As production chemists, we are all aware of the overall concepts of improved oil recovery (IOR) and enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Perhaps, though, fewer of us are aware of the different idiosyncrasies that exist within (and even between) these two broad categories of recovery and how chemistry and chemicals can have an effect upon these processes.
As production chemists, we are all aware of the overall concepts of improved oil recovery (IOR) and enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Perhaps, though, fewer of us are aware of the different idiosyncrasies that exist within (and even between) these two broad categories of recovery and then how chemistry and chemicals can have an effect upon these processes.
I would like to propose that the lines once were quite distinct between IOR and EOR: IOR was a standard waterflood operation, and EOR (from a chemist’s perspective) was the addition of chemistry to that waterflood (typically polymer or surfactant). Nowadays, the science has evolved massively to create many subgenres of IOR and EOR. A waterflood is rarely just a waterflood anymore. We can alternate water and gas injection. We can add chemical conformance aids to direct better the flow of water. We can change the salinity of the water to promote better wettability for higher recovery factors. The list goes on. One just has to search out the number of EOR papers vs. (pretty much) every other discipline of production chemistry to see the commitment this industry still has to the research of this discipline. In recent years, the focus has tended to move away from deep-reservoir EOR to focus on near-wellbore stimulation. Interestingly, the mechanistic considerations that we make as production chemists are nearly identical in all cases, and significant synergies exist between these subdisciplines.
Therefore, from the recent research published by SPE, two focused topics of IOR/EOR have arisen: the use of nanoparticles and the use of water-shutoff technologies. Nanoparticle use is gaining significant traction in the oil and gas industry, and field applications are now being reported. The area of IOR/EOR is no exception. Water shutoff is not a new technology area. However, are these established, production-sustaining IOR techniques seeing a resurgence caused by the headwinds our industry has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic?
This Month’s Technical Papers
Recommended Additional Reading
OTC 30123 Thermal and Rheological Investigations on N,N’-Methylenebis Acrylamide Cross-Linked Polyacrylamide Nanocomposite Hydrogels for Water-Shutoff Applications by Mohan Raj Keishnan, Alfiasal University, et al.
IPTC 20210 Chemical and Mechanical Water Shutoff in Horizontal Passive ICD Wells: Experience and Lessons Learned in Giant Darcy Reservoir by Mohamed Abdel-Basset, Schlumberger, et al.
SPE 203831 Efficient Preparation of Nanostarch Particles and Mechanism of Enhanced Oil Recovery in Low-Permeability Oil Reservoirs by Lei Zhang, China University of Geosciences, et al.
Jonathan Wylde, SPE, is the head of global innovation at Clariant Oil and Mining Services in Houston and an honorary associate professor at Heriot-Watt University. He holds a BS degree in geology and a PhD degree in physical chemistry from the University of Bristol, UK. Wylde is the author of more than 200 papers and holds several patents. He serves on the JPT Editorial Review Committee and on committees for the SPE International Conference and Exhibition on Oilfield Scale, the SPE International Symposium on Oilfield Chemistry, and the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition. Wylde is also an associate editor for SPE Production & Operations and a technical editor for SPE Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.