SmartWater flooding through injection of chemistry optimized waters by tuning individual ions is recently getting more attention in the industry for improved oil recovery in carbonate reservoirs. Most of the research studies described so far in this area have been limited to studying the interactions at rock-fluids interfaces by measuring contact angles, zeta potential, and adhesion forces. The other widely reported interfacial tension data at oil-water interfaces do not consider the formation of interfacial monolayer and the interfacial tension is estimated as an average parameter relying on the properties of two individual bulk phases. As a result, such measurements have serious shortcomings to provide any details on complex microscopic scale interactions occurring directly at the interface between crude oil and water to understand the SmartWater flood recovery mechanism.
In this study, two novel interfacial instruments of interfacial shear rheometer and surface potential sensor were used to study microscopic scale interactions of various individual water ions at both air-water and complex crude oil-water interfaces. The measured interfacial rheology data indicated totally different interfacial behavior at crude oil-water interface when compared to air-water interface due to presence of crude oil functional groups. Viscous dominated response was observed at crude oil-water interface for all brine compositions. These interfaces behaved like a viscous fluid without exhibiting viscoelastic solid like properties. Lower interfacial viscous modulus was observed for certain key ions such as calcium, magnesium, and sodium. The interfacial viscous modulus was found to be substantially much higher for sulfates, besides exhibiting some elasticity. The surface potential was gradually decreased by replacing seawater with calcium only brine. The better surface activity with seawater can be attributed to adsorption of more key water ions at the surface.
The interesting results observed with certain water ions at fluid-fluid interfaces are expected to work in tandem with rock-fluids interactions to impact oil recovery in SmartWater flood. At first, they play a role to control the accessibility of active water ions to approach the rock surface, interact with it and subsequently alter wettability. Next oil droplets adhering to the rock surface will be detached and released due to favorable interactions occurring at rock-fluids interfaces. The interfacial film between oil and water can then quickly be destabilized due to less viscous interfaces observed with certain ions to promote drop-drop coalescence and easy mobilization of released oil droplets. This coalescence process is sequential and it would continue until the formation of small oil bank.
This is the first study that showed added importance of fluid-fluid interactions in SmartWater flood by using direct measurements on individual water ions at crude oil-water interface. In addition, a new oil recovery mechanism was proposed by combining both the interactions occurring at fluid-fluid and rock-fluids interfaces. The new fundamental knowledge gained in this study will provide an important guidance on how to synergize water ion interactions at fluid-fluid interfaces with those at rock-fluids interfaces to optimize oil recovery from SmartWater flood.
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.
Waterflood implementation accounts for more than half of the oil production worldwide. Despite the observations and extensive research from a large number of floods and thousands of simulation studies, managing waterfloods and Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) floods is still a technical challenge. A major contributor to this challenge are waterflood induced fractures (WIF). Managing waterfloods is a multivariable problem although WIF are one aspect, it is by no means the only controlling factor.
The best evidence that WIF are one of the main factors controlling flow in reservoirs is the insensitivity of injection pressure to injection rates. With our experience, in hundreds of waterfloods, we have frequently observed this phenomenon in the field data. If fluid flow depended on diffusive Darcy flow alone, we would expect higher injection rates with higher injection pressures. However, it is common to observed relatively constant injection pressures over a wide range of water injection rates. Rapid well communication and changes in water cuts that vary with injection rates also support an interpretation of high permeability induced fractures between injector and producer. In some reservoirs, interwell tracer data can be used to determine the influence of induced fracture features. The interwell tracers usually show very fast water movement.
Induced fractures in waterfloods and EOR projects can be caused by a number of mechanisms such as but not limited to, pressure depletion, changing pressure regimes, thermal effects, or plugging effects. These fractures can either be beneficial to the reservoir performance or effect performance negatively. Benefits include improved injectivity and increased throughput of the displacing fluid. Negative effects can come in the form of reduced volumetric sweep efficiency, impaired ultimate recovery or injected fluid losses out of zone.
Case studies, theory, and available literature from Western Canada will be reviewed in order to suggest and improve reservoir management strategies for waterfloods. We have completed hundreds of waterflood feasibility, waterflood management and EOR flood studies worldwide and continue to be amazed and humbled by the complexity that many waterfloods and EOR floods exhibit due to induced fracturing. WIF and EOR induced fractures (EIF) are common and should be analysed to optimize production. Growth of the WIF, response to waterflood with the presence of WIF, implication of WIF and reservoir management are the main areas which will be addressed.
Okwen, Roland T. (Illinois State Geological Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) | Frailey, Scott M. (Illinois State Geological Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Historically, deep oil reservoirs with temperatures and pressures above the critical point of carbon dioxide (CO2) are generally preferred over shallower reservoirs in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and CO2 storage operations because of high recovery and storage efficiencies associated with miscible floods. As a result, shallower reservoirs containing significant volumes of recoverable resource are generally overlooked. However, basins with relatively low geothermal gradients and high fracture gradients, such as the Illinois Basin, can sustain pressures above the vapor pressure of CO2 where CO2 changes from a gas to liquid. Liquid CO2 has fluid properties similar to that of supercritical CO2 and is more readily miscible with oil.
