Abstract

A Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery (MEOR) process was successfully applied to a mature waterflood in Southern California, using indigenous microbes that normally remain dormant during the producing life. Certain indigenous microbial species can be activated in waterflood reservoirs by introducing the correct blend of nutrients. Once activated, the microbes multiply when the nutrients deplete, then migrate to immobile oil in search of a food source. The microbes break up this residual oil saturation into smaller micro-droplets that can flow through pore throats and be swept to producers, yielding an increase in oil recovery. The application on a producing well led to an increase in well tests from 20 to over 80 BOPD. Following this encouraging test, the nutrients were applied in three batch treatments on each of the waterflood injectors. At peak response a thirty percent oil rate increase was seen in the offset producers. Because this process uses indigenous microbes, there are no compatibility issues with reservoir fluids or concerns about survival in a foreign environment. The results from this field application demonstrate that managing a reservoir's indigenous microbes can yield significant incremental oil production in a mature waterflood with a minimal investment.

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