Chemical flooding technology is one of the effective enhanced oil recovery (EOR) methods for high water cut sandstone reservoirs with either medium and/or high permeability. Because of the small pore throat radius in the pore medium of low permeability reservoir, high molecular weight polymers cannot be injected in the low permeability reservoir. Therefore, many traditional chemical floodings (such as polymer flooding, alkali-surfactant-polymer (ASP) flooding and surfactant-polymer (SP) flooding) cannot be effectively applied in this case. Small-molecule viscoelastic surfactant (VES) has special rheological properties in porous medium. It showed both viscosified function and reduction of oil/water interfacial tension (IFT) performances under certain conditions, thereby providing the possibility of IOR/EOR potential application in low permeability reservoirs.

Most of reservoirs in Jilin Oilfield belong to low permeability reservoirs with permeability of around 50 mD in average. The recovery percent of reserves in Fuyu was only 23% by water flooding with water cut as high as 93%. A candidate EOR technique with chemical flooding has been proposed. Studies on VES flooding EOR methods targeting this reservoir condition were conducted. The rheological property, IFT property, viscosifying ability of VES and core flooding experiments of VES system were studied.

From VES screening experiment, a type of zwitterionic betaine surfactant with long carbon chain was selected. It showed viscosifying behavior, shear thinning property and low IFT performances at reservoir conditions. VES of EAB solutions showed a good viscosifying action at low surfactant concentration. Moreover, based on its shear thinning property under the wide shear rate conditions, VES exhibited a good injectivity performance. IFT between crude oil and formation water with EAB was 10−3-10−2 mN/m order of magnitudes. The results could be obtained at the concentration ranges of surfactants from 0.1wt% to 0.4wt%. Ultralow IFT (10−3 mN/m order of magnitudes) could be obtained in the presence of co-surfactants or alkalis (such as sodium carbonate). Core flooding experiments of VES flooding showed that the incremental oil recovery factors could reach up to 13%-17% over conventional water flooding at Fuyu reservoir conditions. Test results indicated that VES flooding might become a promise alternative EOR method for low permeability reservoir after water flooding.

In contrast to the complexity of ASP/SP combination system, VES flooding could avoid chromatographic effects in the reservoir based on their simple formula (single surfactant compound). This new chemical flooding technique might have a great potential for EOR application in the low permeability reservoirs.

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