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SPE 130726

Recent Developments and Updated Screening Criteria of Enhanced Oil


Recovery Techniques
Ahmad Aladasani
1,2
, SPE; Baojun Bai
2
, SPE

1.Kuwait Oil Company, 2. Missouri University of Science and Technology
Copyright 2010, Society of Petroleum Engineers

This paper was prepared for presentation at the CPS/SPE International Oil & Gas Conference and Exhibition in China held in Beijing, China, 810 J une 2010.

This paper was selected for presentation by a CPS/SPE program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper have not been
reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect any position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or
members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is
restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of SPE copyright.


Abstract

This paper reviews recent developments in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques published in SPE conference
proceedings for 2007 to 2009. It also updates the EOR criteria developed by Taber et al. in 1996 based on field applications
reported in Oil & Gas Journal and at various SPE conferences. It classifies EOR methods into five main categories: gas-based,
water-based, thermal, others, and combination technologies. New developments in EOR techniques, chemicals, and mechanisms
are summarized to clarify advances in EOR criteria beyond previous limitations. Reservoirs that had previously been ruled out
based on specific reservoir conditions are now candidates under updated EOR screening criteria. To demonstrate this potential,
this work has established guidelines for the selection and optimization of chemical EOR methods for a specific reservoir.

Introduction

Crude oil is found in underground porous sandstone or carbonate rock formations. In the first (primary) stage of oil
recovery, the oil is displaced from the reservoir into the wellbore and up to the surface under its own reservoir energy, such as gas
drive, water drive, or gravity drainage. In the second stage, an external fluid such as water or gas is injected into the reservoir
through injection wells located in the rock that have fluid communication with production wells. The purpose of secondary oil
recovery is to maintain reservoir pressure and displace hydrocarbons towards the wellbore. The most common secondary recovery
technique is waterflooding
1
. Once the secondary oil recovery process has been exhausted, about two thirds of the original oil in
place (OOIP) is left behind. EOR methods aim to recover the remaining OOIP.
2
Enhanced oil production is critical today when
many analysts are predicting that world peak production is either imminent or has already passed and demand for oil is growing
faster than supply. Of the total 649 billion barrels remaining in reservoirs in the United States (US), only 22 billion barrels are
recoverable by conventional means. However, EOR methods offer the prospect of recovering as much as 200 billion barrels of oil
from existing US reservoirs, a quantity of oil equivalent to the cumulative oil production to date.
3

2 SPE 130726

In the early 1980s, many researchers focused on EOR research because oil prices were rising unabated and there was a
dramatic need to extract oil from depleted reservoirs. During this time, most major oil companies had research centers and funded
major programs to develop new technologies. These programs resulted in production of more than 20,000 bbl/day as a result of
chemical EOR in the United States alone. However, oil prices collapsed in 1986 and hovered around $20 per barrel from 1986 to
2003. Most operators were concerned about the lower price of oil and simply did not invest in either new EOR technologies or
new ideas to extract incremental oil from existing reservoirs. However, oil prices have recently reached new highs of $60 to even
$140 per barrel, and many analysts believe that the price of oil may stabilize above $70 per barrel. In this new price environment
and under conditions of increasing world wide oil demand, few new-field discoveries, and the rapid maturation of fields
worldwide, EOR technologies have drawn increased interest. More than 400 papers on EOR have been presented at SPE
conferences within the last three years.

EOR has the potential to reclassify unrecoverable and contingent reserves. The demand for oil continues to grow, and oil
is predicted to dominate the world energy supply for the next three decades. It is more important than ever to understand lessons
learned from past EOR applications and to develop new technologies and methods. However, the application of EOR in many
major oil-producing countries remains in its conceptual stage, especially for chemical EOR methods. Taber et al. published the
EOR screen criteria in 1996 (SPE 35385 and 39234), and these have been widely cited. However, they must be updated to reflect
recent breakthroughs in conventional EOR methods as well as newly developed EOR methods such as surfactant imbibitions, in-
depth conformance-control technologies, and low-salinity water flooding. The work presented here describes the recent
development in EOR methods, updates EOR screening criteria, and provides guidance on the selection of EOR methods.

Oil Recovery Mechanisms

Two thirds of crude oil is left behind, due to both microscopic and macroscopic factors. Microscopic factors include the
various effects of oil-water interfacial tension (IFT) and rock-fluid interaction (wettability) that give rise to oil in pores and
crevices; this oil cannot be dislodged under even large applied pressures.
4,5
The reservoir pore size maybe as small as 0.1 m or
less; therefore it is not surprising that IFT influences oil mobilization. The oil that is left behind after a sweep is called residual oil
saturation, expressed as S
or
. Macroscopic factors include reservoir stratification with some strata showing varying permeabilities.
Thus, the displacing fluid channels through the high-permeability zones leaving oil in the low-permeability zones unswept.
6,7
Even
in a uniformly permeable reservoir, uniform displacement can break down when the displacing fluid is less viscous than the crude,
a situation known as adverse mobility ratio. In places, the less viscous fluid penetrates the oil, a feature called viscous fingering.
Another important reason why oil remains unswept is the negative capillary force in oil-wet formations; this force impedes water
imbibition into pore spaces in the reservoir rock. It often occurs in carbonate reservoirs, more than 80% of which are said to be oil
wet. Other factors, such as areal heterogeneity, permeability anisotropy, and well patterns, also leave some oil unswept by water.
The oil that is unswept is called remaining oil, and its corresponding saturation is called remaining oil saturation.


