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.
Ross, T. S. (New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology) | Rahnema, H. (New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology) | Nwachukwu, C. (New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology) | Alebiosu, O. (ConocoPhillips Co) | Shabani, B. (Oklahoma State University)
Steam injection—a thermal-based enhanced oil recovery (EOR) process—is used to improve fluid mobility within a reservoir, and it is well known that it yields positive results in heavy-oil reservoirs. In theory, steam injection has the potential of being applied in light-oil reservoirs to enable vaporization of in-situ reservoir fluids, but field developments and scientific studies of this application are sparse. Conventional displacement methods like water-flooding and gas-flooding have been applied to some extent, however, oil extraction in such reservoirs relies on recovery mechanisms like capillary imbibition or gravity drainage to recover oil from the reservoir matrix. Furthermore, low-permeability reservoir rocks are associated with low gravity drainage and high residual oil saturation.
The objective of this study is to evaluate the potential of steam injection for light (47°API) oil extraction in naturally-fractured reservoirs. It is theorized that this method will serve as an effective tool for recovery of light hydrocarbons through naturally-fractured networks with the benefit of heat conduction through the rock matrix. This research investigates the application of light-oil steamflood (LOSF) in naturally- fractured reservoirs (NFR).
A simulation model comprised of a matrix block surrounded by fracture network was used to study oil recovery potential under steam injection. To simulate gravity drainage, steam was injected through a horizontal well completed in the upper section of the fracture network, while the production well was completed at the bottom of the fracture network. The simulation included two different porous media: (1) natural fractures and (2) matrix blocks. Each of these porous media was assumed to be homogeneous and characterized based on typical reservoir properties for carbonate formations. This study also analyzed the impact of different recovery mechanisms during steam injection for a light-oil sample in NFR, with reservoir sensitivity examined, based on varying amounts of vaporization, injection rate, permeability, matrix height and capillary pressure. Of these, vaporization was found to be the dominant factor in the application of LOSF in NFR, as described in detail within the results.
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.
Aldhaheri, Munqith (Missan Oil Company, Dept. of Petroleum Engineering, University of Misan) | Wei, Mingzhen (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Zhang, Na (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Bai, Baojun (Missouri University of Science and Technology)
As lifespan extenders, bulk gels have been widely applied to rejuvenate oil production from uneconomic producers in mature oilfields by improving sweep efficiency of IOR/EOR floodings. This paper presents a comprehensive review for the responses of injection-well gel treatments implemented between 1985 and 2014. The survey includes 61 field projects compiled from SPE papers and U.S. DOE reports. Seven parameters related to the oil production response were evaluated according to the reservoir lithology, formation type, and recovery process using the univariate analysis and stacked histograms. The interquartile range method was used to detect the under-performing and over-performing gel projects. Scatterplots were used to identify effects of the injected gel volume and the treatment timing on the treatment responses.
Results indicated that gel treatments have very wide ranges of responses for injection and production wells and for oil and water rates/profiles. The typical incremental oil production is 116 MSTBO per treatment, 15 STBO per gel barrel, or 10 STBO per polymer pound. We identified that gel treatments perform more efficiently in carbonate than in sandstone reservoirs and in naturally-fractured formations than in other formation types. In addition, the incremental oil production considerably increases with the channeling strength and the injected gel volume for all formation types, not just for the matrix-rock reservoirs. Moreover, gel treatments applied in naturally-fractured formations have lower productivities in sandstones than in carbonates based on the normalized performance parameters.
Declining tends were identified for all parameters of the oil production response with the treatment timing indicators. The sooner the gel treatment is applied; the faster the response and the larger the incremental oil production and its rate. It is recommended to allow longer evaluation times for gel treatments applied in matrix-rock formations or in mature polymer floodings as their response times may extend to several months. Gel treatments would perform more efficiently if they are conducted at water cuts <70%, flood lives <20 years, or recovery factors <35%. For different application environments, the present review provides reservoir engineers with updated ideas about what are the low, typical, and high performances of gel treatments when applied successfully and how other treatment aspects affect the performances.
