The goal of this project is to investigate (with a focus on quantification), at multiple scales, the most promising processes that enhance production from tight/shale oil reservoirs, using LBNL’s unique set of parallel lab, micro-imaging, and reservoir simulation capabilities.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Berkeley, CA 94720
This research is divided into two areas that address pressing questions about the micro- and macro-scale processes that control the mobility of fluids in fractured and unfractured shales. The first area is proppant transport, including the movement and distribution of proppants in propagating fractures, the effect of proppants on the fracture permeability during injection and production, and their long-term fate, including crushing or embedment during fracture closure. The second area is production enhancement, which includes lab- and reservoir-scale investigations of processes (separate and in combination) that enhance permeability, decrease viscosity or irreducible saturations of reservoir fluids, and result in maximum recovery of desirable hydrocarbons. Coordination between simulations, lab-scale tests, and micro-scale visualization will provide some of the first direct observations of proppant behavior and develop enhanced simulation capabilities for reservoir-scale modeling.
By examining methods to enhance production in shale oil reservoirs through multi-scale laboratory experiments and numerical modeling, this project aims to identify promising processes and methods for industry adoption that would result in improved oil and natural gas recovery. If successful in identifying interactions, processes and methods that can increase production by as little as 50-100 percent over the current low recovery rates, the impact in the industry would be significant.
Current research is focused on the completion of proppant transport investigations that were delayed due to issues associated with the COVID 19 pandemic. Recent work has led to significant refinements of the proppant visualization system and the current effort is focused on repeating simple rough fracture tests with a range of flow rates and sand content to establish the repeatability of the system. Once complete, the project will conduct a range of proppant visualization experiments of increasing complexity.