Exploration and Production Technologies
Bridging the Gap between Chemical Flooding and Independent Oil Producers Last Reviewed 12/15/2012

DE-NT0005679

Goal
The goal of this project is to design efficient chemical flooding processes that are necessary for independent oil producers to make an informed assessment for implementation of a pilot or demonstration project.

Performer
University of Kansas Center for Research, Lawrence, Kan.

Collaborators 
Nine independent oil companies that produce oil from ten Kansas fields are providing data and samples from their leases. The companies are Berexco Inc., Cimarex Energy Company, Colt Energy Inc., Merit Energy Company, Murfin Drilling Co. Inc., Oxy USA Inc., PetroSantander (USA) Inc., Vess Oil Corporation, and Stelbar Oil Corporation Inc.

Background
Despite their potential for increasing incremental oil recovery, chemical flooding applications are severely limited in the U.S. In the Oil & Gas Journal biennial survey of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects, there were no chemical EOR project operators reporting production for 2008, compared to a combined total chemical EOR production of about 22,500 b/d in 1988. Uncertainty over the most suitable design and application of chemical floods with respect to specific reservoirs, coupled with the high up-front costs of chemical injectants, has limited the implementation of this promising technology.

Recent advances in chemical development and modeling increase the potential to recover vast amounts of residual oil left behind after primary recovery and waterflooding processes. In addition to increasing the amount of oil that can be recovered from a given field, these advances also increase the number of fields to which these processes are applicable.

Impact
EOR currently provides about 13% of domestic oil production and is becoming increasingly important for sustaining U.S. oil output as the nation’s oil fields continue to age and onshore oil production declines. Widespread implementation and acceptance of new chemical flooding technologies could significantly bolster U.S. EOR production, increase ultimate recovery, and help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Operator interest is a significant barrier to the widespread application of chemical flooding. Design ‘templates” of chemical floods provide the basis for demonstration projects and a starting point for independent oil operators to assess the potential for implementing new chemical flooding technology. Government-sponsored field projects that demonstrate the benefits of new technologies to independent oil producers can be used to promote and advance their widespread implementation.

This research project, in conjunction with subsequent successful field demonstration projects, could greatly increase the interest of oil operators in pursuing and implementing chemical flooding applications. Successful field demonstration projects increase the comfort level of independent producers when they are considering implementing new technology. The proposed work will provide the design templates required to demonstrate chemical flooding processes. The researchers will follow through by supporting and assisting independent producers with field implementation.

Accomplishments

  • Laboratory tests to identify surfactant systems for chemical flooding applications in Kansas oil leases have been completed. The performance of the chemical systems was tested using core floods to determine the percentage of residual oil recovered after waterflooding. Chemical systems for seven crude oils were effective in recovering oil from Berea sandstone cores. Synthetic field brine resident in the core at the start of the chemical flood did not negatively affect oil recovery. Oil recovery performance was lower when flow experiments were conducted in limestone cores.
  • Basic economic analyses of chemical flooding field applications were prepared using the results of the laboratory and geological studies prepared for each lease and the field data obtained from the operators. Consultations with the operators of these leases resulted in a research proposal, “Field Demonstration of Chemical Flooding of the Trembley Oilfield, Reno County, Kansas” submitted to Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America to extend project work to field testing through a partnership with the University of Kansas and Berexco, Inc., SNF Holding CO., and Huntsman Petrochemical Inc.
  • Geological analyses of nine oil leases were completed
  • Presentations were made at the SPE Luncheon Meeting in Wichita, Kansas on March 15, 2011, and at the TORP Conference in Wichita, Kansas on April 7, 2011.
  • Over 15,000 formulations have been tested. Chemical systems that meet all the phase behavior criteria for efficient oil recovery were identified for nine crude oils.
  • Core flooding tests to determine oil recovery performance were conducted with chemical formulations for nine oils. Tertiary oil recovery was greater than 90% for seven of the oils.
  • The geology of nine of the leases was analyzed and results of these analyses were presented in the quarterly reports.

Current Status (December 2012)
This project is completed and the final report is available below under "Additional Information".

Project Start: October 1, 2008
Project End: March 31, 2012

DOE Contribution: $1,129,648
Performer Contribution: $297,358

Contact Information:
NETL – Sinisha (Jay) Jikich (Sinisha.Jikich@netl.doe.gov or 304-285-4320)
U. of Kansas – Stan McCool (mccool@ku.edu or 785-864-2914)
If you are unable to reach the above personnel, please contact the content manager

Additional Information

Final Project Report [PDF-21MB]


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