Arachchilage, Gayani W. P. Pinnawala (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Alexis, Dennis (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Kim, Do Hoon (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Davidson, Andrew (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Malik, Taimur (Chevron Energy Technology Company) | Dwarakanath, Varadarajan (Chevron Energy Technology Company)
Chemical costs dominate surfactant enhanced oil recovery (EOR) processes. A measure of chemical usage is the pore volume of chemical injected multiplied by the concentration of the chemical in the formulation (PV*C). Recent developments have reduced PV*C to about 30 units for conventional surfactant processes and to about 10 units for ASP processes. Our goal was to demonstrate high oil recovery using conventional surfactant processes at PV*C of 10 units. Under these conditions surfactant polymer flooding becomes just as viable an alternative for oil recovery as the more complex ASP processes.
In this paper, we conducted several phase behavior experiments with the goal of minimizing microemulsion viscosity and maximizing oil solubilization ratios. In addition, we focused on maintaining aqueous stability of both the surfactant slug and dilutions with polymer chase fluids. Both surfactant and co-solvent compositions were optimized to achieve low microemulsion viscosity. The microemulsion viscosity was also measured using three-phase relative permeability experiments. Once an appropriately low microemulsion viscosity was achieved, a series of corefloods at different PV*C units of surfactant were conducted in Bentheimer sandstone. Our baseline formulation included 2 wt% surfactant and 2.8 wt% co-solvent and recovered more than 95% oil in a surrogate Bentheimer coreflood using 30 units of surfactant. The existing surfactant formulation was optimized to match the new crude oil sample and it also recovered more than 95% oil in a Bentheimer coreflood using 30 units of surfactant.
By incorporating large hydrophobe surfactants, we achieved good phase behavior with 1.25% surfactant and 2% co-solvent. The optimized formulation recovered 98% oil with 20 units and 91% with 10 units of surfactant, which translated into a retention of <0.1 mg/g of surfactant. These results indicate that high-performance surfactant formulations have the potential to significantly reduce chemical cost and compete with conventional SP processes in terms of PV*C. Consequently, we illustrate the ability of recovering more than 90% oil with only 10 units of surfactant in conventional surfactant-polymer flooding with high performance surfactants. Such an approach can potentially compete with ASP processes and allow for rapid deployment due to reduced complexity.
Mishra, Ashok (Conoco Phillips) | Abbas, Sayeed (Conoco Phillips) | Braden, John (Conoco Phillips) | Hazen, Mike (Conoco Phillips) | Li, Gaoming (Conoco Phillips) | Peirce, John (Conoco Phillips) | Smith, David D. (Conoco Phillips) | Lantz, Michael (TIORCO, a Nalco Champion Company)
This paper is a field case review of the process and methodologies used to identify, characterize, design, and execute a solution for a waterflood conformance problem in the Kuparuk River Unit in late 2013. In addition, post treatment analysis in a complex WAG flood will be discussed. The Kuparuk River Field is a highly fractured and faulted, multi-layer sandstone reservoir located on the North Slope of Alaska. Large scale water injection in the field was initiated in 1981 and overall the field responded favorably to waterflood operations. In 1996, Kuparuk implemented a miscible WAG flood in many areas of the field. However, natural fault and fracture connectivity has resulted in some significant conformance issues between high angle wells in the periphery. Methodologies employed to identify and characterize one specific conformance issue will be outlined. Details of diagnostic efforts, and how they were used to identify, characterize and mitigate an injector/producer interaction through a void space conduit will be discussed. The solution selected to resolve this conformance issue involved pumping a large crosslinked hydrolyzed polyacrylamide (HPAM) gel system. The solution used a tapered concentration design with one of the highest molecular weight HPAM polymers available. Before execution of this solution, extensive history matching and modeling of the solution design and benefits were used to justify this effort. These modeling efforts and their projections will be reviewed. This solution was pumped into the offending injector in late 2013, and offset producers were carefully monitored for gel breakthrough. The polymer treatment design parameters, including rates and pressure limits were used to generate an effective solution. A discussion of this active design approach, a complete review of the well problem dynamics, treatment operations, products used, and potential complications associated with these products will be discussed. Post solution execution performance analysis was difficult due to the active nature of this MWAG flood. A variety of plotting and analysis techniques were used to identify and quantify the results. A discussion of these results will be provided. Finally, a summary of lessons learned, and a limited discussion of future plans will be presented.
