Miscible-Type Waterflooding: Oil Recovery with Micellar Solutions
- W.B. Gogarty (Marathon Oil Co.) | W.C. Tosch (Marathon Oil Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- December 1968
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,407 - 1,414
- 1968. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 5.4.6 Thermal Methods, 4.3.4 Scale, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.6.5 Tracers, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 5.4.7 Chemical Flooding Methods (e.g., Polymer, Solvent, Nitrogen, Immiscible CO2, Surfactant, Vapex), 2.5.2 Fracturing Materials (Fluids, Proppant), 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment
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A new recovery process for producing oil under both secondary and tertiary conditions utilizes the unique properties of micellar solutions (also known as microemulsions, swollen micelles, and soluble oils). These solutions, which displace 100 percent of the oil in the reservoir contacted, can be driven through the reservoir with water and are stable in the presence of reservoir water and rock. Basic components of micellar solutions are surfactant, hydrocarbon and water. They may also contain small amounts of electrolytes and co-surfactants such as alcohols. The specific reservoir application dictates the type and concentration of each component. A salient feature of the process is the capability for mobility control. Micellar solution slug mobility, by way of viscosity control, is made equal to or less than the combined oil and water mobility. Mobility control continues with a mobility buffer that prevents drive water from contacting the micellar solution. Laboratory and field flooding have proven that the process is technically feasible and that surfactant losses by adsorption on porous media are small.
Projects are under way to recover the maximum amount of oil under the most favorable economic conditions.
New techniques are being developed to increase oil recovery. Polymer solutions are becoming an important means of controlling mobility in a waterflood. Thermal methods such as in-situ combustion and steam injection are being used in reservoirs containing highly viscous crudes. Surfactant flooding is receiving attention as a method of reducing interfacial tension to increase recovery. Exotic recovery processes have been considered primarily for secondary operations. Economics are unfavorable in most cases for tertiary recovery.
Studies at the Denver Research Center of the Marathon Oil Co. have led to a new oil recovery method. Micellar solutions (sometimes called microemulsions, swollen micelles, and soluble oils) are used to recover oil by miscible-type waterflooding. Basically, these solutions contain surfactant, hydrocarbon, and water. The method can be used in either secondary or tertiary operations.
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