Experimental Study of Waterflood Tracers
- Robert A. Greenkorn (Jersey Production Research Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- January 1962
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 87 - 92
- 1962. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 5.1 Reservoir Characterisation, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 5.6.5 Tracers, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.3.4 Scale, 1.2.3 Rock properties
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This project originated in a practical problem--we needed five tracers that could be used together to locate flow paths in a pilot flood. While tracers for subsurface liquids have been used since the turn of the century, none of those reported in the literature appeared to be either consistent or quantitative enough for our purposes. Most were used in field systems without controlled experiments to determine the accuracy and precision of analysis, and many were tracers that could not be used collectively. The ideal tracer, of course, would follow the fluid of interest exactly, traveling at the same velocity as the fluid front. But the ideal is impractical to attain because adsorption-desorption effects cause the tracer to lag behind the front; these effects, plus diffusion-dispersion effects, cause the tracer front to spread more than the fluid front. Thus, our objective was not to locate a tracer that would be ideal for all circumstances but rather, to find one that would approximately follow the fluid, or one that under controlled conditions could be corrected to calculate the movement of the fluid front. We considered tracers satisfactory--(1) if they were easy to analyze; (2) if their breakthrough- elution curves were not too different from those for the chloride ion, a tracer believed to follow the fluid front closely; and (3) if we could calculate from the curves a material balance, at 1.25-PV (pore volume) injected, within 5 per cent of that calculated from chloride curves. Of a possible 35 materials, we selected 13 tracers that could be quickly and easily identified and whose analysis was claimed to be accurate within 5 per cent. Only one of these, tritiated water, was a radioactive tracer. Radioactive tracers are easy to detect even in small quantities, but they require special handling and special equipment. Also, those that can be used together are limited because special equipment is required to separate emissions from the various tracers. Two of the original 13 tracers were eliminated in static tests to determine how accurately and precisely they could be analyzed, and to check on gross adsorption. The remaining 11 were flowed through a 9-ft linear sandstone model, and breakthrough-elution curves were obtained. Finally, three tracers were field-tested as breakthrough tracers. These tests are described in the following sections.
The 13 tracers considered in these experiments were EDTA (ethylene diamine tetra acetic acid), fluorescein, picric acid, salicylic acid and ammonium, boron (as borate), bromide, dichromate, iodide, nitrate and thiocyanate ions, plus chloride ion and tritiated water. All but the chloride ion and tritiated water were subjected to static sand tests to eliminate the tracers that could not be analyzed quickly and accurately and to eliminate those that showed excessive adsorption. All but two of the tracers, EDTA and salicylic acid, qualified for flow tests on this basis. The procedures used in the static tests (see Appendix A for analytical details) were as follows. Each tracer (in the amount shown in Table 1) was dissolved in 1,000 ml of water. Then, 800 ml of this solution was added to 500 gm of sand, and the remaining 200 ml was reserved as a control standard. The sand-tracer mixture was agitated once a day over a 10-week period, and during this period we analyzed five duplicate samples from this mixture, along with five duplicate samples from the control solution. From the control-sample analyses, we constructed a control chart on which the sand-tracer analysis results were plotted. The control chart, and its use to determine accuracy and precision of analytical results, as well as the amount of adsorption, is described in Appendix B. The results of the static tests are summarized in Table 1, which lists the concentration c (concentration at time t) divided by co (initial concentration). If there was no adsorption, c/co = 1. The acceptable deviation from this value varied from tracer to tracer, depending upon the limits of analytical precision established for the different tracers. The best results were obtained with boron, bromide and dichromate, with all values falling within limits of accuracy and precision. Ammonium, iodide, nitrate and picric acid also were satisfactory, although the ammonium results were erratic.
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