Luo, Haishan (The University of Texas at Austin) | Mohanty, Kishore K. (The University of Texas at Austin) | Delshad, Mojdeh (The University of Texas at Austin) | Pope, Gary A. (The University of Texas at Austin)
Upscaling of unstable immiscible flow remains an unsolved challenge for the oil industry. The absence of a reliable upscaling approach greatly hinders the effective reservoir simulation and optimization of heavy oil recoveries using waterflood, polymer flood and other chemical floods, which are inherently unstable processes. The difficulty in upscaling unstable flow lies in estimating the propagation of fingers smaller than the gridblock size. Using classical relative permeabilities obtained from stable flow analysis can lead to incorrect oil recovery and pressure drop in reservoir simulations.
In a recent study based on abundant experimental data, it is found that the heavy-oil recovery by waterfloods and polymer floods has a power-law correlation with a dimensionless number (named viscous finger number in this paper), which is a combination of viscosity ratio, capillary number, permeability, and the cross-section area of the core. Based upon this important finding as well as the features of unstable immiscible floods, an effective-finger model is developed in this paper. A porous medium domain is dynamically identified as three effective zones, which are two-phase flow zone, oil single-phase flow zone, and bypassed oil (isolated oil island) zone, respectively. Flow functions are derived according to effective flows in these zones. This new model is capable of history-matching a set of heavy-oil waterflood corefloods under different viscosity ratios and injection rates. Model parameters obtained from the history match also have a power-law correlation with the viscous finger number.
The build-up of this correlation contains reasonable physical meanings to quantitatively characterize the upscaled behavior of viscous fingering effects. Having such a correlation enables the estimation of model parameters in any gridblock of the reservoir by knowing the local viscous finger number in reservoir simulations. The model is applied to several heavy-oil field cases with waterfloods and polymer floods with different heterogeneities. Oil recovery in water flooding of viscous oils is overpredicted by classical simulation methods which do not incorporate viscous fingering properly. Simulation results indicate that the new model reasonably differentiates the oil recoveries at different viscous finger numbers, e.g., lower injection rate leads to higher oil recovery. In contrast, classical simulations obtain close oil recoveries under different injection rates or degrees of polymer shear-thinning, which is apparently incorrect for unstable floods. Moreover, coarse-grid simulations using the new model are able to obtain consistent saturation and pressure maps with fine-grid simulations when the correlation lengths are not smaller than the coarse gridblock size. Furthermore, it is well captured by the model that the shear-shinning polymer solution can strengthen the fingering in high-permeability regions due to increased capillary number and viscosity ratio, which is not observed in waterflood. As a whole, the new model shows encouraging capability to simulate unstable water and polymer floods in heavy oil reservoirs, and hence can facilitate the optimization of heavy-oil EOR projects.
Skrettingland, K. (Statoil ASA) | Ulland, E. N. (Statoil ASA) | Ravndal, O. (Statoil ASA) | Tangen, M. (Statoil ASA) | Kristoffersen, J. B. (Statoil ASA) | Stenerud, V. R. (Statoil ASA) | Dalen, V. (Statoil ASA) | Standnes, D. C. (Statoil ASA) | Fevang, Ø. (Statoil ASA) | Mevik, K. M. (Knutsen Subsea Solutions) | McIntosh, N. (Knutsen Subsea Solutions) | Mebratu, A. (Halliburton) | Melien, I. (Halliburton) | Stavland, A. (Intl Research Inst of Stavanger)
Declining oil production and increasing water cut in mature fields highlight the need for improved conformance control. Here we report on a successful in-depth water diversion treatment using sodium silicate to increase oil recovery at the Snorre field, offshore Norway, utilizing a new operational concept of using a stimulation vessel as a platform for the large-scale injection into a subsea well. A custom modified 35,000 DWT shuttle tanker was employed for the field pilot. This paper describes the vessel preparations and the large-scale interwell silicate injection operation. The operational aspects of the large-scale interwell silicate injection include; identification of injection vessel requirements, major vessel modifications, chemical logistic, general logistics to site, major equipment set-up on vessel, subsea connection, mixing and pumping schedules, onsite QC, and real time monitoring. Experience from these operations and lessons learned are included in this paper.
After the injection of approximately 400,000 Sm3 (113,000 Sm3 preflush, followed by 240,000 Sm3 of sodium silicate gelant and 49,000 Sm3 of postflush fluid) at injection rates up to 4,000 Sm3/d, the injection from the vessel was stopped and the well was put on regular seawater injection. Following more than two years of regular production, transient pressure measurements, tracer testing and water cut data are presented from the ongoing comprehensive data acquisition program. These results demonstrate clearly the achieved in-depth flow diversion through a delayed breakthrough of injected tracers and lower water cut in the relevant production well.
