CO2 EOR: Nanotechnology for Mobility Control Studied
- Sinisha (Jay) Jikich (US Department of Energy)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- July 2012
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 28 - 31
- 2012. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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Most domestic conventional oil resources have been produced using primary and secondary recovery techniques, with an average recovery factor estimated at 35%. Additional recovery is possible by using innovative enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques. One of these, carbon dioxide (CO2) miscible flooding, is the fastest growing EOR technique in the United States because of the many reservoirs amenable to the process. Current production is almost 310,000 B/D (EOR Survey, Oil and Gas Journal, April 2012), representing approximately 5% of total US oil output.
A revised national resource assessment for CO2 EOR conducted by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) of the United States Department of Energy (DOE) in 2011 indicated that “next generation” CO2 EOR can provide 137 billion bbl of additional, technically recoverable domestic oil, with about half (67 billion bbl) economically recoverable at an oil price of USD 85 per bbl. CO2 EOR has the benefit of sequestering CO2 in oil producing formations and is seen as a critical component of future greenhouse gas management programs. This facet of CO2 EOR produces valuable synergies with the carbon capture, utilization, and storage research program with the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy.
The CO2 EOR process is limited by technology, cost, and the geographic availability of CO2. Technology improvements are needed to increase the displacement efficiency of the process. Not only would advances in displacement efficiency increase oil recovery, it would also lead to the sequestration of additional CO2 volumes.
The Office of Fossil Energy has historically supported a large number of laboratory and field tests in an effort to improve oil recovery processes. A majority of the projects were related to advanced reservoir characterization, mobility control, and conformance of CO2 flooding. In September 2010, the NETL awarded a number of new research projects to further development of the next generation of CO2 EOR, encouraging applicants to pursue small field or pilot testing. Two of the awarded research projects are related to mobility control in CO2 flooding using nanoparticle technologies.
The University of Texas at Austin (UT) is evaluating inexpensive alternative nanoparticles (microscopic particles with at least one dimension less than 100 nm) to provide the large volumes needed for foam stabilization in field-scale CO2 floods. The study entails using low-cost, commercially available “bare” nanoparticles (e.g., silica, fly ash, and iron oxide) and applying a polyethylene glycol (PEG) or other in-house coating to produce low-cost alternatives to develop CO2 foam.
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