SPE 130726 3

Oil recovery is the multiplication of displacement efficiency (E
D
) and sweep efficiency (E
S
). EOR methods focus on
increasing either displacement efficiency by reducing residual oil saturation in swept regions or sweep efficiency by displacing the
remaining oil in unswept regions. Residual oil saturation is a function of capillary number, which is the ratio of viscous force to
capillary force. Typically, the capillary number for water flooding is confined to below 10
-6
, usually to 10
-7
. The capillary number
increases in effective EOR application by three magnitudes to about 10
-3
to 10
-4
. The capillary number can be significantly reduced
by either lowering the interfacial tension or altering the rock wettability to a more water-wet surface. Although the capillary
number can be reduced by increasing the viscous forces, the reservoir fracture gradient and pressure drops across the wells are
limiting factors.
2
Oil in unswept regions can be recovered by (1) increasing the viscosity of the displacing fluid, (2) reducing oil
viscosity, (3) modifying permeability, and/or (4) altering wettability.

Field Applications and Updated Screening Guidelines for EOR Techniques

The EOR criteria published by Taber et al. in 1996 are updated here in Table 1 based on 633 EOR projects reported in
The Oil and Gas Journal from 1998 through 2008 and SPE publications. It tabulates a range of oil and reservoir properties for the
various EOR methods. Updates to the EOR criteria include the addition of porosity and permeability ranges; microbial EOR,
Water Alternating Gas (WAG) miscible, and hot-water flooding as EOR methods, along with subcategories of immiscible gas
flooding. Oil property and reservoir characteristic fields were queried to determine the range of each reservoir property and the
average value of each EOR method. Boxed figures in Table 1 represent the values adopted from Taber et al. (1996). Table 1
provides guidelines; it is not intended to represent threshold limits, which can be developed only through scientific development.


Table 1: A Summary of EOR Projects - Oil Properties and Reservoir Characteristics
Source line: [Taber et al. (1996), Anonymous (1998, 2000, 2002, 2006) ; Mortis (2004); Kottungal (2008);
Awan et al. (2006); Cadelle et al. (1980); Demin et al. (1999)]


OilProperties ReservoirCharacteristics
SN EORMethod
#
Projects
Gravity
(API)
Viscosity
(cp)
Porosity
(%)
Oil
Saturation
(%PV)
Formation
Type
Permeability
(md)
Net
Thickness
Depth(ft)
Temperature
(F)
MiscibleGasInjection
1 CO2 139
28[22]
45
Avg.37
350
Avg.2.1
337
Avg.
14.8
1589
Avg.46
Sandstone
or
Carbonate
1.54500
Avg.201.1
[Wide
Range]
1500
a
13365
Avg.6171.2
82250
Avg.136.3
2 Hydrocarbon 70
2357
Avg.
38.3
18000
0.04
Avg.
286.1
4.2545
Avg.
14.5
3098
Avg.71
Sandstone
or
Carbonate
0.15000
Avg.726.2
[Thin
unless
dipping]
4040[4000]
15900Avg.
8343.6
85329
Avg.202.2
3 WAG 3
3339
Avg.
35.6
0.30
Avg.0.6
1124
Avg.
18.3
Sandstone
1301000
Avg.1043.3

NC
75458887
Avg.8216.8
194253
Avg.229.4
4 Nitrogen 3
38[35]
54
Avg.
47.6
0.20
Avg.
0.07
7.514
Avg.
11.2
0.76[0.4]
0.8
Avg.0.78
Sandstone
or
Carbonate
0.235
Avg.15.0
[Thin
unless
dipping]
10000[6000]
18500
Avg.14633.3
190325
Avg.266.6
4 SPE 130726
ImmiscibleGasInjection
5 Nitrogen 8
1654
Avg.
34.6
180000
Avg.
2256.8
1128
Avg.
19.46
4798.5
Avg.71
Sandstone
32800
Avg.1041.7

170018500
Avg.7914.2
82325
Avg.173.1
6 CO2 16
1135
Avg.
22.6
5920.6
Avg.
65.5
1732
Avg.
26.3
4278
Avg.56
Sandstone
or
Carbonate
301000
Avg.217

11508500
Avg.3385
82198
Avg.124
7 Hydrocarbon 2
2248
Avg.35
40.25
Avg.2.1
522
Avg.
13.5
7583
Avg.79
Sandstone
401000
Avg.520

60007000
Avg.6500
170180
Avg.175
8
Hydrocarbon
+WAG
14
9.341
Avg.31
16000
0.17
Avg.
3948.2
1831.9
Avg.
25.09
Avg.88

Sandstone
or
Carbonate
1006600
Avg.2392

26509199
Avg.7218.71
131267
Avg.198.7
(Enhanced)Waterflooding
9 Polymer 53
1342.5
Avg.
26.5
4000
b

0.4
Avg.
123.2
10.433
Avg.
22.5
3482
Avg.64
Sandstone
1.8
e
5500
Avg.834.1
[NC]
7009460
Avg.4221.9
74237.2
Avg.167
10
Alkaline
Surfactant
Polymer
(ASP)
13
23[20]
34[35]
Avg.
32.6

