The Effect of Light-Gasoline Injection on Oil Recovery By Water Flooding
- Ruediger Wiesenthal (Deutsche Erdoel-Aktiengesellschaft, Hamburg, Germany)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- November 1964
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,307 - 1,315
- 1964. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 5.4.7 Chemical Flooding Methods (e.g., Polymer, Solvent, Nitrogen, Immiscible CO2, Surfactant, Vapex), 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 5.8.5 Oil Sand, Oil Shale, Bitumen, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 5.7.2 Recovery Factors, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements
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A method is developed for improving the low recovery efficiency which results when viscous oils are flooded by water. Viscous oil has been diluted with a lighter liquid miscible in it in any ratio which produces a mixture possessing a reduced viscosity and which is then displaced by water. Light gasoline was used in these tests to reduce the viscosity of the oil in place. Oils possessing viscosities in the range of 1.28 to 324 cp at the test temperature of 30C were displaced from a cylindrical unconsolidated sand core, with a length of 2 m (6.5 ft) and a diameter of 10 cm (3.9 in.) at a flood of 6.27 cc/sq cm/hr.
In two test series up to 1 PV of light gasoline was injected into the core before water flooding. In the first series the recovery of a low-viscosity oil (1.28 cp) increased as the volume of light gasoline was increased. However, only the oil which could not be recovered by water flooding alone could be replaced by the light gasoline. In the other series, the recovery of a more viscous oil (13.5 cp) was not increased even if large quantities of light gasoline were injected. An oil bank built up ahead of the water front so that the flood water met with equivalent saturation conditions, as would be the case in flooding solely with water.
However, the recovery of more viscous oils could be increased substantially when the core was first flooded with water, followed by a slug of light gasoline, and then flooded with water again. Furthermore, an oil bank built up ahead of the second water front. The formation of this oil bank is particularly favorable for the displacement process; the greater part of the light gasoline injected was pushed out of the core ahead of the oil and recovered. Using a light oil of low viscosity, it was possible to replace only the residual oil that could not be recovered by water flooding by the light gasoline.
As the basic study had shown that highly viscous oils could be recovered by flooding first with water, then with light gasoline, followed by a second injection of water, the study was extended by tests made with reservoir fluids and cores taken from the low-gravity oil reservoir of the Wietze field, Germany. A great increase in recovery over flooding with water alone was obtained in these tests. The results may show a way to recover high-viscosity oils by a comparatively simple flooding procedure.
In fields where oil recovery has not benefited from natural water drive, increased recovery may be obtained by the injection of water into the reservoir, especially in the case of fields which produce high-gravity, low-viscosity oil. There is a rather close relation between the viscosity of the reservoir fluid and the recovery that can be obtained by water flooding. As the viscosity increases the oil recovery decreases proportionately, so that an oil viscosity about 30 times that of water is generally considered to be the upper limit for an economically successful water flood.1 This limitation has been recognized theoretically by Buckley and Leverett,2 and has been verified by numerous laboratory flooding tests, such as by Croes and Schwarz,3 in the viscosity ratio range of oil to water from 1 to 500.
The reason for the inferior recovery of viscous oils by water flooding can best be understood by considering the mechanism of flood tests. In such tests water is introduced into one end of a sand-packed tube which is saturated with oil of the viscosity to be tested, and oil is produced from the other end. Oil, with a viscosity lower than that of water, is pushed ahead of the advancing water with considerable uniformity, and irregularities in the displacement process tend to be eliminated as the oil saturation decreases and the water saturation increases. However, oil recovery is not complete, for the water forms interfaces with the oil and traps residual oil droplets in certain of the pore spaces. These residual oil droplets are distributed rather uniformly through the sand, and they are not susceptible to recovery regardless of the amount of water passed through the test cylinder.
In the case of an oil possessing a viscosity greater than that of water, the injected water tends to move irregularly through the sand in the test cylinder. At the place in the sand where initial water movement takes place, resistance to the movement of water is lowered and the water finger so formed will grow perceptibly; it will extend to the outlet end of the test cylinder so that a breakthrough of water takes place long before much of the oil-saturated volume of the sand has come in contact with water. Once the breakthrough of water takes place, the water-oil ratio is gradually approaching the economic limit, even though much of the oil in the test cylinder remains unaffected by water. Disconnected drops of oil are trapped in the portion of the sand that has been invaded by water, just as when an oil of low viscosity is flooded.
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