This study evaluates the EOR potential of low-temperature reservoirs based on the performance of a miscible liquid CO2 flood pilot at the Mumford Hills oil field in Posey County, Indiana. About 7,000 tons (6,350 tonnes) of CO2 were injected into a Mississippian sandstone reservoir over a period of 1 year to demonstrate miscible CO2 EOR in low-temperature oil reservoirs. The reservoir model was calibrated with available historical primary waterflood, and CO2 flood pilot data. The calibrated reservoir model was used to simulate different full-field CO2 EOR development scenarios. The projected oil recovery factors range between 10% and 14%, which compares well to the Permian Basin supercritical CO2 flood recovery range of 8% to 16%.
The oil recovery factors from the simulated scenarios suggest that liquid CO2 floods in low-temperature oil reservoirs can achieve an incremental oil recovery similar to deeper, supercritical CO2 floods. Re-evaluating previously overlooked shallow depleted reservoirs as potential candidates for liquid CO2 EOR provides the opportunity to increase the development of these shallow oil reservoirs available for miscible CO2 flooding
The importance of tuning injection water chemistry for upstream is getting beyond formation damage control/water incompatibility to increase oil recovery from waterflooding and different improved oil recovery (IOR)/enhanced oil recovery (EOR) processes. The water chemistry requirements for IOR/EOR have been relatively addressed in the recent literature, but the key challenge for field implementation is to find an easy, practical, and optimum technology to tune water chemistry. The currently available technologies for tuning water chemistry are limited, and most of the existing ones are adopted from the desalination industry, which relies on membrane based separation. Even though these technologies yield a doable solution, they are not the optimum choice to alter injection water chemistry in terms of incorporating selective ions and providing effective water management for large scale applications. In this study, several of the current, emerging, and future desalination technologies are reviewed with an objective to develop potential water treatment solutions that can most efficiently alter injection water chemistry for SmartWater flooding in carbonate reservoirs.
Standard chemical precipitation technologies, such as lime/soda ash, alkali, and lime/aluminum based reagent, are only applicable for removing certain ions from seawater. The lime/aluminum based reagent process looks interesting, as it can remove both sulfates and hardness ions to provide some tuning flexibility for key ions included in the SmartWater. There are some new technologies under development that use chemical solvents to extract salt ions from seawater, but their capabilities to selectively remove specific ions need further investigation.
Forward osmosis and membrane distillation are the two emerging technologies, and these can provide good alternatives to reverse osmosis seawater desalination for the near-term. These technologies can offer a better cost-effective solution where there is availability of low grade waste heat or steam. The two new desalination technologies, based on dynamic vapor recovery and carrier gas extraction, are well suited to treat high salinity produced water for zero liquid discharge (ZLD). These technologies may not be able to provide an economical solution for seawater desalination. Carbon nanotube desalination, graphene sheet-based desalination, and capacitive deionization are the three potential future seawater desalination technologies identified for the long term. Among these, carbon nanotube based desalination is much attractive, although the technology is still largely under research and development.
This review study results show that there is no commercial technology yet available to selectively remove specific ions from seawater in one step and optimally meet desired water chemistry requirements of SmartWater flooding. As a result, different novel schemes involving selected combinations of chemical precipitation, conventional/emerging desalination, and produced water treatment technologies are proposed. These schemes represent both approximate and improved solutions to selectively incorporate specific key ions in the SmartWater, besides presenting the key opportunities to treat produced water/membrane rejects and provide ZLD capabilities in SmartWater flooding applications. The developed novel schemes can provide an attractive solution to capitalize on existing huge produced water resources in Saudi reservoirs to generate SmartWater and minimize wastewater disposal during field-wide implementation.
San, Jingshan (New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology) | Wang, Sai (New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology) | Yu, Jianjia (New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology) | Lee, Robert (New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology) | Liu, Ning (New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology)
This paper reports the study of the effect of different ions (monovalent, bivalent, and multiple ions) on nanosilica-stabilized CO2 foam generation. CO2 foam was generated by co-injecting CO2/5,000 ppm nanosilica dispersion (dispersed in different concentrations of brine) into a sandstone core under 1,500 psi and room temperature. A sapphire observation cell was used to determine the foam texture and foam stability. Pressure drop across the core was measured to estimate the foam mobility. The results indicated that more CO2 foam was generated as the NaCl concentration increased from 1.0% to 10%. Also the foam texture became denser and foam stability improved with the NaCl concentration increase. The CO2 foam mobility decreased from 13.1 md/cp to 2.6 md/cp when the NaCl concentration increased from 1% to 10%. For the bivalent ions, the generated CO2 foam mobility decreased from 19.7 md/cp to 4.8 md/cp when CaCl2 concentration increased from 0.1% to 1.0%. Synthetic produced water with total dissolved solids of 17,835 ppm was prepared to investigate the effect of multiple ions on foam generation. The results showed that dense, stable CO2 foam was generated as the synthetic produced water and nanosilica dispersion/CO2 flowed through a porous medium. The lifetime of the foam was observed to be more than two days as the foam stood at room temperature. Mobility of the foam was calculated as 5.2 md/cp.