6500
c
11
Avg.
875.8

2632
Avg.
26.6
68[35]
74.8
Avg.73.7
Sandstone
596[10]
1520
[NC]
2723
3900[9000]
Avg.2984.5
118[80]
158[200]
Avg.121.6
11
Surfactant+
P/A
3
2239
Avg.31
15.63
Avg.9.3
1616.8
Avg.
16.4
43.553
Avg.48
Sandstone
5060
Avg.55
[NC]
6255300
Avg.2941.6
122155
Avg.138.5
Thermal/Mechanical
12 Combustion 27
1038
Avg.
23.6
2770
1.44
Avg.
504.8
1435
Avg.
23.3
5094
Avg.67
Sandstone
or
Carbonate
[Preferably
Carbonate]
1015000
Avg.1981.5
[>10]
40011300
Avg.5569.6
64.4230
Avg.175.5
13 Steam 271
830
Avg.
14.5
5E63
d

Avg.
32971.3
1265
Avg.
32.2
3590
Avg.66
Sandstone
1
e
15000
Avg.2605.7
[>20]
2009000
Avg.1643.6
10350
Avg.105.8
14 HotWater 10
1225
Avg.
18.6
8000
170
Avg.
2002
2537
Avg.
31.2
1585
Avg.58.5
Sandstone
9006000
Avg.3346

5002950
Avg.1942
75135
Avg.98.5
15
[Surface
Mining]

[7]
[11]
[Zero
cold
flow]
[NC]
[>8wt%
Sand]
[Mineable
tarsand]
[NC] [>10]
[>3:1
overburdento
sandratio]
[NC]
Microbial
16 Microbial 4
1233
Avg.
26.6
89001.7
Avg.
2977.5
1226
Avg.19
5565
Avg.60

Sandstone
180200
Avg.190

15723464
Avg.2445.3
8690
Avg.88
ThefollowingreportedEORreservoircharacteristicshaveextremevaluesthat impacttherespectiveaverageandrangeinTable1.

aMinimumCO
2
misciblefloodingdepthreportedinSaltCreekField,U.S.A.
14

bMaximumpolymerfloodingviscosityreportedinPelicanLake,Canada.
14

cMaximumASPfloodingviscosityreportedinLagomar,Venezuela.
12

dMaximumsteamInjectionviscosityreportedinAthabascaOilSands,Canada.
14

eMinimumsteamInjectionpermeabilityreportedinNorthMidwaySunset,U.S.A.
14


To provide a concise representation of the EOR criteria, Figures 2 through 8 show reservoir property distributions.
Extreme minimum and maximum values could adversely impact the EOR guidelines, even when averages are reported; therefore,
boxed charts to illustrate reservoir property distribution for the main EOR methods. Figures 2 through 8 show the range in which
the majority of EOR projects are located, plotted against selected reservoir properties. Light shading indicates a favorable
reservoir property range.
SPE 130726 5


Figures in parentheses indicate number of projects.

0 10 20 30 40 50 60
MiscibleFlooding
(#212)
ImmiscibleFlooding
(#40)
SteamFlooding
(#271)
Combustion(#27)
ChemicalEOR(#70)
Figure 2 : EOR Method API Gravity Distribution
Source line: [Taber et al. (1996), Anonymous (1998, 2000, 2002, 2006) ; Mortis (2004); Kottungal (2008);
Awan et al. (2006); Cadelle et al. (1980); Demin et al. (1999)]
ProjectConcentration
73%
66%
78%
50%
52%
48%
48%
64%
51%
51%
0 5000 10000 15000 20000
Miscible
Flooding
(#212)
Immiscible
Flooding(#40)
Steam
Flooding
(#271)
Combustion
(#27)
ChemicalEOR
(#70)
Figure 3 : EOR Method Depth Distribution
Sourceline:[Taberetal.(1996),Anonymous(1998,2000,2002,2006);Mortis(2004);Kottungal(2008);
Awanetal.(2006);Cadelleetal.(1980);Deminetal.(1999)]
ProjectConcentration
48%
48%
64%
51%
55%
6 SPE 130726



0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1
Miscible
Flooding
(#212)
Immiscible
Flooding(#40)
Steam
Flooding
(#271)
Combustion
(#27)
ChemicalEOR
(#70)
Figure4:EORMethodsOilSaturation
Sourceline:[Taberetal.(1996),Anonymous(1998,2000,2002,2006);Mortis(2004);Kottungal(2008);
Awanetal.(2006);Cadelleetal.(1980);Deminetal.(1999)]
ProjectConcentration
62%
67%
64%
70%
65%
0.1 1 10 100 1000 10000 100000
MiscibleFlooding(#212)
ImmiscibleFlooding(#40)
SteamFlooding(#271)
Combustion(#27)
ChemicalEOR(#70)
Figure 5: Permeability Distribution Vs EOR Methods
Source line: [Taber et al. (1996), Anonymous (1998, 2000, 2002, 2006) ; Mortis (2004); Kottungal (2008);
Awan et al. (2006); Cadelle et al. (1980); Demin et al. (1999)]
ProjectConcentration
60%
52%
56%
53%
64%
SPE 130726 7


0.0001 0.01 1 100 10000
MiscibleFlooding(#212)
ImmiscibleFlooding(#40)
SteamFlooding(#271)
Combustion(#27)
ChemicalEOR(#70)
Figure6:EORMethodsViscosityDistribution
Sourceline:[Taberetal.(1996),Anonymous(1998,2000,2002,2006);Mortis(2004);Kottungal(2008);
Awanetal.(2006);Cadelleetal.(1980);Deminetal.(1999)]
ProjectConcentration
64%
58%
51%
67%
69%
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
MiscibleFlooding
(#212)
ImmiscibleFlooding
(#40)
SteamFlooding
(#271)
Combustion(#27)
ChemicalEOR(#70)
Figure 7: EOR Methods Porosity Distribution
Source line: [Taber et al. (1996), Anonymous (1998, 2000, 2002, 2006) ; Mortis (2004); Kottungal (2008);
Awan et al. (2006); Cadelle et al. (1980); Demin etal.(1999)]
ProjectConcentration
62%
69%
76%
55%
67%
8 SPE 130726


Figures in parentheses indicate number of projects.



