Experimental and Molecular Insights on Mitigation of Hydrocarbon Sieving in Niobrara Shale by CO2 Huff ‘n’ Puff
- Ziming Zhu (Colorado School of Mines) | Chao Fang (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) | Rui Qiao (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) | Xiaolong Yin (Colorado School of Mines) | Erdal Ozkan (Colorado School of Mines)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Journal
- Publication Date
- May 2020
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 2020.Society of Petroleum Engineers
- molecular dynamics simulation, Niobrara shale, CO2 huff-n-puff, experiment, mitigation of hydrocarbon sieving
- 5 in the last 30 days
- 25 since 2007
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In nanoporous rocks, potential size/mobility exclusion and fluid–rock interactions in nanosized pores and pore throats can turn the rock into a semipermeable membrane, blocking or hindering the passage of certain molecules while allowing other molecules to pass freely. In this work, we conducted several experiments to investigate whether CO2 can mitigate the sieving effect on the hydrocarbon molecules flowing through Niobrara samples. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of adsorption equilibrium with and without CO2 were performed to help understand the trends observed in the experiments. The experimental procedure includes pumping liquid binary hydrocarbon mixtures (C10 and C17) of known compositions into Niobrara samples, collecting the effluents from the samples, and analyzing the compositions of the effluents. A specialized experimental setup that uses an in-line filter as a minicore holder was built for this investigation. Niobrara samples were cored and machined into 0.5-in. diameter and 0.7-in. length minicores. Hydrocarbon mixtures were injected into the minicores, and effluents were collected periodically and analyzed using gas chromatography (GC). After observing the sieving effect of the minicores, CO2 huff ‘n’ puff was performed at 600 psi, a pressure much lower than the miscibility pressure. CO2 was injected from the production side to soak the sample for a period, then the flow of the mixture was resumed, and effluents were analyzed using GC. Experimental results show that CO2 huff ‘n’ puff in several experiments noticeably mitigated the sieving of heavier components (C17). The observed increase in the fraction of C17 in the produced fluid can be either temporary or lasting. In most experiments, temporary increases in flow rates were also observed. MD simulation results suggest that for a calcite surface in equilibrium with a binary mixture of C10 and C17, more C17 molecules adsorb on the carbonate surface than the C10 molecules. Once CO2 molecules are added to the system, CO2 displaces C10 and C17 from calcite. Thus, the experimentally observed increase in the fraction of C17 can be attributed to the release of adsorbed C17. This study suggests that surface effects play a significant role in affecting flows and compositions of fluids in tight formations. In unconventional oil reservoirs, observed enhanced recovery from CO2 huff ‘n’ puff could be partly attributed to surface effects in addition to the recognized thermodynamic interaction mechanisms.
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