This paper examines oil displacement as a function of polymer solution viscosity during laboratory studies in support of a polymer flood in the Cactus Lake reservoir in Canada. When displacing 1610-cp crude oil from field cores (at 27°C and 1 ft/d), oil recovery efficiency increased with polymer solution viscosity up to 25 cp (7.3 s-1). No significant benefit was noted from injecting polymer solutions more viscous than 25 cp. Much of the paper explores why this result occurred. That is, was it due to the core, the oil, the saturation history, the relative permeability characteristics, emulsification, or simply the nature of the test? Floods in field cores examined relative permeability for different saturation histories—including native state, cleaned/water-saturated first, and cleaned/oil-saturated first. In addition to the field cores and crude oil, studies were performed using hydrophobic (oil-wet) polyethylene cores and refined oils with viscosities ranging from 2.9 to 1000 cp. In nine field cores, relative permeability to water (
A polymer pilot in the 8 TH reservoir in Austria showed promising results. The Utility Factors were below 2 of kg polymer injected / incremental barrel of oil produced (polymer cost are 2 – 4 USD/kg). Furthermore, substantial incremental oil was produced which might result in economic field implementation. The results triggered the planning for field implementation of polymer flooding.
To optimize the economics of field implementation, a workflow was chosen ensuring that the uncertainty was covered. 1200 geological models were generated covering a variety of different geological concepts. These geological models were clustered based on the dynamic response into 100 representative geological realizations and then used for history matching.
For infill drilling, probabilistic quality maps can be used to find locations. However, injection and production well optimization is more challenging. Introducing probabilistic incremental Net Present Value (NPV) maps allows for selection of locations of injection and production well patterns.
The patterns need to be optimized for geometry and operating parameters under uncertainty. The geometry was optimized in a first step followed by operating parameter optimization. In addition, injectivity effects of vertical and horizontal wells due to the non-Newtonian polymer rheology were evaluated. The last step was full-field simulation using the probabilistic NPV map, optimized well distance and operating parameters.
The resulting Cumulative Distribution Function of incremental NPV showed a Probability of Economic Success (PES) of 91 % and an Expected Monetary Value of 73 mn EUR.
Alkaline-surfactant-polymer (ASP) flooding is an effective technique to improve oil recovery. It has been applied typically after a water flood. Recently, there has been a successful field test where an ASP flood was conducted after a polymer flood. Is the ASP flood after a polymer flood more effective than an ASP flood after a water flood? It is difficult to conduct this experiment in exactly the same location in a field. The goal of this study is to answer this question in a laboratory heterogeneous quarter 5-spot model. A heterogeneous quarter 5-spot sand pack of size 10″ × 10″ × 1″ was constructed. Two sands with a permeability contrast of 10:1 were packed into a 2D square steel cell. An alkali-surfactant formulation was identified that produced ultra-low interfacial tension with the reservoir oil (27 cp). In one experiment (WF-ASP), waterflood was conducted first followed by the ASP flood. In a second experiment (PF-ASP), polymer flood was conducted first followed by the ASP flood. The ASP formulation and slug size were kept the same. Secondary water flood of the heterogeneous quarter 5-spot recovered 22% OOIP. Post-waterflood ASP flood recovered 32% OOIP additional oil with a cumulative (WF-ASP) oil recovery of 54%. Secondary polymer flood of the same heterogeneous quarter 5-spot yielded 50% OOIP. Post-polymerflood ASP flood recovered 32% OOIP additional oil with a cumulative (PF-ASP) oil recovery of 82% OOIP. The water flood and the subsequent ASP flood swept a large part of the high permeability region and a small part of the low permeability region. The polymer flood swept all of the high permeability region and most of the low permeability region. The subsequent ASP flood swept the polymer-swept regions. These experiments demonstrate that the polymer flood - ASP flood combination is more effective than the water flood - ASP flood combination.
