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.
Although geochemical reactions are the fundamental basis of the alkaline/surfactant/polymer (ASP) flooding, their importance is commonly overlooked and not fully assessed. Common assumptions made when modeling geochemical reactions in ASP floods include: 1) ideal solution (i.e., using molalities rather than ion activities) for the water and aqueous geochemical species 2) limiting the number of reactions (i.e., oil/alkali and alkali consumptions) rather than including the entire thermodynamically-equilibrated system 3) ignoring the effect of temperature and pressure on reactions 4) local equilibrium ignoring the kinetics. To the best of our knowledge, the significance of these assumptions has never been discussed in the literature. In this paper we investigate the importance of geochemical reactions during alkaline/surfactant/polymer floods using a comprehensive tool in the sense of surfactant/soap phase behavior as well as geochemistry.
We coupled the United States Geological Survey (USGS) state-of-the-art geochemical tool, with 3D flow and transport chemical flooding module of UTCHEM. This geochemical module includes several thermodynamic databases with various geochemical reactions, such as ion speciation by applying several ion-association aqueous models, mineral, solid-solution, surface-complexation, and ion-exchange reaction. It has capabilities of saturation index calculation, reversible and irreversible reactions, kinetic reaction, mixing solutions, inverse modeling and includes impacts of temperature and pressure on reaction constants and solubility products. The chemical flood simulator has a three phase (water, oil, microemulsion) phase behavior package for the mixture of surfactant/soap, oil, and water as a function of surfactant/soap, salinity, temperature, and co-solvent concentration. Hence, the coupled software package provides a comprehensive tool to assess the significance of geochemical assumptions typically imposed in modeling ASP floods. Moreover, this integrated tool enables modeling of variations in mineralogy present in reservoir rocks. We parallelized the geochemistry module of this coupled simulator for large-scale reservoir simulations.
Our simulation results show that the assumption of ideal solution overestimates ASP oil recovery. Assuming only a subset of reactions for a coupled system is not recommended, particularly when a large number of geochemical species is involved, as is the case in realistic applications of ASP. Reservoir pressure has a negligible effect but temperature has a significant impact on geochemical calculations. Although mineral reaction kinetics is largely a function of the temperature and in-situ water composition, some general conclusions can be drawn as follows: to a good approximation, minerals with slow rate kinetic reaction (e.g., quartz) can be excluded when modeling ASP laboratory floods. However, minerals with fast rate kinetic reactions (e.g., calcite) must be included when modeling lab results. On the other hand, in modeling field-scale applications, local equilibrium assumption (LEA) can be applied for fast rate kinetic minerals, whereas kinetics should be used for slow rate kinetic minerals.
Dwarakanath, Varadarajan (Chevron) | Dean, Robert M. (Chevron) | Slaughter, Will (Chevron) | Alexis, Dennis (Chevron) | Espinosa, David (Chevron) | Kim, Do Hoon (Chevron) | Lee, Vincent (Chevron) | Malik, Taimur (Chevron) | Winslow, Greg (Chevron) | Jackson, Adam C. (Chevron) | Thach, Sophany (Chevron)
Polymer flooding by liquid polymers is an attractive technology for rapid deployment in remote locations. Liquid polymers are typically oil external emulsions with included surfactant inversion packages to allow for rapid polymer hydration. During polymer injection, a small amount of oil is typically co-injected with the polymer. The accumulation of the emulsion oil near the wellbore during continuous polymer injection will reduce near wellbore permeability. The objective of this paper is to evaluate the long-term effect of liquid polymer use on polymer injectivity. We also present a method to remediate the near well damage induced by the emulsion oil using a remediation surfactant that selectively solubilizes and removes the near wellbore oil accumulation. We evaluated several liquid polymers using a combination of rheology measurement, filtration ratio testing and long-term injection coreflood experiments. The change in polymer injectivity was quantified in surrogate core after multiple pore volumes of liquid polymer injection. Promising polymers were further evaluated in both clean and oil-saturated cores. In addition, phase behavior experiments and corefloods were conducted to develop a surfactant solution to remediate the damage induced by oil accumulation. Permeability reduction due to long term liquid polymer injection was quantified in cores with varying permeabilities. The critical permeability where no damage was observed was identified for promising liquid polymers. A surfactant formulation tailored for one of the liquid polymers improved injectivity three- to five-fold and confirms our hypothesis of permeability reduction due to emulsion oil accumulation. Such information can be used to better select appropriate polymers for EOR in areas where powder polymer use may not be feasible.
