The discovery of significant reserves in the Middle Bakken of the Elm Coulee Field in 2000 changed the development of Bakken Formation in the Williston Basin. In 2006 the Elm Coulee success led to the exploration of other fields in the Williston Basin, such as Parshall and Sanish fields in North Dakota. Thousands of Middle Bakken wells have been drilled and produced in the primary production mode, yet there is likely significant potential for enhanced oil recovery, which prompted this multi-facetted research study.
First, the physical properties of the reservoir brine, oil, and gas of fluid samples from different Middle Bakken geographic locations are presented to emphasize significant physical property differences across North Dakota. This information is essential to understand the impact of fluid properties on primary production and potential for oil recovery at different locations.
Second, we identified reservoir connectivity by combining petrographic analysis, scanning electron microscopy, and permeability measurements. The permeability measurements included core-based steady-state permeability and unsteady-state water-oil relative permeability. The selected cores were characterized using X-ray diffraction mineralogy, thin section petrology, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to correlate flow capacity to the petrophysical properties. The conclusion is that interconnected microfractures make current production possible in successful wells.
Finally, the high salinity formation water compared to the low salinity of fracturing and IOR fluids was investigated by performing spontaneous imbibition using both low and high salinity brines. It was concluded that in the oil-wet environment of the Bakken, the low salinity injection fluids can enter part of the reservoir because of osmotic pressure while high salinity makes the clay surface extremely hydrophobic and causes local oil-wetness.