Enhanced Recovery in Tight Gas Reservoirs Using Maxwell-Stefan Equations

Santiago, S.J., Kantzas, A.

American Geophysical Union, December 2017.


Due to the steep production decline in unconventional gas reservoirs, enhanced recovery (ER) methods are receiving great attention from the industry. Wet gas or liquid rich reservoirs are the preferred ER candidates due to higher added value from natural gas liquids (NGL) production. ER in these reservoirs has the potential to add reserves by improving desorption and displacement of hydrocarbons through the medium. Nevertheless, analysis of gas transport at length scales of tight reservoirs is complicated because concomitant mechanisms are in place as pressure declines. In addition to viscous and Knudsen diffusion, multicomponent gas modeling includes competitive adsorption and molecular diffusion effects. Most models developed to address these mechanisms involve single component or binary mixtures. In this study, ER by gas injection is investigated in multicomponent (C1, C2, C3 and C4+, CO2 and N2) wet gas reservoirs. The competing effects of Knudsen and molecular diffusion are incorporated by using Maxwell-Stefan equations and the Dusty-Gas approach. This model was selected due to its superior properties on representing the physics of multicomponent gas flow, as demonstrated during the presented model validation. Sensitivity studies to evaluate adsorption, reservoir permeability and gas type effects are performed. The importance of competitive adsorption on production and displacement times is demonstrated. In the absence of adsorption, chromatographic separation is negligible. Production is merely dictated by competing effects between molecular and Knudsen diffusion. Displacement fronts travel rapidly across the medium. When adsorption effects are included, molecules with lower affinity to the adsorption sites will be produced faster. If the injected gas is inert (N2), an increase in heavier fraction composition occurs in the medium. During injection of adsorbing gases (CH4 and CO2), competitive adsorption effects will contribute to improved recovery of heavier fractions. In this case, displacement fronts will be delayed due to molecular interaction with pore walls. Therefore, a balance between competitive adsorption versus faster displacement will ultimately define which gas is more efficient for hydrocarbon recovery

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