Dang, Cuong (Computer Modelling Group Ltd.) | Nghiem, Long (Computer Modelling Group Ltd.) | Nguyen, Ngoc (University of Calgary) | Yang, Chaodong (Computer Modelling Group Ltd.) | Mirzabozorg, Arash (Computer Modelling Group Ltd.) | Li, Heng (Computer Modelling Group Ltd.) | Chen, Zhangxin (University of Calgary)
Many attempts have been made to understand, design, and optimize a chemical flooding process; however, the current low oil price environment makes its implementation very challenging from an economics point of view. Recently, CoSolvent Assisted Chemical Flooding (CACF) has been considered as a promising approach to reduce the cost of surfactant-based recovery methods, especially in heavy oil reservoirs. More importantly, recent studies indicated that CACF can be efficiently applied at relatively low temperature, i.e., without the need of steam injection. This helps reduce for the cost of steam generation and injection, and the associated greenhouse gas effects. This paper presents a new development in modeling CACF using an Equation-of-State (EOS) compositional reservoir simulator.
We used a new approach to model the behavior of the oil-water-microemulsion system based on solubility data without modeling type III microemulsion explicitly. The results showed an excellent agreement with numerous chemical coreflooding data and are in agreement with a chemical floodingresearch simulator. The new development presented includes the effects of cosolvent on rheological properties and phase behavior of microemulsion in the CACF process, particularly microemulsion viscosity and interfacial tension.
The proposed model showed good agreement with four published CACF coreflood experiments in which surfactant was not used in alkali and polymer chemical slugs. This model efficiently captures the complex chemical reactionsoccurring in the CACF process, i.e., generation of in-situ soap based on reactions between alkali and a rich acid component in heavy crude oil. The model provides consistent results with laboratory coreflood data at different operating temperatures, which is very important for heavy oil reservoirs. The ultimate recovery factor by CACF coreflooding is about 97%, similar to ASP (Alkali, Surfactant and Polymer) coreflooding, but without the need of surfactant injection.
Large scale polymer flooding projects in heavy oil are now ongoing in several countries and numerous other projects are at the pilot or design stages. However, there is currently no guideline for the maximum acceptable oil viscosity, one of the important parameters in the screening of new projects. Standard screening criteria do not take the latest field results into account and more recent guidelines rely mostly on viscosity averages whereas they should focus on the extreme values instead.
Since the laboratory can only provide little help to settle this issue we propose to examine current field projects for guidance.
To the best of the author's knowledge, the Pelican Lake and the Seal polymer floods, both in Canada, are operating in the highest oil viscosity ranges; moreover, the data is public and can easily be accessed. We have therefore examined the performances of polymer injection in the highest ranges of oil viscosity in both fields to get an understanding of the limits. This involved first the identification of the highest oil viscosity patterns, then the estimation of the live oil viscosity during the polymer flood in these patterns and finally the performances of the polymer flood.
Viscosity measurements are notoriously difficult and not always very reliable in heavy oil and the evaluation of in-situ viscosity is even more difficult; therefore, we used ranges of viscosity rather than definite values. The observations from Pelican Lake and Seal seem in good agreement and suggest that polymer flood is still feasible and can provide an acceleration in production for live oil viscosities up to 10,000-12,000 cp. There is little experience beyond these values, but it appears that for higher ranges of viscosity polymer injection becomes much more difficult; in Seal polymer flood does not appear to be working satisfactorily in oil viscosities above 14,000 cp.
To the best of the author's knowledge, this is the first time that the issue of maximum oil viscosity is investigated in such a manner. Although these results are preliminary and would require further confirmation from other field cases, this paper will provide guidance to engineers screening heavy oil reservoirs for potential application of polymer flood.
Espinosa, David (Chevron) | Walker, Dustin (Chevron) | Alexis, Dennis (Chevron) | Dwarakanath, Varadarajan (Chevron) | Jackson, Adam (Chevron) | Kim, Do Hoon (Chevron) | Linnemeyer, Harold (Chevron) | Malik, Taimur (Chevron) | McKilligan, Derek (Chevron) | New, Peter (Chevron) | Poulsen, Anette (Chevron) | Winslow, Greg (Chevron)
Field deployment of Chemical EOR floods requires monitoring of wellhead injection fluids to ensure field performance is commensurate with laboratory design. Real-time surveillance allows for optimizing chemical use, detecting potential issues, and ensures correct chemical handling. In an offshore setting traditional surveillance methods can present unique challenges due to space constraints, field conditions, and location. We present a novel approach to field surveillance using a portable measurement unit (PMU) that can dynamically characterize polymer rheology, filterability and long-term core-injectivity.
