Li, Shidong (Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences, Agency for Science, Technology and Research A*STAR) | Dan, Daniel (Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, Agency for Science, Technology and Research A*STAR) | Lau, Hon Chung (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore. Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences, Agency for Science, Technology and Research A*STAR) | Hadia, Nanji J (Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences, Agency for Science, Technology and Research A*STAR) | Torsæter, Ole (PoreLab, Norwegian Center of Excellence. Department of Geoscience and Petroleum, Norwegian University of Science and Technology NTNU) | Stubbs, Ludger P. (Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences, Agency for Science, Technology and Research A*STAR)
Altering the wetting state of a rock surface to more water-wet has been proposed as an enhanced oil recovery (EOR) mechanism for nanoparticles. However, how nanoparticles achieve this is not well understood. The objective of this study is to fill this knowledge gap by using advanced 2D and 3D visualization techniques.
In this study, advanced visualization techniques were used to study how hydrophilic silica nanoparticles change the wettability of a glass surface. First, we used interferograms of an oil drop resting on a nanoparticle-treated glass surface to analyze the effect of nanoparticles on wettability. Second, we used Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) to characterize the structure of nanoparticles covering a glass surface. Third, we used a 2D microfluidic apparatus to visualize wettability alteration caused by the nanoparticle injection. Fourth, we used a fluoresence imaging method with confocal microscopy to find out the reason for this change.
Interferograms of a nanoparticle-treated glass surface showed bright and dark fringes, indicating the presence of a thin water film covering the glass surface caused by nanoparticle adsorption. Furthermore, the higher the nanoparticle concentration, the thicker was the nanoparticle adsorption layer. A low pH environment can reduce nanoparticle adsorption on the glass surface. AFM results showed that the topography of the glass surface changed from smooth to rough after nanoparticle treatment. Microfluidic experiments showed that nanoparticle injection changed the wettability of the grain surface to more water wet. By using a confocal microscopy, we observed a thin water film covering the surface of glass grains suggesting that nanoparticle adsorption is the main mechanism of wettability alteration by nanoparticles.
This paper presents findings of new techniques to study wettability alteration by nanoparticles, including thin-film interferometry, surface characterization by AFM, and fluoresence imaging with confocal microscopy. Observations showed that nanoparticles adsorption on a glass surface results in a thin water film that prevents the oil from contacting the surface. This is the main mechanism of wettability alteration by nanoparticles. This is the first time use of these advanced visualization techniques to study wettability alteration by nanoparticles is reported.
Application of polymer flooding as a chemical Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) has increased over recent years. The main type of polymer used is partially hydrolyzed polyacrylamide (HPAM). This polymer still has some challenges especially with shear stability and injectivity that restrict its utility, particularly for low permeability reservoirs. Injectivity limits the possible gain by acceleration in oil production due to polymer flooding. Hence, good polymer injectivity is a requirement for the success of the operation. This paper aims to investigate the influence of formation permeability on polymer flow in porous media.
In this study, a combination of core flooding with rheological studies is presented to evaluate the influence of permeability on polymer in-situ rheology behavior. The in-situ flow of HPAM polymers has also been studied for different molecular weights. The effect of polymer preconditioning prior to injection was studied through exposing polymer solutions to different extent of mechanical degradation.
Results from this study reveal that the expected shear thinning behavior of HPAM that is observed in rheometer measurements is not observed in in-situ rheology in porous media. Instead, HPAM in porous media exhibits near-Newtonian behavior at low flow rates representative of velocities deep in the reservoir, while exhibiting shear thickening behavior at high flow rates representative of velocities near wellbore region. The pressure build-up associated with shear thickening behavior during polymer injection is significantly higher than pressure differential during water injection. The extent of shear thickening is high during the injection of high Mw polymer regardless of cores' permeability. In low permeable Berea cores, shear thickening and mechanical degradation occur at lower velocities although the degree of shear thickening is lower in Berea to that observed in high permeable Bentheimer cores. This is ascribed to high polymer retention in Berea cores that results in high residual resistance factor (RRF). Results show that preshearing polymer before injection into porous media optimizes its injectability and transportability through porous media. The effect of preshearing becomes favorable for the injection of high Mw polymers into low permeability formation.
