Development of improved ASP formulations for reactive and non-reactive crude oils
The ability to select low-cost, high-performance surfactants for a wide range of crude oils under a wide range of reservoir conditions has improved dramatically in recent years. Surfactant formulations (surfactant, co-surfactant, co-solvent, alkali, polymer, and electrolyte) were developed by using a refined phase behavior approach. Such formulations nearly always result in more than 90% oil recovery in core flood when good surfactants with good mobility control are used. The advances that have improved performance, reduced cost, increased robustness, and extended the range of reservoir conditions for these formulations are described in this work. There are thousands of possible combinations of the chemicals that could be tested for each oil and each chemical combination requires many observations over a long time period at reservoir temperature for proper evaluation. It would take too long, cost too much and in many cases not even be feasible to test all combinations. In practice the scientific understanding is used to match up the surfactant/co-surfactant/co-solvent characteristics with the oil characteristics, temperature, salinity, hardness and so forth. Synthesized and new surfactants with much larger hydrophobes and more branching than previously available were tested. New classes of co-solvents and co-surfactants with superior performance were test to improve aqueous solubility. These new developments resulted in improved ASP formulations for both oils that react with alkali to make soap and oils that do not. Many of these developments are synergistic and taken together represent a breakthrough in reducing the cost of chemical flooding and thus its commercial potential.