Imqam, Abdulmhsin (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Wang, Ze (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Bai, Baojun (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Delshad, Mojdeh (The University of Texas at Austin)
Preformed particle gels (PPG) have been successfully applied as a plugging agent to solve the conformance problem in fractured reservoirs. They are injected to plug fractures and then divert displacing fluid into poorly swept zones and areas. However, PPG propagation and plugging mechanisms through open fractures have not been studied thoroughly. This paper investigated the influence of some factors (particle size, brine concentration, heterogeneity, injection flow rate, and brine salinity) on gel injectivity and plugging performance for water flow through opening fractures. Five-foot tubes were used to mimic opening fractures. Three models were designed to gain understanding on how fracture geometry and PPG properties affect gel injection and plugging efficiency, including (1) single fracture with uniform fracture width, (2) single fracture with different widths, and (3) two parallel fractures with different width ratios between each other. Results from single uniform fracture experiments showed that PPG injection pressure was more sensitive to gel strength than gel particle size. When large PPG size and high gel strength were used, high injection pressure and large injection pore volume were required for PPG and brine to reach fracture outlets. Results from single heterogeneous fracture model experiments showed PPG injection pressure increased as the fracture heterogeneity in sections increased. Particle gel accumulated at the choke point within each fracture and caused injection pressure to increase accordingly. Furthermore, results showed that having a lower salinity within a fracture, which was less than the brine salinity that was used to prepare PPG, would improve the PPG plugging efficiency for water flow. Parallel fracture models results showed that when weak PPG was used, a large volume of PPG flowed into a large fracture width and a small portion of the gel particle volume flowed into small fracture width. However, with increased gel strength and fracture width ratio, PPG only flowed through larger fracture widths. This paper demonstrates important impact elements of gel propagation and water flow for different opening fracture situations.
Fortenberry, R. (Ultimate EOR Services) | Delshad, M. (Ultimate EOR Services) | Suniga, P. (Ultimate EOR Services) | Koyassan Veedu, F. (DeGolyer & MacNaughton) | Wang, P. (DeGolyer & MacNaughton) | Al-Kaaoud, H. (Kuwait Oil Company) | Singh, B. B. (Kuwait Oil Company) | Tiwari, S. (Kuwait Oil Company) | Baroon, B. (Kuwait Oil Company) | Pope, G. A. (University of Texas at Austin)
Our team has developed a new simulation model for an upcoming 5-spot Alkaline-Surfactant-Polymer (ASP) pilot in the Sabriyah Mauddud reservoir in Kuwait. We present new pilot simulation results based on new data from pilot wells and an updated geocelluar reservoir model. New cores and well logs were used to update the geocellular model, including initial fluid distributions, permeability and layer flow allocation.
From the updated geocellular model a smaller dynamic sector model was extracted to history match field performance of a waterflood pattern. From the dynamic model a yet smaller pilot model was extracted and refined to simulate the 5-spot ASP pilot.
We used this pilot model to evaluate injection composition, zonal completions, observation well locations, interwell tracer test design and predicted performance of ASP flooding. A sensitivity analysis for some important design variables and pilot performance benchmarks is also included. We used multiple interwell tracer test simulations to estimate reservoir sweep efficiency for both water and ASP fluids, and to help us understand how well operations will affect this unconfined ASP pilot. This work details some crucial aspects of pre-ASP pilot design and implementation.
Thrasher, David (BP Exploration) | Nottingham, Derek (BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.) | Stechauner, Bernhard (BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.) | Ohms, Danielle (BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.) | Stechauner, Gerda (BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.) | Singh, Praveen K. (BP America Inc.) | Angarita, Monica Lara (BP Exploration)
Waterflood conformance control due to reservoir heterogeneity is a common challenge to many oilfield developments. This paper describes the application at-scale of a thermally-activated polymer particle system (TAP) for improving waterflood sweep efficiency in the Prudhoe Bay field, Alaska. Since 2004, the technology has been successfully deployed 91 times in Prudhoe Bay Unit on the North Slope of Alaska as part of an approved Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) program. A total of 1.6 million gallons of chemical polymer particles have been injected into approximately half of the available waterflood patterns.
Once the polymer particles activate deep in the reservoir, they provide resistance to water flow in the thief (swept) zones. The treatment design workflow applies a thermal model which accounts for the impact of the temperature distribution in the reservoir on activation of the polymer particles. Challenges associated with performance evaluation of the treatment program in a normal operational setting (as opposed to field trial) have been addressed, particularly in relation to interferences to interpretation resulting from the ongoing application of miscible gas EOR in the waterflood areas.
Of the 44 treatments deployed between 2008 and 2012, 22 were sufficiently mature to have performance data which was not adversely impacted by interferences from well work, changes to operating conditions, or miscible gas breakthrough. So far, only one of the 22 patterns has not indicated an incremental oil response, while in two patterns the response had started too recently to be able to extrapolate the overall response magnitude. The analysis showed overall positive responses from the treatments that are competitive with other well work on cost/bbl and project economics. Results from this study provide insights on key controls on waterflood sweep improvements, and inform future candidate selection and optimization of treatment designs.
The production performance analysis was corroborated by wellhead injectivity, repeat pressure fall-off tests, and reservoir modeling. This paper documents a good case history of waterflood sweep improvement.