Achieving maximum oil recovery utilizing CO2 has limitations when operating at, or very close, to the Minimum Miscibility Pressure (MMP) of the CO2 in the oil. A modular source of CO2 would allow Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) flooding of "stranded" and shallow reservoirs. Unfortunately, modular sources of CO2 production often include CO and N2 mixed with the CO2. Thus, testing for EOR application of a mixed gas-containing CO2, N2, and CO was initiated.
Bench scale testing using Rising Bubble Apparatus (RBA), Slim Tubes, and linear core flood have been conducted on oils ranging from 16-42° gravities having viscosities of 0.5-280 cp. All tests were conducted at reservoir temperatures and pressures. CO, being a strong reducing agent, was further tested on reservoir rock containing swelling clays with hydrated ferric hydroxides. Due to the apparent reduction of the ferric hydroxide, and the liberation of its water of hydration, an increase in matrix permeability and clay stabilization, was observed.
For most oils tested, the CO2/CO mixture increased rate of oil recovery by 2-3X, using only 50-60% as much gas/bo as compared to pure CO2. Recovery factors of 80%, at immiscible pressures 30-40% below CO2 MMP, were achieved. Addition of 15% N2 (v/v) to the CO2/CO mixture did not impair oil recovery. Interfacial testing (IFT) of oils, using pure CO, demonstrated a lowering of the IFT. RBA testing of asphaltine-rich heavy oils has shown that a mixture of CO2/CO dissolves into the oil at a far faster rate than either CO2 or CO individually and faster than the sum of both individual gases. A similar test using non-asphaltine type oils did not display this unique characteristic. Slim tube testing suggests that CO facilitates the mobilization of asphaltine-rich heavy oils and lowers viscosity. A linear corefloods of a reservoir containing 5% smectite + illite/smectite + and chlorite demonstrated a 275% increase in matrix permeability. Packed column tests, containing quartz sand and bentonite, demonstrated up to 300-900% increase in permeability in the presence of CO.
Thus a method to recover oil faster, from stranded reservoirs, at pressures below MMP, using significantly less gas, appears possible. In addition the use of CO, either alone or in combination with CO2 and/or N2, has been shown to increase matrix permeability. Such a gas mixture may be beneficial to achieving low pressure EOR from shallow, "stranded" reservoirs, non-conventional shale oil reservoirs, and viscous, heavy oil reservoirs at low temperatures. Incorporation of CO, or CO2/CO, in a frac fluid, or alternately as a post frac cleanup for shale oil and gas applications appears to warrant investigation.
The Green River, Utah holds the world's greatest oil shale resources. However, the hydrocarbon, which is namely kerogen, extraction from shales is limited due to environmental and technical challenges. In this study, we investigated the effectiveness of the combustion process for shale oil extraction. Samples collected from the Green River formation were first characterized by X-ray Diffraction (XRD) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). Then, series of dry combustion tests were conducted at different heating rates and wet combustion tests by water addition. The combustion efficiency was enhanced by mixing oil shale samples with an iron based catalyst. The effectiveness of dry, wet, and catalyst added combustion processes was examined by the thermal decomposition temperature of kerogen. Because the conventional oil shale extraction methods are pyrolysis (retorting) and steaming, the same experiments were conducted also under nitrogen injection to mimic retorting. It has been observed that the combustion process is a more efficient method for the extraction of kerogen from oil shale than the conventional techniques. The addition of water and catalyst to combustion has been found to lower the required temperature for kerogen decomposition for lower heating rate. This study provides insight for the optimization of the thermal methods for the kerogen extraction.
This is the final installment in a series of three papers examining iron mineralogy and its effect on surfactant adsorption in reservoir and outcrop rock samples. The goal of these studies is to establish best practices for obtaining surfactant adsorption values representative of those in a reduced oil reservoir, despite performing experiments in an oxidizing laboratory atmosphere.
