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The Feasibility of CO2 Injection for IOR in Shale Reservoirs

Improved oil recovery (IOR) methods for shale-oil reservoirs are considered relatively new concepts compared with IOR for conventional oil reservoirs. Different IOR methods—including CO2, surfactant, natural gas, and water injection—have been investigated for unconventional reservoirs using laboratory experiments, numerical simulation studies, and limited pilot tests. For a variety of reasons, CO2 injection is the most-investigated option. In this paper, numerical simulation methods of compositional models were incorporated with logarithmically spaced, locally refined, and dual-permeability reservoir models and local grid refinement (LGR) of hydraulic-fracture conditions to investigate the feasibility of CO2 injection in shale oil reservoirs.

Introduction

Advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing enabled unconventional liquids-rich reservoirs (ULRs), such as shale and source-rock formations and very tight reservoirs, to change the oil industry. ULRs are characterized by pore throats of micro- to nanomillimeters and an ultralow permeability. Although different studies reported that these ULRs contain billions of recoverable oil barrels in place, it is estimated that less than 7% of the original oil in place can be recovered during the primary depletion stage. Production sustainability is the main problem behind the low oil recovery in these unconventional reservoirs. Oil wells in ULRs typically start with a high production rate, but show a steep decline rate in the first 3–5 years of production life because of the rapid depletion in the natural fractures combined with a slow recharge from the rock matrix.

The logical steps of academic research such as experimental investigation, simulation studies, and pilot tests for examining the applicability of different unconventional IOR methods have just begun in the past decade. Applying one of the feasible IOR methods in most oil and gas reservoirs should be mandatory to increase the oil-recovery factor. However, the mechanisms of IOR methods in unconventional reservoirs are not necessarily the same as those in conventional reservoirs. The primary characteristics of unconventional reservoirs that might impair performing IOR operations are low porosity and ultralow permeability. As a result, finding IOR methods that are insensitive to these very small pore throats is a priority.

This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Judy Feder, contains highlights of paper SPE 190277, “Mechanistic Study for the Applicability of CO2-EOR in Unconventional Liquids-Rich Reservoirs,” by Dheiaa Alfarge, SPE, Iraqi Ministry of Oil and Missouri University of Science and Technology, and Mingzhen Wei and Baojun Bai, Missouri University of Science and Technology, prepared for the 2018 SPE Improved Oil Recovery Conference, Tulsa, 14–18 April. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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The Feasibility of CO2 Injection for IOR in Shale Reservoirs

01 July 2019

Volume: 71 | Issue: 7

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