Oil Displacement Using Partially Miscible Gas-Solvent Systems
- L.L. Handy
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- February 1963
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 195 - 202
- 1963. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.4.9 Miscible Methods, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 5.4.7 Chemical Flooding Methods (e.g., Polymer, Solvent, Nitrogen, Immiscible CO2, Surfactant, Vapex), 4.6 Natural Gas, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 5.4.2 Gas Injection Methods, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing
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HANDY, L.L., MEMBER AIME, CALIFORNIA RESEARCH CORP., LA HABRA, CALIF.
Solvent floods using slugs of solvent have been found to show continuity in behavior from the vapor pressure of the solvent to the critical pressure for the two-component driving gas-solvent system. In the pressure region between the solvent vapor pressure and the critical pressure for the gas-solvent system, the gas and solvent are only partially miscible. Although complete miscibility cannot be obtained at these pressures, complete oil recovery is possible in principle. In two-phase solvent floods the solvent is propagated through the reservoir, primarily, in the vapor phase. The carrier gas requirements constitute a significant factor in the economics of the process. A qualitative theory is proposed for estimating the amount of dry gas required to move the solvent through the reservoir. The theory shows that for tow-phase solvent floods the total gas needed is a minimum at the vapor pressure of the solvent and at the critical pressure for the gas-solvent system, and is a maximum at some intermediate pressure. The predictions of the theory are supported by experimental studies using methane, butane and decane or methane, propane and decane in a natural sandstone core.
Previously, solvent slug processes have been found effective for oil recovery in two pressure ranges. First, conventional miscible displacements are possible at pressures greater than the critical pressure for the gas-solvent system. Second, Jenks, et al, have shown that, at pressures slightly in excess of the vapor pressure of the solvent, a solvent slug can be propagated through a reservoir by a gas essentially insoluble in the liquid solvent. The solvent bank displaces the oil ahead of it. Both of these processes, at least ideally, are capable of recovering all of the oil in the swept regions. Slug processes for which the gas and solvent are partially miscible have not been considered; that is, those systems for which the solvent and driving gas form two equilibrium phases in which the vapor phase contains a significant amount of solvent and the liquid phase an appreciable amount of the driving gas. Welge and Johnson have shown that the gas needed to move a solvent slug through the reservoir increases with increasing pressure above the vapor pressure of the solvent. It will be shown that solvent slug processes can, theoretically, recover all of the oil at any pressure greater than the vapor pressure of the solvent. But the amount of gas required to move the solvent through the reservoir depends very much on the pressure and temperature. In the present study a maximum in the gas requirements was both predicted theoretically and observed experimentally. This result has not been reported previously, and would not have been predicted from the Welge and Johnson model. The gas requirements are a minimum at the pressures corresponding to the vapor pressure of the solvent and again at the critical pressure for the gas-solvent system, and are a maximum at some intermediate pressure.
AN APPROXIMATE THEORY FOR TWO-PHASE SOLVENT FLOODING
The differences and similarities between conventional solvent floods and two-phase solvent floods are best understood by referring to concepts developed for miscible displacement in which miscibility is generated in the reservoir. In Fig. 1 (A), a ternary diagram is shown for a hypothetical gas-solvent-oil system. To be rigorous the three components should each consist of a single molecular species. The pressure for Fig. 1 (A) is greater than the critical pressure for the binary gas-solvent system at the specified temperature. Diagrams of this type are the ones most frequently referred to in discussions of enriched-gas drive and miscible displacement. A limiting tie line is shown tangent to the two-phase envelope and intersecting the gas-solvent line at Point A. To obtain generated miscibility with this type system, others have shown that, for an oil of Composition D, a mixture of gas and solvent must be injected which is richer in solvent than that composition indicated by A. An oil repeatedly contacted with a gas phase richer than A changes toward a composition which would be at equilibrium with the injected mixture, that is, a composition lying on a tie line which passes through the injected-gas composition. Since no such tie line exists, the oil is enriched to the point at which it becomes directly miscible with the injected mixture. At pressures lower than the critical pressure for the gas-solvent system, other types of phase diagrams are observed. The ones of interest in this paper are for pressures greater than the vapor pressure of the solvent, but less than the critical pressure of the gas-solvent system. Such a ternary diagram is shown on Fig. 1 (B). In this case, two-phase behavior is observed not only for gas-oil mixtures, but also for certain compositions in the gas-solvent system.
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