Wormholes effect in carbonate acid enhanced oil recovery methods

Hamad Alarji, Stuart Clark, Klaus Regenauer-Lieb

Abstract view|29|times       PDF download|13|times


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

Full Text:



Abdelgawad, K. Z., Mahmoud, M. A. In-situ generation of CO2 to eliminate the problem of gravity override in EOR of carbonate reservoirs. Paper SPE 172516 Presented at SPE Middle East Oil and Gas Show and Conference, Manama, Bahrain, 8-11 March, 2015.

Ajoma, E., Sungkachart, T., Le-Hussain, F. Effect of miscibility and injection rate on water-saturated CO2 injection. Energy, 2021, 217: 119391.

Al-Arji, H., Al-Azman, A., Le-Hussain, F., et al. Acid stimulation in carbonates: A laboratory test of a wormhole model based on Damk öhler and Péclet numbers. Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 2021, 203: 108593.

Al-Arji, H., Al-Azman, A., Regenauer-Lieb, K. The impact of effective tortuosity on carbonate acidizing and the validation of Damköhler and Péclet dimensionless phase space. Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 2022, 212: 110313.

Alwated, B., El-Emin, M. Enhanced oil recovery by nanoparticles flooding: From numerical modeling improvement to machine learning prediction. Advances in Geo-Energy Research, 2021, 5(3): 297-317.

Austad, T., RezaeiDoust, A., Puntervold, T. Chemical mech-anism of low salinity water flooding in sandstone reservoirs. Paper SPE 129767 Presented at SPE Improved Oil Recovery Symposium, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 24-28 April, 2010.

Azad, M. S., Sultan, A. S., Nuaim, S. A., et al. Could VES be a part of a Hybrid Option to Recover Heavy oil in Complex Heavy oil Reservoirs. Paper SPE 170191 Presented at SPE Heavy Oil Conference-Canada, Calgary, Alberta, 10-12 June, 2014.

Bakken, V., Sohoffel, K. Semi-quantitative study of chelating agents suitable for removal of scales. Oil & Gas Science and Technology, 1996, 51(1): 151-59.

Alwated, B., El-Emin, M. F. Enhanced oil recovery by nanoparticles flooding: From numerical modeling improvement to machine learning prediction. Advances in Geo-Energy Research, 2021, 5(3): 297-317.

Christophe, M., Glenn, S., Mei, H. Whatever Happened to Enhanced Oil Recovery? Paris, IEA, 2018.

Crowe, C., Jacques, M., Eric, T., et al. Trends in matrix acidizing. Oilfield Review, 1992, 4(4): 24-40.

Darcy, H. Les Fontaines Publiques de La Ville de Dijon. Paris, France, Victor Dalmont, 1856.

Editors, O. EIA Forecasts Steady Energy Consumption Growth to 2050, 2021.

Fredd, C., Fogler, H. Optimum conditions for wormhole formation in carbonate porous media: Influence of transport and reaction. SPE Journal, 1999, 4(3): 196-205.

Frenier, W., Growcock, B. Mixtures of ag-unsaturated alde-hides and surface active agents used as corrosion in-hibitors in aqueous fluids. Patent, 1988, 06/801123.

Frick, T., Mostofizadeh, B., Economides, M. Analysis of radial core experiments for hydrochloric acid interaction with limestones. Paper SPE 27402 Presented at SPE Formation Damage Control Symposium, Lafayette, Louisiana, 7-10 February, 1994.

Gong, Y., Gu, Y. Miscible CO2 simultaneous water-and-gas (CO2 -SWAG) injection in the Bakken formation. Energy & Fuels, 2015, 29(9): 5655-5665.

Hiwa, S., Valan, A., Zayar, N. Reservoir simulation study of enhanced oil recovery by sequential polymer flooding method. Advances in Geo-Energy Research, 2019, 3(2): 115-121.

Hoefner, M. L., Fogler, H. S. Role of acid diffusion in matrix acidizing of carbonates. Journal of Petroleum Technology, 1987, 39(2): 203-208.

Hoelzle, D., Lake, M., Narciso, C., et al. Microfluidic device design, fabrication, and testing protocols. Protocol Exchange, 2015, 91: 7-9.

Ivanova, A. A., Phan, C., Barifcani, A., et al. Effect of nanoparticles on viscosity and interfacial tension of aqueous surfactant solutions at high salinity and high temperature. Journal of Surfactants and Detergents, 2020, 23(2): 327-338.

Kamel, A., Alomair, O., Elsharkawy, A. Measurements and predictions of Middle Eastern heavy crude oil viscosity using compositional data. Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 2019, 173: 990-1004.

Kozaki, C. Efficiency of low salinity polymer flooding in sand-stone cores. Texas, The University of Texas at Austin, 2012.