This study discusses polymer in-situ rheology and injectivity, which is a key issue in the design of polymer flood projects. The results provide beneficial information on optimizing polymer injectivity, in particular, for low permeability porous media.
As an enhanced oil recovery method (EOR), chemical flooding has been implemented intensively for some years. Low Salinity WaterFlooding (LSWF) is a method that has become increasingly attractive. The prediction of reservoir behaviour can be made through numerical simulations and greatly helps with field management decisions. Simulations can be costly to run however and also incur numerical errors. Historically, analytical solutions were developed for the flow equations for waterflooding conditions, particularly for non-communicating strata. These have not yet been extended to chemical flooding which we do here, particularly for LSWF. Dispersion effects within layers also affect these solutions and we include these in this work.
Using fractional flow theory, we derive a mathematical solution to the flow equations for a set of layers to predict fluid flow and solute transport. Analytical solutions tell us the location of the lead (formation) waterfront in each layer. Previously, we developed a correction to this to include the effects of numerical and physical dispersion, based on one dimensional models. We used a similar correction to predict the location of the second waterfront in each layer which is induced by the chemical's effect on mobility. In this work we show that in multiple non-communicating layers, material balance can be used to deduce the inter-layer relationships of the various fronts that form. This is based on similar analysis developed for waterflooding although the calculations are more complex because of the development of multiple fronts.
The result is a predictive tool that we compare to numerical simulations and the precision is very good. Layers with contrasting petrophysical properties and wettability are considered. We also investigate the relationship between the fractional flow, effective salinity range, salinity dispersion and salinity retardation.
This work allows us to predict fluids and solute behaviour in reservoirs with non-communicating strata without running a simulator. The recovery factor and vertical sweeping efficiency are also very predictable. This helps us to upscale LSWF by deriving pseudo relative permeability based on our extension of fractional flow and solute transport into such 2D systems.
Pola, Jackson (Heriot-Watt University) | Geiger, Sebastian (Heriot-Watt University) | Mackay, Eric (Heriot-Watt University) | Bentley, Mark (Heriot-Watt University) | Maier, Christine (Heriot-Watt University) | Al-Rudaini, Ali (Heriot-Watt University)
We investigate how efficiently oil can be recovered from a carbonate rock during surfactant based enhanced oil recovery (EOR) at the core-scale, particularly when chemical processes change wettability, and analyse how geological heterogeneities, observed at the next larger scale (centimetre to decimetre) impacts the effectiveness of surfactant-based EOR at the inter-well scale.
To quantify how heterogeneity across scales impacts surfactant flooding, we combine laboratory experiments with simulation studies at the core- and inter-well scale. We first analysed a series of surfactant imbibition experiments at different surfactant concentrations (from 0 to 3 wt. %) using reservoir cores from the Wakamuk field, a carbonate reservoir in Indonesia. We then built a 3D simulation model of the laboratory experiment and matched the experimental data to identify the key physical mechanisms (e.g., reduction in interfacial tension (IFT) and wettability alteration) that lead to increased oil recovery. Next, we parametrised the surfactant models using assisted history-matching methods to calibrate the relative permeability and capillary pressure curves as a function of surfactant concentration. These models were then deployed in high-resolution simulations at the inter-well scale. These simulations captured the small-scale geological heterogeneities that are typical for a carbonate reservoir system, e.g., the Shuaiba formation in the Middle East, but are not resolved in field-scale models.
Our core-scale simulations demonstrate a change from co- to counter-current flow in the laboratory experiments and indicate that the resulting increase in oil recovery is due to a combination of IFT reduction, wettability alteration from oil- to water-wet, and capillary pressure restoration; these processes need to be captured adequately at the inter-well scale model. The increase in surfactant concentration above the critical micelle concentration (CMC) (i.e., from 1 to 3 wt. %) triggered the capillary pressure restoration and dominated recovery at the early-time. The changes in relative permeability and capillary curves during the surfactant floods were best modelled using a concentration-based interpolation. There is uncertainty when calibrating surfactant models using laboratory experiments. A key question hence is if geological heterogeneity at the inter-well scale masks these uncertainties.
