Nanotechnology-Assisted EOR Techniques: New Solutions to Old Challenges
- Shahab Ayatollahi (Shiraz University) | Mohammad M. Zerafat (Shiraz University)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE International Oilfield Nanotechnology Conference and Exhibition, 12-14 June, Noordwijk, The Netherlands
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2012. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.1.1 Exploration, Development, Structural Geology, 2.5.2 Fracturing Materials (Fluids, Proppant), 5.4.7 Chemical Flooding Methods (e.g., Polymer, Solvent, Nitrogen, Immiscible CO2, Surfactant, Vapex), 5.1 Reservoir Characterisation, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 1.8 Formation Damage, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 5.4 Enhanced Recovery, 3.2.6 Produced Water Management, 5.7.2 Recovery Factors, 5.4.2 Gas Injection Methods, 5.4.9 Miscible Methods, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 3 Production and Well Operations, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 5.4.10 Microbial Methods, 5.3.3 Particle Transportation, 5.4.6 Thermal Methods, 5.3.1 Flow in Porous Media, 5.3.9 Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage, 4.3.4 Scale, 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 4.3.3 Aspaltenes, 1.4.3 Fines Migration
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Enhanced Oil Recovery techniques are gaining more attention worldwide as the proved oil reserves are declining and the oil price is hiking. Although many giant oil reservoirs in the world were already screened for EOR processes, the main challenges such as low sweep efficiency, costly techniques, possible formation damages, transportation of huge amounts of EOR agents to the fields especially for offshore cases, analyzing micro-scale multi-phase flow in the rock to the large scale tests and the lack of analyzing tools in traditional experimental works, hinder the proposed EOR processes.
Our past experiences on using nanotechnology to the upstream cases, especially EOR processes, revealed solutions to some of the challenges associated with old EOR techniques. This method that utilizes particles in the order of 1 to100nm brings specific thermal, optical, electrical, rheological and interfacial properties which are directly useful to release the trapped oil from the pore spaces in the order of 5 to 50 microns of tight oil formations.
Laboratory tests using nanoparticles as the EOR agent, developing nano computational models to explore the surface properties and utilizing nano-scale analyzing tools such as atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) mostly for nanoparticles distribution in the pore spaces and on the surfaces for wettability alteration studies are the main parts of this investigation.
This paper summarizes new findings from several different theoretical, analytical and experimental works which shows the effectiveness of traditional methods when assisted by this new technology. Ultimately, based on the past experiences, a roadmap will be proposed to avoid the ongoing trial and error practice in this area.
Nanotechnology is the science of materials in a range very close to molecular dimensions (1-100 nm) which has changed our viewpoint in many scientific aspects and has shown novel pathways for old problems remained unsolved through previous technologies. As a result of new properties and the introduction of special phenomena that occur in this size range, materials find considerable potentials to confront the challenges which seemed far from reach through macro-scale technology. These properties at the nano-scale can be mentioned as follows: (a) Optical (transparency (e.g. Copper) and Color Change (e.g. Gold)), (b) Chemical (catalysis (e.g. Platinum)), (c) Electrical/electronic (Conductivity (e.g. Silicone), (d) Thermal (Faster
Cooling, Enhanced thermal properties (heat transfer, insulation)), and (e) Mechanical (Ultra-high strength).
Those enhanced properties brought about in the Nano size range which can be of interest in production engineering can be:
1) Large surface to volume ratio: enhanced activity and contact area
2) Confinements of electrons or positive charge changing the material structure: changing dielectric constant, conductivity, optical properties, chemical, electronic, etc
3) Chemically modified surfaces (wettability alteration at nano-scale)
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