Enhanced Oil Recovery in Liquid-Rich Shale Reservoirs: Laboratory to Field
- Najeeb Alharthy (Colorado School of Mines) | Tadesse Weldu Teklu (Colorado School of Mines) | Hossein Kazemi (Colorado School of Mines) | Ramona M Graves (Colorado School of Mines) | Steven B Hawthorne (Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC)) | Jason Braunberger (Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC)) | Basak Kurtoglu (Marathon Oil)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering
- Publication Date
- February 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 137 - 159
- 2018.Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Liquid Rich Shale Reservoirs, Enhanced oil recovery in Unconventional Reservoirs
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- 1,036 since 2007
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Production of tight oil from shale reservoirs in North America reduces oil imports and has better economics than natural gas. Currently, there is a strong interest in oil production from Bakken, Eagle Ford, Niobrara, and other tight formations. However, oil-recovery fraction for Bakken remains low, which is approximately 4–6% of the oil in place. Even with this low oil-recovery fraction, a recent United States Geological Survey study stated that the Bakken and Three Forks recoverable reserves are estimated to be 7.4 billion bbl; thus, a large volume of oil will remain unrecovered, which was the motivation to investigate the feasibility of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in liquid-rich shale reservoirs such as Bakken.
In this paper, we will present both laboratory and numerical modeling of EOR in Bakken cores by use of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane/ethane-solvent mixture (C1/C2), and nitrogen (N2). The laboratory experiments were conducted at the Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC). The experiments recovered 90+% oil from several Middle Bakken cores and nearly 40% from Lower Bakken cores. To decipher the oil-recovery mechanisms in the experiments, a numerical compositional model was constructed to match laboratory-oil-recovery results. We concluded that solvent injection mobilizes matrix oil by miscible mixing and solvent extraction in a narrow region near the fracture/matrix interface, thus promoting countercurrent flow of oil from the matrix instead of oil displacement through the matrix. Specifically, compositional-modeling results indicate that the main oil-recovery mechanism is miscible oil extraction at the matrix/fracture interface region. However, the controlling factors include repressurization, oil swelling, viscosity and interfacial-tension (IFT) reduction, diffusion/advection mass transfer, and wettability alteration.
We scaled up laboratory results to field applications by means of a compositional numerical model. For field applications, we resorted to the huff ’n’ puff protocol to assess the EOR potential for a North Dakota Middle Bakken well. We concluded that long soak times yield only a small amount of additional oil compared with short soak times, and reinjecting wet gas, composed of C1, C2, C3, and C4+, produces nearly as much oil as CO2 injection.
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