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Syringe Pump Application Note

Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) AN7

Introduction Rock Core Flooding and Syringe Pumps
The life of an oil well goes through three distinct Before an EOR method can be employed for a partic-
phases where various techniques are employed to main- ular well, research must be done to find the optimal
tain crude oil production at maximum levels. The choice of method and formulation. Part of EOR research
primary importance of these techniques is to force oil is known as “rock core flooding.” From the oil reservoir,
into the wellhead where it can be pumped to the sur- a cylindrical rock sample is cut with a hollow drill. Then
face. Techniques employed at the third phase, a syringe pump introduces a fluid into the rock core
commonly known as Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), can holder. Depending on the EOR process, core flooding
substantially improve extraction efficiency. Laboratory may require hours to days of fluid injection at high pres-
development of these techniques involves setups that sures and low flow rates for the newly introduced fluid
duplicate well and reservoir conditions. Core Flooding to displace the oil from the rock sample. From the data
Pumps or Core Analysis Pumps, such as Teledyne Isco obtained from rock core flooding, companies doing EOR
Syringe Pumps, are used in laboratory testing of these can devise the best way to recover as much oil as
Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) techniques. possible.

The Three Stages of Oil Field Development EOR Methods
Primary Recovery — In Primary Recovery, oil is Some common EOR methods are discussed below.
forced out by pressure generated from gas present in Thermal EOR
the oil. Injection of steam has historically been the most
Secondary Recovery — In Secondary Recovery, the widely applied EOR method. Heat from steam or hot
reservoir is subjected to water flooding or gas injection water dramatically reduces the viscosity of viscous oils,
to maintain a pressure that continues to move oil to the making it flow more readily. There are many variations
surface. for this process including cyclic steam injection (“huff ‘n
Tertiary Recovery — Tertiary Recovery, also known puff”, where steam is first injected, followed by oil pro-
as Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), introduces fluids that duction from the same well), continuous steam injection
reduce viscosity and improve flow. These fluids could (where steam injected into wells drives oil to separate
consist of gases that are miscible with oil (typically production wells), hot water injection, and steam
carbon dioxide), steam, air or oxygen, polymer solu- assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) using horizontal wells,
tions, gels, surfactant-polymer formulations, among others. Another set of thermal methods, in situ
alkaline-surfactant-polymer formulations, or microor- combustion or “fire flooding”, involves injection of air or
ganism formulations. oxygen. In this process, oxidation of some of the oil in
place does the following:

Importance of Enhanced Oil Recovery 1. produces heat that reduces viscosity for the
remaining oil
Primary recovery typically provides access to only a
small fraction of a reservoir’s total oil capacity. Sec- 2. cracks some high-molecular weight hydrocar-
ondary recovery techniques can increase productivity bons into smaller molecules
to a third or more. Tertiary Recovery (EOR) enables pro- 3. vaporizes some of the lighter hydrocarbons to
ducers to extract up to over half of a reservoir’s original help miscibly displace oil
oil content, depending on the reservoir and the EOR 4. creates steam that may steam-distill trapped oil
process applied.

