Surfactant characterization to improve water recovery in shale gas reservoirs
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After a fracturing job in a shale reservoir, only a fraction of injected water is recovered. Water is trapped inside the reservoir and reduces the relative permeability of gas. By reducing the interfacial tension between water and hydrocarbon, more water can be recovered thus increasing overall gas production. By adding surfactants into the fracturing fluid, the IFT can be reduced and will help mobilize trapped water. From previous research, two types of surfactant have been identified to be CO₂ soluble. These are the ethoxylated tallow amine and ethoxylated coco amine with varying ethoxylate length. Experiments were performed to test the solubility of these surfactants in water, observe how they change the interaction between HC and water, and measure the IFT reduction between HC and water. Surfactants with more than 10 EO groups were soluble at all salinities, temperature and pH. They also form a non-typical water-in-oil emulsion at all salinities. The surfactants, Ethomeen T/25, T/30, C/15, and C/25 were used in the IFT measurements. They showed interesting trends that exhibit their hydrophilic/hydrophobic nature. These surfactants reduce the IFT between pentane and water to approximately 5 mN/m. The results show that these surfactants do reduce the IFT between water and hydrocarbon, but not as well as conventional EOR surfactants. They do have other added benefits such as being CO₂ soluble, form water in oil emulsions, and tolerant to high temperature and salinity.