Alexis, Dennis (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Varadarajan, Dwarakanath (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Kim, Do Hoon (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Winslow, Greg (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Malik, Taimur (Chevron Energy Technology Company)
Performance of current synthetic EOR polymers is primarily constrained by salinity, temperature and shear which restrict their application to low to moderate salinity, low to moderate temperature and relatively high permeability reservoirs. The primary goal of the current work is to qualify recently developed associative polymers (AP) for EOR applications as well as to study their behavior in porous media. We also compare their performance with conventional non-associative polymers. In this work, we present the evaluation of several associative polymers. Two broad types of associative polymers were tested, one with a partially hydrolyzed poly acrylamide (HPAM) backbone and the other with a sulfonated HPAM backbone. The concentrations of the tested polymer vary between 75 ppm and 1000 ppm. We demonstrate the applicability of these innovative AP's through the carefully controlled lab experiments: (1) Corefloods in sandpacks to compare the sweep behaviors with conventional HPAM's. (2) Single phase flooding experiments are carried out in consolidated outcrop rocks to identify optimal polymer concentrations to achieve the desired in-situ resistance. (3) One dimensional displacement experiments with 8 cP and 90 cP oil are carried out in both unconsolidated and consolidated rocks at different temperatures to validate improved oil recovery. Results generally indicate that associative polymers require lower polymer concentration to generate high resistance factors in porous media and have stable long term injectivity behavior in high permeability rocks (>1D). Associative polymers with HPAM backbone have better filterability and injectivity in comparison to those with HPAM sulfonated backbone in low permeability(<300mD) rocks. Improved oil recovery in high permeability rocks compare well with conventional HPAM and sulfonated HPAM polymers. Based on the laboratory results, we are able to establish the selection baseline for associative polymers in different permeability rocks, salinities and temperatures. Such information can be used to select and screen the appropriate associative polymers, resulting in extending their applicability envelope in EOR.
The polymer pilot project performed in the 8 TH reservoir of the Matzen field showed encouraging incremental oil production. To further improve the understanding of recovery effects resulting from polymer injection, an extension of the pilot is planned by adding a second polymer injector.
Forecasting of the incremental oil production needs to take the uncertainty of the geological models and dynamic parameters into account. We propose a workflow which comprises a geological sensitivity and clustering step followed by a dynamic calibration step for decreasing the objective function to improve the reliability of a probabilistic forecast of the incremental oil recovery.
For the geological sensitivity, hundreds of geological realizations were generated taking the uncertainty in the correlation of the sand and shale layers, logs, cores and geological facies into account. The simulated tracer response was used as dissimilarity distance to classify the geological realizations. Clustering was then applied to select 70 representative realizations (centroids) from a total of 800 to use in the full-physics dynamic simulation.
In the dynamic simulation, an objective function comprising liquid rate and tracer concentration of the back-produced fluids was introduced.
To further improve the calibration, the P50 value of incremental oil production as derived from simulation was compared with the incremental oil production determined from Decline Curve Analysis from the wells surrounding the polymer injection well. The mismatch between the P50 and the Decline Curve Analysis was improved by adjusting polymer viscosity.
The calibrated models were then used to for a probabilistic forecast of incremental oil due to an additional polymer injector and to estimate the expected polymer concentration at the producing wells.
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.
Hou, Binchi (Research Institute of Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum (Group) CO., LTD.) | Liu, Hongliang (China Petroleum Logging TuHa Business Division) | Bian, Huiyuan (Xi'an University of Science and Technology) | Wang, Chengrong (China Petroleum Logging TuHa Business Division) | Xie, Ronghua (Daqing Oilfield CO.LTD., PetroChina) | Li, Kewen (China University of Geosciences(Beijing)/Stanford University)
Capillary pressure and resistivity in porous rocks are both functions of wetting phase saturation. Theoretically, there should be a relationship between the two parameters. However, few studies have been made regarding this issue. Capillary pressure may be neglected in high permeability reservoirs but not in low permeability reservoirs. It is more difficult to measure capillary pressure than resistivity. It would be useful to infer capillary pressure from resistivity well logging data if a reliable relationship between capillary pressure and resistivity can be found. To confirm the previous study of a power law correlation between capillary pressure and resistivity index and develop a mathematical model with a better accuracy, a series of experiments for simultaneously measuring gas-water capillary pressure and resistivity data at a room temperature in 16 core samples from 2 wells in an oil reservoir were conducted. The permeability of the core samples ranged from 9 to 974 md. The gas-water capillary pressure data were measured with confining pressures using a semi-porous plate technique. We developed the specific experimental apparatus to measure gas-water capillary pressure and resistivity simultaneously. The results demonstrated that the previous power law model correlating capillary pressure and resistivity works well in many cases studied. A more general relationship between the exponent of the power law model and the rock permeability was developed and verified using the experimental data.