Injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) into oil reservoirs has the potential to enhance oil recovery (EOR) and mitigate climate change by storing CO2 underground. Despite successes in using CO2 to enhance oil recovery, mobility control remains a major challenge facing CO2 injection projects. The objective of this work is to investigate the potential of using surfactant and a mixture of surfactant and nanoparticles (NPs) to generate foam to reduce gas mobility and enhanced oil recovery.

A newly developed anionic surfactant and a mixture of the surfactant and surface modified silica NPs were used to assess the ability of generating a stable foam at harsh reservoir conditions: sc-CO2 and high temperature. Dynamic foam tests and coreflood experiments were conducted to evaluate foam stability and strength. To measure the mobility of injected fluids in sandstone rocks, the foam was generated by co-injection of sc-CO2 and surfactant, as well as a mixture of surfactant and NPs at 90% quality. The coreflood experiments were conducted using non-fractured and fractured sandstone cores at 1550 psi and 50°C.

Surfactant alone and mixtures of surfactant and NPs were able to generate foam in porous media and reduce CO2 mobility. The mobility reduction factor (MRF) for both cases was about 3.5 times higher than that of injecting CO2 and brine at the same conditions. The coreflood experiments in non-fractured sandstone rocks showed that both surfactant and a mixture of surfactant and NPs were able to enhance oil recovery. The baseline experiment in the absence of surfactant resulted in a total recovery of 71.50% of the original oil in place (OOIP). Using surfactant brought the oil recovery to 76% of the OOIP. The addition of NPs to surfactant resulted in a higher oil recovery still, 80% of the OOIP. In fractured rocks, oil recoveries during secondary production mechanisms for the mixture, the surfactant alone, and sc-CO2 alone were 12.62, 8.41 and 7.21% of the OOIP, respectively.

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