Results from our high-resolution simulations show that large-scale heterogeneity impacts recovery predictions, but it is the coarsening of the grid, not the upscaling of permeability, that dominates the error in field-scale recovery predictions during surfactant based EOR. Indeed, the error arising from numerical dispersion during grid coarsening can be as large as the error arising when selecting an inaccurately configured surfactant model due to the lack of quality experimental data. Hence appropriate grid refinement, possibly using adaptive grid refinement, needs to be considered when setting up a surfactant based EOR simulation, along with the appropriate configuration of the surfactant model itself.
Baruah, Nabajit (Oil & Natural Gas Corporation) | Mandal, Dipak (Oil & Natural Gas Corporation) | Jena, Smita Swarupa (Oil & Natural Gas Corporation) | Sahu, Sunil Kumar (Oil & Natural Gas Corporation)
This paper examines the prospect of Gas Assisted Gravity Drainage (GAGD) process in improving recovery from a sandstone reservoir by injecting produced gas back into the crestal part of the reservoir. Besides recovery improvement, immiscible gas injection ensures near Zero Flaring strategy. The process has been found to be ideal in reservoirs with high permeability and reasonable dip to maximize oil production wherever a sufficient gas source exists. Based on the study, gas injection is recommended at the crestal part of the reservoir under study at the rate equivalent to the produced gas to maintain pressure, arrest gas cap shrinkage and improve recovery.
Immiscible water-alternating-gas (iWAG) flooding is often considered as a tertiary recovery technique in waterflooded or about-to-be waterflooded reservoirs to increase oil recovery due to better mobility control and potentially favorable hysteretic changes to phase relative permeabilities. In such cases, typically, reservoir simulation models already exist and have been calibrated, often modifying saturation functions during the history matching stage. However, to utilize such models in forecasting iWAG performance, additional parameters may be required. These can be acquired by simulation of WAG coreflood experiments. While in many published cases, the parameter values obtained from matching experimental results are used without modification, this may not be advisable since the parameters are only valid at the core scale at which they were obtained. This paper discusses the challenge of systematically upscaling WAG parameters obtained at core scale to an existing full field model.
In this work, we use a multi-stage upscaling process from core scale to full field scale. The first stage uses a core scale model to match ‘representative’ core flood experiments and obtain WAG parameters. The second uses a well-to-well high-resolution 1D section of the full field model populated using gridblocks of core size to generate ‘reference’ WAG performance using the unaltered WAG parameters obtained from core. The third stage uses a similar 1D model but populated using gridblocks at full field model resolution to match the results from the reference model while adjusting the WAG parameters as little as possible. Finally, a model using the full field model resolution as well as the full field relative permeability functions which, it is assumed, have been tuned to match the history and account for dispersion is used to match the reference model results and obtain final upscaled WAG parameters.
The upscaled WAG parameters obtained at the end of this multi-stage process can be used at the field scale. This process allows clear quantification of the uncertainty associated with the upscaling process. Simulations at the third stage showed that once the full field to core scale grid size ratio exceeded a certain point (2500:1), there was a marked increase in the difference between upscaled and reference model results. It was found that if WAG parameters were changed in the full field model resolution model in order to match recovery results in the reference model, Land's parameter could change by up to 10% and relative permeability reduction factor could increase by up to 30% although it is expected that this will vary from case to case. It is therefore recommended to identify and use full field model resolutions to as close to the threshold as possible. The practice of using the core scale iWAG parameters in the full field model directly could under-estimate actual recovery, and overestimate injectivity. When considering the WAG mechanism alone, the value of the recovery underestimate increasing with pore volumes injected and, in our case, by up to 7% after injecting 1 pore volume of fluid.
This multi-stage simulation approach helps identify the adjustments required and uncertainties associated with simulating iWAG flooding in reservoir models. This approach utilizes options widely present in commercially available finite difference simulators, addresses the challenge of utilizing existing pseudo functions and provides a practical methodology through which iWAG performance forecasting can be improved.
