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 (
Yu, Wei (Texas A&M University) | Zhang, Yuan (China University of Geosciences Beijing) | Varavei, Abdoljalil (The University of Texas at Austin) | Sepehrnoori, Kamy (The University of Texas at Austin) | Zhang, Tongwei (The University of Texas at Austin) | Wu, Kan (Texas A&M University) | Miao, Jijun (SimTech LLC)
The effectiveness of CO2 injection as a Huff-n-Puff process in tight oil reservoirs with complex fractures needs to be investigated due to the fast decline of primary production and low recovery factor. Although numerous experimental and numerical studies have proven the potential of CO2 Huff-n-Puff, relatively few numerical compositional models exist to comprehensively and efficiently simulate and evaluate CO2 Huff-n-Puff considering CO2 molecular diffusion, nanopore confinement, and complex fractures based on an actual tight-oil well. The objective of this study is to introduce a numerical compositional model with an embedded discrete fracture model (EDFM) method to simulate CO2 Huff-n-Puff in an actual Eagle Ford tight oil well. Through non-neighboring connections, the EDFM method can properly and efficiently handle any complex fracture geometries without the need of local grid refinement (LGR) nearby fractures. Based on the actual Eagle Ford well, we build a 3D reservoir model including one horizontal well and multiple hydraulic and natural fractures. Six fluid pseudocomponents were considered. We performed history matching with measured flow rates and bottomhole pressure using the EDFM and LGR methods. The comparison results show that a good history match was obtained and a great agreement between EDFM and LGR was achieved. However, the EDFM method performs faster than the LGR method. After history matching, we evaluated the CO2 Huff-n-Puff effectiveness considering CO2 molecular diffusion and nanopore confinement. The traditional phase equilibrium calculation was modified to calculate the critical fluid properties with nanopore confinement. The simulation results show that the CO2 Huff-n-Puff with smaller CO2 diffusion coefficients underperforms the primary production without CO2 injection; nevertheless, the CO2 Huff-n-Puff with larger CO2 diffusion coefficients performs better than the primary production. In addition, both CO2 molecular diffusion and nanopore confinement are favorable for the CO2 Huff-n-Puff effectiveness. The relative increase of cumulative oil production after 7300 days with CO2 diffusion coefficient of 0.01 cm2/s and nanopore size of 10 nm is about 12% for this actual Eagle Ford well. Furthermore, when considering complex natural fractures, the relative increase of cumulative oil production is about 8%. This study provides critical insights into a better understanding of the impacts of CO2 molecular diffusion, nanopore confinement, and complex natural fractures on well performance during CO2 Huff-n-Puff process in the Eagle Ford tight oil reservoirs.
The Niobrara and Codell in the Wattenberg Field of the Denver-Julesburg Basin (DJ Basin)have been in the centerstage of horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing ever since 2007. Based on the current well completion strategy, oil rates drop to 20 bbl/day/well in five years of primary production. The cumulative primary production in the first five years amounts to 3%. Nonetheless, a substantial amount of producible hydrocarbon still remains. In this paper, we propose a most feasible enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technique for the Niobrara and Codell and other similar unconventional oil reservoirs. Realizing the unavailability of CO2 in the area while having easy access to methane, ethane, propane and butane, we designed an injecting gas consisting of ethane enriched with methane, propane and butane for EOR. A dual-porosity compositional model was constructed using data from seismic, well logs, core analysis, and production performance. After successful history matching, as well as verification with seismic and microseismic interpretations, a producer with five years of production history was converted to an EOR-gas injector in the numerical model. We used the model to determine the optimal injection gas composition for producing the largest amount of oil. We also studied the contribution of molecular diffusion at the fracture-matrix interface for the incremental oil recovery from gas injection. Model results indicate that converting three producers to injector wells, and producing from the remaining eight producers, yielded total oil recovery of 4.68% in fifteen years of production with 13% of which attributed to gas injection EOR.
We present the first comprehensive experimental evaluation of CO2 EOR in organic rich shale. Experiments in preserved core demonstrated the potential of CO2 to extract the naturally occurring oil in organic rich shale reservoirs, whereas tests in re-saturated core plugs were used to compute accurate recovery factors, and evaluate the effect of soak time, operating pressure, and the relevance of slim-tube MMP on recovery. 18 core-flooding experiments were conducted in sidewall cores from different shale plays.
