Microemulsion Effects on Oil Recovery From Kerogen Using Molecular-Dynamics Simulation
- Khoa Bui (Texas A&M University) | I. Yucel Akkutlu (Texas A&M University) | Andrei S. Zelenev (Flotek Industries) | William A. Hill (Flotek Industries) | Christian Griman (Flotek Industries) | Trudy C. Boudreaux (Flotek Industries) | James A. Silas (Flotek Industries)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Journal
- Publication Date
- December 2019
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 2,541 - 2,554
- 2019.Society of Petroleum Engineers
- kerogen, molecular dynamics simulations, recovery, microemulsion
- 28 in the last 30 days
- 90 since 2007
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Source rocks contain significant volumes of hydrocarbon fluids trapped in kerogen, but effective recovery is challenged because of amplified fluid/wall interactions and the nanopore-confinement effect on the hydrocarbon-fluid composition. Enhanced oil production can be achieved by modifying the existing molecular forces in a kerogen pore network using custom-designed targeted-chemistry technologies. The objective of this paper is to show that the maturation of kerogen during catagenesis relates to the qualities of the kerogen pore network, such as pore size, shape, and connectivity, and plays an important role in the recovery of hydrocarbons. Furthermore, using molecular-dynamics (MD) simulations, we investigated how the transport of hydrocarbons in kerogen and hydrocarbon recovery can be altered with the delivery of microemulsion and surfactant micelles into the pore network.
New 3D kerogen models are presented using atomistic modeling and molecular simulations. These models possess important chemical and physical characteristics of the organic matter of the source rock. A replica of Type II kerogen representative of the source rocks in the Permian Basin in the US is used for the subsequent recovery simulations. Oil-saturated kerogen is modeled as consisting of nine different types of molecules: dimethyl naphthalene, toluene, tetradecane, decane, octane, butane, propane, ethane, and methane. The delivered microemulsion is an aqueous dispersion of solvent-swollen surfactant micelles. The solvent and nonionic surfactant present in the microemulsion are modeled as d-limonene and dodecanol heptaethyl ether (C12E7), respectively. MD simulation experiments include two stages: injection of an aqueous-phase microemulsion treatment fluid into the oil-saturated kerogen pore network, and transient flowback of the fluids in the pore network. The used 3D kerogen models were developed using a representative oil-sample composition (hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, sulfur, and nitrogen) from the region. Simulation results show that microemulsions affect the reservoir by means of two different mechanisms. First, during the injection, microemulsion droplets possess elastic properties that allow them to squeeze through inorganic pores smaller than the droplet’s own diameter and to adsorb at the kerogen surfaces. The solvent dissolves in the oil phase and alters the physical and transport properties of the phase. Second, the surfactant molecules modify the wettability of the solid kerogen surfaces. Consequently, the recovery effectiveness of heavier oil fractions is improved compared with the recovery effectiveness achieved with surfactant micelles without the solubilized solvent.
The results indicate that solubilized solvent and surfactant can be effectively delivered into organic-rich nanoporous formations as part of a microemulsion droplet and aid in the mobilization of the kerogen oil.
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