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.
Wang, D. (University of North Dakota) | Dawson, M. (Statoil Gulf Services LLC) | Butler, R. (University of North Dakota) | Li, H. (Statoil Gulf Services LLC) | Zhang, J. (University of North Dakota) | Olatunji, K. (University of North Dakota)
With the recent dramatic drop in oil price, production from ultra-tight resources, like the Bakken formation, may drop substantially. Since expenditures for drilling, completion, and fracking have already been made, existing wells will continue to flow, but oil rates will decline—rapidly in many cases. In a low oil-price environment, what can be done to sustain oil production from these tight formations?
We are testing a surfactant imbibition process to recovery oil from shales. We measured surfactant imbibition rates and oil recovery values in laboratory cores from the Bakken shale. After optimizing surfactant formulations at reservoir conditions, we observed oil recovery values up to 10–20% OOIP incremental over brine imbibition. However, whether or not surfactant imbibition will be a viable recovery process depends on achieving sufficiently high oil production rates in a field setting—which requires that we identify conditions that will maximize imbibition rate, as well as total oil recovery. In this paper, we describe laboratory evaluations of oil recovery using different core plugs. These recovery studies involved
(1) surfactant formulation optimization on concentration, salinity and pH, (2) characterization of phase behavior, (3) spontaneous imbibition, and (4) forced imbibition (flooding) with gravity drainage assistance.
In preserved cores, we observed: (1) Formulations using 0.1% surfactant concentration at 4% TDS salinity showed favorable oil recoveries (up to 40% OOIP). (2) Generally, surfactant formulations at optimal concentration and salinity were stable at high temperature (115°C). (3) Injectivity/permeability enhancements up to 75 percent occurred after acidification using acetic acid or HCl. (4) Wettability alteration is the dominant mechanism for surfactant imbibition. Of course, actions that increase fracture width will aid gravity drainage and oil recovery. This information is being used to design and implement a field application of the surfactant imbibition process in an ultra-tight resource.
The application of surfactants to improve oil recovery in conventional reservoirs via wettability alteration and enhancement of spontaneous imbibition has been extensively studied in the literature. However, little work has been performed yet to investigate the interaction of these surfactants with ultra-tight oil-rich shale reservoirs such as Wolfcamp shale. The use of horizontal drilling and massive multistage hydraulic fracturing has made primary oil recovery from these ultra-tight oil-rich shale reservoirs possible. With declining production from existing shale wells, it is essential to explore potential "beyond primary" strategies in shale oil development. This paper analyzes the potential of surfactants in altering wettability and improving the process of spontaneous imbibition in oil rich shales demonstrating nanodarcy range permeability, relevant to stimulation and "beyond primary" chemical EOR applications in shales.
Novel proprietary surfactant blends along with traditional nonionic surfactants were investigated in this study using Wolfcamp shale core samples exhibiting nanodarcy permeability. X-ray diffraction analysis was performed which indicated that Wolfcamp shale has mixed mineralogy, with quartz, calcite, and dolomite acting as the major minerals in varying proportions depending on the interval depth. Contact angle and interfacial tension measurements were performed at reservoir temperature to identify the state of native wettability and the impact of surfactants in altering wettability. Thereafter, spontaneous imbibition experiments were performed using 3D computed tomography methods to understand the improvement in the magnitude of imbibition penetration due to surfactant addition. Contact angle and spontaneous imbibition experiments showed that Wolfcamp shale is intermediate-wet and surfactants have the potential to alter the native wettability to a preferentially water-wet state and improve oil recovery due to enhanced spontaneous imbibition.