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.
Imqam, Abdulmhsin (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Wang, Ze (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Bai, Baojun (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Delshad, Mojdeh (The University of Texas at Austin)
Preformed particle gels (PPG) have been successfully applied as a plugging agent to solve the conformance problem in fractured reservoirs. They are injected to plug fractures and then divert displacing fluid into poorly swept zones and areas. However, PPG propagation and plugging mechanisms through open fractures have not been studied thoroughly. This paper investigated the influence of some factors (particle size, brine concentration, heterogeneity, injection flow rate, and brine salinity) on gel injectivity and plugging performance for water flow through opening fractures. Five-foot tubes were used to mimic opening fractures. Three models were designed to gain understanding on how fracture geometry and PPG properties affect gel injection and plugging efficiency, including (1) single fracture with uniform fracture width, (2) single fracture with different widths, and (3) two parallel fractures with different width ratios between each other. Results from single uniform fracture experiments showed that PPG injection pressure was more sensitive to gel strength than gel particle size. When large PPG size and high gel strength were used, high injection pressure and large injection pore volume were required for PPG and brine to reach fracture outlets. Results from single heterogeneous fracture model experiments showed PPG injection pressure increased as the fracture heterogeneity in sections increased. Particle gel accumulated at the choke point within each fracture and caused injection pressure to increase accordingly. Furthermore, results showed that having a lower salinity within a fracture, which was less than the brine salinity that was used to prepare PPG, would improve the PPG plugging efficiency for water flow. Parallel fracture models results showed that when weak PPG was used, a large volume of PPG flowed into a large fracture width and a small portion of the gel particle volume flowed into small fracture width. However, with increased gel strength and fracture width ratio, PPG only flowed through larger fracture widths. This paper demonstrates important impact elements of gel propagation and water flow for different opening fracture situations.
Waterflood implementation accounts for more than half of the oil production worldwide. Despite the observations and extensive research from a large number of floods and thousands of simulation studies, managing waterfloods and Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) floods is still a technical challenge. A major contributor to this challenge are waterflood induced fractures (WIF). Managing waterfloods is a multivariable problem although WIF are one aspect, it is by no means the only controlling factor.
The best evidence that WIF are one of the main factors controlling flow in reservoirs is the insensitivity of injection pressure to injection rates. With our experience, in hundreds of waterfloods, we have frequently observed this phenomenon in the field data. If fluid flow depended on diffusive Darcy flow alone, we would expect higher injection rates with higher injection pressures. However, it is common to observed relatively constant injection pressures over a wide range of water injection rates. Rapid well communication and changes in water cuts that vary with injection rates also support an interpretation of high permeability induced fractures between injector and producer. In some reservoirs, interwell tracer data can be used to determine the influence of induced fracture features. The interwell tracers usually show very fast water movement.
Induced fractures in waterfloods and EOR projects can be caused by a number of mechanisms such as but not limited to, pressure depletion, changing pressure regimes, thermal effects, or plugging effects. These fractures can either be beneficial to the reservoir performance or effect performance negatively. Benefits include improved injectivity and increased throughput of the displacing fluid. Negative effects can come in the form of reduced volumetric sweep efficiency, impaired ultimate recovery or injected fluid losses out of zone.
Case studies, theory, and available literature from Western Canada will be reviewed in order to suggest and improve reservoir management strategies for waterfloods. We have completed hundreds of waterflood feasibility, waterflood management and EOR flood studies worldwide and continue to be amazed and humbled by the complexity that many waterfloods and EOR floods exhibit due to induced fracturing. WIF and EOR induced fractures (EIF) are common and should be analysed to optimize production. Growth of the WIF, response to waterflood with the presence of WIF, implication of WIF and reservoir management are the main areas which will be addressed.
Thrasher, David (BP Exploration) | Nottingham, Derek (BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.) | Stechauner, Bernhard (BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.) | Ohms, Danielle (BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.) | Stechauner, Gerda (BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.) | Singh, Praveen K. (BP America Inc.) | Angarita, Monica Lara (BP Exploration)
Waterflood conformance control due to reservoir heterogeneity is a common challenge to many oilfield developments. This paper describes the application at-scale of a thermally-activated polymer particle system (TAP) for improving waterflood sweep efficiency in the Prudhoe Bay field, Alaska. Since 2004, the technology has been successfully deployed 91 times in Prudhoe Bay Unit on the North Slope of Alaska as part of an approved Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) program. A total of 1.6 million gallons of chemical polymer particles have been injected into approximately half of the available waterflood patterns.