Lager, A., Webb, K., Black, J. Impact of brine chemistry on oil recovery. Paper Presented at the 14th European Symposium on Improved Oil Recovery, Cairo, 22 April, 2007.

Lake, L., Johns, R. T., Rossen, B., et al. Fundamentals of Enhanced Oil Recovery. Society of Petroleum Engineers, 2014.

Ligthelm, D., Gronsveld, J., Hofman, J., et al. Novel waterflooding strategy by manipulation of injection brine composition. Paper SPE 119835 Presented at EUROPEC/EAGE Conference and Exhibition, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 8-11 June, 2009.

Lu, M., Su, Y., Zhan, S., et al. Modeling for reorientation and potential of enhanced oil recovery in refracturing. Advances in Geo-Energy Research. 2020, 4(1): 20-28.

Lund, K., Fogler, H., McCune, C., et al. Acidization-II. The dissolution of calcite in hydrochloric acid. Chemical Engineering Science, 1975, 30(8): 825-835.

Mahmoud, M. A., Abdelgawad, K. Z. Chelating-agent enhanced oil recovery for sandstone and carbonate reser-voirs. SPE Journal, 2015, 20(3): 483-495.

Mahmoud, M., Barri, A., Elkatatny, S. Mixing chelating agents with seawater for acid stimulation treatments in carbonate reservoirs. Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 2017, 152: 9-20.

Masalmeh, S. K., Wei, L., Blom, C., et al. EOR options for heterogeneous carbonate reservoirs currently under waterflooding. Paper SPE 171900 Presented at Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, Abu Dhabi, UAE, 10-13 November, 2014.

Nasralla, R. A., Nasr-El-Din, H. A. Impact of electrical surface charges and cation exchange on oil recovery by low salinity water. Paper SPE 147937 Presented at SPE Asia Pacific Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition, Jakarta, Indonesia, 20-22 September, 2011.

Nasr-El-Din, A., Al-Mohammad, A., Al-Shurei, A., et al. Restoring the injectivity of water disposal wells using a viscoelastic surfactant-based acid. Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 2006, 54(1-2): 10-24.

Pal., S., Mushtaq, M., Banat, F., et al. Review of surfactant-assisted chemical enhanced oil recovery for carbonate reservoirs: Challenges and future perspectives. Petroleum Science, 2017, 15(1): 77-102.

Saira, Emmanuel, A., Le-Hussain, F. A laboratory investi-gation of the effect of ethanol-treated carbon dioxide injection on oil recovery and carbon dioxide storage. SPE Journal, 2021, 26(5): 3119-3135.

Saira, Janna, F., Le-Hussain, F. Effectiveness of modified CO2 injection at improving oil recovery and CO2 storage—Review and simulations. Energy Reports, 2020, 6: 1922-1941.

Szymczak, P., Ladd, A. Wormhole formation in dissolving fractures. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 2009, 114: B06203.

Thomas, S. Enhanced oil recovery-an overview. Oil & Gas Science and Technology, 2008, 63(1): 9-19.

Uzoho, C. U., Onyekonwu, M., Akaranta, O. Formulation of local Alkaline-Surfactant-Polymer (ASP) for enhanced oil recovery in niger delta: A review. Paper SPE 178300 Presented at the SPE Nigeria Annual International Conference and Exhibition, Lagos, Nigeria, 4-6 August, 2015.

Webb, K., Black, C., Tjetland, G. A labortary study investigation methods for improving oil recovery in carbonates. Paper IPTC-10506 Presented at International Petroleum Technology Conference, Doha, Qatar, 21-23 November, 2005.

Xu, X., Saeedi, A., Liu, K. An experimental study of combined foam/surfactant polymer (SP) flooding for carbone dioxide-enhanced oil recovery (CO2 -EOR). Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 2017, 149: 603-611.

Yang, H. D., Wadleigh, E. E. Dilute surfactant IOR -design improvement for massive, fractured carbonate ap-plications. Paper SPE 59009 Presented at SPE International Petroleum Conference and Exhibition, Villaher-mosa, Mexico, 1-3 February, 2000.

Yildiz, H., Valat, M., Morrow, N. R. Effect of brine composition on wettability and oil recovery of a Prudhoe Bay crude oil. Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology, 1999, 38(1): 26-31.

Yousef, A., Al-Saleh, S., Al-Jawfi, M. Smart waterflooding for carbonate reservoirs: Salinity and role of ions. Paper SPE 141082 Presented at SPE Middle East Oil and Gas Show and Conference, Manama, Bahrain, 25-28 September, 2011.

Zhou, D., Fayers, F., Orr, J. Scaling of multiphase flow in simple heterogeneous porous media. SPE Reservoir Engineering, 1997, 12: 173-178.

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


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 The Author(s)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Copyright ©2018. All Rights Reserved