School of Engineering
New approaches for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) with a reduced environmental footprint are required to improve recovery from mature oil fields, and when combined with carbon capture and storage (CCS) can provide useful options for resource maximisation during the net zero transition. Electrical heating is investigated as a potential EOR method in carbonate reservoirs. Samples were placed in an apparatus surrounded by a wire coil across which different DC (direct current) voltages were applied. Monitoring the imbibition of both deionized water (DW) and seawater (SW) into initially oil-wet Austin chalk showed that water imbibed into the rock faster when heated in the presence of a magnetic field. This was associated with a reduction in the water–air contact angle over time measured on the external surface of the sample. Without heating, the contact angle reduced from 127° approaching water-wet conditions, 90°, in 52 min, while in the presence of heating with 3 V, 6 V, and 9 V applied across a sample 17 mm in length, the time required to reach the same contact angle was only 47, 38 and 26 min, respectively, while a further reduction in contact angle was witnessed with SW. The ultimate recovery factor (RF) for an initially oil-wet sample imbibed by DW was 13% while by seawater (SW) the recorded RF was 26% in the presence of an electrical heating compared with 2.8% for DW and 11% for SW without heating. We propose heating as an effective way to improve oil recovery, enhancing capillary-driven natural water influx, and observe that renewable-powered heating for EOR with CCS may be one option to improve recovery from mature oil fields with low environmental footprint.
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