Surfactants which altered the wettability significantly, but lowered the interfacial tension only slightly showed the highest oil recoveries due to the creation of strong capillary driven forces directly responsible for effective spontaneous imbibition. The potential of surfactants in altering wettability and improving oil recovery via enhanced spontaneous imbibition in ultra-tight oil-rich shales was verified in this study. The effectiveness of traditional nonionic surfactants in altering wettability and improving oil recovery was found to be comparable to that of novel, more expensive proprietary surfactant blends, and hence, the traditional nonionic surfactants provide a cost effective option for stimulation and EOR applications in Wolfcamp shale. Overall, this paper presents the theory behind surfactant interaction with ultra-tight shales and provides experimental results to validate the viability of surfactant induced improved oil recovery in shales.
Low-salinity waterflooding has been portrayed as an effective enhanced-oil recovery technology. Despite compelling laboratory and field evidence of its potential, the underlying mechanisms still remain controversial. In this study, the enhanced-oil recovery mechanisms are investigated considering a distinct interfacial effect, i.e. water-crude oil interfacial viscoelasticity, through analysis of capillary hysteresis. An experimental setup with an oil-wet and a water-wet media on each end face of the core sample was utilized to capture capillary and rock electrical properties hysteresis. Moreover, new improvements over the traditional quasi-static porous plate method were implemented to accelerate measurements. Two experiments were conducted on Minnelusa formation rock samples and TC crude oil, at low temperature (30 °C) and without any significant aging as to minimize wettability alteration. Two core plugs were flooded with high-salinity and low-salinity brines, separately. It is found that the dynamic-static method with a ceramic disk, i.e. a combination of continuous injection in drainage and stepwise quasi-static method in imbibition on short 1" long core samples, allows one to capture the correct envelopes of the capillary pressure curves and save ~ 30% of the total time; a thin membrane is anticipated to save ~90% with respect to traditional quasi-static porous plate method. The capillary hysteresis experiments at low temperature prove that low-salinity brine is able to suppress capillary hysteresis. This is attributed to the formation of a more visco-elastic brine-crude oil interface upon exposure to low-salinity brine, leading to a more continuous oil phase. In addition, we show that wettability plays an essential role on electrical resistivity and the more oil-wet, the more hysteresis occurs, namely that resistivity values in imbibition are higher than those in drainage. The findings in this paper demonstrate that low-salinity waterflooding can still increase oil recovery even in the absence of wettability alteration.
Fracture treatment performance in Bakken shale reservoirs can be improved by altering rock wettability, as measured with contact angle (CA), from oil-wet to water-wet. The use of chemical additives for altering wettability also results in alteration of the interfacial tension (IFT). The Young-Laplace equation relates the capillary pressure to IFT and contact angle. Thus, it follows that capillarity is significant in nano-pores associated with unconventional liquid reservoirs (ULR) and complex as the CA and IFT varies simultaneously. We carefully evaluate these interactive variables to improve oil recovery by alteration of capillary pressure by understanding the wetting state of siliceous and carbonate Bakken cores with and without chemical additives. We have observed that wettability can be altered from the ULR natural state of oil-wet to systems favoring frac fluid imbibition. Surfactants can be added to completion fluids, in proper concentrations, to alter wettability while hydraulic fracturing the formation. This experimental study evaluates and compares the efficiency of anionic, nonionic and blended surfactants as well as complex nanofluids (CNF) on recovering liquid hydrocarbons from Bakken shale cores by analyzing the effect of wettability and IFT alteration and their impact on spontaneous imbibition.
The original wettability of Bakken cores is determined by CA measurements. Then, three surfactant types, anionic nonionic and nonionic-cationic, and CNF are evaluated to gauge their effectiveness in altering wettability. The results show that all surfactants and CNF are able to shift core wettability from oil-wet to water-wet. However, chemical additives efficacy strongly depends on rock lithology, surfactant, and CNF type. Moreover, to evaluate further wettability alteration, stability of surfactant and CNF solution films on the shale rock surface is determined by zeta potential measurements. Surfactants and CNF show higher zeta potential magnitudes than water without additives, as an indication of better stability and water-wetness, which agrees with CA results. In addition, the effect of IFT alteration is studied in solutions with surfactants and CNF, and Bakken crude oil. Higher IFT reduction is achieved by anionic surfactants, but all surfactants and CNF perform better than water alone.
