Experimental development of a chemical flood and the geochemistry of novel alkalis
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Surfactant-Polymer (SP) and Alkaline-Surfactant-Polymer (ASP) floods are tertiary oil recovery processes that mobilize residual oil to waterflood. These Chemical EOR processes are most valuable when the residual oil saturation of a target reservoir to waterflood is high. The first steps of designing a SP or ASP flood are performed in a laboratory by developing a surfactant formulation and by performing core flood experiments to assess the performance of the flood to recovery residual oil to waterflood. The two criteria for a technically successful laboratory SP or ASP core flood are recovering greater than 90% of residual oil to waterflood leaving behind less than 5% of residual oil and accomplishing this at a field scalable pressure gradient across the porous medium of approximately 1 psi per foot. This thesis documents the laboratory development of SP and ASP core floods for a continental Unites States oil reservoir reported to contain the minerals anhydrite and gypsum. The significance of these minerals is that they provide an infinite acting source of calcium within the reservoir that makes using the traditional alkali sodium carbonate unfeasible using conventional Chemical EOR methods. This is because sodium carbonate will precipitate as calcite in the presence of free calcium ions. Secondly, this thesis investigates two novel alkalis that are compatible with free calcium ions, sodium acetate and tetrasodium EDTA, for their viability for use in ASP floods for reservoirs containing anhydrite or gypsum.