Interrelation of Crude Oil and Rock Properties With the Recovery of Oil by Caustic Waterflooding
- Robert Ehrlich (Gulf Research and Development Co.) | Robert J. Wygal Jr. (Gulf Research and Development Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal
- Publication Date
- August 1977
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 263 - 270
- 1977. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 2.5.2 Fracturing Materials (Fluids, Proppant), 5.3.4 Reduction of Residual Oil Saturation, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 5.4.10 Microbial Methods, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 5.4.4 Reduction of Residual Oil Saturation
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This paper describes a series of laboratory caustic (NaOH) waterfloods and related measurements using crude oils from 19 oil reservoirs. These were light (mostly,>30 degrees API) crudes mainly from South Louisiana and Texas, although crude oils from other areas also were tested. The waterfloods held core material (Berea sandstone), connate water (2-percent-NaCl brine) and other conditions (temperature, flow rate, aging time before flood) constant, and determined increased production due to NaOH injection for each crude oil. Relative permeability end-points before and after flooding were used to estimate initial and final wettabilities and, together with crude-oil acid numbers and interfacial tensions against NaOH solution, to infer the probable mechanism by which increased recovery was obtained.
A series of laboratory NaOH depletion measurements by static and dynamic methods in core material from several oil-producing formations and in Berea sandstone is also described. Results are compared with those from similar measurements using pure clays and other minerals and with X-ray diffraction analysis of the core material.
The following are observations from these tests.
1. Crude oils with acid numbers greater than about 0.1 to a 0.2 mg KOH per gm of oil or interfacial tension against 0.1 percent NaOH less than about 0.5 dyne/cm gave significant caustic-waterflood increased production. There was no further correlation of increased production at higher acid numbers or lower interfacial tensions nor was there a correlation with the apparent initial rock wettability.
2. Regardless of initial wettability or increased production, the cores are indicated to be water-wet production, the cores are indicated to be water-wet following NaOH waterflooding to a high water-oil ratio (WOR).
3. Caustic consumption by reservoir rock is predictable from the formation mineral composition predictable from the formation mineral composition as determined by X-ray methods. Exceptions are noted where clay content is high and where trace amounts of gypsum are present.
Crude oils containing naturally occurring organic acids will react with aqueous caustic solution to produce surface-active materials. These surfactants, produce surface-active materials. These surfactants, when generated during a caustic waterflood, can improve oil recovery over that of a normal waterflood by a number of mechanisms related to changes occurring at the oil-water and liquid-solid interfaces: interfacial-tension lowering, wettability change, changes in interface rheology, etc. The extent to which any of these mechanisms will be operative and the recovery improvement obtainable depends on, among other things, the amount and type of acids present, the initial formation wettability, the reservoir-rock pore geometry, and the extent to which it consumes caustic.
The available literature describing mechanisms proposed for caustic-waterflooding improved recovery, proposed for caustic-waterflooding improved recovery, the conditions required for applicability, and the results of various laboratory and field studies have been surveyed most recently by Johnson. Some common currents of thought or implication in this literature and some common areas of uncertainty related to the effects of crude oil and reservoir rock properties on recovery mechanisms are listed below. properties on recovery mechanisms are listed below. 1. The presence of acids in crude oil at some minimum level is an obvious necessary condition for improved recovery. Where emulsification is involved, minimum acid numbers ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 mg KOH per gm of oil have been suggested. No minimum has been stated for other recovery mechanisms. One might not expect such minimum requirements to be absolute since the quality of surfactants generated from these acids can vary widely among crude oils.
2. Improved recovery by wettability alteration generally has been discussed in terms of a reversal from oil-wet to water-wet or vice versa. It has been implied that wettability reversal is required since capillary forces trapping oil are eliminated as the neutral wettability condition is traversed.
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