Advances in EOR Technologies

Traditionally, EOR methods have been classified into four major categories: gas, thermal, chemical, and other.
2
This
paper classifies EOR methods into five principle categories: gas-based, water-based, thermal-based, other, and combination
methods. It introduces the water-based methods to replace the chemical methods because of two promising technologies included
in this category low-salinity water flooding and wettability alteration. It also introduces combination methods that involve two
major EOR methods because such methods break through the limitations of single-mechanism EOR methods. Figure 9 illustrates
the various EOR methods.

Tables 3 through 5 summarize advances in EOR technologies mainly based on SPE conference proceedings for 2007 to
2009. They list EOR limitations reported by Taber et al. in 1996, and developments in EOR technologies that either break through
previous limitations or result in favorable oil recovery conditions.




0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400
Miscible
Flooding(#212)
Immiscible
Flooding(#40)
SteamFlooding
(#271)
Combustion
(#27)
ChemicalEOR
(#70)
Figure8:TemperatureDistributionVsEORMethods
Sourceline:[Taberetal.(1996),Anonymous(1998,2000,2002,2006);Mortis(2004);Kottungal(2008);
Awanetal.(2006);Cadelleetal.(1980);Deminetal.(1999)]
ProjectConcentration
52%
65%
64%
77%
68%
SPE 130726 9
Figure 9: Enhanced Oil Recovery Methods


InFillDrilling EORMethods
GasEOR
Miscible
AcidicGases
CO
2
Sour
Gas
HydrocarbonGases
Nitrogen
Immiscible
AcidicGases
CO
2
Sour
Gas
HydrocarbonGases
Nitrogen
FlueGas
WaterBasedEOR
Alkaline
Surfactant
Polymer
GelTreatment
Polymer Flooding
Micellar
LowSalinityWater
Imbibition
GravityDrive
CounterCurrent
ThermalEOR
Steam
Cyclic
Drive
SAGD
InSituCombustion
Forward
Dry
Wet
AirInjection
Catalyst
Reverse
AirInjection HotWater
ElectricalHeating
Others
MEOR
ModifiedEnzyme
CombinationEOR
WAG SWAG
CO
2
+WAG
AlkalineSurfactantPolymer(ASP)
Alkaline+Surfactant(AS)
MiscibleCO
2
+SAGD
ASP+CO
2
ConformanceControl+CO
2
Foam
Foam+MiscibleCO
2
ConformanceControl+ASP
HeavyOil
CarbonateReservoir
HeavyOil&CarbonateReservoir
10 SPE 130726

Table:3GasEORMethods
Limitation(s):(Taber,J.J.,etal.1996)
Asteepdippingreservoirispreferredtopermitsomestabilizationofthedisplacingfront.

SN AdvancesinEORTechnologies
ReservoirProperty
(Oil/Lithology)
Application
Studies Pilot Commercial

1
Infilldrillingextendstheproductionplateau,improvesexisting
(MiscibleCO
2
Flooding)andfutureEORmethods(MiscibleWAG)
becausethedisplacingfrontremainsstabilizedinshort
distances.
20,21,22

Light/Sandstone
SPE108060
SPE106575
SPE
114199

CombinationsofwaterbasedEORmethodswithgasEORmethodstoovercomevolumetricsweepefficiencylimitations
2
WAGisusedtoovercometheinherentlyunfavorablegasinjection
mobilityratios,whichresultinpoorsweepefficiencies.
23,24,25,26

Light&Heavy/
Sandstone&
Carbonate
SPE89353
SPE25075
SPE
106575
SPE113933
3
ModifiedWAGmethodsincludesimultaneouswaterandgas
injection(SWAG)andamodifiedSWAGtechniqueinwhichwateris
injectedontopofthereservoirandgasisinjectedatthebottomto
improvesweepefficiency.
27,28

SPE105071
SPE124197

4
SAG,foamisinjectedintothereservoirbyalternatingslugsof
surfactantsolutionandgasinjectiontoimprovethemobilityratio
andsweepefficiencybydecreasingthegasvelocityandplugging
highpermeabilityzones.
29,30,31,32

Light/
Sandstone&
Carbonate
SPE114800
SPE110408
SPE113370
OTC19787

5 ASParecoinjectedwithCO
2
toenhanceWAGflood.
33
SPE123866
6
ConformancecontrolbyapplyinggeltreatmenttoimproveCO
2

floodingsweepefficiency.
34,35

SPE35379 SPE35361


Table:4ChemicalEORMethods
Limitation(s):(Taber,J.J.,etal.1996)
(a)Anarealsweepefficiencyofatleast50%onwaterfloodisdesired.
(b)Relativelyhomogenousformationispreferred.
(c)Formationchloridesshouldbe<20,000ppmanddivalentions(Ca
++
andMg
++
shouldbe<500ppm).
(d)Wheretherockpermeabilityis<50md,thepolymermayonlysweepfractureseffectivelyunlessthemolecularweightisreduced.

