Chemical enhanced oil recovery utilizing alternative alkalis



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This study explores alternative alkaline agents other than sodium carbonate for ASP process on reactive and non-reactive crude oil recovery at 55oC and 100oC. The alkalis studied were sodium metaborate, pH of 10-10.5, and a sodium silicate/borax mixture, pH of 11. Sodium metaborate showed very optimistic results similar to sodium carbonate studies. Sodium metaborate ASP floods recovered 97-99% of residual oil after waterflood in Berea sandstone at 55oC. The oil saturation in the core after the chemical flood was between 0.5-2%. Sodium metaborate ASP floods recovered 96% of the tertiary oil with a residual oil saturation of 2.6% in Bentheimer sandstone at 100oC. More importantly, the retention of surfactant was very low with the use of metaborate in Berea, Bentheimer and high clay content reservoir cores. 0.18 mg/g rock (68%) and 0.07 mg/g rock (30%) of surfactant was retained in Berea and Bentheimer respectively with the use of sodium metaborate. Sodium metaborate ASP floods recovered 96% and 98% of residual oil with a final oil saturation of 4.8% and 0.56% at 100oC and 55oC respectively in reservoir rock. The retention in reservoir core was 0.13 mg/g (48%) and 0.29 mg/g (80%) at 100oC and 55oC respectively.

Sodium borax/metasilicate had a lower tertiary oil recovery due to higher surfactant retention in Berea sandstone. The ASP flood recovered 81% and 86% of tertiary oil at 100oC and 55oC respectively. The retention was 0.326 mg/g (97%) and 0.267 mg/g (98%).

The last section involves treatment and reduction of reservoir cores containing clays and iron minerals. Reservoirs exist as anaerobic and reduced environments and these conditions must be emulated in laboratory experiments. Exposure of reservoir cores to aerobic conditions causes an oxidizing environment in the core leading to higher surfactant retention in the laboratory than the field. Dithionite was used to reduce reservoir cores and produce lower surfactant retention closer to field tests. Proper reduced conditions also improved oil recovery. Dithionite must be buffered with sodium bicarbonate to maintain the reducing power of dithionite. Dithionite oxidation by ferric iron and water causes hydroxyl ion consumption and pH decrease. The EH and iron concentration of the effluents must be monitored to determine the success of the core reduction. Effluent EH matching injected values and iron concentration close to the mineral solubility in brine should be used as benchmark for the success of core reduction