Stability Theory and Its Use to Optimize Solvent Recovery of Oil
- Richard L. Perrine (U. of California at Los Angeles)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal
- Publication Date
- March 1961
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 9 - 16
- 1961. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.3.4 Scale, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 5.4.7 Chemical Flooding Methods (e.g., Polymer, Solvent, Nitrogen, Immiscible CO2, Surfactant, Vapex), 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing
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This paper shows how stability theory can be used to optimize solvent recovery of oil. Application of the theory leads to definition of the limiting conditions required for stable displacement to occur. One of these conditions is that the size of a solvent "slug" must at least equal a prescribed minimum. The criteria to be satisfied are miscibility and stability. Stability implies that no viscous fingering will occur and that mixing will be caused only by a dispersion process. Miscibility implies that complete recovery will be obtained from the swept regions. Thus, for any specified set of reservoir conditions, an optimum use of solvent is defined.
The early outlook for solvent flooding as a means to increase oil recovery was very favorable. Some laboratory results indicated that a "slug" containing perhaps 2 to 3 per cent of a hydrocarbon pore volume could be successful. However, other data suggested as much as 30 per cent would be required. The difference is of considerable economic importance. A theoretical explanation for these divergent results has been advanced by the author. Stability theory defines conditions for two distinct flow regimes. In stable displacement, solvent and oil become mixed by a dispersion process, and the solvent requirement is small. On the other hand, unstable displacement can degenerate into viscous fingering. The practical result is a considerable increase in the extent of mixing and, thus, in the solvent required.
The present paper shows how to use stability theory to optimize solvent recovery of oil. Oil is usually considered to be displaced by a small amount, or a slug, of solvent. Gas in turn follows solvent. Any fingering will permit contact of nearly solvent-free gas and oil, leading to immiscibility and reduced recovery. Thus, our optimum is defined by two restrictions - stable flow and miscibility.
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