SN AdvancesinEORTechnologies
ReservoirProperty
(Oil/Lithology)
Application
Studies Pilot Commercial
Polymers
1
Successfulapplicationofpolymerfloodinginheterogeneous
andlowpermeabilityreservoirswhencombinedwithinfill
drilling.
36,37

Light/
Sandstone

SPE107727
SPE108661

2
Highmolecularweightpolymers(1820milliondaltons)exhibit
highviscositiesatsalinitiesupto170,000ppm.Forhigh
concentrationsofcalcium,copolymersandAMPScanbe
considered.
38

SPE113845
3 Displacementofviscousoilbyassociativepolymersolutions.
39
SPE122400
4 Hydrophobicallyassociatingpolymertoleranttosalts.
40,41

Heavy/
Sandstone

SPE104432
IPTC11635

5
Theviscoelasticpropertyofapolymercanreducetheresidual
oilsaturation.
42

SPE106005
Geltreatment
6
Applicationofaorganicallycrosslinkedpolymerthatcan
withstandhightemperatureconformancetreatmentupto
350 F.
43

SPE121143
7
Intheabsenceofdiavalentcations,HPAMcanremainstable
withatleasthalftheinitialviscosityforover7yearsat100 C
andabout2yearsat120 C.
44

SPE121460

SPE 130726 11
SN AdvancesinEORTechnologies
ReservoirProperty
(Oil/Lithology)
Application
Studies Pilot Commercial
8
IndepthconformancecontrolbyinjectingalowviscositypH
triggeredpolymersintothereservoirtoblocksweptfractures
andhighpermeabilityzones.
45

Sandstone&
Carbonate
SPE124773

9
Preformedparticlegel(PPG)isusedforlargevolume
conformancecontroltreatments.
Sandstone
Reference
(95)
Surfactants

10
SuperandviscoelasticsurfactantsprovidebothIFTreduction
andmobilitycontroloverawidetemperatureandpressure
range.
46

Light/
Sandstone&
Carbonate
SPE106005


11
Thecostofchemicalsurfactanthasalwaysbeenadrawbackin
actualfieldapplication.Theuseofagriculturaleffluentto
generatebiologicalsurfactantsprovidesapossiblelowcost
alternative.
47

Light/
Sandstone&
Carbonate
SPE106078
Alkaline,AlkalineSurfactant(AS),ASP
12
Applicationofalkalinesurfactant(AS)floodinginahigh
temperature(119C)andhighsalinity.
48

Light/
Sandstone
SPE109033
13
Adverseeffectsofalkalineinjectionaremitigatedbyusing
organicalkaline,ceramiccoatingsonprogressingcavitypumps
(PCP),andweakASPsystems.
49,50,51,52

Light/
Sandstone
SPE109165
SPE107776
SPE104416
SPE114348

14
Olefinsulfonateswhenusedwithappropriatecosurfactants,
cosolvents,andalkaliyieldresultsrequiredfornear100%oil
recoveryincores.
53

Heavy/
Sandstone
SPE113432


Table:5ThermalEORMethods
Limitation(s):(Taber,J.J.,etal.1996)
(a)Combustionsustainabilityisalimitation.
(b)Porositymustbehightominimizeheatlossesintherockmatrix.
(c)Sweepefficiencyispoorinthickformations.
(d)Steaminjectionislimitedtoshallowreservoirswiththick(20ft)payzonestolimitheatloss.
(e)Steaminjectionhasahighcostperincrementalbarrelandthusisnotusedforcarbonatereservoirs.
SN AdvancesinEORTechnologies
ReservoirProperty
(Oil/Lithology)
Application

Studies Pilot Commercial

1
Steamassistedgravitydrainage(SAGD)followuptocyclicsteam
stimulationimproveddailyoilproductioncapacityofsingle
horizontalwellfromtheinitial2040t/dto7080t/d.
54

Heavy/
Sandstone
SPE104406
2
RedevelopmentofanabandonedoilfieldwithSAGD.Thepower
plantwouldgeneratesteamanddeliversurpluselectricitytothe
nationalpowergrid.Wastewaterfromnearbysewageplantwill
usedtoproduceboilerfeedwater,andSAGDisexpectedto
delivermorethan100millionbblsofoil.
55

Light/
Sandstone
IPTC11700
3
Steaminjectionusedtoimproverecoveryofamature
waterfloodingreservoir.Steamoverridingcanimprovevertical
sweepefficiencyandthereforeenhancerecoveryto50%from
14%.
56

Light/
Sandstone
SPE116549
CombinationsofwaterbasedEORmethodswiththermalEORmethodstoovercomevolumetricsweepefficiencylimitations
4
Thermoreversiblegelformingsystemimprovestheefficiencyof
cyclicsteamtreatments.Steaminjectionconformanceis
achievedsincegelationoccursathightemperatures.Duringoil
drainage,thereservoirtemperaturedecreasesandthegel
convertsintoliquid.
57

Heavy/
Sandstone
SPE104330
5
Ahightemperatureslagblockingagent(withsilicateasthemain
component)wasdevelopedforsteaminjectiontopluggas
channelingpathsandimprovesweepefficiency.
58

Heavy/
Sandstone
SPE104426
12 SPE 130726
SN AdvancesinEORTechnologies
ReservoirProperty
(Oil/Lithology)
Application
Studies Pilot Commercial
6
ChemicaladditivesincludingSEPAareincorporatedintothe
steamtoimprovetheefficiencyofthestimulationprocessand
increaseoilrecoveryfactors.
59,60

