover an incremental barrel of oil is directly proportional to the surfactant retention, so the single most effective way to reduce the cost is to reduce surfactant retention. The main objective of this research was to demonstrate how surfactant retention could be reduced to almost zero by careful optimization of the chemical formulations for different crude oils. Although surfactant retention has been studied for many years over a wide range of reservoir conditions, its dependence on the rheological behavior of the microemulsion that forms in-situ has not been adequately studied. Thus, in this paper we emphasize the importance of microemulsion rheology and demonstrate how to develop and test formulations with properties that give very low surfactant retention. Novel co-solvents (iso-butanol (IBA) alkoxylates and phenol alkoxylates) were tested in some of the formulations with excellent results. Unlike classical co-solvents used to optimize chemical formulations, the new co-solvents cause only a slight increase in the interfacial tension. A series of ASP corefloods were performed in sandstone cores with and without oil to measure surfactant and co-solvent retention and to elucidate the effects of microemulsion viscosity, salinity gradient, clay content, surfactant concentration and other variables. Dynamic adsorption was measured in cores with the same mineralogy and compared with the retention from oil recovery corefloods to determine the component of the retention due to phase trapping.
Khorsandi, Saeid (The Pennsylvania State University) | Qiao, Changhe (The Pennsylvania State University) | Johns, Russell T. (The Pennsylvania State University) | Torrealba, Victor A. (The Pennsylvania State University)
Reservoir simulation is a valuable tool for assessing the potential success of enhanced recovery processes. Current chemical flooding reservoir simulators, however, use Hand's model to describe surfactant-oil-brine systems even though Hand's model is not predictive, and can fit only a limited data set. Hand's model requires the tuning of multiple empirical parameters using experimental data that usually consist of salinity scans at constant reservoir temperature and atmospheric pressure. Given experimental data supporting the change in microemulsion phase behavior with key formulation properties (e.g. temperature, pressure, salinity, EACN, and overall composition), there is a need for an improved model that can capture changes in these relevant parameters at the reservoir scale. The recent EOS proposed for microemulsion phase behavior (
In this paper, the EOS model with the extension to two-phase regions is incorporated for the first time into the chemical flooding simulators, UTCHEM, and our new in-house simulator PennSim. Hand's model is only used for comparison purposes, and is no longer needed even for flash calculations in the type II- and type II+ regions. The results show excellent agreement between UTCHEM and PennSim both in composition space and for composition/saturation profiles. Further, the HLD-NAC based EOS model and Hand's models are fitted to the same experimental data and the results of these simulations are nearly identical when variations of salinity, pressure and temperature are small. For large gradients, the results of the physics-based EOS deviates from Hand's model, and shows it is critical to incorporate these gradients in recovery predictions at large scale.
Jong, Stephen (University of Texas at Austin) | Nguyen, Nhut M. (University of Texas at Austin) | Eberle, Calvin M. (University of Texas at Austin) | Nghiem, Long X. (Computer Modelling Group Ltd.) | Nguyen, Quoc P. (University of Texas at Austin)
Low Tension Gas (LTG) flooding is a novel EOR process which can address challenging reservoir conditions such as high salinity, high temperature, and tight rock. Current process understanding is limited, and a joint experimental and modeling approach allows for both interpretation and insight into the complex interactions between the key process parameters of salinity gradient, foam strength, microemulsion phase behavior, and phase desaturation in order to achieve a physically correct and predictive process model.
We performed a series of corefloods in high permeability Berea sandstones (~500 mD) to demonstrate the impact of salinity gradient on the LTG process and interactions between key mechanisms such as microemulsion phase behavior and foam stability. In order to provide additional insight into the experimental study and improve understanding of the LTG process, we used our newly developed LTG simulator which we built within CMG GEM.
The results demonstrate that decreasing slug injection salinity can lead to a 15% increase in residual oil in place (ROIP) recovery over a slug injected at optimum salinity, with earlier breakthrough and steeper recovery slope. In addition, there is evidence of a late time pressure buildup as salinity is decreased through mixing with drive salinity which is indicative of increasing foam stability. This may be due to an inverse relationship between oil-water IFT and foam stability and thus designing an optimal salinity gradient for an LTG process requires balancing oil mobilization due to ultralow IFT and effectively displacing mobilized oil with adequate foam mobility control.
We introduce and show the strength our compositional LTG simulator in a pioneering laboratory and simulation study that sheds light on the interaction between salinity, microemulsion phase behavior, and foam strength. Our conclusions indicate a significant departure from traditional ASP understanding and methodology when designing an LTG salinity gradient and serve as a foundation for future investigation.
Tagavifar, Mohsen (The University of Texas at Austin) | Herath, Sumudu (The University of Texas at Austin) | Weerasooriya, Upali P. (The University of Texas at Austin) | Sepehrnoori, Kamy (The University of Texas at Austin) | Pope, Gary (The University of Texas at Austin)
We made measurements of microemulsion rheology with mixtures of oil, brine, surfactant, co-solvent, and in some cases polymer to systematically investigate the effects of salinity, co-solvents and polymers. A microemulsion rheology model was developed and used to interpret the experimental results. We show that the optimum microemulsion-to-oil viscosity ratio is roughly 5 to 6 without co-solvent, but it can be reduced to a more favorable ratio of ~2 by adding co-solvent. Even though the amount of co-solvent needed is case dependent, a clear trend of microemulsion viscosity reduction with increasing co-solvent concentration was observed. Limited evidence suggests that large hydrolyzed polyacrylamide molecules with a narrow molecular weight distribution have negligible partitioning to type II and III microemulsions.