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.
This paper summarizes the current state of the ethane industry in the United States and explores the opportunity for using ethane for enhanced oil recovery. We show both simulation data and field examples to demonstrate that ethane is an excellent EOR injectant.
After decades of research and field application, the use of CO2 as an EOR injectant has proven to be very successful. However, there are limited supplies of low cost CO2 available, and there are also significant drawbacks, especially corrosion, involving its use. The rich gasses and volatile oils developed by horizontal drilling and fracturing in the shale reservoirs have brought about an enormous increase in ethane production. Ethane prices have dropped substantially. In the U.S., ethane is no longer priced as a petrochemical feedstock, but is priced as fuel. Also, substantial quantities of ethane are currently being flared.
Ethane-based EOR can supplement the very successful CO2-based EOR industry in the U.S. There simply isn't enough low-cost CO2 available to undertake all of the potential gas EOR projects in the U.S. The current abundance of low-cost ethane presents a significant opportunity to add new gas EOR projects. The ethane-based EOR opportunity can be summarized as follows; CO2-based EOR works well, and is well understood. Ethane is better than CO2 for EOR. Ethane is simpler than CO2 for EOR. Ethane is now inexpensive, and will likely stay inexpensive. Ethane-based EOR has become a viable option in the Lower 48. Large volumes of low-cost ethane are available. Recent additions to the growing ethane infrastructure now deliver ethane to locations where ethane-based EOR targets are plentiful.
CO2-based EOR works well, and is well understood.
Ethane is better than CO2 for EOR.
Ethane is simpler than CO2 for EOR.
Ethane is now inexpensive, and will likely stay inexpensive.
Ethane-based EOR has become a viable option in the Lower 48. Large volumes of low-cost ethane are available. Recent additions to the growing ethane infrastructure now deliver ethane to locations where ethane-based EOR targets are plentiful.
Enhanced-oil-recovery techniques by gas injection in shale reservoirs have been introduced and investigated. Laboratory and simulation works have shown good results for enhanced shale oil recovery, but one problem with gas injection is asphaltene precipitation and deposition. Damage due to asphaltene precipitation and deposition in conventional reservoirs has been reported in the literature. In shale reservoirs, pore and throat sizes are much smaller than in conventional reservoirs. Thus, large asphaltene aggregates may cause more serious problems in shale reservoirs.
This experimental study used a nanofiltration technique to investigate the size of asphaltene aggregates precipitated during CO2 and CH4 injection in a shale oil sample. Nano membranes of 200nm, 100nm and 30nm were used to filtrate oil samples injected with different mole fractions of CO2 and CH4 gas. The distribution of asphaltene aggregates’ size at different injected CO2 and CH4 concentrations were obtained and compared with the pore size distribution data of shale cores measured by mercury intrusion porosimeters. Results showed that a higher injected CO2 and CH4 concentration caused more asphaltene precipitation and growth in asphaltene aggregates’ size. The precipitated asphaltene particle size was large enough to cause a pore-blocking problem in tested shale cores.
This paper presents the integrated approach for the redevelopment of the waterflood in Howard-Glasscock field located primarily in Howard County, Texas. Originally discovered in 1925, the majority of production is now commingled across the Guadalupe, Glorieta and Clearfork formations. This is a mature field which is currently in the midst of a 5 and 10 acre infill drilling program that began in 2009. Emphasis has primarily been focused on drilling producing wells, but the basis for this project was to optimize an existing waterflood to guide the development strategy of the field moving forward.
A study of the production of the wells drilled since 2009 identified stronger performance in wells with offset waterflood support. On average, waterflood was responsible for a 22% improvement in the expected recovery per well, despite a lack of patterns or a comprehensive waterflood management plan. As a result, a multi-disciplined team was commissioned to design a strategy for the redevelopment of the flood and more active management of the daily operations. Geology and reservoir engineering aspects were used to characterize the reservoir in conjunction with classical waterflood methods to understand the current performance and validate the expectations for secondary recovery.
Fracture orientation was studied based on cases of early breakthrough and was utilized in pattern identification and well placement to maximize sweep and discourage direct communication between injectors and producers. Further, the success of the waterflood in Howard-Glasscock relies on the ability to control the flow of water over a 2,000 foot vertical interval. To address this, the team has implemented a surveillance plan with improved monitoring and communication with the operations team to enhance the collection of data and in order to react to the dynamics of a waterflood. The rapid response to injection observed in this field requires proper surveillance and timely control of water flow which ultimately drives the success of the program by moving water from high water cut intervals to bypassed oil zones.
This paper details the systematic approach that was used to design the redevelopment plan for a waterflood in a 90 year old field. The scope of work is being implemented and represents an adjustment in the development plan of Howard-Glasscock moving forward. Ultimately, the enhanced performance observed in recent drilling programs and the continued success of development in this mature field hinges on understanding and managing the waterflood moving forward.