Novel insights into the pore-scale mechanisms of enhanced oil recovery by CO2 injection

Mehran Sohrabi Sedeh, Alireza Emadi

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    CO2 injection is a proven EOR (enhanced oil recovery) method, which has been extensively applied in the field. CO2 promotes oil recovery through a number of mechanisms including; CO2 dissolution, viscosity reduction, oil swelling, and extraction of light hydrocarbon components of crude oil. One of the main advantages considered for CO2 injection is that it can develop miscibility with most of light crude oils at a pressure lower than what would be required for other gases. Miscibility development is a function of reservoir pressure, temperature and also oil composition. In water flooded oil reservoirs, water can adversely affect the performance of CO2 injection as it reduces the contact between oil and CO2. However, CO2 will be able to dissolve into water and diffuse from water into the oil. The dynamic interplay between these various mechanisms is complicated and cannot be captured by existing models and simulations.

    In this paper we present the highlights of the results of a series of visualization (micromodel) experiments performed using three different crude oils. CO2 injection was carried out to investigate the pore-scale interactions between CO2, crude oil and water inside the porous medium under liquid, vapour and super-critical conditions. In particular, we reveal a new mechanism that can lead to the recovery of the disconnected oil ganglia that do not come to direct contact with injected CO2. Our results reveal that, under certain conditions, a new phase can be formed in trapped oil ganglia and grows in size and can eventually connect the ganglia to the flowing CO2 stream and lead to their production. The increase in the size of the new phase continues without limit as long as CO2 injection continues and is much more than what can be achieved by the swelling of the oil due to CO2 dissolution. In the injection strategies where CO2 injection is associated or followed by water injection, e.g. CO2-WAG or CO2-SWAG, formation of the new phase can also divert the flow of water towards the unswept regions of the porous media and lead to additional oil recovery.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages14
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012
    EventSPE Europec/EAGE Annual Conference - Copenhagen, Denmark
    Duration: 4 Jun 20127 Jun 2012


    ConferenceSPE Europec/EAGE Annual Conference


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