Heavy
SPE108398
SPE104404

7
Catalystsareusedforinsitucombustionincarbonatereservoirs
togenerateafastercombustionfront,highercombustion
efficiencyandhigherinitialtemperatures.
61

Heavy/
Carbonate
SPE107946
8
Appliedreactiontechnologyusesmolybdenumoleateinsteam
stimulationtoeffectivelyreduceoilviscosity.
62

Heavy/
Sandstone
SPE106180

9
Thevaporizedsolventwhencoinjectedwithsteamcondenses
andmixeswithoil,creatingazoneoflowviscositybetweenthe
steamandheavyoil.
63

Heavy SPE122078
CombinationsofgasbasedEORmethodswiththermalEORmethodstoovercomesteamgenerationdrawbacksorimproverecovery
10
NonthermalprocessesinvolvingCO
2
floodingisusedin
combinationwithsteamforoilrecoverytolimitthedrawbacksof
steamgeneration.
64

Heavy SPE113234
11
SAGDperformanceisimprovedbyairinjectionandgasassisted
gravitydrainage(GAGD).
65,66

Heavy
SPE106901
SPE110132


Promising EOR Methods


Low-Salinity Water Flooding

Low salinity water flooding (LSWF) is a new technology developed about a decade ago to improve oil recovery.
Experimental work carried out by Tang, et al. (1997) concluded that a decrease in salinity favorably altered wettability and
improved spontaneous imbibition and oil recovery by waterflooding. Alotaibi, et al. (2009) concluded that optimal salinity
should be maintained to maximize oil recovery pg. #6. This concept was previously highlighted by Surkalo, (1990), who stated
that the effectiveness in reducing the interfacial tension depends on the where the surfactant forms. If the salinity is high or low
the surfactant forms away from the oil-water interface pg. #6.

The mechanism of LSWF oil recovery remains unclear despite several interpretations (Boussour et al. 2009). Karoussi
and Hamouda (2007) argue that oil recovery by spontaneous imbibition does not exclusively depend on the imbibing fluid
composition, but also on the composition of the initial reservoir fluid. Akin et al. (2009) note that favorable wettability
alternations have been associated with increased recovery temperatures, whereas Strand et al. (2005) associated favorable
wettability alternation in chalks with sulfate concentrations in the injection fluid as well as with temperature. Use of an injection
fluid high in sulfate ions, such as seawater, to favorably alter wettability may have adverse effects on reservoir permeability if the
formation water contains high concentrations of barium and strontium ions. Carageorgos et al. (2009) explains the adverse effects
on permeability of injection fluid that is incompatible with the formation water.





SPE 130726 13

Table6LowSalinityWaterFlooding(LSWF)
Description
Decreasingtheinjectionwatersalinitybyreducingthetotalsuspendedsolids(TSD)hasbeenprovedtoincreaseoilrecovery.
Mechanisms
FavorablewettabilityalternationinsandstonecoresoccurswheninjectionwaterTSDisreducedbelow6,000ppm.
67,75

InterfacialtensionisreducedincarbonatecoreswhentheinjectionwaterTDSwasreducedfrom214,943ppmdownto52,346ppm.
76

Limitations&Challenges
ThemechanismofLSWFoilrecoveryremainsunclear,despiteseveralinterpretations.
70

TheavailabilityoflowsalinitywatersourcesisalimitingfactorinLSWFapplication.
MaximizedoilrecoveryduringLSFWrequiresoptimalsalinity
68,69
toeffectivelyalterwettabilitywithoutdecreasingreservoir
permeability.
75,77



Water-Alternating-Gas

WAG is a combination of alternating water-flood and gas-flood to stabilize the displacement front. The breakdown of the
water-alternating gas interface mainly due to gravity segregation or low injection pressures offsets the favorable mobility ratio and
degrades the sweep efficiency. The critical design parameters in WAG are timing and water-to-gas ratio. If excessive water is
used or flooding is prolonged, capillary trapping occurs and solvent-oil banks are broken. In the opposite case, where inadequate
quantities of water and short alternating durations are used, gas channeling occurs and an unfavorable mobility ratio degrades
sweep efficiency. Therefore, well spacing, injection pressure, and reservoir permeability variations are key WAG candidate
selection criteria. Reservoir simulation should be used to determine the optimal WAG design parameters.

Table7WaterAlternatingGas(WAG)Flooding
Description
WAGisaprocessofinjectinggasasaslugalternatelywithawaterslugtoovercometheinherentlyunfavorablegasinjectionmobilityratios.
78

Mechanisms
NingandMcGuire(2004)stateImmiscibleWAGfloodinginsaturatedornearsaturatedreservoirsresultsinincrementalrecoverymainlydue
toanimprovementinsweepefficiency.Bycontrast,immiscibleWAGfloodinginundersaturatedreservoirsresultsinincrementalrecoverydue
to a reduction in oil viscosity and oil swellingpg. #3.

