Development of formation damage models for oilfield polymers.
Idahosa, Patrick E.G.
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IDAHOSA, P.E.G. 2015. Development of formation damage models for oilfield polymers. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.
Polymers are among the most important of various oilfield chemicals and are used for a variety of applications in the oil and gas industry (OGI) including water and gas shutoff, drilling mud viscosity modification, filtration loss control (FLC), swellable packers, loss circulation material (LCM) pills, enhanced oil recovery (EOR), fracture treatment and cleanup, chemical placement, etc. The deposition and retention of polymer molecules in porous media and their interactions with rock and fluids present complex phenomena that can induce formation damage. Formation damage due to polymer retention can occur via mobility reduction in three possible mechanisms of polymer-induced formation damage: 1) pore-throat blocking, 2) wettability alteration (which can alter permeability), and 3) increase in reservoir fluid viscosity. Physical adsorption can also cause permanent permeability impairment (formation damage). This polymer-induced formation damage (causing a reduction in net oil recovery) continues to be a fundamental problem in the industry owing to the rather shallow understanding of the mechanics of polymer-brine-rock interactions and the polymer-aided formation damage mechanisms. Most models available for polymer risk assessments appear to be utilised for all scenarios with unsatisfying results. For example, only very little, if any, is known on how polymer type, particularly in the presence of brine type impact on formation damage. In order words, one of current industry challenges is finding effective polymers for high salinity environments. Also, the effect of polymer charge, as well as charges at the brine-rock interface are issues that require a deeper understanding in order to address the role polymer play in formation damage. Furthermore, no much recognition has been given to polymer rheological behaviour in complex porous media, etc. The OGI therefore still faces the challenge of the inability to correctly predict hydrolysed polyacrylamide (HPAM) viscosity under shear degradation; and consequently have not been able to meet the need of production predictions. The effect of the above mentioned factors, etc have not been fully integrated into the polymer formation damage modelling. In this PhD research work, theoretical, numerical, laboratory experiments and analytical methods were used to further investigate the mechanics of polymer-brine-rock interactions and establish the mechanisms for formation damage related to polymer application. Three different hydrolysed polyacrylamide (HPAM) products (SNF FP3630 S, 3330 S and FloComb C3525) were used in the experiments; while Xanthan gum was used in the simulation work. The following variables were considered: 1) polymer type, 2) effect of concentration, 3) effect of salinity/hardness, 4) effect of permeability and pore size distributions, 5) effect of inaccessible pore volume (IAPV) on retention, 6) effect of flow rate (where a special method was established to quantify the effect of flow rate on polymer retention). Laboratory rheological and adsorption experiments were designed and conducted. Experimental results indicate that higher concentration of calcium divalent ions in brine help promote polymer retention on rock surface. On the basis of the experimental results, empirical models were developed and validated to: 1) predict HPAM rheological behaviour over a wide range of shear rates, 2) predict salinity-dependent polymer-induced formation damage, 3) in addition, a modified screening model that can aid polymer selection for field application design is proposed. Overall, these models can therefore serve as useful tools, and be used for quick look-ahead prediction and evaluation of polymer related formation damage in oil and gas-bearing formations.