CO2 injection is one of widely applied enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques, moreover, it is expected to contribute to the climate change from a viewpoint of storing CO2 in reservoir. However, CO2 is well known to accelerate precipitating asphaltenes which often deteriorate production. To understand in-situ asphaltene-depositions, unevenly distributed in composite carbonate core during a CO2 flood test under reservoir conditions, were investigated through numerical modelling study.
Tertiary mode CO2 core flood tests were performed. A core holder was vertically placed in an oven to maintain reservoir temperature and to avoid vertical segregation. A composite core consisting of four Ø1.5" × L2.75" plug cores, which had similar porosity range but slightly varied air permeabilities, was retrieved from a core holder after the flooding test. The remaining hydrocarbon was extracted by Dean-stark method, and heptane insoluble materials were extracted from each plug core via IP-143 method to observe distribution of asphaltene deposits. The variation of asphaltene mass in plug cores was investigated to explain its mechanism thermodynamically.
The core flood test was completed to achieve a certain additional oil recovery by 15 pore volume CO2 injection without any unfavorable differential pressure. The remaining asphaltene mass in each plug core revealed a trend in which more asphaltene collected from the inlet-side core. We assumed a scenario to explain the uneven asphaltene distribution by incorporating the vaporized-gas-drive and CO2 condensing mechanism. Namely, asphaltenes deposited immediately when pure CO2 contacted with oil. The contact between more pure CO2 and oil might be more frequently occurred in inlet-side core. To reproduce the scenario, a cubic-plus-association (CPA) model was generated to estimate asphaltene precipitating behavior as injected gas composition varied. In the first plug core, more pure CO2 gas was considered to contact with fresh reservoir oil compared with the downstream cores which might have less pure CO2 because of its condensation. The light-intermediate hydrocarbon gas vaporized by CO2 was also considered to emphasize the trend of more asphaltene deposits in upstream-side cores. The CPA model revealed consistent phenomenon supporting the scenario.