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.
Aminzadeh, Behdad (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Hoang, Viet (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Inouye, Art (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Izgec, Omer (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Walker, Dustin (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Chung, Doo (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Nizamidin, Nabijan (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Tang, Tom (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Lolley, Chris (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Dwarakanath, Varadarajan (Chevron Energy Technology Company)
Alkali flooding in heavy oil reservoirs is known to stabilize emulsion in-situ and improve the recovery beyond that of conventional waterflood under certain boundary and initial conditions. The overarching goal of this study is to develop a systematic approach to optimize this process and capture underlying recovery mechanisms. Therefore, we experimentally evaluated the performance of alkali flood as a function of emulsion type and viscosity. Phase behavior and viscosity of the microemulsion are modified by introducing seven different surfactants. Microscope imaging techniques are employed to measure the droplet size distribution for type I and II emulsions. Viscosities of generated emulsions are measured with a rotational rheometer at low temperatures and with an electromagnetic viscometer at reservoir conditions. Finally, corefloods are conducted at different conditions to evaluate the performance of displacement as a function of emulsion type and viscosity. Enhanced alkali floods showed an incremental recovery of 8 – 50% beyond that of waterflood. Formation of higher viscosity emulsion has a large contribution on the sweep efficiency and therefore improved oil recovery during alkali flood; however, other mechanisms (e.g. entrainment and entrapment) also have contribute to the incremental recovery. Results of our experiments indicated that the incremental recovery is a strong function of emulsion type, emulsion viscosity, and the droplet size distribution.
Solvent Aided-Steam Flooding (SA-SF) focuses on maximizing the oil production by reducing the economic and environmental challenges created by steam generation. However, the solvent selection is vital due to the interaction of solvents with asphaltenes. Moreover, the polar nature of asphaltenes also enables asphaltene-steam interaction which may result in emulsion formation. This study investigates solvent-asphaltene-steam interaction during SA-SF with low and high molecular weight asphaltene insoluble solvents.
Two different solvents were tested; n-hexane (E1 and E4) and a commercial solvent (CS) (E2 and E5) with four flooding experiments; two miscible flooding (E1 and E2) and two SA-SF (E4 and E5) experiments. Results were compared with steam flooding (E3) experiment. The performance evaluation of different enhanced oil recovery methods was accomplished by comparing the oil recovery rates. The asphaltene content of produced oil samples was determined by standard methods. The asphaltene-steam interaction was analyzed with microscopic images, and the water content of produced oil samples was measured by Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA).
Even though similar cumulative oil productions were obtained by the end of E1 (n-hexane-flooding) and E2 (CS-flooding), the produced oil quality varied due to asphaltene and clay contents. While higher clay content was measured for E1, E2 had a lower quality, due to higher asphaltene contents. This finding is due to the heavy dearomatized hydrocarbons composition of the CS which ranges from C11 up to C16 and enables more asphaltene production. Even though, E5 yielded the highest liquid production among all experiments; the produced liquid was composed of emulsified oil. The solvent aided-steam flooding (SA-SF) experimental results, which have been conducted with n-hexane/steam (E4) and CS/steam (E5) injections, suggest that as the asphaltene content increases in produced oil samples, more hard-to-break emulsions are formed. The unusual stability of these emulsions can be attributed to the nature of the asphaltene present in the produced oil.
From the results presented, it is recommended the use of lower carbon number solvents to leave the larger amounts of asphaltenes in the reservoirs. The solvents differed in their interactions with the asphaltenes present in the oil and with the steam that has a direct impact not only on the quantity of oil produced but the quality as well. Hence, the wise selection of the appropriate solvent cannot be ignored during solvent aided-steam flooding processes.