Experimental Studies of Detection and Reuse of the Produced Chemicals in Alkaline-Surfactant-Polymer Floods
- Wei Wang (U. of Regina) | Yongan Gu (U. of Regina)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering
- Publication Date
- October 2005
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 362 - 371
- 2005. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 2.5.2 Fracturing Materials (Fluids, Proppant), 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 6.3.6 Chemical Storage and Use, 5.4.10 Microbial Methods, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 5.4.2 Gas Injection Methods, 5.4 Enhanced Recovery, 5.7.2 Recovery Factors, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.4.7 Chemical Flooding Methods (e.g., Polymer, Solvent, Nitrogen, Immiscible CO2, Surfactant, Vapex), 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 5.8.7 Carbonate Reservoir, 5.4.1 Waterflooding
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Alkaline/surfactant/polymer (ASP) flood processes have been appliedincreasingly in oil fields because of their contribution to high ultimate oilrecovery. However, a major technical challenge is determining how tosignificantly reduce the amount and the cost of chemicals used so that ASPfloods can become cost-effective as well. On the other hand, some fieldapplications show that alkali, surfactant, and polymer concentrations remainrelatively high in the produced liquids of ASP floods. Thus, successfuldetection and reuse of these chemicals can substantially minimize the capitalcost and the environmental impact. In this paper, several methods are appliedto detect each chemical and quantify its concentration in the produced liquids.In addition, reinjection tests of the produced chemicals are conducted forfurther enhancing oil recovery. More specifically, first, the totalinteractions of each chemical with the oil/brine/rock system are studied. Withthe developed detection methods for each individual chemical used in ASPfloods, the total loss of each chemical is measured. The chemical loss iscaused by its chemical reactions with the crude oil and the reservoir brine, aswell as its adsorption onto the rock surface. Second, coreflood tests areperformed for alkaline floods (AFs), surfactant floods (SFs),alkaline/surfactant floods (ASFs), and ASP floods (ASPFs) to determine theirrespective tertiary oil recoveries. Hence, a better understanding of how eachchemical contributes to enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is achieved. Third, typicalchemical concentrations in the produced liquids are measured and compared withthose in the injected slugs to determine the potential of reusing thesechemicals in practice. Finally, the coreflood tests of reusing these producedchemicals are carried out by reinjecting the produced liquids into newsandpacks or Berea-sandstone cores. The reinjection coreflood-test results showthat the produced chemicals can be reused effectively to enhance oil recovery.It is anticipated that the detection methods and reuse schemes studied in thisexperimental work should facilitate the design, optimization, andimplementation of ASP field flood projects.
Chemical EOR operations are increasingly applied in oil fields astertiary-oil-recovery methods. In the literature, there are excellentcomprehensive studies on chemical flooding. A variety of chemical floods areconducted, such as AF, SF, polymer flood (PF), ASF, alkaline/polymer flood(APF), and ASPF. In particular, as one of the most effective EOR techniques,ASP flooding has been applied to recover the residual oil in sandstone andcarbonate reservoirs since 1980. It has been reported that successfulapplications of ASP floods in oil fields can enhance oil recovery up to20%.
Generally speaking, an ASP flood is a modified waterflood. Fieldapplications of AFs alone usually result in poor oil recovery because of thealkaline loss caused by the chemical reactions with the reservoir rocks, thelow acid number of the crude oil, and the adverse mobility ratio. The major EORmechanisms of an ASP flood are described briefly as follows. In conjunctionwith the added surfactant, the surfactants generated in situ by the chemicalreactions between the injected alkali and the natural organic acids in thecrude oil can result in ultralow interfacial tension (IFT). The ultralow IFT atthe oil/brine interface helps to emulsify and mobilize the residual oil in anoil reservoir. In addition, the reservoir-rock surface becomes more negativelycharged at higher hydroxyl ion concentrations. These negatively charged ionsnot only prevent the adsorption of anionic chemicals, such as anionicsurfactants and polymers, but they also change the wettability of the rocksurface. Also, the added surfactant can increase the salinity tolerance of thealkali. To achieve the same displacement efficiency as that of a micellar PF,the surfactant concentration required in the ASP flood can be reduced by oneorder of magnitude. On the other hand, the injected polymer can significantlyreduce the mobility ratio. The adsorption of polymer onto the reservoir rockcan reduce the effective water permeability. Hence, polymer flooding improvesboth the areal and the vertical sweep efficiencies.
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