A numerical study of CO₂-EOR with emphasis on mobility control processes : Water Alternating Gas (WAG) and foam

Pudugramam, Venkateswaran Sriram
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CO₂ enhanced oil recovery (CO₂-EOR) in residual oil zones has emerged as a viable technique to maximize both the oil production and carbon storage. Most CO₂ field projects suffer from inadequate sweep because of high mobility of CO₂ compared to the oil. Gas conformance techniques have the potential to further improve the effectiveness of CO₂-EOR projects. The choice of mobility control to improve the sweep efficiency is critical and simulation studies with hysteretic relative permeability and mechanistic foam model can assist in the choice of technique and optimization of the process for each reservoir. Two promising mobility control practices of Water Alternating Gas (WAG) and foam are evaluated using the in-house compositional gas reservoir simulator (DOE-CO₂). The effect of hysteresis and cycle dependent relative permeability on WAG and foam injections incorporating a new three-phase hysteresis model has been investigated. Simulations are performed with and without hysteresis to assess the impact of the saturation history and saturation path on gas entrapment, fluid injectivity and oil recovery. The foam assisted technique in CO₂-EOR processes has also been investigated. Here foam is generated in-situ by injecting surfactant solution with CO₂ rather than directly injecting foam. A simplified yet mechanistic population-balance model implemented in the in-house simulator has been applied to test the impact of foam. The results have been compared with an empirical foam model which is the standard model in commercial simulators. Simulations have been performed on actual field models for selection and optimization of the CO₂ injection scheme, quantifying the impact of hysteresis, depicting the effectiveness of CO₂-EOR process as against a surfactant flood, the effectiveness of foam assisted floods and insights into low tension gas flooding process. All the above analyses have also been performed on layer cake models with properties replicating the Permian Basin carbonate reservoirs and Gulf Coast sandstone reservoirs. Hysteresis shows an improvement in oil recovery of gas injection schemes where flow reversal takes place. Foam has been found to be effective and the models show lower CO₂ utilizations factors compared to the case without foam.