Pore morphology and wettability of a porous medium have dominating effects on microscopic displacement efficiency, and consequently on the ultimate oil recovery. To provide a better understanding of the effects of these parameters on microscopic displacement mechanisms and macroscopic performance of a polymer flood process, a comprehensive experimental study was conducted using five two-dimensional glass micromodels. A combination of three wettability conditions and five different pore structures was used in this study. The selected scenarios include four homogeneous synthetic pore networks at water-, mixed- and oil-wet conditions. A random network that represents the pore space in Berea sandstone was also used for further investigation. Image processing technique was applied to analyze and compare displacement mechanisms and displacement process efficiency in each experiment. Microscopic mechanisms, such as oil and polymer solution trapping, configuration of wetting and non-wetting phases, flow of continuous and discontinuous strings of polymer solution, polymer solution snap-off, distorted flow of polymer solution, emulsion formation, and microscopic pore-to-pore sweep of oil phase were observed and monitored in conducted experiments. Experimental results showed that water- and mixed-wet media generally have comparable and higher recoveries in contrast with oil-wet media. Moreover, the results confirmed a significant dependency on the pore structure and wettability of the media on both displacement mechanisms as well as oil recoveries. This experimental study illustrates the successful application of glass micromodel techniques for studying enhanced oil recovery (EOR) processes in a five-spot pattern, and also provides a useful reference for understanding the displacement mechanisms involved in a polymer flood process at different pore morphologies and wettabilities of porous media.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Fuel Technology
- Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology