How to estimate operational controls so as to optimize economic returns in CO2-WAG projects and reduce calcite scale risk? The reactivity and heterogeneity intrinsic to carbonate reservoirs make CO2-WAG (Water Alternating Gas) injection a big challenge. While miscibility effects greatly increase oil recovered, the presence of CO2 can cause severe flow assurance issues. The aim of this paper is to introduce a simulation-based methodology to optimize the design of CO2-EOR operations, considering economics, mineral scaling risk and environmental impact.
A compositional reservoir model was built to simulate a reactive 3-phase miscible flow in porous media. Aiming at maximizing the Net Present Value (NPV), we optimized the following operational variables: duration of waterflooding period; injection rates; producer bottomhole pressure (BHP); WAG ratio, gas half-cycle duration and number of cycles for different WAG stages (tapered WAG). We then used the forecasted data to quantify calcium carbonate scaling tendency for the scenarios of interest and design scale management strategies (squeeze treatments) with the lowest costs.
The optimal WAG design found through the methodology increased NPV by 55.6% compared to a base-case waterflooding scenario. We also found that performing a waterflood in a carbonate reservoir with high CO2 content will result in more severe calcite scale risk than applying equivalent WAG schemes. A lower production BHP can reduce the potential for precipitation, by allowing the CO2 to evolve from the aqueous solution within the reservoir, before it arrives at the production wellbore. On the other hand, a lower producer BHP can increase water production rates and, therefore, scale risk.
The proposed workflow provides valuable insights on the procedures involved in simulating and optimizing CO2-WAG projects with high calcite scale risk. Its application demonstrated the importance of an integrated analysis that seeks for higher economic returns in a sustainable manner, with reduced production issues caused by CO2 speciation.