Wormholes effect in carbonate acid enhanced oil recovery methods

Hamad Alarji, Stuart Clark, Klaus Regenauer-Lieb

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Acid enhanced oil recovery has been a focus of interest in the oil industry due to its significant results on improved recovery, especially in carbonate reservoirs. However, in carbonate reservoirs, highly conductive pathways called “wormholes” are created when acidic fluids are injected into carbonate rocks. Wormholes could jeopardize the enhanced oil recovery outcome and sweep efficiency leaving a substantial volume of oil in the reservoir unswept. This phenomenon has not been investigated yet. The main objective of this study is to identify the impact of these wormholes on the overall oil recovery during enhanced oil recovery practices. This was achieved by injecting acidic fluid into Indiana limestone at various injection rates to control the creation of wormholes. The injection rates were selected based on a proposed dimensionless phase space that predicts the wormholes development and dissolution phase. Our results show that wormholes have a significant impact on the enhanced oil recovery performance resulting in a decrease in the overall oil recovery by 9.6% for portions of the reservoir that experience wormholing. In real field applications, it is recommended to avoid creating wormholes over large portions of the reservoir affected by acid injection as it may jeopardize the field development outcome leaving an unspecified amount of oil in virgin regions in the reservoir which results in additional operational complications. Wormholes are only beneficial near the wellbore for wellbore cleanup and matrix treatment purposes thus providing easier access to the reservoir. However, care needs to be taken to constrain wormhole formation to skin factor reduction and avoid far-reaching wormholes in the reservoir.

Cited as: Alarji, H., Clark, S., Regenauer-Lieb, K. Wormholes effect in carbonate acid enhanced oil recovery methods. Advances in Geo-Energy Research, 2022, 6(6): 492-501. https://doi.org/10.46690/ager.2022.06.06


Enhanced oil recovery, carbonate acidizing, chelating agents, wormholes

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.46690/ager.2022.06.06


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