Experimental study on chalk from South Arne field, North Sea
Enhanced oil recovery by CO2 injection (CO2-EOR) is a tertiary oil recovery process which has a prospective for being used, at the same time, as an effective technique for carbon dioxide storage. There is a huge potential for additional oil production and CO2 storage in the North Sea depleted chalk reservoirs. North Sea chalk is characterized by high porosity but also high specific surface causing low permeability. A high porosity provides room for CO2 storage, while a high specific surface causes a high risk for chemical reaction and consequently for mechanical weakening. In order to address this issue we studied two types of chalk from South Arne field, North Sea: (1) Ekofisk Formation having >12% non-carbonate and (2) Tor Formation, which has less than 5% non-carbonate. We performed a series of laboratory experiments to reveal the changes in petrophysical and rock-mechanics properties due to the injection of CO2 at supercritical state. We analyzed these changes with respect to the differences in porosity, specific surface, pore stiffness, wettability, mineralogy and mechanical strength. We observed a 2–3% increase in porosity, a minor decrease of specific surface and consequently a small increase in permeability. A decrease in elastic stiffness is indicated by an increase of Biot׳s effective stress coefficient (α) by 1–2%. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) data indicated no change in wettability and the samples remained water wet. We found that the effect of CO2 injection on both petrophysical and mechanical properties of chalk depends on carbonate content. Pure chalk with high carbonate content was found to be vulnerable to mechanical weakening due to CO2 injection, whereas, no significant mechanical effect was observed in the impure chalk of Ekofisk Formation. It should in this context be noted that the experiments spanned only 8 days, therefore long term effects cannot be ruled out. In spite of weakening of the chalk, we expect only minor mechanical effects, because the weakening also causes a lowering of effective stress due to an increase in effective stress coefficient. Extensive time-lapse monitoring strategies are required during a CO2-EOR process for the measurement of changes in reservoir properties that may cause deformation of and leakage from a reservoir. Results of this study will provide data for designing future monitoring strategies based on 4D seismic.
Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 2014, Vol 122, p. 468-487