Abstract

A rigorous three-phase asphaltene precipitation model was implemented into a compositional reservoir simulator to represent and estimate the reduction of porosity and permeability responsible for productivity impairment. Previous modeling techniques were computationally inefficient, showed thermodynamic inconsistencies, or required special laboratory experiments to characterize the fluid. The approach developed in this study uses a cubic equation of state to solve for vapor/liquid/liquid equilibrium (VLLE), where asphaltene is the denser liquid phase. Precipitation from the liquid mixture occurs as its solubility is reduced either by changes in pressure (natural depletion) or composition (i.e. mixing resulting from gas injection). The dynamic relationship between phase composition, pressure, and porosity/permeability is modeled with a finite differences reservoir simulator and solved using an implicit-pressure, explicit-saturations and explicit-compositions (IMPESC) direct sequential method.

The robustness of this model is validated by the ability to reproduce experimental asphaltene precipitation data while predicting the expected phase behavior envelope and response to key thermodynamic variables (i.e. type of components and composition, pressure and, temperature). The three-phase VLLE flash provides superior thermodynamic predictions compared to existing commercial techniques. This model offers the speed of a flash calculation while maintaining thermodynamic consistency, enabling efficient optimization of reservoir development strategies to mitigate the detrimental effects of asphaltene precipitation on productivity.

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