Asphaltene Precipitation and Deposition during Nitrogen Gas Cyclic Miscible and Immiscible Injection in Eagle Ford Shale and its Impact on Oil Recovery


Cyclic gas injection methods have been shown to improve oil recovery in conventional reservoirs. Even though similar technologies have been used in unconventional reservoirs with some success stories in shale resources, cyclic gas injection enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is still a little-understood subject in boosting oil recovery from unconventional reservoirs. During gas injection, asphaltenes start to deposit and precipitate, which causes pore plugging and reduces oil recovery. Studies of asphaltene deposition challenges during cyclic nitrogen (N2) gas injection and oil production in unconventional reservoirs are yet relatively limited. Therefore, a comprehensive experimental study was conducted using 12 Eagle Ford shale cores (dynamic mode), and filter paper membranes (static mode) were used to evaluate whether miscible and immiscible huff-n-puff (cyclic) N2injection increases oil recovery and aggravates asphaltene precipitation. To ensure that miscibility can be examined in cyclic experiments, N2minimum miscibility pressure (MMP) was determined using a slim tube technique. The factors studied included the injection pressure, number of cycles, production time, and injection cyclic mode, all conducted at 70 °C. The findings showed that a high asphaltene weight percent was calculated during static experiments (i.e., using filter membranes), and this increase was severe on smaller pore size structures. Dynamic tests (i.e., using shale cores) showed that miscibility increased oil recovery, but a stronger intermediate-wet system was observed when measuring the wettability of cores after N2cyclic tests. When starting with shorter soaking times, more oil recovery could be achieved. Oil recovery reduction and asphaltene depositions were observed at later cycles. Microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging of the Eagle Ford cores showed asphaltene clusters inside the cores after cyclic tests. A mercury porosimeter emphasized the degree of pore plugging after cyclic tests, and the findings revealed a smaller pore size distribution after N2tests due to the asphaltene deposition process when compared to cores that had not been pressured. This extensive study focuses on the effects of asphaltene deposition on oil recovery under cyclic N2-miscible and immiscible conditions in shale resources.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering


National Science Foundation, Grant CBET-1932965

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1520-5029; 0887-0624

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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Publication Date

20 Oct 2022