Scaling of Low-Interfacial-Tension Imbibition in Oil-Wet Carbonates
- Yuxiang Li (University of Texas at Austin) | Gary A. Pope (University of Texas at Austin) | Jun Lu (University of Texas at Austin) | Lauren Churchwell (University of Texas at Austin) | Mohsen Tagavifar (University of Texas at Austin) | Upali P. Weerasooriya (University of Texas at Austin)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Journal
- Publication Date
- October 2017
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,349 - 1,361
- 2017.Society of Petroleum Engineers
- fractured carbonates, surfactant imbibition, enhanced oil recovery
- 2 in the last 30 days
- 359 since 2007
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Primary and secondary oil recovery from naturally fractured oil-wet carbonate reservoirs is very low. Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) from these reservoirs by use of surfactants to alter the wettability and reduce the interfacial tension (IFT) has been extensively studied for many years, but there are still many questions regarding the process mechanisms, surfactant selection and testing, experimental design, and, most importantly, how to scale up the laboratory results to the field. Therefore, the primary objective of this study was to determine the effect of scale on the oil recovery from cores with different dimensions under low-IFT conditions. There was a particular need to perform experiments by use of cores with larger horizontal dimensions because nearly all previous experiments have been performed in cores with a small diameter, typically 3.8 cm. We adapted and modified the experimental method used for traditional static-imbibition experiments by flushing out fluids surrounding the cores periodically to better estimate the oil recovery, including the produced emulsion. We used microemulsion-phase-behavior tests to develop surfactant formulations used in this study. These surfactants gave ultralow IFT at optimum salinity and good aqueous stability. Although we used ultralow-IFT (approximately 0.002 dynes/cm) formulations for most of the experiments, we also performed tests at low IFT (approximately 0.3 dynes/cm) for comparison. A second major objective of this study was to develop a simple analytical model to predict the oil recovery as a function of vertical- and horizontal-fracture spacing, rock properties, and fluid properties. The model and experimental data were found to be in good agreement considering the many simplifications made to derive the model. The scaling implied by the model is significantly different from the traditional scaling groups in the literature. The model is useful for both interpreting the experiments and for scaling the results from the laboratory to the field.
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