Rice University

Events at Rice

Lecture/Lecture Series

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Speaker: George J. Hirasaki
A.J. Hartsook Professor Emeritus, Research Professor
Rice University

CHEVRON LECTURE: Enhancing Carbon Dioxide Enhanced Oil Recovery

Thursday, March 23, 2017
6:00 PM  to 7:00 PM

McMurtry Auditorium  Duncan Hall
Rice University
6100 Main St
Houston, Texas, USA

Waterflooding recovers only about 35% of the original oil in place. This is because oil and water does not mix and oil will stop flowing when it is disconnected. At pressures above the minimum miscibility pressure (MMP), CO2 acts as a miscible solvent for oil and it can be injected into depleted oil reservoirs with CO2 be trapped in place of oil. However, this is usually a challenge because super-critical CO2 has the density and viscosity more like that of a gas and it tends to over-ride and bypass the (more dense and viscous) oil and water. A method to overcome the low viscosity of CO2 is to add surfactants to disperse CO2 in water as a CO2-foam. The choice of surfactant was simple for a West Texas carbonate reservoir with low reservoir temperature and low salinity. A nonionic surfactant with 12 carbon chain and 22 EO (ethylene oxide groups) resulted in effective mobility reduction and low adsorption on the carbonate rock material. The conditions required for the Middle East is more demanding. They are also carbonate formations but the temperature is over 100 °C and the salinity is greater than 20% total dissolved solids (TDS). Nonionic surfactants became insoluble (reached cloud point) below the reservoir temperature. Anionic surfactants (commercially available) would precipitate and/or chemically degrade under these conditions, in addition to having high adsorption. The current candidate surfactants are switchable nonionic-to-cationic surfactants. They are ethoxylated or methyl amines or diamines. They have limited solubility in supercritical CO2 and are soluble in the high-salinity brine when equilibrated with CO2 (carbonic acid). They have low adsorption on pure calcite but can have significant adsorption if silica or clay are present.

Biography of George J. Hirasaki:
Professor Hirasaki joined the Rice faculty after a 26 year career with Shell Development and Shell Oil Company. His research in fluid transport through porous media ranged from the microscopic scale intermolecular forces governing wettability to the megascopic scale numerical reservoir simulators for field-wide modeling. A reoccurring theme throughout this research is the dominance of interfaces in the determination of fluid transport processes. Fluids flow through rock and soil in pore spaces that are on the order of microns. The relative transport of phases and components are governed by the degree of wetting of the solid by the fluid phases and the sorption of species on the fluid and solid surfaces in addition to the usual transport coefficients such as viscosity and diffusivity. Professor Hirasaki's research program is sponsored by an industrial consortium, USDOE, and industrial contracts. In 2016, Professor Hirasaki received the SPE Anthony F. Lucas Gold Medal and the 2016 OTC Heritage Award.

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