Once the polymer particles activate deep in the reservoir, they provide resistance to water flow in the thief (swept) zones. The treatment design workflow applies a thermal model which accounts for the impact of the temperature distribution in the reservoir on activation of the polymer particles. Challenges associated with performance evaluation of the treatment program in a normal operational setting (as opposed to field trial) have been addressed, particularly in relation to interferences to interpretation resulting from the ongoing application of miscible gas EOR in the waterflood areas.
Of the 44 treatments deployed between 2008 and 2012, 22 were sufficiently mature to have performance data which was not adversely impacted by interferences from well work, changes to operating conditions, or miscible gas breakthrough. So far, only one of the 22 patterns has not indicated an incremental oil response, while in two patterns the response had started too recently to be able to extrapolate the overall response magnitude. The analysis showed overall positive responses from the treatments that are competitive with other well work on cost/bbl and project economics. Results from this study provide insights on key controls on waterflood sweep improvements, and inform future candidate selection and optimization of treatment designs.
The production performance analysis was corroborated by wellhead injectivity, repeat pressure fall-off tests, and reservoir modeling. This paper documents a good case history of waterflood sweep improvement.
The importance of tuning injection water chemistry for upstream is getting beyond formation damage control/water incompatibility to increase oil recovery from waterflooding and different improved oil recovery (IOR)/enhanced oil recovery (EOR) processes. The water chemistry requirements for IOR/EOR have been relatively addressed in the recent literature, but the key challenge for field implementation is to find an easy, practical, and optimum technology to tune water chemistry. The currently available technologies for tuning water chemistry are limited, and most of the existing ones are adopted from the desalination industry, which relies on membrane based separation. Even though these technologies yield a doable solution, they are not the optimum choice to alter injection water chemistry in terms of incorporating selective ions and providing effective water management for large scale applications. In this study, several of the current, emerging, and future desalination technologies are reviewed with an objective to develop potential water treatment solutions that can most efficiently alter injection water chemistry for SmartWater flooding in carbonate reservoirs.
Standard chemical precipitation technologies, such as lime/soda ash, alkali, and lime/aluminum based reagent, are only applicable for removing certain ions from seawater. The lime/aluminum based reagent process looks interesting, as it can remove both sulfates and hardness ions to provide some tuning flexibility for key ions included in the SmartWater. There are some new technologies under development that use chemical solvents to extract salt ions from seawater, but their capabilities to selectively remove specific ions need further investigation.
Forward osmosis and membrane distillation are the two emerging technologies, and these can provide good alternatives to reverse osmosis seawater desalination for the near-term. These technologies can offer a better cost-effective solution where there is availability of low grade waste heat or steam. The two new desalination technologies, based on dynamic vapor recovery and carrier gas extraction, are well suited to treat high salinity produced water for zero liquid discharge (ZLD). These technologies may not be able to provide an economical solution for seawater desalination. Carbon nanotube desalination, graphene sheet-based desalination, and capacitive deionization are the three potential future seawater desalination technologies identified for the long term. Among these, carbon nanotube based desalination is much attractive, although the technology is still largely under research and development.
This review study results show that there is no commercial technology yet available to selectively remove specific ions from seawater in one step and optimally meet desired water chemistry requirements of SmartWater flooding. As a result, different novel schemes involving selected combinations of chemical precipitation, conventional/emerging desalination, and produced water treatment technologies are proposed. These schemes represent both approximate and improved solutions to selectively incorporate specific key ions in the SmartWater, besides presenting the key opportunities to treat produced water/membrane rejects and provide ZLD capabilities in SmartWater flooding applications. The developed novel schemes can provide an attractive solution to capitalize on existing huge produced water resources in Saudi reservoirs to generate SmartWater and minimize wastewater disposal during field-wide implementation.
Yeganeh, Mohsen (ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co.) | Hegner, Jessica (ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co.) | Lewandowski, Eric (ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co.) | Mohan, Aruna (ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co.) | Lake, Larry W. (The University of Texas at Austin) | Cherney, Dan (ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co.) | Jusufi, Arben (ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co.) | Jaishankar, Aditya (ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co.)
