This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 200427, “Evaluation of Eagle Ford Cyclic Gas Injection EOR: Field Results and Economics,” by George Grinestaff, SPE, Chris Barden, and Jeff Miller, SPE, Shale IOR, prepared for the 2020 SPE Improved Oil Recovery Conference, originally scheduled to be held in Tulsa, 18–22 April. The paper has not been peer reviewed.

Cyclic-gas-injection-based enhanced oil recovery (CGEOR) in the Eagle Ford was begun in late 2012 by EOG Resources and, at the time of writing, has expanded to more than 30 leases by six operators (266 wells). An extensive EOR evaluation was initiated to analyze the results recorded in these leases. The authors write that CGEOR in Eagle Ford volatile oil can yield substantial increases in estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) with robust economics, depending on compressor use and field life.

Introduction

Eagle Ford Source Rock and Reservoir. The Eagle Ford shale represents some of the world’s richest source rocks. The Upper Cretaceous seafloor received abundant organic debris and preserved it in an anoxic environment. The low permeability of the shale and limestone helped generate hydrocarbons when pore pressure exceeded overburden pressure. The resulting natural fractures provided a means to expel oil, much of it migrating into the overlying Austin Chalk and Tertiary sandstones. The primary target area for produced-gas injection EOR is currently in the volatile oil window between 9,000 and 11,000 ft true vertical depth, which yields oil API gravity of greater than 40. Initial gas/oil ratio (GOR) typically ranges from 1,000 to 3,000 scf/bbl.

Eagle Ford EOR History. The first large-scale CGEOR project was implemented in October 2014. Rapid development has occurred since then, but, in the complete paper, the authors present the first commercial EOR projects by EOG Resources because these have the longest CGEOR production history. Recent projects show more-efficient startup, cycling, and higher optimization of gas injection. Therefore, the analysis of EOR in this paper takes a conservative approach of using the first projects because they appear to have lower EOR recovery but more production history.

Evaluation Methodology

Unconventional EOR Work Flow. Analysis of CGEOR production and results has been completed using production history and reservoir simulation to provide a rigorous evaluation. The authors use a 14-component fracture element model with a very fine grid to predict well GOR, EUR, and reservoir behavior for the compositional process. The element model is then scaled up to mimic the average well for a given pad or lease, and then cycle operations are developed based on CGEOR simulation runs and criteria.

Unconventional CGEOR provides a direct response after the first cycle of gas injection; however, the base depletion profile also is important for understanding economics for increased oil production or incremental EOR. A history match of the base depletion is first completed to match an average well at the pad level (approximately one 640-acre section with 10 to 14 wells). The element is then scaled up based on well completion, stimulated rock volume, and EUR for the base depletion.

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