Waterflood Behavior of High Viscosity Crudes in Preserved Soft and Unconsolidated Cores
- Harley Y. Jennings Jr. (Chevron Research Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- January 1966
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 116 - 120
- 1966. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.6.5 Tracers, 4.1.3 Dehydration, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.6.2 Core Analysis, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 5.5.2 Core Analysis, 4.3.1 Hydrates, 1.11 Drilling Fluids and Materials, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 5.1 Reservoir Characterisation, 1.6 Drilling Operations
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An extensive field and laboratory experimental program was carried out to compare the waterflood behavior of carefully preserved soft and unconsolidated cores with measurements on the same cores after extraction. Results obtained from using idealized consolidated and unconsolidated porous media in which wettability could be carefully controlled were contrasted with the preserved core data.
The controlled tests on idealized porous media investigated the effect of wettability, flood rate, core length, core permeability and consolidation on the displacement of high viscosity oils. It was concluded from these studies that waterfloods are more favorable when carried out with crude oil in preserved soft and unconsolidated cores than with the same cores after they have been extracted and resaturated. Waterfloods are usually more favorable when carried out with crude oil in extracted soft and unconsolidated cores than with refined oil of the same viscosity in the same cores. The less favorable behavior of extracted soft and unconsolidated cores compared to preserved cores is due to alteration of the core by extraction. Preserved cores saturated with native water and oil should be used for laboratory displacement experiments because they more accurately reflect true reservoir behavior.
The demand for low gravity crude oil created by refinery modernization has focused attention on increasing the production of this viscous crude oil. Billions of barrels are in place in fields that are depleted, or nearly depleted, by primary production mechanisms. Since low gravity reservoirs are relatively recent, geologically, the solid matrix material is usually soft and unconsolidated sand. Such formations are also characterized by a high clay content. Evaluation of sophisticated oil recovery processes with the associated high capital investments has increased the demand for special core analysis tests on material from these soft and unconsolidated sand reservoirs.
Data in this paper have resulted from an extensive field and laboratory experimental program. The initial objective was to provide soft and unconsolidated sand cores for laboratory measurements with as little alteration as possible from their reservoir condition. A secondary objective was to compare the waterflood behavior of these carefully preserved cores with measurements on the same cores after they had been extracted and resaturated. When the comparison showed markedly different behavior the final objective was to attempt to explain the difference by making measurements on idealized porous media free of clay in which initial wettability could be carefully controlled.
The preserved cores used in this study were obtained with as little alteration as possible from their reservoir conditions. Special techniques were developed to satisfy this objective. The cores were cut with native crude whenever the crude had the necessary properties to satisfy the minimum drilling fluid requirements. A pure hydrocarbon chromatographic tracer was added to the crude to provide a simple, safe and inexpensive method to distinguish between oil filtrate and formation oil. Details of the tracer technique used in this study and the procedures used to handle and process the soft, unconsolidated cores have been published.1 The core samples were then preserved and packaged at the well site with a dip-applied strippable plastic, or by using a rubber sleeve from a rubber-sleeve core barrel.
The final step was to insure that the. carefully taken and preserved samples were not altered by processing in the laboratory. Some soft and poorly consolidated sands were carefully shaped in the lab and encased in a protective mounting without disturbing their three-dimensional integrity. Many samples were so poorly consolidated that they literally flowed from the package when the seal was broken. A technique was developed to obtain cylindrical plugs from these samples by using liquid nitrogen as the drilling fluid in a conventional core-drill, drill-press assembly.
The idealized porous media consisted of sintered rods of Alundum RA 139, outcrop sandstone identified as Alhambra sandstone and packs of No. 130 Nevada sand. This sand is 95 per cent 140-200 mesh. (Physical properties of these porous media with those representative of preserved cores are in Table 1.) The natural cores and most of the idealized porous media were 1 1/2-in. in diameter and 3-in. long. The samples used to study the effect of core length were 1 1/2-in. in diameter and 12-in. long.
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