Distribution and Recovery of Crude Oil in Various Types of Porous Media and Heterogeneity Configurations

Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Geoffrey R Tick1, Jaydeep Ghosh1,2, Rebecca R. Greenberg1 and Nihat H Akyol3, (1)The University of Alabama, Geological Sciences, Tuscaloosa, AL, United States, (2)Chiang Mai University, Geological Sciences, Chiang Mai, Thailand, (3)Kocaeli University, Geological Engineering, Kocaeli, Turkey
A series of pore-scale experiments were conducted to understand the interfacial processes contributing to the removal of crude oil from various porous media during surfactant-induced remediation. Effects of physical heterogeneity (i.e. media uniformity) and carbonate soil content on oil recovery and distribution were evaluated through pore scale quantification techniques. Additionally, experiments were conducted to evaluate impacts of tetrachloroethene (PCE) content on crude oil distribution and recovery under these same conditions. Synchrotron X-ray microtomography (SXM) was used to obtain high-resolution images of the two-fluid-phase oil/water system, and quantify temporal changes in oil blob distribution, blob morphology, and blob surface area before and after sequential surfactant flooding events. The reduction of interfacial tension in conjunction with the sufficient increase in viscous forces as a result of surfactant flushing was likely responsible for mobilization and recovery of lighter fractions of crude oil. Corresponding increases in viscous forces were insufficient to initiate and maintain the displacement of the heavy crude oil in more homogeneous porous media systems during surfactant flushing. Interestingly, higher relative recoveries of heavy oil fractions were observed within more heterogeneous porous media indicating that wettability may be responsible for controlling mobilization in these systems. Compared to the “pure” crude oil experiments, preliminary results show that crude oil with PCE produced variability in oil distribution and recovery before and after each surfactant-flooding event. Such effects were likely influenced by viscosity and interfacial tension modifications associated with the crude-oil/solvent mixed systems.