Lessons Learned from IOR Pilots in Bakken Formation by Using Numerical Simulation


Bakken is the most productive formation among unconventional plays in North America. This formation has about 7.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil. However, the primary oil recovery is still low as 5-10%. Miscible natural gas and carbon dioxide (CO2) might be the most two potential strategies to improve oil recovery in such a complex play. In this study, some of the IOR pilots which have been conducted in Montana, North Dakota, and South Saskatchewan have been presented. The performance results of these pilots in US-Bakken versus Canadian-Bakken have been compared. Moreover, the reasons behind the successful IOR pilots in Canadian-Bakken versus US-Bakken have been discussed. Then, numerical simulation models have been constructed to mimic the results of some pilots. Two different compositional models have been built for oils of two different formations. Furthermore, two different models, single porosity model and dual permeability model have been created to match the performance of some pilots. Implementation of molecular diffusion mechanism has been conducted in both of single porosity and dual permeability model. Finally, the continuous miscible gases injection versus huff-n-puff protocols have been compared and investigated.

The results showed that the performance of natural gases generally over-performed the CO2 injection technique's in Bakken formation. Although the diffusion flow is dominant in these types of reservoirs, the diffusivity of the injected CO2 into formation oil is slow due to the fact that CO2 has large molecules as compared with the small pore throats of these porous media. Accordingly, miscible CO2-EOR might not be beneficial in huff-n-puff operations as in continuous flooding process. However, the success of natural gases based EOR does not have that strong functionality of molar diffusivity. Therefore, their performance was much better than CO2 performance in the field scale of these tight formations. Furthermore, the numerical simulation of this study concluded that the spacing between the production wells and injection wells should be minimized, for the continuous flooding process of miscible-gases EOR, to enhance their performance. Although the permeability of Canadian-Bakken has a permeability of 1—2 order higher than the permeability of US-Bakken, the pilots' spacing between injectors and producers in Canadian Bakken is interestingly much shorter than that for US-Bakken, which might be the reason behind the EOR success in Canadian Bakken. Finally, the activatiown process of the highly intensive natural fractures might be the key to enhance the diffusivity of CO2-EOR. Otherwise, natural gases are highly recommended to be the most potential EOR in these types of reservoirs. This study explains how the diffusion mechanism affects the performance of different miscible gases to improve oil recovery in these plays since they are more complex and very different from conventional formations. Also, it suggests that CO2 flooding process would be a good practice to overcome the limitations of CO2-diffusion rate in these reservoirs if the conformance problems are wisely controlled.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

CO2-EOR huff-n-puff operations; CO2-EOR in shale oil reservoirs; Improved oil recovery; Unconventional EOR methods

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Article - Journal

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© 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Dec 2018