Abstract

Reservoir monitoring is an essential tool to optimize oil production. Among other techniques, water tracers are very useful to understand flow patterns between wells (i) during regular waterflood operations, (ii) for EOR pilot or (iii) field development. This paper focuses on the elaboration of a new family of tracers based on fluorescent silica colloids for in situ real-time optical detection. Indeed, these architectures of nanometric size (nanoparticle diameter controllable between 30-100 nm) permit (i) the encapsulation of fluorescent dyes (the intrinsic signal of tracers) and (ii) a tailored interface with the environment (by specific surface functionalization). Dyes, such as organic molecules and/or rare-earth complexes could be quantified by conventional fluorescence apparatus. The smart incorporation of specific fluorophores of different nature within nanobeads allows multi-coding signal of tracers and therefore the possibility to supervise the properties of reservoir. We demonstrate that silica nanobeads could act as sensitive probes of physicochemical conditions of reservoir (volume, pH, temperature, oil ratio, salt content…), because of (i) their specific fluorescence coding, (ii) the long-term colloidal stability in seawater conditions, and (ii) the adaptable real-time monitoring detection setup. Actually, by the procedure described in this work, we are able to produce theoretically dozens of fluorescence tagging combinations based nanoparticles with suitable surface properties. The possible future utilization of fluorescent nanobeads as traces in well exploitation is also demonstrated by core-flood experiments.

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