It has been demonstrated in both laboratory measurements and field applications that tertiary polymer flooding can enhance oil recovery from heterogeneous reservoirs, primarily through macroscopic sweep (conformance). This study quantifies the effect of layering on tertiary polymer flooding as a function of layer-permeability contrast, the timing of polymer flooding, the oil/water-viscosity ratio, and the oil/polymer-viscosity ratio. This is achieved by analyzing the results from fine-grid numerical simulations of waterflooding and tertiary polymer flooding in simple layered models.
We find that there is a permeability contrast between the layers of the reservoir at which maximum incremental oil recovery is obtained, and this permeability contrast depends on the oil/water-viscosity ratio, polymer/water-viscosity ratio, and onset time for the polymer flood. Building on an earlier formulation that describes whether a displacement is understable or overstable, we present a linear correlation to estimate this permeability contrast. The accuracy of the newly proposed formulation is demonstrated by reproducing and predicting the permeability contrast from existing flow simulations and further flow simulations that have not been used to formulate the correlation.
This correlation will enable reservoir engineers to estimate the combination of permeability contrast, water/oil-viscosity ratio, and polymer/water-viscosity ratio that will give the maximum incremental oil recovery from tertiary polymer flooding in layered reservoirs regardless of the timing of the start of polymer flooding. This could be a useful screening tool to use before starting a full-scale simulation study of polymer flooding in each reservoir.
Li, Feng (Southwest Petroleum University) | Xie, Xiong (CNOOC-Shenzhen) | Huang, Li (CNOOC-Shenzhen) | Zhou, Luyao (CNOOC-Shenzhen) | Chang, Botao (Schlumberger) | Wang, Chao (Schlumberger) | Wang, Fei (Schlumberger) | He, Chengwen (Schlumberger)
In China, the main sandstone reservoir M of the LF oilfield entered the mature development stage with high water cut (average 93%) and 66.1% recovery. Remaining oil exists vertically in the H layer at the top section of this massive bottomwater reservoir and laterally at margins of current development area with less well control. The H layer consists of several thin (0.5 to 2 m) sand sublayers interbedded with calcareous tight sublayers with low permeability; the effective oil drainage radius of single borehole is 100 to 150 m. Maximum reservoir contact (MRC) technology was employed to increase drainage area and volumetric sweep efficiency for optimal production and recovery to rejuvenate this mature reservoir.
In an original hole with 98 to 99.9% water cut targeted for a workover operation, two new laterals were sidetracked to comprise a three-lateral MRC configuration with openhole completion to develop the SL1 target sublayer of the H layer. The success of MRC wells depends on an efficient openhole sidetrack and azimuth turning. Moreover, multilaterals need to precisely chase the sweet zone in the reservoir. Drilling into overlying shale causes borehole collapse, and penetrating the underlying tight zone causes fast bottom water breakthrough. Low resistivity contrast increases the difficulty of distinguishing the target zone from the shoulders. Sparse well control and limited seismic resolution bring high structural and stratigraphic uncertainties. Accordingly, effective services were equipped to overcome these challenges to achieve the required engineering and reservoir objectives. The new-generation hybrid rotary steerable system (RSS) tool provides stable, rapid, and accurate steering control, even with high dogleg severity, to achieve engineering objectives. With a balance between resolution and depth of investigation (DOI), high-definition deep-looking resistivity inversion uses the Metropolis coupled Markov chain Monte Carlo method to clearly identify multiple layers (more than three) within an approximately 6 m DOI, formation resistivity distribution, anisotropy, and dip, even in this low-resistivity-contrast environment. Reservoir details could be clearly unveiled to help MRC lateral steering along the thin target. Furthermore, a wide-range-displacement electrical submersible pump (ESP) helps optimize openhole performance.