Miscible WAG flooding in suitable candidate reservoirs results in incremental recovery


duetoareductionininterfacialtensionandimprovementinsweepefficiency.
24

AppliedParameterRanges
MiscibleWAG ImmiscibleWAG
NumberOfProjectsReported:3
OilProperties
APIGravityRange:3339
OilViscosity(cP):0.30.9

ReservoirProperties
Porosity:1124%
Permeability(md):1302000
Depth(feet):75458887

NumberofProjectsReported:11
OilProperties
APIGravityRange:9.341
OilViscosity(cP):0.1716000

ReservoirProperties
Porosity:1831.9%
Permeability(md):1006600
Depth(feet):26509090

Limitations&Challenges
Stone (1982) states WAG is often limited by vertical gravity segregation, which causes the injected gas to rise and the injected water to
migratetothebottomoftheformationpg.#2.Thislimitationcanbemitigatedbyusinghighinjectionratesorreducedwellspacing.
79

Gorell(1988)suggeststhatMobilewatermayshieldinplaceoilfromcontractwiththeinjectedsolventpg.#227.Therefore,thewaterslug
sizeiscriticalinordertomaintainanoptimumbalancebetweenreducingtheoilinterfacialtensionandimprovingthesweepefficiency.
80


14 SPE 130726
Foam Flooding

Recent developments in gas-miscible EOR methods are based on mobility control. Bernard et al. (1980) cite laboratory
work conducted at New Mexico State University, concluding that foam viscosities can be expected to be proportional to gas
saturation. Therefore, gas over riding effects can be controlled during oil displacement. The same work suggested adapting this
concept to carbon dioxide-miscible flooding. Foam is a dispersed bubble in a liquid and can reduce reservoir gas permeability to
less than 1% of its original value.

Carbon Dioxide EOR and Sequestration

Recently there has been renewed interest in carbon-dioxide (CO
2
) EOR. Growing concerns about climate change and
greenhouse gas have increased interest in carbon capture and sequestration. CO
2
EOR provides an added opportunity to increase
crude-oil production while sequestering substantial volumes of industrial CO
2
. The advantages of this approach in a hydrocarbon
reservoir include:
82

favorable geological conditions.
seal and storage capacity.
infrastructure, available wells, and operation facilities.
more than 30 years of industry experience in CO2 injection.

The difference between the objective of CO2 EOR and that of CO2 EOR sequestration is that the former maximizes
recovery with a minimum amount of injected fluid, but the latter maximizes the amount of CO
2
retained in a reservoir by
increasing its physical trapping or solubility in reservoir fluids. Except for reservoir depth and oil viscosity, all screening
parameters specifically by Taber et al. (1996) can be used to screen a reservoir for CO2 EOR sequestration.
83


Surfactant Imbibition

Surfactants can be used to lower the interfacial tension during water flooding.
84,85
However, recent work has noted that
surfactants favorably alter wettability in oil-wet reservoirs. Tests reported by Flumerfelt et al. (1993) on the surfactant-based
imbibition/solution drive process for single-well treatment in low-permeability, fractured environment demonstrate that the
surfactant appears to alter the wetting state of the rock and promote imbibition significantly beyond that possible with water alone
or water with dissolved CO
2
pg.# 67.

Babadagli (2003) conducted an analysis of oil recovery by spontaneous imbibition of surfactant solution on a variety of
rock types including sandstone, limestone, dolomitic limestone, and chalk; he concluded that for some rock samples the
imbibition recovery by surfactant solution was strictly controlled by the surfactant concentration pg.#1. However, the difference
in recovery rate and ultimate recovery rate between high and low interfacial tension samples can also be affected by wettability
alteration and adsorption that can vary with rock type.
SPE 130726 15

Table8SurfactantImbibition
Description
Oilisrecoveredfromfracturedcarbonatereservoirbywettabilityalternatingwithsurfactants.
88

Mechanisms
Cationicsurfactantscanrecoveroilfromchalkcoresbyspontaneouscountercurrentimbibitions.
89

Anionicandnonionicsurfactantsatlowconcentrations(<0.1wt%)canimproveoilrecoveryupto60%OOIPincarbonatecores.Thisisa
gravitydrainageprocess.
90

Limitations&Challenges
IncrementalrecoverybyacountercurrentimbibitionprocessdependsonbrinepH.
91

Spontaneousimbibitionincarbonatereservoirsisveryslowbecauseitisagravitydrivenprocess.
90

Surfactanttreatmentisdifficultincarbonatereservoirsduetopoorvolumetricsweepefficiency.
92

Surfactantsrepresentasignificantcostitem.

In-Depth Conformance Control

In-depth conformance control began in the late 1990s when most oilfields had become mature with less remaining oil
near wellbore and an interlayer heterogeneity conflict dominated. A major drawback of near-well-bore gel treatments is displacing
fluid by pass and reverse flow in the high-permeability zone; this effect occurs especially when small quantities of plugging agent
are used. As a result, the gel treatment has little effect on water production and incremental oil recovery. Large volumes of
conformance control treatment are much more effective in improving the sweep efficiency, especially if the agents can be placed
between wells. Chemicals typically used in large-volume conformance-control treatment are a polymer-crosslinker-retarder weak
gel system, colloid dispersion gel (CDG), and particle gels. The latter include micro-to millimeter-sized preformed particle gel
(PPG), microgel (Zaitoun et al. 2007), and the submicro-sized particle gel Bright water

(Frampton et al. 2004). Polymer


concentrations usually range from 800 to 2,000 mg/l for weak gel and from 400 to 1,000 mg/l for CDG. China has accumulated
much experience in the application of large-volume of PPG treatment, which has been used for more than 2,000 wells.
95


