Ammonia as Alkali for Alkaline/Surfactant/Polymer Floods
- Jeffrey G. Southwick (Shell Global Solutions International B.V.) | Esther van den Pol (Shell Global Solutions International B.V.) | Carl H. T. van Rijn (Shell Global Solutions International B.V.) | Diederik W. van Batenburg (Shell Global Solutions International B.V.) | Diederik Boersma (Shell Global Solutions International B.V.) | Yi Svec (Shell Development Oman) | Ahmad Anis Mastan (Petronas Research Sdn. Bhd.) | Gordon Shahin (Shell Global Solutions Incorporated) | Kirk Raney (Shell Global Solutions Incorporated)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Journal
- Publication Date
- February 2016
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 10 - 21
- 2016.Society of Petroleum Engineers
- enhanced oil recovery, chemical flooding, alkali surfactant polymer flooding, ASP flooding, chemical EOR
- 6 in the last 30 days
- 666 since 2007
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Correction Notice: The captions of Figs. 5 and 6 on pages 15 and 16 have been corrected from an earlier version of the paper. This correction does not affect any other information provided in the paper.
Additional Correction Notice: The captions of Figs. 7–14 were applied out of sequence in the original published paper, and have been updated. Erratum notes have been included in the Supporting Information section below. These corrections do not affect any other information provided in the paper.
Ammonia is logistically preferred over sodium carbonate for alkaline/surfactant/polymer (ASP) enhanced-oil-recovery projects because of its low molar mass and the possibility for it to be delivered as a liquid. On an offshore platform, space and weight savings can be the determining factor in deciding whether an ASP project is feasible. Logistics may also be critical in determining the economic feasibility of projects in remote locations.
Ammonia as alkali together with a surfactant blend of alkyl propoxy sulfate/internal olefin sulfonate (APS/IOS) functions as an effective alkali. Surfactant adsorption is low, and oil recovery in corefloods is high. Static adsorption tests show that low surfactant adsorption is attained at pH > 9, a condition that ammonia satisfies at low solution concentration.
It is expected that ammonia has a performance deficiency relative to sodium carbonate in that it does not precipitate calcium from solution. Calcium accumulation in the ammonia ASP solution will occur, caused by ion exchange from clays. The high oil recovery for ammonia and the calcium accumulation in ASP and surfactant/polymer corefloods with APS/IOS blends show that this surfactant system is effective and calcium-tolerant. Also, phase behavior and interfacial-tension (IFT) measurements suggest that APS/IOS blends remain effective in the presence of calcium. Ethylene oxide/propylene oxide sulfates (such as the used APS) are known commercially available, calcium-tolerant surfactants. However, because of hydrolysis, sulfate-type surfactants are suitable for use only in lower-temperature reservoirs.
Very different behavior was noticed for phase-behavior measurements with calcium-intolerant surfactants such as alkyl benzene sulfonates and IOS. In this case, calcium addition results in a very high IFT and complete separation of oil and brine. Presumably, this will result in low oil recovery. A preferred approach for ASP offshore with divalent-ion-intolerant surfactants may be the use of a hybrid alkali system combining the attributes of sodium carbonate and ammonia. The concept is to supply the bulk of the alkalinity for an ASP flood by ammonia with all the inherent logistical advantages. A minor quantity of sodium carbonate is added to the formulation to specifically precipitate calcium ions.
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