Abstract

The propagation of foam in an oil reservoir depends on the creation and stability of the foam in the reservoir, specifically the creation and stability of foam films, or lamellae. As the foam propagates far from in injection well, superficial velocity and pressure gradient decrease with distance from the well. Experimental (Friedmann et al., 1994) and theoretical (Ashoori et al., 2011) studies relate concerns about foam propagation at low superficial velocity to the minimum velocity for foam generation near the well (Rossen and Gauglitz, 1990; Gauglitz et al., 2002). The objective of this work is to measure the impact of surfactant concentration and gas fractional flow on foam generation. Theory (Rossen and Gauglitz, 1990; Kam and Rossen, 2003) relates foam generation to gas fractional flow and, indirectly, to the stability of foam films, or lamellae, which in turn depends on surfactant concentration (Apaydin and Kovcsek, 2001). However, the link between foam generation and surfactant concentration has not been established experimentally.

In our experiments, nitrogen foam is generated in a core of Bentheimer sandstone. The foamgeneration experiments consist of measuring the critical velocity for foam generation as a function of gas fractional flow at three surfactant concentrations well above the critical micelle concentration. Experimental results show that critical velocity decreases with increasing liquid fraction, as shown by previous foam generation studies (Rossen and Gauglitz, 1990; Friedmann et al., 1991). Additionally, our results show that the critical velocity decreases with increasing surfactant concentration, far above the CMC. We also propose a workflow for screening out the experimental artifacts that can distort the trigger velocity.

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