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.
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.