We developed a PMU and placed it inside a suitcase sized box (42x26x20″) with appropriate devices to measure polymer rheology, filterability and long-term core injectivity. Polymer rheology was measured using a series of capillary tubes with pressure measurements. Filterability was measured through a 1.2 um filter at 15 psi with coarse filtration to remove large oil droplets and suspended solids. This was compared against filterability without filtration to observe water quality impact. Finally, long-term injectivity was measured using an epoxy-coated Bentheimer core with a pressure tap to quantify whether there was any face and/or core-plugging. By constructing this apparatus, wellhead injection fluids under anaerobic conditions can be monitored and analyzed to improve fluid quality assurance and contribute to a project's success even in challenging and remote locations.
The use of the PMU is critical for dynamic fluid surveillance. The injection solutions consistently met or exceeded target viscosity of 20 cP. Furthermore, the coarse-filtered solutions also met a filtration ratio (FR) requirements of less than 1.5 at 15 psi through 1.2 micron filters. The unfiltered solutions achieved a FR of 1.75, which was considered acceptable. Finally, no plugging was observed with coarse-filtered solutions after 25 PV across the whole core and > 75 PV across the core face. Further testing was completed with wellhead injectate samples at variable operating conditions to establish a baseline for chemical flooding operations and provided insight for future facilities design.
The information these experiments produced helped identify and diagnose facility and operational issues that would have caused negative consequences with the chemical injection had the configuration been used without the PMU surveillance. By testing the wellhead fluid, we determined that there was improper dosing of the chemical. This was determined by comparing the field fluid properties to expected results from the lab. The data also influenced facilities design and in turn improved the chemical and project efficiency. By testing the injectate at different operating conditions we could determine the operating envelope for the current injection facilities and base future work on the results. All of this was done in real time on an offshore platform, as opposed to sending samples onshore to test which yields unrepresentative results from the time delay and fluid quality changes during transport.
Rodriguez, L. (SNF) | Antignard, S. (SNF) | Giovannetti, B. (SNF) | Dupuis, G. (SNF) | Gaillard, N. (SNF) | Jouenne, S. (Total) | Bourdarot, G. (Total) | Morel, D. (Total) | Zaitoun, A. (Poweltec) | Grassl, B. (Pau University, IPREM)
Most Middle East fieds present harsh reservoir conditions (high temperature, high salinity, low permeability carbonates) for polymers used as EOR mobility control agents. Traditional synthetic polymers such as partially hydrolyzed polyacrylamide (HPAM) are not thermally stable. At temperatures above 60°C, acrylamide moieties hydrolyze to sodium acrylate which ultimately leads to precipitation and total viscosity loss. Thermal stability can be improved by incorporating monomers such as ATBS or NVP.
In a previous paper, we reported the development of terpolymers where incorporation of NVP was shown to provide improved stability up to 120°C. Unfortunately, NVP increases the cost of the polymer and limits its molecular weight. Additionally, NVP also causes drifts in the polymers composition, thereby impairing injectivity in low permeability carbonate rocks. The price of the final product, to achieve a given viscosity, is approximately 3 times higher compared to conventional HPAM polymers and 2 to 2.5 times higher than SPAM polymers (sulfonated polyacrylamide). More recently, we reported the synthesis of NVP-free polymers incorporating different mol precentages of ATBS. The ATBS containing polymers are cheaper than the NVP polymers and enable dosage reductions of up to 50%, to obtain the same viscosity. Additionally, they outperformed the NVP polymers in terms of injectivity and thermal stability, as well as pushed the stability limits from 105-110°C up to 130°C and 140°C in brines withTDS of 230 g/L and 100 g/L respectively.
