Pore Scale and Macroscopic Displacement Mechanisms in Emulsion Flooding
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The flow properties of complex fluids through porous media give rise to multiphase flow displacement mechanisms that operate at different scales, from pore-level to Darcy scale. Experiments have shown that injection of oil-in-water emulsions can be used as an effective enhanced-oil recovery (EOR) method, leading to substantial increase in the volume of oil recovered. Pore-scale flow visualization as well as core flooding results available in the literature have demonstrated that the enhanced recovery factor is regulated by the capillary number of the flow. However, the mechanisms by which additional oil is displaced during emulsion injection are still not clear. In this work, we carried out two different experiments to evaluate the effect of emulsion flooding both at pore and macro scales. Visualization of the flow through sand packed between transparent plexiglass parallel plates shows that emulsion flooding improves the pore-level displacement efficiency, leading to lower residual oil saturation. Oil recovery results during emulsion flooding in tertiary mode (after waterflooding) in parallel sandstone cores with very different absolute permeability values prove that emulsion flooding also leads to enhancement of conformance or volumetric sweep efficiency. Combined, the results presented here show that injection of emulsion offers multiscale mechanisms resulting from capillary-driven mobility control.
KeywordsEmulsion Enhanced-oil recovery Mobility control Capillarity
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