Surfactants and CNF potential for improving oil recovery in ultralow permeability Bakken cores is investigated by spontaneous imbibition experiments using modified Amott cells in an environmental chamber. Using computed tomography (CT) scan methods, water imbibition as penetration magnitude is measured in real time. In addition, oil recovery is recorded with time to compare the performance of surfactants, CNF, and completion fluid alone. The results suggest that surfactants and CNF are better on recovering oil from shale core displacing more oil and having higher penetration magnitudes than water without additives. In addition, oil recovery depends on surfactant and CNF type and rock mineral composition. These findings are consistent with CA, zeta potential, and IFT measurements. From the results obtained, it can be concluded that altering wettability and reducing IFT when surfactants and CNF additives are added to completion fluids can improve oil recovery in Bakken cores.
Polymer flooding can significantly improve sweep and delay breakthrough of injected water, thereby increasing oil recovery. Polymer viscosity degrades in reservoirs with high salinity brines, so it is advantageous to inject low salinity water as a preflush. Low salinity water flooding (LSW) can also improve local displacement efficiency by changing the wettability of the reservoir rock from oil wet to more water wet. The mechanism for wettability alteration for low salinity waterflooding in sandstones is not very well understood, however experiments and field studies strongly support that cation exchange (CE) reactions are the key element in wettability alteration. The complex coupled effects of CE reactions, polymer properties, and multiphase flow and transport has not been explained to date.
This paper presents the first analytical solutions for the coupled synergistic behavior of low salinity waterflooding and polymer flooding considering cation exchange reactions, wettability alteration, adsorption, inaccessible pore volume (IPV), and salinity effects on polymer viscosity. A mechanistic approach that includes the cation exchange of Ca2+, Mg2+ and Na+ is used to model the wettability alteration. The aqueous phase viscosity is a function of polymer and salt concentrations. Then, the coupled multiphase flow and reactive transport model is decoupled into three simpler sub-problems, one where cation exchange reactions are solved, the second where a variable polymer concentration can be added to the reaction path and the third where fractional flows can be mapped onto the fixed cation and polymer concentration paths. The solutions are used to develop a front tracking algorithm, which can solve the slug injection problem where low salinity water is injected as a preflush followed by polymer. The results are verified with experimental data and PennSim, a general purpose compositional simulator.
The analytical solutions show that decoupling allows for estimation of key modeling parameters from experimental data, without considering the chemical reactions. Recovery can be significantly enhanced by a low salinity pre-flush prior to polymer injection. For the cases studied, the improved oil recovery (IOR) for a chemically tuned LSP flood can be as much as 10% OOIP greater than with considering polymer alone. The results show the structure of the solutions, and in particular the velocity of multiple shocks that develop. These shocks can interact, changing recovery. For example, poor recoveries obtained in core floods for small low salinity slug sizes are explained with intersection of shocks without considering mixing. The solutions can also be used to benchmark numerical solutions and for experimental design. We demonstrate the potential of LSP as a cheaper and more effective way for performing polymer flooding when the reservoir wettability can be altered using chemically-tuned low salinity brine.
Wettability of the rock is an important parameter in determining oil recovery. It determines the fluid behavior and the fluid distribution in the reservoir. Aging of the rock changes the wettability of the rock and can affect the residual oil saturation. This paper investigates the effect of aging on the oil recovery during the Water-Alternating-CO2 injection (WACO2) process using 20 in. outcrop Grey Berea sandstone cores under immiscible conditions.