This article follows two others examining the abundance and form of iron in the reservoir and in core samples (Part I:
Surfactant retention is a leading uncertainty in economic forecasting of chemical EOR, in large part due to the order-of-magnitude effects of artifacts such as improper core preservation. The industry standard is to (a) limit atmospheric contact of cores to the extent feasible, and (b) when necessary, reduce oxidized cores using strong reducing agents such as sodium dithionite, along with buffering and chelating agents such as sodium bicarbonate and EDTA or sodium citrate. However few studies have been performed to determine whether such invasive treatments are necessary, or what unintended effects the use of such reactive chemicals may have.
The most striking conclusion from these studies is the lack of clear evidence of any advantage of electrochemical reduction versus a simpler treatment with chelators such as sodium citrate or EDTA.
While treatment with a citrate-bicarbonate-dithionite solution does indeed lower adsorption several-fold further, solutions of either sodium bicarbonate or EDTA are at least as effective, and sodium citrate is almost as effective. These non-reductive treatments remove small amounts (~0.1% – ~0.2% of rock mass) of Fe and Al, and fines are invariably apparent in treatment fluids, both of which suggest removal of small amounts of trivalent Fe/Al colloids.
While these results suggest that non-reductive means may be used to remove artifacts introduced by core oxidation, they come with an important caveat: even rinsing with a brine solution can result in significant alteration of mineralogy. The use of chelating agents will invariably result in dissolution of any soluble minerals present such as gypsum or anhydrite, which can be an important contributor to surfactant (in particular ABS) consumption.
In cases where iron removal is necessary due to polymer degradation issues, PIPES buffer is proposed for use as an alternative to bicarbonate, the latter having a greater tendency for ligand formation. The combination of borohydride and bisulfite is suggested as an alternative to dithionite as a reducing agent, resulting in more complete iron removal under some conditions, and anecdotally less tendency for polymer degradation upon subsequent oxidation, though both of these claims should be verified.
Aldhaheri, Munqith N. (Missan Oil Company, Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Wei, Mingzhen (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Bai, Baojun (Missouri University of Science and Technology)
Polymer gels are increasingly applied to improve sweep efficiency of different IOR/EOR recovery processes. Three in-situ polymer gel systems including bulk gels, colloidal dispersion gels, and weak gels are often used to mitigate water production caused by reservoir heterogeneity and unfavorable mobility ratio of oil and injected fluids. Selecting the most appropriate gel system is a key component for a successful conformance improvement treatment. Screening criteria in terms of reservoir and fluid characteristics have been widely used to identify potential technologies for a specific reservoir. Despite the large number of polymer gel projects, only five, limited-parameters, single-agent criteria or surveys have been sporadically accomplished that suffer from many deficiencies and drawbacks.
This paper presents the first complete applicability guidelines for gel technologies based on their field implementations in injection wells from 1978 to 2015. The data set includes 111 cases histories compiled mainly from SPE papers and U.S. Department of Energy reports. We extracted missing data from some public EOR databases and detected potential outliers by two approaches to ensure data quality. Finally, for each parameter, we evaluated project and treatment frequency distributions and applicability ranges based on successful projects. Extensive comparisons of the developed applicability criteria with the previous surveillance studies are provided and differences are discussed in details as well.
In addition to the parameters that are considered for other EOR technologies, we identified that the applicability evaluations of polymer gels should incorporate the parameters that depict roots and characteristics of conformance issues. The present applicability criteria comprise 16 quantitative parameters including permeability variation, mobility ratio, and three production-related aspects. Application guidelines were established for organically crosslinked bulk gels for the first time, and many experts' opinions in the previous criteria were replaced by detailed property evaluations. In addition, we identified that the applicability criteria of some parameters are considerably influenced by lithology and formation types, and thus, their data were analyzed according to these characteristics. Besides their comprehensiveness of all necessary screening parameters, the novelty of the new criteria lies in their ability to self-check the established validity limits for the screening parameters which resulted from the inclusion and simultaneous evaluation of the project and treatment frequencies.