Mechanistic Studies of Improved Foam EOR Processes

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The objective of this research is to widen the application of foam to enhanced oil recovery (EOR) by investigating fundamental mechanisms of foams in porous media. This research will lay the groundwork for more applied research on foams for improved sweep efficiency in miscible gas, steam and surfactant-based EOR. Task 1 investigates the pore-scale interactions between foam bubbles and polymer molecules. Task 2 examines the mechanisms of gas trapping, and interaction between gas trapping and foam effectiveness. Task 3 investigates mechanisms of foam generation in porous media. Significant progress was made during this period on all three Tasks. Regarding Task ... continued below

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28 pages

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Rossen, William R. March 31, 2003.

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Description

The objective of this research is to widen the application of foam to enhanced oil recovery (EOR) by investigating fundamental mechanisms of foams in porous media. This research will lay the groundwork for more applied research on foams for improved sweep efficiency in miscible gas, steam and surfactant-based EOR. Task 1 investigates the pore-scale interactions between foam bubbles and polymer molecules. Task 2 examines the mechanisms of gas trapping, and interaction between gas trapping and foam effectiveness. Task 3 investigates mechanisms of foam generation in porous media. Significant progress was made during this period on all three Tasks. Regarding Task 1, we studied the behavior of foam made without polymer, with low-molecular-weight and high-molecular-weight polyacrylamide, and with xanthan polymer in sandpacks. Results consistently showed that polymer does not stabilize foam in porous media per se. Rather, it destabilizes foam to some extent, but may increase the viscosity of water sufficiently to increase the resistance to flow in spite of the lower intrinsic stability of the foam. This is consistent with the hypothesis the motivated our study. Results also showed that polymer shifts behavior from the high-quality foam-flow regime toward the low-quality regime, consistent with our initial hypothesis. Other aspects of the experimental results were puzzling and are discussed in the text of this report. Research on Task 2 included building an apparatus for gas-phase tracer tests for direct measurement of trapped-gas saturation with foam. We also investigated the nature of the low-quality foam regime, which is thought to be controlled by gas trapping and mobilization. In both the studies of polymers and foam and separate studies of CO{sub 2} foam, we observed behavior that seems to be related to the low-quality regime, but shows unexpected trends: specifically, a decrease in pressure gradient with increasing liquid injection rate, at fixed gas injection rate. We find that such behavior is consistent with earlier models of foam viscosity in tubes, and a modified model for the low-quality regime can account for this behavior. It is not yet clear why this new regime appears in some cases and not in others. Simple modeling suggests that the answer may have to do with the sensitivity of gas trapping to pressure gradient. Research on Task 3 continued to focus on foam generation at limited pressure gradient in sandpacks. We investigated the effects of permeability, surfactant concentration and liquid injection rates on foam generation. In addition, a careful review of published studies showed that repeated snap-off is not a plausible mechanism of foam generation in homogeneous porous media beyond the stage of initial drainage from a fully liquid-saturated state. Snap-off has been the focus of much research on foam generation and is incorporated into most mechanistic foam simulators. This finding should force a reconsideration of its role in foam generation and properties in porous media.

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28 pages

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OSTI as DE00822921

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  • Other Information: PBD: 31 Mar 2003

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  • Report No.: NONE
  • Grant Number: FC26-01BC15318
  • DOI: 10.2172/822921 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 822921
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc786402

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Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • March 31, 2003

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Dec. 3, 2015, 9:30 a.m.

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  • Oct. 4, 2017, 5:17 p.m.

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Rossen, William R. Mechanistic Studies of Improved Foam EOR Processes, report, March 31, 2003; Austin, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc786402/: accessed October 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.