The cores re-saturated with crude oil, were first cleaned by Dean-Stark extraction, and submitted to porosity and compressibility determination. The re-saturation, confirmed by CT-scanning, was attained by aging the core plugs at high pressure for two to four months. In all experiments, glass beads surrounding core samples were used to simulate the proppant and physically recreate in the laboratory a hydraulic fracture connected to the shale matrix. The slim-tube MMP was measured with CO2, and core-flooding experiments were performed below, close to, and above the MMP. The displacement equipment was coupled to a medical CT-scanner that enabled us to track the changes in composition and saturation taking place within the shale cores during the experiments. Continuous CO2 injection and huff-and-puff were evaluated using soak time from zero to 22 hours. Fixed reservoir temperature was used in all the experiments.
Recovery factors ranged from 1.7 to 40%. The wide variation was the result of different experimental conditions for pressure and soak time. Both operational parameters were found to significantly affect the recovery. Increasing soak time at constant pressure consistently resulted in significant increase in recovery. The increase varied from 78 to 464% for different pressures and oil composition. Similarly, increasing operating pressure at constant soak time resulted in significant increase in recovery factor from 44 to 338% depending on soak time and oil composition. Unlike the typical response during CO2 EOR in conventional rocks, in organic rich shale, further pressure increases beyond the slim-tube MMP continued to increase the recovery factor significantly. In all runs, almost all oil recovery occurred within three days from the start of the experiment, and in all huff-and-puff tests the highest rate of recovery was observed in the first cycle, implying oil recovery with CO2 is a fast process, in comparison to oil re-saturation of the samples which occurs at a significantly slower rate.
This investigation demonstrates CO2 EOR is a technically feasible method to extract significant amounts of crude oil from organic rich shale reservoirs and it provides operational understanding of how to manage pressure and soak time to maximize recovery. The recovery factors obtained in this investigation, in the context of the vast reserves of crude oil contained in organic rich shale, can sustain a second shale revolution and further capitalize oilfield infrastructure.
Over the last decade, unconventional resources like the Bakken formation have revolutionized the petroleum industry, but they have only produced by primary mechanisms, and recovery factors have remained low. The need for IOR processes is clear, but there has only been minor work in this area and no commercial field applications. Flow simulation models can be used to test different methods without interrupting field operations, but models have had a poor track record for unconventional IOR, partly because there is little field injection information to validate the models. In this work, we history matched the model to an IOR injection pilot location in Mountrail County, North Dakota that included both water and gas injection tests.
A county sized geologic model was previously constructed based upon available core, log and geologic information. The model allows for easy extraction of smaller segments for flow simulation. For the current study, a segment around the pilot injection area was isolated. The injection well and two offset producing wells were included in the model. Fluids were added into the model based on a nearby PVT report, and the hydraulic fracturing was captured with a dual permeability grid. The model was matched to the historical production and injection data. At the offset wells, breakthrough times, water cuts and gas oil ratios were also reproduced by changing the fracture and matrix properties.
By matching the injection data, the interwell connectivity is reproduced, which should improve predictions from the model. Various situations were then tested with the model including both gas and water injection scenarios. In the actual field pilot, gas was only injected for two months in the injection well, and there was only a minor response. In one scenario, therefore, we injected into all three wells in a huff-n-puff manner for ten years, and the results showed significant additional oil recovered – 30% more than the primary recovery. In other scenarios, water was injected in both a continuous and huff-n-puff manner. The continuous case had early breakthrough and poor sweep, but the huff-n-puff injection case indicated that oil rates would increase almost as much as the best gas injection cases.
This work shows that by reproducing the field injection data in unconventional reservoirs, more realistic models are created. We evaluated a large number of scenarios, and some of them did not show any increase in oil production, but the models that did show an increase helped us identify IOR techniques that have a better chance of success in the Bakken, which will improve designing the much needed next generation of field pilot tests.
This paper describes the use of advanced completions employing passive inflow control devices (ICD) and autonomous inflow control devices (AICD) in multi-zone horizontal wells to improve the distribution of gas injection and to restrict premature production of gas in gas injection soak EOR process for unconventional oil wells.
