The poor rock quality and matrix permeability several orders of magnitude lower than conventional oil reservoirs observed in unconventional liquid reservoirs (ULR) presents many uncertainties on the storage capacity of the rock and the possibility of enhancing recovery. The technological advances in multiple stage hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have improved the overall profitability of oil shale plays by enhancing the matrix – wellbore connectivity. The combination of these technologies has become the key factor for the operators to reach economically attractive production rates in the exploitation of ULR, causing a lot of focus on their improvement. However, as the reservoir matures, primary production mechanisms no longer drive oil to the hydraulic fractures, making the improvement of matrix – wellbore connectivity insufficient to provide economically attractive production rates. Therefore, the need to develop enhanced recovery techniques in order to improve the displacement of the oil from the matrix, maintain profitable production rates, extend the life of the assets and increase ultimate oil recovery becomes evident.
This study presents experimental results on the use of CO2 as an enhanced oil recovery (EOR) agent in preserved, rotary sidewall reservoir core samples with negligible permeability. To simulate the presence of hydraulic fractures, the ULR cores were surrounded by high permeability glass beads and packed in a core holder. The high permeability media was then saturated with CO2 at constant pressure and temperature during the experiment. Production was monitored and the experiment was imaged using x-ray computed tomography to track saturation changes inside the core samples.
The results of this investigation support CO2 as a promising EOR agent for ULR. Oil recovery was estimated to be between 18 to 55% of OOIP. We provide a detailed description of the experimental set up and procedures. The analysis of the x-ray computed tomography images revealed saturation changes within the ULR core as a result of CO2 injection. A discussion about the mechanisms is presented, including diffusion and reduction in capillary forces. This paper opens a door to the investigation of CO2 enhanced oil recovery in ULR.