Table9InDepthConformanceControl
Description
Pluggingagentssuchasweakbulkgel,colloiddispersiongel,andparticlegelsareinjecteddeepintothereservoirtodivertinjectionwaterto
unswepthydrocarbonzones/areas.Thisimprovesoilrecoveryandreduceswaterproduction.
Mechanisms
Correctthesevereheterogeneityofareservoirwithcrossflowbetweenlayerstoredistributewaterflowandthusimprovesweepefficiency.
Limitations&Challenges
Deliveringabulkgelorparticlegeltotargetlocationsisachallenge.
96

Gelpropertiesdesignedforinsitucrosslinkingsystemsarehardtocontrolinformationduetoshearing,dilution,andthechromatography
effectofchemicals.
Selectionofparticlegelsizeandstrengthappropriateforaspecificformationisachallengebecausenopropertechnologiesexistto
identifythesizeofchannels/streaks,aprocessnecessaryforanindepthconformancecontroldesign.
Acosteffectivegelsystemforahightemperatureandhighsalinityreservoirisnotavailable.




16 SPE 130726

Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery

Microbes can be used to improve oil recovery. Microbial EOR (MEOR) has always been an attractive EOR method due
to its low cost and potential to improve both microscopic and macroscopic displacement efficiencies. However, the uncertainties,
sensitivities, and time impact of biological agents have always limited their success and the application envelope. Nevertheless,
MEOR has introduced the use of organic substitutes for chemical EOR methods; these include alkaline (Guerra et al. 2007),
surfactants (Kurawle et al. 2009), and polymers (Jiecheng et al. 2007 and Sugai et al. 2007). In addition, MEOR continues to be
successful in some field applications (Town et al. 2009).

Table10MicrobialEnhancedOilRecovery(MEOR)
Description
Microorganisms and nutrients are injected into the reservoir so that the microorganism(s) multiply and their metabolic products such as
polymers,surfactants,gases,andacidsimproveoilrecovery.
98

Mechanisms
Increaseinreservoirpressure,asaresultofmicrobialgasgeneration.
Reductioninoilviscosity.
Permeabilitymodificationduetoacidicdissolutionorplugging.
Decrease in interfacial tension resulting from microbial biosurfactant generation and a decrease in the population of sulfatereducing
bacteria.
BacteriaFunctionsinMEOR
100

IFTReducers
(Surfactant)
Conformance
(Polymer)
ViscosityReducers PermeabilityModifiers
(Acid)
ParaffinDepositionReducers
(Gas) (Solvent)
Acinetobacter
Arthrobacter
Bacillus
Pseudomonas
Bacillus
Leuconostoc
Xanthomonas
Clostridium
Enterobacter
Desulfovibrio
Clostridium
Zymomonas
Klebsiella
Clostridium
Enterobacter
Pseudomonas
Arthrobacter

Biosurfactants (ReportedIFTMeasurementsin
mN/m)
Reference
MixedCulture
Rhamnolipid
LipopeptideSurfactin
0.020
0.006
0.080
(Kowalewskietal.2005)
(Hung,Shreve2001)
(Makkar,Cameotra1999)
Limitations&Challenges
ThemajorityofsuccessfulMEORprojectshavebeenappliedtoreservoirswithtemperaturesbelow55 Celsius.
104

MEORprojectsaresuitedforlowproductionrateandhighwatercutreservoirs.
Inthepasttenyears,thesuccessrateofMEORprojectshasbeenabout60%.
104

SurfactantadsorptiontothereservoirrockandbiodegradationadverselyimpactMEORperformance.
105


Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage

Horizontal wells achieved commercially viability in the late 1980s.
106
This milestone was preceded by the development of
steam-assisted-gravity-drainage (SAGD), which consists of two parallel horizontal wells. The shallower well is injected with
steam and, at times solvent to mobilize the oil. Gravity drains the oil to the bottom well for production. SAGD was originally
discovered by Dr. Roger Butler and proved commercially successful in 1992.
107
Recent developments in SAGD include the use of
solvents (Galvo et al. 2009) and air (Belgrave et al. 2007) to enhance oil recovery.
SPE 130726 17

Table11SteamAssistedGravityDrainage(SAGD)
Description
Reis (1992) states Steam is injected into the formation through a horizontal well, and oil drains into a separate, parallel, horizontal well
locatedbelowtheinjectionwellpg.#14.
Mechanisms
Steam injection reduces the oil viscosity and causes the oil to swell. The macroscopic displacement is further improved by the density
differencebetweenthesteamandtheoil,dependingonflowregimes.(Reis1992)Theoilinterfacialtensioncouldalsodecreaseasaresultof
steamdistillation.
110

Limitations&Challenges
Reservoirdepth.
8

Formationnetthickness.
8

Payzonenetthicknessshouldbedeepenoughtodrilltwoparallelhorizontalwellsoneabovetheother.
Albahlani, Babadagli(2008)statesthatSAGDischallengedbythehighverticalpermeabilityrequirementandhighenergyconsumption
pg.#1.


Summary

EOR methods are categorized into five groups: gas-based, water-based, thermal, other and combination technologies.
The EOR selection criteria published by Taber et al. in 1996 have been updated with additional project details.
Reservoir property distributions based on published field application data have been developed as a guidance tool for
selecting main EOR methods.
Novel EOR methods and combined EOR technologies have been provided as additional options to enhance oil recovery.
The breakthrough in EOR mechanisms and the resilience of new developed chemicals extend conventional EOR methods to
a wider range of reservoirs.














18 SPE 130726
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