Over 40 rock samples were obtained from six Bakken wells which penetrate through the major oil pay including two shale intervals: Upper and Lower Bakken, and two tight intervals that are the targets for drilling: Middle Bakken and Three Forks. Detailed petrographic and petrophysical analyses were performed on the samples to better correlate the extraction results with the physical and geochemical properties of the rocks. Round rods (11.2-mm diameter X ca. 30–40 mm long) drilled from each of the 40 samples were individually exposed in a "bath" of CO2 for 24 hours at reservoir temperature and pressure of 5000 psi and 230°F (34.5 MPa, 110°C), and the recovered crude oil hydrocarbons were collected periodically and analyzed to determine the rates and efficiencies of oil recovery.

For the 26 Middle Bakken and Three Forks rocks, hydrocarbon recovery upon CO2 exposure averaged 86% after 7 hours, and 99% after 24 hours. Recoveries of the crude oil (not including kerogen) from the 15 Upper and Lower shales were surprisingly high with an average of 30% recovered after 7 hours, and 50% recovered after 24 hours. While the Middle Bakken and Three Forks TOC values were ca. 0.3 wt.% (similar to their crude oil content), TOCs for the Upper and Lower Bakken shales were typically 10 to 15 wt.%, with ca. one-tenth of that organic content being crude oil hydrocarbons as opposed to kerogen. The Upper and Lower shales also had significantly smaller pore throat sizes (averaging ca. 3 nm) than the Middle Bakken and Three Forks samples (which averaged ca. 10–26 nm). Additional studies are being performed to determine whether the small pore throat sizes (which approach molecular dimensions) and/or the sorption of crude oil hydrocarbons onto the kerogen in the Upper and Lower shales are responsible for the slower hydrocarbon recovery than that achieved from the Middle Bakken and Three Forks rocks under CO2 exposure.

Currently, the main targets for horizontal drilling are Middle Bakken and Three Forks, where thousands of multistage hydraulically fractured wells have been drilled in the past decade. The high oil recovery factor observed in cores from these intervals, especially when compared to the 7% average recovery in the field, indicates the huge potential for oil recovery factor improvement in these units by increasing oil production based upon supercritical CO2 extraction.

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