A capillary desaturation curve (CDC) depicts the relationship between residual oil saturation, Sor, (i.e. oil left behind in a well-swept permeable medium) and capillary number. A CDC is one of the most fundamental curves of oil recovery as it reveals flow conditions required for good oil displacement in porous media. Despite the importance of this critical curve, the fundamentals describing the physics of a CDC are still incomplete.
We present a physical model to describe the capillary desaturation curve. The model balances the capillary pressure and applied viscous stresses caused by flow and takes advantage of contact angle hysteresis that occurs in porous media. It defines a critical oil ganglia length that depends inversely on capillary number and depends on porosity, permeability, and wettability. We have combined the critical oil ganglia expression and ganglia length distribution in porous media to arrive at an expression for the capillary desaturation curve. The model suggests that when a trapped oil ganglion is larger than the critical ganglia length, the applied pressure difference can mobilize the trapped oil ganglion. We describe the differences and similarities between our critical ganglia length expression and previously reported expressions. The model describing the relationship between residual oil saturation and capillary number was successfully verified with microfluidic experiments using various crude oils and displacing fluids. We have also demonstrated that the model applies to previously reported coreflood CDCs from sandstone and carbonate media. Extension of the model led to a single curve representation of variations in Sor with reduced pressure. This representation is independent of the chemistry of the displacing fluid.
Qiu, Yue (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Wei, Mingzhen (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Geng, Jiaming (Missouri University of Science and Technology) | Wu, Fengxiang (Daqing Xinwantong Chemical Co. Ltd.)
This paper presents the detailed descriptions of successful field application for a high-temperature and high-salinity resistance microgel in a mature reservoir in the northwest part of China. The reservoir with low permeability (230 md) experienced serious vertical and lateral heterogeneity problems, which caused low sweep efficiency and high water-cut (more than 95%). The treatment was designed based on laboratory experiments and experience from previous field application, providing detailed information of mechanism of microgel treatment and project execution. Thermal stability test showed that the microgel could resist the salt concentration up to 230,000 ppm at 125 °C for more than 1 year. From the core analysis, permeability of the long-term water-flooded zone was measured around 1,489 md, proving the evidence that high-permeability zones existed. Pilot test has been done before field application and valuable experience about how to design the injection parameters was provided. According to the information from laboratory experiments and the pilot test, four injection wells associated with nine offset production wells were selected for microgel treatment. For about 10 months treatment, 169 t of microgel was injected by five slugs.
Gradually increased injection pressure suggested that microgel could be placed deeply into the reservoir. The ultimate incremental oil production was approximately 29,635.8 t with the water cut decreasing from 95.3% to 93.1%. Microgel can be successfully used in relative low permeability (230 md) reservoir with harsh conditions for conformance control.
The Medicine Hat Glauconitic C Pool is located partially inside the city limits of Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. This 15-18° API oil pool is under waterflood. Reservoir management strategies in the pool are limited by the reservoir quality, wellbore architecture and business environment. Surface land access due to the expanding Medicine Hat city limits and pre-existing wellbore orientations have constrained the waterflood pattern and infill drilling options. Current estimates indicate 21% of the oil in place will be recovered at the end of the waterflood.
The polymer flood pilot was started in 2012 with a goal to achieve 6% incremental recovery with a one year initial response time. The pilot's designed injection rate was 6,300 bbl/d (1000 m3/d) in 5 injectors, each representing different reservoir conditions and injection patterns. Following injection, pre-existing water channels and high permeability streaks resulted in rapid polymer breakthrough in as little as 48 hours in some cases.
To increase the efficiency of the polymer flood and reduce cycling polymerized water, a new approach to reservoir management had to be considered:
Each of the 5 patterns inside the pilot was monitored and managed individually, with a fit-for-purpose strategy in mind. Although 1 year to response was estimated, after four months, oil rates and oil cuts increased unexpectedly. However, after reaching peak production, the expected steep decline was observed. New reservoir management strategies were implemented in order to slow the decline and attempt to increase the incremental recovery from 6% to 10%: attempts to block water channels in the injectors, producer shut-ins and frequent injection target changes proved beneficial.
Each of the 5 patterns inside the pilot was monitored and managed individually, with a fit-for-purpose strategy in mind.
Although 1 year to response was estimated, after four months, oil rates and oil cuts increased unexpectedly. However, after reaching peak production, the expected steep decline was observed.
New reservoir management strategies were implemented in order to slow the decline and attempt to increase the incremental recovery from 6% to 10%: attempts to block water channels in the injectors, producer shut-ins and frequent injection target changes proved beneficial.
The polymer pilot has exceeded expectations to date.
This case study provides an outline of the changes that were made and the results that have been observed.