Jin, Luchao (University of Oklahoma) | Budhathoki, Mahesh (University of Oklahoma) | Jamili, Ahmad (University of Oklahoma) | Li, Zhitao (The University of Texas at Austin) | Luo, Haishan (The University of Texas at Austin) | Delshad, Mojdeh (The University of Texas at Austin) | Shiau, Ben (University of Oklahoma) | Harwell, Jeffrey H. (University of Oklahoma)
The surfactant screening process to develop an optimum formulation under reservoir conditions is typically time consuming and expensive. Theories and correlations like HLB, R-ratio and packing parameters have been developed. But none of them can quantitatively consider both the effect of oil type, salinity, hardness and temperature, and model microemulsion phase behavior.
This paper uses the physics based Hydrophilic Lipophilic Difference (HLD) Net Average Curvature (NAC) model, and comprehensively demonstrated its capabilities in predicting the optimum formulation and microemulsion phase behavior based on the ambient conditions and surfactant structures. By using HLD equation and quantitatively characterized parameters, four optimum surfactant formulations are designed for target reservoir with high accuracy compared to experimental results. The microemulsion phase behavior is further predicted, and well matched the measured equilibrium interfacial tension. Its predictability is then reinforced by comparing to the empirical Hand's rule phase behavior model. Surfactant flooding sandpack laboratory tests are also interpreted by UTCHEM chemical flooding simulator coupled with the HLD-NAC phase behavior model.
The results indicate the significance of HLD-NAC equation of state in not only shorten the surfactant screening processes for formulators, but also predicting microemulsion phase behavior based on surfactant structure. A compositional reservoir simulator with such an equation of state will increase its predictability and hence help with the design of surfactant formulation.
Davidson, Andrew (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Nizamidin, Nabijan (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Alexis, Dennis (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Kim, Do Hoon (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Unomah, Michael (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Malik, Taimur (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Dwarakanath, Varadarajan
Low microemulsion viscosity is critical for the success of chemical EOR. Typical microemulsion viscosities are measured using a rheometer and are considered to be static measurements. Given that microemulsions have a propensity to show non-Newtonian behavior, static viscosity measurements are not scalable to dynamic viscosities observed in cores and hence difficult to scale-up to field designs using simulations. We present a technique to measure dynamic microemulsion viscosity using a modified two-phase steady state relative permeability setup. Such dynamic viscosities provide a more practical feel for microemulsion viscosity under reservoir conditions in the pores and allow for selection of low microemulsion viscosity formulations. A two-phase steady state relative permeability setup was used with continuous co-injection of oil and surfactant. A glass filled sand pack was used as a surrogate core and the injection fluids were allowed to equilibrate into the appropriate phases as determined by the phase behavior. For the rapidly equilibrating and low viscosity Winsor Type III formulations three phases are clearly observed in the sand packs. Using the phase cuts in the sand pack/effluent and the known oil and water viscosities, we can estimate the microemulsion viscosity. Both low and high viscosity formulations were tested in corefloods and oil recovery measured to illustrate the importance of low viscosity microemulsions for oil recovery. As expected, the low viscosity microemulsions correlated with higher oil recovery. In addition, the equilibration times to reach Winsor Type III microemulsions were also linked to better oil recovery. For the well behaved formulations that equilibrated in less than 2 days the static microemulsion viscosity correlated well with the dynamic viscosity. The modified steady state relative permeability setup can accurately estimate microemulsion viscosity and allow for better screening of surfactant formulations identified for field flooding. The dynamic microemulsion viscosities can also provide inputs for numerical simulation and better predict microemulsion behavior in the subsurface during field surfactant floods.
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.
A. Nadeeka Upamali, Karasinghe (The University of Texas at Austin) | Liyanage, Pathma Jith (The University of Texas at Austin) | Cai, Jiajia (The University of Texas at Austin) | Lu, Jun (The University of Texas at Austin) | Jang, Sung Hyun (The University of Texas at Austin) | Weerasooriya, Upali P. (The University of Texas at Austin) | Pope, Gary A. (The University of Texas at Austin)
The ability to develop high performance, low cost chemical formulations for chemical EOR involves the use of not only highly efficient surfactants tailored to specific crude oil and reservoir conditions, but also the technical know-how for combining the surfactants and other chemicals to create the best formulation as a complete package. Scientific understanding of how the molecular structures of surfactants and co-solvents affect microemulsion properties greatly speeds up the process of arriving at optimal formulations for enhanced recovery of a specific crude oil in a specific oil reservoir. With the main emphasis on reducing the chemical cost of the formulations, a new slate of novel chemicals, both surfactants and co-solvents, has been developed and shown to have superior performance. We have synthesized and tested new classes of surfactants with different hydrophobe sizes and structures varying from large-medium-short-ultrashort in order to meet the needs of a variety of crude oil requirements. We have also developed ultra-short hydrophobe surfactants (with 2-ethylhexanol hydrophobe) possessing dual surfactant / co-solvent properties. Such duality in performance helps, in some cases, to minimize or altogether offset the use of co-solvents while maintaining low microemulsion viscosities, faster equilibration, and other desirable behavior. Thus, 2-ethylhexanol-propoxy-sulfate was developed as a surfactant that also encompasses co-solvent properties. The novel Gemini surfactants have also been incorporated in formulations and core flood experiments with excellent results. The new co-solvents offer advantages such as short equilibration time for the microemulsion formation and lower microemulsion viscosity. Systematic studies using these new surfactants and co-solvents clearly show that we now have the capability of developing highly robust formulations to meet the needs of a variety of reservoirs, resulting in high oil recoveries with low surfactant retention, which is the key to lowering the chemical costs and improving the economics of chemical enhanced oil recovery.