Gas injection is a proven EOR method in the oil industry with many well-documented successful field applications spanning a period of more than five decades. The injected gas composition varies between projects, but is typically hydrocarbon gas, sometimes enriched with intermediate components to ensure miscibility, or carbon dioxide in regions such as the Permian Basin, where supply is available at an attractive price.
Miscible nitrogen injection into oil reservoirs, on the other hand, is a relatively uncommon EOR technique because nitrogen often requires a prohibitively high pressure to reach miscibility. Unlike other injection gases, the minimum miscibility pressure for nitrogen decreases with increasing temperature. In fact, in deep, hot reservoirs containing volatile oil, nitrogen may develop miscibility at a pressure similar to the MMP for hydrocarbon gas or carbon dioxide. The phase behavior is more complicated than what can be captured by correlations and hence requires equation-of-state calculations.
Results from a recent EOR screening study in ADNOC indicate that a couple of high-temperature oil reservoirs in Abu Dhabi may be potential targets for miscible nitrogen injection. This paper discusses key aspects of the EOS modeling. Advanced gas injection PVT data are available to enable a fair comparison between nitrogen, carbon dioxide and lean hydrocarbon gas. In this work, we have modelled and analyzed the phase behavior of two volatile oil systems with respect to nitrogen, hydrocarbon gas, and carbon dioxide injection, as part of a reservoir simulation study, which will be covered in a subsequent publication; see Mogensen and Xu (2019). Nitrogen behaves differently from hydrogen carbon gas, despite the fact that the two gases lead to similar minimum miscibility pressures. At the prevailing reservoir pressure, the swelling factor with hydrocarbon gas is four times higher than for nitrogen. Furthermore, the reservoir fluid density increases during swelling with nitrogen, whereas it decreases as a result of hydrocarbon gas swelling. The same trend is observed for viscosity. Injection gas blends with various proportions of nitrogen and carbon injection shows that the MMP is constant when more than 35-40% nitrogen is present in the blend.