Abstract

The understanding of single and multiphase flow behavior in porous media has been improved with the development of in situ saturation measurement techniques such as X-ray Computed Tomography (CT), mainly in specialized core analysis. On the other hand, effective experimental designs are necessary to advance knowledge on operations of Water Alternating Gas (WAG) and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects. The present study addresses the determination of petrophysical properties concerning fluid storage and displacement in carbonates by using CT images taken during core flooding runs.

Eight displacement experiments were carried out in long core to analyze N2 and CO2 flooding under reservoir conditions (from 700 to 7000 psi) at temperatures of 22°C and 65°C. A carbonate core sample of 5 cm diameter by 76 cm long with porosity of 15% from a carbonate outcrop analogous to Brazilian pre-salt reservoir rocks was used in the displacement tests. The mixing of CO2 and brine was a key experimental procedure to evaluate the CO2 trapping. The parameters of porosity, permeability, distribution of initial non-wetting phase, irreducible brine saturation, trapped non-wetting phase saturation, displacement effectiveness and the effect of saturation history were investigated during drainage-imbibition cycles similar to those in the WAG process.

Values for Land trapping coefficients were evaluated from on-line X-ray CT scan images. The trapped non-wetting phase saturation ranged from 8 to 16 percent for both N2 and CO2 floods. The results reveal that trapped saturations are higher for higher pressures and higher temperatures. Cross-section images show the enlargement of pore spaces induced by brine-CO2 flooding with a consequent increase of the trapping capacity. Porosity and permeability changed after a CO2 injection, along with the observed formation of short wormholes. In addition, some degree of dissolution of the rock was verified and solid particles of carbonate salts were collected at the outlet of CO2-brine runs. The results obtained emphasize the importance of using high-resolution saturation imaging to provide the main parameters for the experimental evaluation of CO2-WAG processes in carbonates.

Introduction

Carbon dioxide (CO2) flooding has been considered as one of the most important processes for enhancing oil recovery (EOR) from carbonate reservoirs since the 1980's [1]. Its use, though, is most of the time limited by the availability of an economic source. In the Brazilian pre-salt reservoirs, e.g., Tupi field, the solution gas contains a high proportion of CO2 [2]. The re-injection of the produced CO2 in this case represents the solution of two problems at once. It solves the discard problem, which is of growing environmental concern, at the same time it provides the resource for improving the difficult oil recovery. Both EOR and environmental processes demand new studies covering the application of WAG injection and the safety of geological storage of CO2.

The alternating injection of water and gas was conceived in order to compensate the counter tendencies of gas rising upward and water falling downward within the reservoir by ‘breaking-up’ the continuous slug of gas into smaller slugs by alternating water banks [3]. On the other hand, injecting water with miscible gas reduces the instability of the gas/oil displacement, improving the overall sweep efficiency.

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