Enhancing the productivity of volatile oil reservoirs using fluorinated chemical treatments
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Many producing volatile oil reservoirs experience a significant decrease in well deliverability when the bottom-hole pressure of the well falls below the bubble point pressure. This is due to the liberation of a gas phase which resides in the pore space and blocks the flow of the oil phase. This situation is known as "gas blocking". This occurs because the presence of two or three immiscible phases (gas, oil and water) results in a reduction of the oil saturation and a decrease in the oil relative permeability. The main objective of this research was to develop an effective and durable chemical treatment method to improve and/or restore the productivity of volatile oil wells undergoing "gas blocking". The treatment method is based on the use of fluorinated surfactants in tailored solvents to increase the oil relative permeability by changing the wettability of the rock’s surface. High-temperature high-pressure (HTHP) core flood experiments were used to evaluate the uses of fluorinated surfactants under reservoir conditions. Analytical tools such as X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and computerized axial tomography (CT Scan) were also used to interpret the experimental results. High-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) coreflood tests showed that the treatments improved the oil and gas relative permeability in both sandstone and limestone cores. This was observed for synthetic volatile oil mixtures with gas-oil ratios (GOR) in the range of 4000 to 13,000 scf/STB at low capillary numbers (Nc) on the order of 1x10-5 to 1x10-6 and for PVT ratios greater than 0.5. The fluorinated chemical treatments were effective in the presence of connate water over the temperature range of 155°F to 275°F. Wettability alteration was measured using contact angle and imbibition rate tests. Results from analytical tools showed that fluorinated surfactants were uniformly adsorbed along the core and the surfactant desorption after treatment was low (10 ppm or less). The gas saturation decreased following treatment and both the oil and gas relative permeability increased. Numerical simulations using the measured relative permeability data were used to estimate the gain in productivity for treated wells. The proposed fluorinated chemical treatments could be used as a preventive treatment or for a damaged well that has already been producing below the bubble point to increase oil production rates and recoverable reserves.