For many years, miscible gas injection has been the most beneficial enhanced oil recovery method in the oil and gas industry. However, injecting a miscible gas to displace oil often causes the flocculation and deposition of asphaltenes, which subsequently leads to a number of production problems. Nitrogen gas (N2) injection has been used to enhance oil recovery in some oil fields, seeking to improve oil recovery. However, few works have implemented N2 injection and investigated its effect on asphaltene precipitation and deposition. This research investigated the N2 miscible flow mechanism in nanopores and its impact on asphaltene precipitations, which can plug pores and reduce oil recovery. First, a slimtube was used to determine the minimum miscibility pressure (MMP) of N2 to ensure that all of the experiments would be conducted at levels above the MMP. Second, filtration experiments were conducted using nanocomposite filter membranes to study asphaltene deposition on the membranes. A filtration apparatus was designed specifically and built to accommodate the filter membranes. The factors studied include N2 injection pressure, temperature, N2 mixing time, and pore size heterogeneity. Visualization tests were conducted to highlight the asphaltene precipitation process over time. Increasing the N2 injection pressure resulted in an increase in the asphaltene weight percent in all experiments. Decreasing the pore size of the filter membranes increased the asphaltene weight percent. More N2 mixing time also resulted in an increase in asphaltene weight percent, especially early in the process. Visualization tests revealed that after 1 hour, the asphaltene particles were conspicuous, and more asphaltene clusters were found in the test tubes of the oil samples from the filter with the smallest pore size. Chromatography analysis of the produced oil confirmed the reduction in the asphaltene weight percent. Microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging of the filter membranes indicated significant pore plugging from the asphaltenes, especially for the smaller pore sizes. This research highlights the severity of asphaltene deposition during miscible N2 injection in nanopore structures so as to understand the main factors that may affect the success of miscible N2 injection in unconventional reservoirs.
M. Elturki and A. Imqam, "Asphaltene Thermodynamic Precipitation during Miscible Nitrogen Gas Injection," SPE Journal, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 877 - 894, Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), Feb 2022.
The definitive version is available at https://doi.org/10.2118/208588-PA
Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering
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01 Feb 2022