Six new laterals were drilled in three MRC wells. Hybrid RSS tools provided 100% openhole sidetrack success rate, and laterals were turned laterally with 15 to 70° azimuth change and 200- to 570-m displacement to maximize the drainage area. Deep-looking inversion revealed high-definition reservoir details by delineating three key boundaries and four adjacent layers' profiles simultaneously and identifying target zone's thickness and property variation. The target sand is 0.5 to 2 m thick with resistivity of 2 to 9 ohm-m, surrounded by interbeds with resistivity 8 to 10 ohm-m. Within the refined 3D reservoir model, the horizontal laterals efficiently chased the top section of effective target sand while avoiding high-risk shoulders. Total 4298-m horizontal footage was achieved in six laterals with net-to-gross 91% in the SL1 thin, low-permeability reservoir. With the proper ESP configuration, approximately 688,500 bbl of oil have been produced as of December 2018. Especially in two workover MRC wells, after approximately 2.5 years of production, the current water cut is 96 to 97%, lower than water cut (98 to 99.9%) before the workover operation, and daily oil production increased significantly.
Integrated drilling, logging, and production services provided MRC efficiency to rejuvenate this thin, low-permeability and low-resistivity mature reservoir.
Shale formations exhibit multi-scale geological features such as nanopores in formation matrix and fractures at multiple length scales. Accurate prediction of relative permeability and capillary pressure are vital in numerical simulations of shale reservoirs. The multi-scale geological features of shale formations present great challenges for traditional experimental approach. Compared to nanopores in formation matrix, fractures, especially connected fractures, have much more significant impact on multiphase flows. Traditional flow models like Darcy's law are not valid for modeling fluid flow in fracture space nor in nanopores. In this work, we apply multiphase lattice Boltzmann simulation for unsteady-state waterflooding process in highly fractured samples to study the effects of fracture connectivity, wetting preference, and gravitional forces.
Liu, Yigang (CNOOC Ltd Tianjin Branch) | Li, Yanyue (CNOOC Ltd Tianjin Branch) | Zhang, Yunbao (CNOOC Ltd Tianjin Branch) | Li, Hui (CNOOC Ltd Tianjin Branch) | Xue, Baoqing (CNOOC Ltd Tianjin Branch) | Wang, Nan (CNOOC Ltd Tianjin Branch) | Lu, Xiangguo (Northeast Petroleum University) | Dai, Leiyang (CNOOC Ltd Tianjin Branch) | Xia, Huan (CNOOC Ltd Tianjin Branch) | Xie, Kun (Northeast Petroleum University)
NB oilfield, as the one of typical blocks of the Bohai Oilfield, is a heavy oilfield with an oil viscosity of 413~741mPa·s. Therefore, when injecting water, water channeling of production wells is very serious. As a regular and useful technology to control mobility, weak gel flooding has been used in NB oilfield since 2005, which increased by oil production up to 110,000 cubic meters. However, this technology usually results in inefficient displacement of weak gel in the late injection stage because of growing of high permeability layer. The field test documents show that the suction profile has reversed in 2015 since water entry ratio in low permeability layers decreases from 26.2% to 12.4%. Correspondingly, oil wells have tiny water cut decrease range and product polymer as high as 400 mg/L.To improve the above disadvantage of weak gel flooding in the late development stage, laboratory experiments are carried out firstly to verify water-alternating-weak gel to adjust profile inversion. The experimental results show that the reversal time of profile is delayed from 0.8 PV to 1.35 PV and water entry ratio in low permeability layer increases by 13% ~ 27%, obtaining oil recovery rise by 1.7%~4.6%. It indicates that water-alternating-weak gel technology can adjust and balance resistance in high and low permeability layer by designing different size of weak gel slug. Based on the laboratory experiment, during the period from 2016 to 2017, we conducted field applications in three well groups in NB oilfield. The weak gel was first injected for one month, followed by water injection for one month, which was repeated for a total of 8 times. Compared with the continuous flooding of weak gel, the total agent dosage decreases by 51%, the oil production efficiency ratio increases from 40% to 100%, and the oil production increases from 18,226 square meters to 40,745 square meters. Moreover, the profile test of NB17 well showed that water entry ratio in low permeability layer increases from 12.4% to 27.26%, resulting in water cut of corresponding production well declined from 54% to 32%. Our research validates that water-alternating-weak gel technology can improve water entry profile in the late stage of gel flooding and provide a new reference for the development of heavy oil resources in Bohai Oilfield of China.