In the present work, two coreflood experiments were performed. Both cores were aged for a period of 30 days at 149°F. This study is a continued research and compares the performance of WACO2 injection in aged cores to previously published work with unaged cores. All experiments were done at 500 psi and in the secondary recovery mode. The wettability of the Rock- Brine-CO2-Oil system for aged cores was determined by contact angle measurements using formation brine (174,156 ppm), seawater brine (54,680 ppm) and low-salinity brine (5,000 ppm NaCl). The interfacial tension (IFT) of the Brine-Oil-N2 and Brine-Oil-CO2 system was also measured using the axisymmetric drop shape analysis (ADSA) method. Computerized tomography (CT) scans were obtained for each core in its various states: dry state, 100% water-saturated state, oil saturated state with irreducible water saturation, and residual oil-saturated state. The CT scans were used to determine the porosity profile of the cores.
The contact angle measurements of the Rock - Brine - CO2 - Oil system indicated an increase in contact angles after the aging of the cores. Low-salinity brine showed the most water-wet state (55°) and seawater brine showed the most oil-wet state (96°) of the rock. This may be because of the increased concentration of divalent ions on the surface of the rock during seawater brine injection. Ion binding is the dominant mechanism in the oil-wet nature of the rock. The previously published work stated that the coreflood experiments of the unaged cores resulted in an oil recovery of 61.7 and 64.6% OOIP during low-salinity water-alternating-CO2 and seawater-alternating-CO2 injection, respectively. In aged cores, the oil recovery increased to 97.7 and 76.1% OOIP during the low-salinity water-alternating-CO2 and seawater-alternating-CO2 injection, respectively. The improved oil recovery was attributed to the wettability alteration when the rock was aged.
The interfacial tension measurements of brine/oil/nitrogen and brine/oil/CO2 systems showed that the salinity of the brine had an effect on the IFT. Low-salinity brine (5,000 ppm) yielded the highest IFT values and seawater brine produced the least. Monovalent ions had a weak effect on the interfacial activity between the oil and the brine. When multivalent ions were present, the IFT values were influenced by the salting effect of the brines. During the IFT measurements of brine/oil/CO2 system, the IFT values showed an increasing trend as a function of time and then stabilized. The increase in IFT was because of the initial mass transfer between the CO2, brine, and oil phases.
Dalmazzone, C. (IFP Energies Nouvelles) | Mouret, A. (IFP Energies Nouvelles) | Behot, J. (IFP Energies Nouvelles) | Norrant, F. (IFP Energies Nouvelles) | Gautier, S. (IFP Energies Nouvelles) | Argillier, J.-F. (IFP Energies Nouvelles) | Chabert, M. (SOLVAY)
A majority of the worldwide oil reserves is contained in carbonate reservoirs. Most of these reservoirs are naturally fractured and produce less than 10% of the oil in place during the primary recovery operations. It is noteworthy that this particularly low recovery ratio is essentially due to a low permeability associated to an intermediate or preferentially oil wettability. Consequently, the recovery of residual oil from these specific reservoirs is a great challenge. Changing the wettability from oil wet to preferentially water wet by using chemicals is one of the EOR technique that may be advantageously used to enhance the production rate. This chemical treatment consists in injecting an aqueous solution of surfactants or chemical additives to increase the water wettability and favour spontaneous imbibition into the porous matrix. We present a new test allowing a fast screening of aqueous solutions of chemicals that may be used to improve oil recovery from carbonate reservoirs. The test consists in depositing a drop of aqueous solution on a porous carbonate slice that has been treated to be preferentially oil wet before being put into dodecane. The evolution of the drop profile is then monitored as a function of time by means of a camera, which permits a simultaneous measurement of the interfacial tension between oil and water, contact angle between the water drop and the porous matrix and spontaneous imbibition. Various types of non-ionic and anionic surfactants belonging to different families have been tested and ranked to identify the best candidates among these chemicals. Finally, a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance technique was used to follow spontaneous imbibitions of selected candidates in miniplugs representative of the carbonate slices used in the screening test. NMR's results confirmed the classification issued from the fast screening test.
A systematic approach to characterize the mixed wet configurations of various reservoir rocks (sandstone and carbonates) by evaluating their surface energy distributions has been presented in this paper. This approach was tested against the macroscopic spatial distribution of oil-wet and water-wet sites and at different temperatures for validation.
