PH Sensitive Polymers for Improving Reservoir Sweep and Conformance Control in Chemical Flooring

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There is an increasing opportunity to recover bypassed oil from depleted, mature oilfields in the US. The recovery factor in many reservoirs is low due to inefficient displacement of the oil by injected fluids (typically water). The use of chemical flooding methods to increase recovery efficiencies is severely constrained by the inability of the injected chemicals to contact the bypassed oil. Low sweep efficiencies are the primary cause of low oil recoveries observed in the field in chemical flooding operations even when lab studies indicate high oil recovery efficiency. Any technology that increases the ability of chemical flooding agents to ... continued below

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Sharma, Mukul; Bryant, Steven & Huh, Chun March 31, 2008.

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There is an increasing opportunity to recover bypassed oil from depleted, mature oilfields in the US. The recovery factor in many reservoirs is low due to inefficient displacement of the oil by injected fluids (typically water). The use of chemical flooding methods to increase recovery efficiencies is severely constrained by the inability of the injected chemicals to contact the bypassed oil. Low sweep efficiencies are the primary cause of low oil recoveries observed in the field in chemical flooding operations even when lab studies indicate high oil recovery efficiency. Any technology that increases the ability of chemical flooding agents to better contact the remaining oil and reduce the amount of water produced in conjunction with the produced oil will have a significant impact on the cost of producing oil domestically in the US. This translates directly into additional economically recoverable reserves, which extends the economic lives of marginal and mature wells. The objective of this research project was to develop a low-cost, pH-triggered polymer for use in IOR processes to improve reservoir sweep efficiency and reservoir conformance in chemical flooding. Rheological measurements made on the polymer solution, clearly show that it has a low viscosity at low pH and exhibits a sudden increase in viscosity (by 2 orders of magnitude or more) at a pH of 3.5 to 4. This implies that the polymer would preferentially flow into zones containing water since the effective permeability to water is highest in these zones. As the pH of the zone increases due to the buffering capacity of the reservoir rock, the polymer solution undergoes a liquid to gel transition causing a sharp increase in the viscosity of the polymer solution in these zones. This allows operationally robust, in-depth conformance treatment of such water bearing zones and better mobility control. The rheological properties of HPAM solutions were measured. These include: steady-shear viscosity and viscoelastic behavior as functions of pH; shear rate; polymer concentration; salinity, including divalent ion effects; polymer molecular weight; and degree of hydrolysis. A comprehensive rheological model was developed for HPAM solution rheology in terms of: shear rate; pH; polymer concentration; and salinity, so that the spatial and temporal changes in viscosity during the polymer flow in the reservoir can be accurately modeled. A series of acid coreflood experiments were conducted to understand the geochemical reactions relevant for both the near-wellbore injection profile control and for conformance control applications. These experiments showed that the use hydrochloric acid as a pre-flush is not viable because of the high reaction rate with the rock. The use of citric acid as a pre-flush was found to be quite effective. This weak acid has a slow rate of reaction with the rock and can buffer the pH to below 3.5 for extended periods of time. With the citric acid pre-flush the polymer could be efficiently propagated through the core in a low pH environment i.e. at a low viscosity. The transport of various HPAM solutions was studied in sandstones, in terms of permeability reduction, mobility reduction, adsorption and inaccessible pore volume with different process variables: injection pH, polymer concentration, polymer molecular weight, salinity, degree of hydrolysis, and flow rate. Measurements of polymer effluent profiles and tracer tests show that the polymer retention increases at the lower pH. A new simulation capability to model the deep-penetrating mobility control or conformance control using pH-sensitive polymer was developed. The core flood acid injection experiments were history matched to estimate geochemical reaction rates. Preliminary scale-up simulations employing linear and radial geometry floods in 2-layer reservoir models were conducted. It is clearly shown that the injection rate of pH-sensitive polymer solutions can be significantly increased by injecting it at a pH below 3.5 (at a fixed bottom-hole pressure). This improvement in injectivity by a factor of 2 to 10 can have a significant impact on the economics of chemical flooding and conformance control applications. Simulation tools and experimental data presented in this report help to design and implement such polymer injection projects.

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  • Report No.: None
  • Grant Number: FC26-04NT15520
  • DOI: 10.2172/941104 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 941104
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc895532

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  • March 31, 2008

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Jan. 9, 2018, 10:22 a.m.

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Sharma, Mukul; Bryant, Steven & Huh, Chun. PH Sensitive Polymers for Improving Reservoir Sweep and Conformance Control in Chemical Flooring, report, March 31, 2008; Austin, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc895532/: accessed May 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.