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Investigation of Chemical-Foam Design as a Novel Approach toward Immiscible Foam Flooding for Enhanced Oil Recovery
- Hosseini-Nasab, S. M., Zitha, P. L. J.
- Energy & Fuels 2017 v.31 no.10 pp. 10525-10534
- anionic surfactants, computed tomography, emulsions, foaming, fuels, nitrogen, oils, porous media, sandstone, surface tension
- Strong foam can be generated in porous media containing oil, resulting in incremental oil recovery; however, oil recovery factor is restricted. A large fraction of oil recovered by foam flooding forms an oil-in-water emulsion, so that costly methods may need to be used to separate the oil. Moreover, strong foam could create a large pressure gradient, which may cause fractures in the reservoir. This study presents a novel chemical-foam flooding process for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) from water-flooded reservoirs. The presented method involved the use of chemically designed foam to mobilize the remaining oil after water flooding and then to displace the mobilized oil to the production well. A blend of two anionic surfactant formulations was formulated for this method: (a) IOS, for achieving ultralow interfacial tension (IFT), and (b) AOS, for generating a strong foam. Experiments were performed using Bentheimer sandstone cores, where X-ray CT images were taken during foam generation to find the stability of the advancing front of foam propagation and to map the gas saturation for both the transient and the steady-state flow regimes. Then the proposed chemical-foam strategy for incremental oil recovery was tested through the coinjection of immiscible nitrogen gas and surfactant solutions with three different formulation properties in terms of IFT reduction and foaming strength capability. The discovered optimal formulation contains a foaming agent surfactant, a low IFT surfactant, and a cosolvent, which has a high foam stability and a considerably low IFT (1.6 × 10–² mN/m). Coinjection resulted in higher oil recovery and much less MRF than the same process with only using a foaming agent. The oil displacement experiment revealed that coinjection of gas with a blend of surfactants, containing a cosolvent, can recover a significant amount of oil (33% OIIP) over water flooding with a larger amount of clean oil and less emulsion.