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SPE Enhanced Oil Recovery –
The Future Is Now!

18 - 23 October 2015 | Cancun, Mexico

Technical Agenda

Session 1: A History of Enhanced Oil Recovery 

Session Managers: Jim Erdle, Computer Modelling Group; Jose Luis Bashbush, Schlumberger

This session presents a “failure analysis” of past EOR projects with an eye towards identifying improvements in all phases of project implementation to make EOR a more generally applied recovery process. Thermal is the dominant EOR technique, with CO2 being a distant second. Chemical EOR never seems to survive downward oil price cycles. More recent methods like low-salinity waterflooding and derivatives of polymer flooding—all of which are less expensive than surfactant-based methods—may survive, but reservoir characterization issues are always the great albatross.

Session 2: Emerging Technologies and New Developments in EOR

Session Managers: Tayfun Babadagli, University of Alberta; Bob Bartusiak, Statoil

Fundamental EOR methods are sometimes inefficient due to unfavorable reservoir or oil characteristics. Using supportive additives or combining the fundamental methods with other techniques helps address this problem. Such new approaches include foaming CO2; using smart water (low-high salinity); improving steam residual oil saturation through interfacial tension (IFT) reduction; adding nanomaterials into water, steam, and CO2; and using sonic and electromagnetic waves in thermal and nonthermal methods. It is imperative to test the economic viability of these new approaches through fundamental and applied research.

Session 3: Research-to-Field Cycle of EOR

Session Managers: Tayfun Babadagli, University of Alberta; Gokhan Coskuner, Husky Energy

Despite tremendous efforts on research in classical EOR, the contribution of EOR oil is still limited. How does outsourcing EOR research affect this? Inefficient coordination between research facilitators such as academia and operating companies plays an important role in the research-to-field cycle of EOR projects. The reduced number of research centers, for major and national oil companies, place service companies in a unique position in EOR technology development and transfer. Other issues to be discussed are the obsoleteness of academic/nonacademic training and education on EOR. Are we paying sufficient emphasis to new-generation simulators at an appropriate scale smaller and greater than core and upscaling? Should we go back to a molecular-scale understanding of the physics and chemistry of the processes?

Session 4: Predictive Modeling of EOR 

Session Managers: Jim Erdle, Computer Modelling Group; Grant Haddix, Shell

Past EOR forums have identified phase behavior and rock-fluid interaction as areas requiring more mechanistic physics and algorithms. An understanding of geochemistry is also needed for better modeling of surfactant and foam-based EOR. Discussions will address the latest thinking in modeling of phase behavior including microemulsions, relative permeability, and capillary pressure of four-phase fluid systems and geochemistry of sandstone and carbonate reservoirs.

Session 5: EOR in Non-Fractured Reservoirs

Session Managers: David Sorin, Solvay; Grant Haddix, Shell

Encouraged by successful large-scale applications in the most favorable reservoirs, operators are now looking at more complex environments such as tight, unconventional, carbonates, and deep reservoirs. Maturity and challenges vary for different EOR processes. Where are the current boundaries for feasibility and what to expect in the next three to five years? How should approaches to studies differ to take into account specific challenges? Which field-testing strategies should be used to mitigate risks?

Session 6: EOR in Naturally Fractured Reservoirs

Session Managers: Emmanuel Manceau, IFP Energies nouvelles; José Luis Mogollón, Halliburton

Fractured reservoirs are often giant fields with significant amounts of oil trapped in the matrix after conventional water-flood processes. Developing dedicated EOR processes to extract more oil from the matrix are a primary strategy. These processes include interfacial tension reduction, wettability alteration, and the use of foam. Which process is more suitable and when? How to manage appropriate kinetics in the fracture to enable efficient process in the matrix? How to ensure economic viability?

Session 7: EOR in Heavy Oil Reservoirs

Session Managers: George Koperna, Advanced Resources International, Inc; Jose Luis Bashbush, Schlumberger

The session will leverage the knowledge gained from past EOR laboratory investigations, field pilots, and actual projects to enhance traditional screening criteria in light of technological advances and positive field experiences. Thresholds for viscosity, temperature, rock type, salinity, and depth ranges deserve a thorough update to facilitate the implementation of feasible EOR/IOR methodologies. These include thermal EOR, chemical EOR, and a combination of both, particularly in steam foam.

Session 8: Deployment and Implementation of EOR Projects  

Session Managers: David Sorin, Solvay; Fernando Flores Avila, Pemex

Thorough laboratory and reservoir engineering studies are a prerequisite for successful EOR implementation. However, critical aspects of operational implementation are sometimes overlooked and can present substantial challenges. How realistic is it to build the required surface facilities? Can high-volume chemical logistics be handled in offshore or remote locations? Can chemicals be produced cost effectively in quantities required for large-scale implementation?

Implications for project technical feasibility and financial attractiveness are many and varied. So what questions should be asked at various stages of a project? What is the right timing to implement the process: early or late in the field life? What should be anticipated from the start?

Session 9: Long-Term Success of EOR Projects

Session Managers: Omer Gurpinar, Schlumberger; Fernando Rodriguez de la Garza, Pemex

In developing EOR projects, significant effort is expended from concept to field trials. Once in the field, the EOR project’s success depends on correct monitoring and control, a feature lacking in most projects to date. This session will discuss how and what should be done to ensure all EOR projects have effective monitoring and control.

No EOR discussion is complete unless it covers the human aspects of synchronization between management and the technical teams. Many fields have low recovery factors due to misalignment between the business drivers and the technical attention required for EOR. The forum will close with discussions on ways for technical teams to effectively articulate the need for EOR to management in a timely manner.