Development of a non-isothermal compositional reservoir simulator to model asphaltene precipitation, flocculation, and deposition and remediation
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Asphaltene precipitation, flocculation, and deposition in the reservoir and producing wells cause serious damages to the production equipment and possible failure to develop the reservoirs. From the field production prospective, predicting asphaltene precipitation, flocculation, and deposition in the reservoir and wellbore may avoid high expenditures associated with the reservoir remediation, well intervention techniques, and field production interruption. Since asphaltene precipitation, flocculation, and deposition strongly depend on the pressure, temperature, and composition variations (e.g. phase instability due to CO2 injection), it is important to have a model that can track the asphaltene behavior during the entire production system from the injection well to the production well, which is absent in the literature. Due to economic concerns for asphaltene related problems, companies spend a lot of money to design their own asphaltene inhibition and remediation procedures. However, due to the complexity and the lack of knowledge on the asphaltene problems, these asphaltene inhibition and remediation programs are not always successful. Near-wellbore asphaltene inhibition and remediation techniques can be divided into two categories: changing operating conditions, and chemical treatment of the reservoir. Although, the field applications of these procedures are discussed in the literature, a dynamic model that can handle asphaltene inhibition and remediation in the reservoir is missing. In this dissertation, a comprehensive non-isothermal compositional reservoir simulator with the capability of modeling near-wellbore asphaltene inhibition and remediation is developed to address the effect of asphaltene deposition on the reservoir performance. This simulator has many additional features compared to the available asphaltene reservoir simulators. We are able to model asphaltene behavior during primary, secondary, and EOR stages. A new approach is presented to model asphaltene precipitation and flocculation. Adsorption, entrainment, and pore-throat plugging are considered as the main mechanisms of the asphaltene deposition. Moreover, we consider porosity, absolute permeability, and oil viscosity reductions due to asphaltene. It is well known that the asphaltene deposition on the rock surface changes the wettability of the rock towards oil-wet condition. Although many experiments in the literature have been conducted to understand the physics underlying wettability alteration due to asphaltene deposition, a comprehensive mathematical model describing this phenomenon is absent. Based on the available experimental data, a wettability alteration model due to asphaltene deposition is proposed and implemented into the simulator. Furthermore, the reservoir simulator is coupled to a wellbore simulator to model asphaltene deposition in the entire production system, from the injection well to the production well. The coupled reservoir/wellbore model can be used to track asphaltene deposition, to diagnose the potential of asphaltene problems in the wellbore and reservoir, and to find the optimum operating conditions of the well that minimizes asphaltene problems. In addition, the simulator is capable of modeling near-wellbore asphaltene remediation using chemical treatment. Based on the mechanisms of the asphaltene-dispersant interactions, a dynamic modeling approach for the near-wellbore asphaltene chemical treatments is proposed and implemented in the simulator. Using the dynamic asphaltene remediation model, we can optimize the asphaltene treatment plan to reduce asphaltene related problems in a field. The results of our simulations show that asphaltene precipitation, flocculation, and deposition in the reservoir and wellbore are dynamic processes. Many parameters, such as oil velocity, wettability alteration, pressure, temperature, and composition variations influence the trend of these processes. In the simulation test cases, we observe that asphaltene precipitation, flocculation, and deposition can occur in primary production, secondary production, or EOR stages. In addition, our results show that the wettability alteration has the major effect on the performance of the reservoir, comparing to the permeability reduction. During CO2 flooding, asphaltene precipitation occurs mostly at the front, and asphaltene deposition is at its maximum close to the reservoir boundaries where the front velocity is at its minimum. In addition, the results of the coupled reservoir/wellbore simulator show that the behavior of asphaltene in the wellbore and reservoir are fully coupled with each other. Therefore, a standalone reservoir or wellbore simulator is not able to predict the asphaltene behavior properly in the entire system. Finally, we show that the efficiency of an asphaltene chemical treatment plan depends on the type of dispersant, amount of dispersant, soaking time, number of treatment jobs, and the time period between two treatment jobs.