The new approach used to characterize the mixed wettability of a reservoir rock pertains to establishing a relation between the volume fraction of the mixed-wet reservoir rocks and surface energy of the mixture. This approach is based on an accurate description of the various physico-chemical interfacial forces present at the reservoir rock surface using Inverse Gas Chromatography (IGC). Mixed-wet configurations of various reservoir rocks are created by combining water-wet and oil-wet samples of the rock in different volume fractions and shaken together to establish uniform distribution. These samples are then subjected to the IGC analysis at different temperatures to deduce their surface energy distribution. The relation developed herein is tested against spatial heterogeneity by combining the oil-wet and water-wet rock samples in a layered fashion to validate the approach. The complete method to deduce the surface energy distribution of a rock surface using IGC has also been explained in detail.
A definite and conclusive relationship between the surface energy and mixed wettability of silica glass beads, calcite, and dolomite samples was established in this study. The mixed-wet configurations of the rock samples ranged from 0% oil-wet (meaning water-wet samples) to 100% oil-wet samples. The findings indicated that the Lifshitz-van der Waals component of the rock mixture did not undergo any change with change in the wetting state of the system under study. However the acid base components showed a marked decrease with increasing oil wetness before plateauing. Temperature was found to have a profound impact on the surface energy of a rock surface. Spatial heterogeneity by way of layered and segregated distribution of oil-wet and water-wet sites did not affect the eventual surface energy distribution thereby validating the new approach.
An important factor during the life of a heavy crude reservoir is the oil mobility. It depends on two factors, oil viscosity and oil relative permeability. Two characteristics of nanoparticles that make them attractive for assisting IOR and EOR processes are their size (1 to 100 nm) and ability to manipulate their behavior. Due to their nano-sized structure, nanomaterials have large tunable specific surface areas that lead to an increase in the proportion of atoms on the surface of the particle, indicating an increasing in surface energy. Nanoparticles are also able to flow through typical reservoir pore spaces with sizes at or below 1 micron without the risk to block the pore space. Nanofluids or "smart fluids" can be designed by tuning nanoparticle properties, and are prepared by adding small concentrations of nanoparticles to a liquid phase in order to enhance or improve some of the fluid properties. However the use of nanoparticles and nanofluids for oil mobility has been poorly studied. Hence, the scope of this work is to present the field evaluation of nanofluids for improving oil mobility and mitigate alteration of wettability in two Colombian heavy oil fields; Castilla and Chichimene. Asphaltenes sorption tests with two different types of nanomaterials were performed for selecting the best nanoparticle for each type of oil. An oil based nanofluid (OBN) containing these nanoparticles was evaluated as viscosity reducer under static conditions. Displacement tests through a porous media in core plugs from Castilla and Chichimene at reservoir conditions were also performed. OBN was evaluated to reduce oil viscosity varying oil temperature and water content. Maximum change in oil viscosity is achieved at 122°F and 2% of nanofluid dosage. The use of the nanofluid increased oil recovery in the core flooding tests, caused by the removal of asphaltenes from the aggregation system, reduction of oil viscosity, and the effective restoration of original core wettability. Two field trials were performed in Castilla (CNA and CNB wells), by forcing 200 bbl and 150 bbl of nanofluid respectively as main treatment within a radius of penetration of ~3 ft. Instantaneous oil rate increases of 270 bopd in CNA and 280 bopd in CNB and BSW reductions of ~11% were observed. In Chichimene also two trials were performed (CHA and CHB), by forcing 86 bbl of and 107 bbl of nanofluid as main treatment within a radius of penetration of ~3 ft. Instantaneous oil rate increases of 310 bopd in CHA and 87 bopd in CHB were achieved not BSW reduction has been observed yet. Interventions were performed few months ago and long term effects are still under evaluation. Results look promising making possible to think extending application of nanofluid in other wells in these fields.