compressed required to provide an efficient sweep of the expensive nitrogen has been used instead of CO2. high-pressure reservoirs. Through changes in sion to almost zero—displacing trapped residual oil. the displacements could have a range of (without surfactant). or fluid oil Figure 1: EOR Injection Methods . solid. a number of other innovative EOR voir (a secondary recovery process). nitrogen. The alkaline may also stances effectively disappears. steam. or steam. and other formulations. hydrocarbon gases. Depending on oil processes have been conceived. this method usu. gas composition and pressure. alkaline may convert some acids within the oil to that the interfacial tension between these two sub. or supercritical fluid. For all chemical flooding processes. water-soluble polymers increase the viscosity Injection Production Pump Pump gas. At miscible gases. CO2 has also been injected in a “huff ‘n puff” or require additional development before such applica- cyclic injection mode. inclusion cosity of oil. one extreme of conditions. including injection of character. and alkaline-sur- factant-polymer (ASP) flooding. gases have also been used for miscible oil displacement Gels are also often used to strategically plug frac- in some large reservoirs. these displacements may Other EOR Processes simply amount to “pressure maintenance” in the reser- Over the years. of a viscosifier (usually a water-soluble polymer) is In deep. like cyclic steam injection. specific circumstances. surfactants that aid oil recovery. the process has considerable the critical point of pressure and temperature. placement of moderately viscous oils. foams. and tempera- carbonated water. tions will become common. supercrit. and reducing the vis. microorganisms. Addition of ally employs supercritical CO2 to displace oil from a surfactant to the polymer formulation may. pressure and temperature. surfactant-polymer flooding.Syringe Pump Application Note AN7 Miscible EOR of the injected water. swelling. When at or above have been implemented. Hydrocarbon chemicals through the reservoir. reduce oil-water interfacial ten- ically containing “light” oils). potential to recover oil. Injected miscible CO2 will line to the surfactant-polymer formulation. the rock. but ment. CO2 can also improve oil play a beneficial role in reducing surfactant retention in recovery by dissolving in. For some mix thoroughly with the oil within the reservoir such oils. under very depleted oil reservoir with suitable characteristics (typ. and flue gases injecting the relatively expensive chemical solutions. have also been injected to immiscibly displace oil. Chemical EOR Three chemical flooding processes include polymer flooding. ical CO2 can maintain the properties of a gas while A variation of this process involves addition of alka- having the density of a liquid. In the polymer flooding method. These efficiencies up to and approaching a miscible displace- methods have shown varying degrees of promise. liquid. tures (or other extremely permeable channels) before CO2. carbon dioxide can form a Although no large-scale surfactant-polymer floods gas. alkaline ture. leading to a more efficient dis- Commonly applied in West Texas.

750 0 .gov/programs/oilgas/eor/index. 18 Oct. pre-cooling for improved fills. “Enhanced Oil Recovery/Co2 Syringe Pump Viscous Fluids — The use of extremely viscous fluids or & Controller liquefied gases makes Teledyne Isco’s syringe pumps the most viable choice in many cases. P. No pulsation at even lowest flow rates means superior minute-to-minute and second-to-second stability.html> 3.Syringe Pump Application Note AN7 Why Teledyne Isco Pumps? Pulseless Flow — This is a critical feature for rock core flooding studies where pressure changes are monitored and logged. Liquefied Gases — Gases such as CO2 require low leakage. 2007 <www.408 0.Fossil Energy: DOE’s Oil Recovery R&D Program.” NETL: E&P Technologies .Enhanced Oil Recovery.000 0 .107 0.O. 68501 USA Toll-free: (800) 228-4373 • Phone: (402) 464-0231 • Fax: (402) 465-3091 E-mail: IscoInfo@teledyne.2.html> 2.00001 . Continuous Flow — Fluids are often pumped into rock cores for several hours or days. Inc. 2007 <http://www.500 0 .gov/technologies/oil-gas/EP_Technologies/ImprovedRecovery/EnhancedOilRecovery/ . “Oil Exploration & Production Program Enhanced Oil Recovery. “Exploration & Production Technologies. Two Teledyne Isco syringe pumps configured with a valve assembly can accomplish continuous precision metering of unlimited volumes.” NETL: E&P Technologies .00001 .10.netl. 2007 <http://www.Improved Recovery .10.Improved Recovery .7. References: U. Recommended for rock core flooding applications. 1.pdf> Last modified November 27.100 .3.204 0.Enhanced Oil Recovery. Figure 2: Rock Core Flooding Table 1: Teledyne Isco Pump Models Available 1000Da 500D 260D 100DX 100DM 65D Flow Range (ml/min) 0.60 0. Nebraska.” 12 June 2007.001 .netl.doe. 18 Oct. Department of Energy. Rock Core Holder Accuracy — Digital servo control gives low speed preci- sion and volumetric accuracy.001 . 18 Oct.00001 .30 0. DOE . Box 82531. Lincoln.25 Pressure Range (psi) 0 .fossil.000 0 . 2007 Teledyne Isco. and temperature a.000 0 .S. It is important for the pump employed to not introduce any pressure variations itself (as with a piston pump).20.