Summary

Advances in horizontal drilling and multistage hydraulic fracturing have unlocked tight-oil resources, such as the Montney Formation in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin. However, the average oil‐recovery factor after primary production is 5 to 10% of the original oil in place. The aims of this study are to investigate phase behavior and to estimate the minimum miscibility pressure (MMP) of the Montney oil/natural‐gas systems.

First, we measure the MMPs of the oil/gas systems using the vanishing interfacial tension (VIT) technique. The gas samples are methane (C1) and mixtures of methane and ethane (C1/C2). Second, we perform constant‐composition‐expansion (CCE) tests to study the phase behavior of the oil/gas systems using a pressure/volume/temperature (PVT) cell. To complement the VIT and CCE tests, we perform bulk‐phase tests to visualize vaporizing/condensing phenomena at the oil/gas interface using a visualization cell. Finally, we use the measured CCE and MMP data to calibrate the Peng-Robinson (Robinson and Peng 1978) equation of state (PR‐EOS) and predict the MMP of the oil/gas systems using ternary diagrams. The results suggest that the dominant mechanism for developing miscibility conditions for oil/C1 and oil/C1/C2 systems is vaporizing and condensing gas drive, respectively. According to the results of the VIT and CCE tests, increasing C2 mole fraction in the gas mixtures significantly reduces MMP of the oil/gas system (from 4,366 psi for oil/C1 to 1,467 psi for oil/C1/C2 with 71.3 mol% C2) and increases the oil‐swelling factor (from 1.47 to 1.61 by increasing C2 mol% from 0 to 70 mol%). The results of visualization tests show that the presence of C2 in the injection gas significantly enhances oil swelling compared with the pure‐C1 case. We observe vaporizing flows of oil components in all tests and strong condensing flows of C1 and C2 into the oil phase in the C1/C2 test with increasing gas‐injection pressure. The MMP values predicted by plotting two‐phase equilibrium data on ternary diagrams appear to be in good agreement with the measured ones. The results can be used to optimize the injection‐gas composition and operating pressure in the Montney.

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