The Elm Coulee Field has extremely low permeability for an oil reservoir (0.01 – 0.04 md), which has caused an unconventional approach to its development by drilling long horizontal wells and massively fracturing them. The primary recovery factor, however, remains very low, around 5-10%. Significant reserves are available for post-primary production, yet the low permeability value restricts the choices available; for example, water flooding results in low injectivity. CO2 flooding may prove to be the most suitable option; however, the performance of CO2 flooding in this type of reservoir is not well understood. Using this field as an example, this paper presents the effects of CO2 flooding horizontal wells in a tight oil reservoir where hydraulic fractures provide the main path for fluid flow.

To analyze the impact of CO2 flooding in the Elm Coulee Field, a sector of the field is selected for reservoir modeling. The sector is two miles by two miles and consists of six, single-lateral horizontal wells. Two different reservoir models are built for the sector: a primary recovery and a CO2 flood model. They are used to determine the additional recovery due to a CO2 flood. Furthermore, the CO2 flood model is executed with different scenarios to determine the best well locations and injection schemes.

The models demonstrate that CO2 flooding horizontal wells in Elm Coulee Field increases production. Comparison of vertical and horizontal injection techniques indicates continuous horizontal CO2 injection is more efficient; it yields higher injection rates, and it is also beneficial for long-term recovery. Focusing on horizontal injection, the best scenario involves the practice of drilling new injectors along with converting existing producers to injection wells. In order to satisfy production requirements, production wells can be drilled such that there is an injector between two producers. This type of arrangement on horizontal injection increases the field recovery factor by 16 % after eighteen years of injection. The increase associated with single-well cyclic injection treatment is only 1 %; but in the absence of continuous CO2 supply, this method may be applicable for increasing recovery from reservoirs similar to Elm Coulee Field.

This research project demonstrates the technical aspects of CO2 injection in the context of Elm Coulee Field, while the economics are not considered. Developing a CO2 flood in this field appears feasible; however, the price of oil and the cost of drilling or converting wells will affect which, if any, is the best option.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.