The recovery efficiency of unconventional oil reserves is very low due to the micro-permeability of these reservoirs and rapid depletion of pore pressure proximal to the fractures and wellbore. Several enhanced oil recovery schemes have been proposed to stimulate production and increase recovery efficiency in these reservoirs by injecting gas or carbon dioxide in fracture stimulated, long horizontal wells, and either producing oil from adjacent wells (gas injection flooding drive mechanism), or by back-producing the injectant and reservoir fluids in the same wellbore after a suitable "soak" period (huff and puff).
The effective distribution of the injected gas in these wells and the ability to keep the gas in the reservoir to maintain energy can greatly affect the recovery efficiency that can be achieved. Advanced completions utilizing appropriately designed ICDs and AICDs can enhance the performance of these EOR schemes.
ICDs can be used to balance the distribution of gas injection along the length of the wellbore, while AICDs can help control the early back-production of gas. The Autonomous Inflow Control Device (AICD) is an active flow control device that delivers a variable flow restriction in response to the properties (viscosity) of the fluid flowing through it. Water or gas flowing through the device is restricted more than oil. When used in a horizontal well, segmented into multiple compartments, this design prevents excessive production of gas after breakthrough occurs in one or more compartments.
The implementation of advanced completions in EOR applications has been studied by reservoir and well performance simulation. This proper use of ICDs and AICDs in these applications can significantly improve recovery efficiency without further well intervention.
To evaluate the performance of the AICD, a comprehensive multi-phase flow model of the autonomous performance has been developed and workflow created for simulation of performance within the reservoir. This paper will describe the experience with the technology and modelling prediction for EOR projects.
Kazempour, Mahdi (Nalco-Champion, an Ecolab Company) | Kiani, Mojtaba (Nalco-Champion, an Ecolab Company) | Nguyen, Duy (Nalco-Champion, an Ecolab Company) | Salehi, Mehdi (Nalco-Champion, an Ecolab Company) | Lantz, Mike (Nalco-Champion, an Ecolab Company)
In recent years, the United States (US) has experienced a resurrection in hydrocarbon recovery owing to the extraction of oil and gas from unconventional resources. Due to the ultra-low permeability nature of these reservoirs and their oil-wet characteristics, oil production declines are steep and oil recoveries remain very low (< 12% of OOIP). This challenge endures even with the assistance of hydraulic fracturing advancements and well spacing optimizations. The billions of barrels of remaining oil is a good target for chemical enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technologies.
In this study, after comprehensive laboratory testing, a series of customized chemical formulations was developed to improve oil recovery under the challenging conditions of the Middle Bakken and Niobrara formations (temperature >110 °C, salinity>220,000 ppm, and hardness>15,000 ppm). To examine the performance of the selected formulation in the field-scale, a single well enhancement trial was carried out. A detailed review of the lab and field data (pre-and post-treatment) is discussed in this study. Oil rate decline analysis and numerical simulations were used to obtain more insight about the true effectiveness of the chemical treatments. The results of this field trial reveal that injecting a proper wettability altering agent can improve oil recovery from shale oil reservoirs by up to 25% of the estimated ultimate recovery (EUR). The results of numerical simulations also show that the additional oil recovered in this field trial cannot be achieved by either well shut-in or straight water injection.
The lessons learned from this study provide practical information to optimize similar field trial designs leading to more profitable projects. The concepts and information here can be also translated to other unconventional basins and gas condensate or wet/dry gas reservoirs.
The wettability of tight reservoir rock plays a critical role in affecting relative permeability and in turn oil recovery. However, the link between wettability and its effects on oil recovery remains poorly understood, and the potential to boost oil recovery by varying the wettability has not been fully explored. This work was an attempt to conduct a systematic experimental study to improve our understanding of wettability of tight oil reservoirs and the mechanisms of its alteration on oil recovery improvement. Contact angles of individual rock-forming minerals and reservoir rock samples were first measured in brines with different salinities. Then the minerals were aged separately with a medium crude oil with sufficient polar components to investigate their tendency for wettability alteration. As well, oil and water distributions inside tight core samples were scanned by a synchrotron-based computed tomography scanner. Contact angle measurements for all minerals and reservoir rocks showed initial water-wetting behavior. After aging with crude oil for over two months, polar components from the oil adsorbed onto the solid surfaces to alter their wettability to less water wet. Consequently, this wettability alteration contributed to oil and water redistribution and saturation change in reservoir cores.
