Improved Secondary Recovery by Control of Water Mobility
- David J. Pye (The Dow Chemical Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- August 1964
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 911 - 916
- 1964. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 5.7.2 Recovery Factors, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.6.5 Tracers, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 4.3.4 Scale, 5.4.7 Chemical Flooding Methods (e.g., Polymer, Solvent, Nitrogen, Immiscible CO2, Surfactant, Vapex), 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control
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Certain high molecular weight synthetic polymers in very dilute solutions decrease water mobility in porous media 5 to 20 times more than would be expected from the solution viscosity. This indicates that increasing water viscosity to reduce adverse mobility ratios in water floods is economically feasible in many situations. Laboratory results are consistent with accepted theory with respect to improved areal sweep, permeability distribution and displacement efficiencies as would be predicted from the solution mobility measured in the core. The laboratory results have been confirmed by field pilot floods which recovered 80 per cent and 100 per cent more oil than comparative waterflood pilots in fields containing 16 cp and 130 cp oil respectively. Economic analyses based on pilot data indicate the method to be profitable.
The desirability of improving the water-oil mobility ratio in waterflooding operations has long been appreciated, especially for high viscosity crudes. Methods of reducing the oil viscosity by application of heat, gas resaturation and miscible drives have met with some success. Conversely, it has been generally conceded that increasing the water viscosity would also be effective, but the amount of thickening agent required to effect an appreciable increase in viscosity is discouragingly high. The use of such materials as glycerin, sugar, or glycols is completely out of the question economically, so that considerable attention has been given to the use of the much more efficient synthetic water-soluble polymers as viscosity improvers; but even these materials are not economically attractive. If increased water viscosity could be economically realized, marked improvements in areal sweep efficiency, as discussed by Caudle and Witte and others, would be realized in field operations. Similarly, the improved mobility ratio would bring about increased recoveries by correcting permeability distribution problems as discussed by Stiles and Dykstra and Parsons, and improvements in displacement efficiency would be obtained as recognized by Buckley and Leverett and Welge.
THE RESISTANCE EFFECT
In the course of research to develop a more efficient water-soluble polymer viscosity builder, we discovered that a very few types of water-soluble polymers exhibited a most unusual and very interesting property not previously observed. Among the earliest materials showing such activity were polymers containing acrylamide. Fig. 1 shows a typical plot of the solution viscosity vs concentration for one of these polymer solution as determined in an Ostwald viscometer. As usual, such a plot is an approximate straight line on semilogarithmic paper. Now, an inspection of Darcy's law,
shows that a viscosity value can also be determined in a formation sample if the pressure, flow rate and permeability are known. If the core permeability is previously determined with water or brine, then the viscosity of another aqueous fluid may be determined from the equation. The viscosities so determined for glycerin (glycol or polyvinyl alcohol solutions, for example) agree with the viscometer determinations. However, in the case of the water-soluble polymer solutions in which we are interested, the viscosities measured in the formation sample depart very markedly from the viscometer values. A typical relationship for a polymer solution is also shown in Fig. 1. This unusual departure from the expected response is referred to as a resistance property of the polymer and is quantified as "resistance factor".
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