Materials Today Chemistry
School of Engineering
Enhanced oil production can maximise yield from depleted reservoirs, and in the face of dwindling global oil reserves can reduce the need for exploratory drilling during the transition away from fossil fuels. A hybrid technique, merging a magnetic field (MF) and magnesium oxide (MgO) nanoparticles (NPs), was investigated as a potential method of enhancing oil production from oil-wet carbonate reservoirs. The impact of this hybrid technique on rock wettability, zeta potential, and interfacial tension was also investigated. Displacement experiments were carried out on oil-wet Austin chalk – a laboratory carbonate rock analogue – using MgO NPs in deionized water (DW) and salt water (SW), in the presence of an MF up to 6000 G in strength. It was found that the addition of MgO NPs to DW before the spontaneous imbibition of the solution into initially oil-wet rock samples increased the recovery factor (RF, defined as the volume of oil recovered divided by the initial oil in place). For 0.005 wt % and 0.0025 wt % MgO NPs mixed in DW, the RF was 12.5 % and 15.9 % respectively. When DW was replaced with SW as the imbibing fluid, the RF increased by a further 0.7 % of initial oil in place for the 0.0025 wt % MgO NPs. This additional increase in oil recovery was attributed to the presence of potential determining ions, which made the rock more water-wet. To avoid pore-clogging and thus the limited ingress of the solution into the rock, the NPs’ concentration was kept low. This hybrid technique is a cleaner alternative to conventional enhanced oil recovery techniques and will enable oil industries to produce oil more efficiently from existing reservoirs: when used in conjunction with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), this provides a useful short to medium-term option to support energy production during the transition to net zero.
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