The experimental findings suggested that the wettability in tight reservoirs is a strong function of rock mineralogy, formation fluid properties, and saturation history. Preliminary numerical simulation revealed how rock wettability alteration could contribute to improved oil recovery through waterflooding.
Alfarge, Dheiaa (Iraqi Ministry of Oil, Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Wei, Mingzhen (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Bai, Baojun (Missouri University of Science and Technology)
Improved Oil Recovery (IOR) techniques in Unconventional Liquids Rich Reservoirs (ULR) are still a new concept because there is no commercial project for any IOR technique so far. Carbon dioxide (CO2) based EOR technique has been effectively applied to improve oil recovery in the tight formations of conventional reservoirs. Extending this approach to unconventional formations has been extensively investigated over the last decade because CO2 has unique properties which make it the first option of EOR methods to be tried. However, the applications and mechanisms for CO2-EOR in unconventional reservoirs would not necessarily be the same as in conventional reservoirs due to the complex and poor-quality properties of these plays.
Since the first CO2-EOR huff-n-puff project was conducted in conventional reservoirs in Trinidad and Tobago in 1984, more than 130 additional projects have been put in operation around the world, mainly located in USA, Turkey, and Trinidad and Tobago. In this study, we combined Decline Curve Analysis (DCA) for the production data of these projects with numerical simulation methods to produce one typical graph accounts for the main mechanisms controlling CO2-EOR performance in conventional reservoirs. On the other hand, we have couple of CO2-EOR huff-n-puff pilot tests conducted in Bakken formation between 2008 and 2016. Two engineering-reversed approaches have been integrated to produce a unique type curve for the performance of CO2-EOR huff-n-puff process in shale oil reservoirs. Firstly, a numerical simulation study was conducted to upscale the reported experimental-studies outcomes to the field conditions. As a result, different forward diagnostic plots have been generated from different combinations for CO2 physical mechanisms with different shale-reservoirs conditions. Secondly, different backward diagnostic plots have been produced from the history match with CO2 performances in fields’ pilots performed in some portions of Bakken formation located in North Dakota and Montana. Finally, fitting the backward with the forward diagnostic plots was used to produce another unique type curve to represent CO2-EOR performance in shale oil reservoirs. This study found that the delayed response in the incremental oil production resulted from CO2 injection in shale reservoirs is mainly function of CO2 molecular diffusion mechanism. On the other hand, the CO2 diffusion mechanism has approximately no effect on CO2-EOR performance in conventional reservoirs which have a quick response to CO2 injection. This finding is very well consistent with the experimental reports regarding the role of diffusion in conventional cores versus shale cores. In addition, this study found that kinetics of oil recovery process in productive areas and CO2-diffusivity level are the keys to perform successful CO2-EOR project in shale formations. This paper provides a thorough idea about how CO2-EOR performance is different in the field scale of conventional reservoirs versus shale formations.
Oil production from tight formations such as the Bakken Formation has experienced a boom in the last decade with recent breakthroughs in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. However, despite the technological progress, the oil recovery is still less than 10 percent, leaving a huge amount of potentially recoverable oil in the reservoir. While miscible flooding is well understood in conventional reservoir, it is not fully explored in unconventional reservoirs. Therefore, it is very important to evaluate the potential of different enhanced oil recovery techniques in tight shale plays.
In this paper, we have studied CO2, methane, and nitrogen interactions with oil in reservoir conditions through laboratory experiments and examined their effects on the ultimate oil recovery. Several core flood experiments were conducted using CO2, methane, and nitrogen as the EOR agents and their results were compared. Next, numerical simulation was employed to model the process where the experimental results were used to validate and tune the simulation model.
In this work, the potential of different EOR processes was investigated in the formation, and comparisons were made to help better choose optimal EOR techniques and methodologies. It was observed that CO2 would outperform other EOR gases due to its miscibility with oil.