In this study, we present new data for viscosity and thermal stability of NVP-free polymers optimized in terms of process and molecular weight. In particular, the thermal stability study was completed with NMR spectroscopy and Size Exclusion Chromatography (SEC) analysis to obtain information on the evolution of the chemistry and the molecular weight distribution of the polymers during long-term aging. NMR and SEC analysis reveal that the reduction of the viscosity during aging is due to an evolution of the polymer chemistry (conversion of acrylamide and ATBS units in acrylates) as well as chain scission. The incorporation of ATBS, into the polymer backbone, appears to slow down hydrolysis and limits the viscosity loss. There was no modification of the chemistry observed for the polymer having the highest level of ATBS and any viscosity loss observed is directly related to a decrease in molecular weight.
The optimization of the NVP-free polymers redues the dosage by one third, making them very attractive from an economic standpoint. Both NMR and SEC techniques, have been shown to be efficient tools to understand the mechanism involved in viscosity changes for polymer solutions during long-term thermal aging.
Polymer flooding is a widely used commercial process with a low cost per barrel of produced oil, For this application, hydrolyzed polyacrylamide (HPAM) polymers are the most widely used type of polymer. In an era of low cost oil, it is becoming even more essential to optimize the polymer flooding design under realistic reservoir conditions. The objective of this research was to better understand and predict the behavior of HPAM polymers and their effect on residual oil saturation, in order to improve the capability of optimizing field design and performance. The corefloods were performed under typical field conditions of low pressure gradients and low capillary numbers. The polymer floods of the viscous oils recovered much more oil than the water floods, with up to 24% lower oil saturation after the polymer flood than the water flood. The experimental data are in good agreement with the fractional flow analysis using the assumptions that the true residual oil saturations and end point relative permeabilities are the same for both water and polymer. This suggests that for more viscous oils, the oil saturation at the end of water flood (i.e. at greater than 99% water cut) is better described as ‘emaining’ oil saturation rather than the true ‘esidual’ oil saturation. This was true for all of the corefloods regardless of the core permeability and without the need for assuming a permeability reduction factor in the fractional flow analysis.
Water-based polymers are often used to improve oil recovery by increasing displacement sweep efficiency. However, recent laboratory and field work has suggested these polymers, which are often viscoelastic, may also reduce residual oil saturation. The objective of this work is to investigate the effect of viscoelastic polymers on residual oil saturation in Bentheimer sandstones and identify conditions and mechanisms for the improved recovery. Bentheimer sandstones were saturated with a heavy oil (120cp) and then waterflooded to residual oil saturation using brine followed by an inelastic Newtonian fluid (diluted glycerin). These floods were followed by injection of a viscoelastic polymer, hydrolyzed polyacrylamide (HPAM).
Significant reduction in residual oil was observed for all core floods performed at constant pressure drop when the polymer had significant elasticity (determined by the dimensionless Deborah number,
As polymer injection has not reached the same maturity as waterflooding, implementing polymer injection projects at field scale requires a workflow comprising screening of the portfolio of an organization for oil fields potentially amenable for polymer injection, laboratory and field testing followed by sector- and field implementation and roll-out in the portfolio.
Going through the workflow, not only the subsurface uncertainty is reduced but also the knowledge about the cost structure and operating capabilities of the organization improved.
Analyzing the economics of polymer injection projects shows that costs can be split into polymer injector-producer (polymer pattern) dependent and independent costs. Knowing these costs, a Minimum Economic Number of Patterns (MENP) is defined to achieve Net Present Value zero. This number is used to determine a Minimum Economic Field Size (MEFS) for polymer injection which is taken into account in the screening of the portfolio.
Defining a robustness criterion for economics, the minimum number of patterns for polymer injection meeting this criterion is calculated. This criterion is applied to generate a diagram allowing for screening of fields for polymer economics using pattern dependent and pattern independent costs and Utility Factor.
The cost structure reveals how the NPV of polymer projects changes with number of patterns, incremental oil and injectivity. Injectivity is of particular importance as it determines the Chemical Affected Reservoir Volume (CARV) or speed of production.
A sensitivity analysis of the NPV showed that for the cost structure used here, in addition to the polymer costs, the well costs are important for the economics of a full-field polymer injection project.