Pore-scale transport mechanisms and macroscopic displacement effects of in-situ Oil-in-Water emulsions in porous media

[+] Author and Article Information
Chuan Lu

Research Institute of China National Offshore Oil Corporation, Beijing, Chaoyang 100027

Wei Zhao

Department of Petroleum Engineering, China University of Petroleum-Beijing, Beijing, Changping 102249

Yongge Liu

Department of Petroleum Engineering, China University of Petroleum (EastChina), Shandong, Huangdao 257061

Dr. Xiaohu Dong

Department of Petroleum Engineering, China University of Petroleum-Beijing, Beijing, Changping 102249

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4040200 History: Received February 18, 2016; Revised May 02, 2018


Oil-in-water (O/W) emulsions are mainly expected to be formed in the process of surfactant flooding for heavy oil reservoirs in order to strengthen the fluidity of heavy oil and enhance oil recovery. However, there is still a lack of detailed understanding of mechanisms and effects involved the flow of in-situ O/W emulsions in porous media. In this study, a pore-scale transparent model packed with glass beads was firstly constructed to investigate the transport and retention mechanisms of the in-situ generated O/W emulsion in porous media. Then, a double-sandpack model with different permeability values was used to further study the effect of the in-situ formed O/W emulsion on the improvement of sweep efficiency and oil recovery. The pore-scale visualization experiments replicated the in-situ emulsification process and showed that the in-situ formed O/W emulsion could absorb on the surface of pore-throats and plug pore-throats through the mechanisms of capture-plugging based on single emulsion droplet and superposition-plugging and annulus-plugging based on multiple emulsion droplets. The double-sandpack experiments proved that the in-situ formed O/W emulsion droplets transporting in porous media was beneficial for the mobility control and oil recovery enhancement in the low permeability sandpack. Besides, the particle distribution of emulsions produced from the high permeability sandpack proved that larger pressures were capable to displace more large O/W emulsion droplets out of the pore-throat and reduce their retention volume.

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