The Effect of Wettability and Pore Geometry on Foamed-Gel-Blockage Performance
- Laura Beatriz Romero-Zeron (U. of New Brunswick) | Apostolos Kantzas (U. of Calgary)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering
- Publication Date
- April 2007
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 150 - 163
- 2007. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.3.4 Reduction of Residual Oil Saturation, 1.8 Formation Damage, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.4.2 Gas Injection Methods, 5.4 Enhanced Recovery, 5.5.2 Core Analysis, 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 2.5.2 Fracturing Materials (Fluids, Proppant), 5.1 Reservoir Characterisation, 5.3.1 Flow in Porous Media, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 6.5.2 Water use, produced water discharge and disposal, 1.6 Drilling Operations
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Excessive gas and/or water production is a common problem encountered throughout the lifetime of oil-producing wells. High-producing gas/oil or water/oil ratios are normally responsible for both rapid productivity decline and increased operating costs caused by gas or water processing. The result is often a premature shut-in of wells because production has become uneconomical. Foamed gels have been used as selective barriers to counteract disproportionate gas/oil and/or water/oil ratios in oil production. However, research on the effects of critical parameters such as wettability of the porous medium and pore geometry on foamed-gel-blockage performance remains incomplete.
In this work, microscale experiments, which involve the magnified observation of flowing and trapped foamed gel in etched-glass micromodels, were performed. The purpose of this research is to provide new insights into the sensitivity of foamed-gel-blockage performance as a function of porous-media wettability (strongly water-wet or strongly oil-wet systems) and pore geometry.
The experimental results indicate that foamed gels presented higher blocking efficiency in strongly oil-wet systems than in strongly water-wet systems. Under these experimental conditions, foamed gels exhibited higher blocking efficiency at lower pore-body-/pore-throat-size aspect ratios. The plugging treatment exhibited stability after subsequent steps of gas and brine injection. Ultimately, these results indicate that the combination of foam and gel systems has technical advantages that make foamed gels superior mobility-control and plugging agents.
In porous media, foam is a gas (or immiscible liquid) dispersed in a second interconnected liquid partially comprising thin, surfactant-stabilized films called lamellae (Morrow 1990). The surfactant used to impart stability to the mixture concentrates at the gas/liquid interface to reduce interfacial tension and form stable lamellae. Foams are structured, two-phase fluids that are compressible in nature (Schramm 1994). Fig. 1 is a schematic representation of a 2D slice of a general foam system. The bulk liquid is at the bottom of the foam structure, and the gas phase is at the upper side. The gas phase is separated from the thin liquid film by a 2D interface, or lamella, which is defined as the region that encompasses the thin film, the two interfaces on either side of the thin film, and part of the junction to other lamellae. The connection of three lamellae, at an angle of 120°, is referred to as the plateau border (Schramm 1994; Bernard and Jacobs 1965).
Foams have been of great practical interest because of their widespread occurrence and their important properties. In the oil and gas sector, foams may be applied or encountered at all stages in the petroleum recovery and processing industry, such as in oilwell drilling, reservoir injection, oilwell production, and process-plant foams (Schramm 1994).
The usage of foams for enhanced-oil-recovery (EOR) processes can be classified into two main groups: foams for mobility control or gas-injection-well treatments and gas-blocking foams for oil-production-well treatments. When foams are used for mobility control, the most important parameter is the viscous performance of the foam, while in the case of gas-blocking foams, the fundamental issue is their capability to divert unwanted fluids (Schramm 1994). In these applications, the foam is usually prepared in situ by coinjection of gas and surfactant solution. As the mixture of gas and surfactant solution flows through the porous rock, rapid shear strain occurs and leads quite naturally to the generation and stretching of bubbles within the pores. The texture of the foam (that is, the size of the bubbles) depends mainly on the size of the pores. Similarly, the number of bubbles that exist will be determined by the balance between the rate of generation of lamellae and the rate of decay. The rate of generation depends on pore sizes and porous-media complexities, and it should be roughly proportional to the flow rate. The rate of decay is the result of several simultaneous processes such as lamellae rupture and coalescence that cause bubbles' breakdown (Schramm 1994).
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