Simulation of asphaltene deposition during CO₂ flooding

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Al Qasim, Abdulaziz Salem

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This Thesis presents the results of phase behavior calculations and simulation of asphaltene precipitation, flocculation, and deposition in five Middle-Eastern wells from different fields, based on a reliable experimental data provided for this purpose. The asphaltene precipitation, flocculation, and deposition have been simulated throughout the primary (pressure depletion), secondary (Waterflooding) and tertiary recovery (CO₂ injection) stages. Asphaltene precipitation becomes a serious problem especially when it causes plugging of the formation, wellbore, or production facilities, which will significantly affect the productivity and final recovery of the area. To help preventing asphaltene precipitation a bottomhole pressure higher than the asphaltene onset pressure (AOP) has been applied. Also, water and CO₂ injection has provided enough support for pressure maintenance, which helps in preventing asphaltene. Several scenarios were tested to investigate and identify the cases with lowest asphaltene precipitation and higher recovery. It has been considered obligatory to have a representative numerical simulation model that can predict the phase behavior of asphaltene precipitation, flocculation, and deposition accurately. The first part of this thesis includes a comprehensive literature review of asphaltene precipitation flocculation, and deposition that include asphaltene structure, models and prevention techniques. The second part of the thesis includes a detailed study of modeling asphaltene precipitation phase behavior utilizing experimental and real field data obtained from five Middle-Eastern wells from different fields. Experimental data include measurements of asphaltene onset pressure (AOP), saturation pressure, and PVT data. Asphaltene precipitation was modeled by using WinProp (a phase behavior utility from CMG) which uses Nghiem solid model. Saturation pressures, PVT, and AOP data were used to match Peng-Robinson EOS and the precipitation model was matched by the experimental data of AOP. The third part of the thesis includes a one-dimensional simulation comparison study of asphaltene precipitation between three different compositional simulators; UTCOMP, ECLIPSE and CMG/GEM. The last part of the thesis includes a full field scale study based on a heterogeneous three-dimensional cartesian single-well model. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of asphaltene precipitation, flocculation, and deposition in the well productivity and the economic impacts related to it. Different production practices were applied to define the most appropriate and efficient production strategy. This study includes a discussion and comparison of production rates with and without asphaltene precipitation, flocculation, and deposition and a comparison of asphaltene precipitation, flocculation, and deposition at different times using different bottomhole and production rate constraints. Several cases (i.e., WAG cycles, completion, target layers of injection, etc.) will be tested to come up with the optimum completion and operating strategy in the presences asphaltene. Despite the work devoted to understanding this subject, asphaltene still represents a challenging and unresolved problem. This thesis will help bridge the gap of this limited understanding in the field of asphaltene.



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