Experimental Investigation on Separation Behavior of Heavy-Oil Emulsion for Polymer Flooding on Alaska North Slope
- Hongli Chang (University of Alaska Fairbanks) | Yin Zhang (University of Alaska Fairbanks) | Abhijit Dandekar (University of Alaska Fairbanks) | Samson Ning (Reservoir Experts, LLC/Hilcorp Alaska, LLC) | John Barnes (Hilcorp Alaska, LLC) | Reid Edwards (Hilcorp Alaska, LLC) | Walbert Schulpen (Hilcorp Alaska, LLC) | David P. Cercone (DOE—National Energy Technology Laboratory) | Jared Ciferno (DOE—National Energy Technology Laboratory)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Production & Operations
- Publication Date
- August 2020
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 579 - 591
- 2020. Not subject to copyright. This document was prepared by US Government employees or with US Government funding that places it in the public domain.
- Alaska north slope, polymer flooding, Heavy oil EOR, demulsification, heavy oil emulsion
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- 33 since 2007
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The first-ever field pilot on Alaska North Slope (ANS) to validate using polymer floods for heavy-oil enhanced oil recovery is currently ongoing. One of the major concerns of the operator is the effect of polymer on oil/water-separation efficiency after polymer breakthrough. This work investigates the influence of polymer on the separation behavior of heavy-oil emulsions and evaluates the performance of emulsion breakers (EBs). In this study, two types of heavy-oil emulsions were prepared and tested at 20 and 50% water cut (WC), respectively. The bottle test method was used in the experiments, in which the separated water volume with time, the separated water quality, and the volume fraction of phases were recorded. Results showed that polymer accelerated the oil/water separation acting as an emulsion inhibitor at 20% WC but tended to impede the water separation at 50% WC. Regardless of WC, polymer resulted in poor water quality and the formation of a stable intermediate oil in water (o/w) emulsion, because of the increased viscosity of the water phase. The performance of EBs showed a complex dependency on the WC, the type of demulsifier and dosage, and the polymer concentration. Despite the varied conditions encountered in the heavy-oil/water/polymer/demulsifier system, a compound EB achieved satisfactory demulsification performance, showing the highest potential for deployment in the current ANS polymer flooding pilot. In this paper, we systematically studied the potential influence of polymer breakthrough on the separation behavior of heavy-oil emulsion on ANS for the first time. The findings of this study will provide practical guidance in advance for produced fluid treatment of the ongoing first-ever polymer flooding pilot on ANS.
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