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The effect of alkaline additives on the performance of surfactant systems designed to recover light oils


Surfactant flooding is flexible because of the ability to optimize formulations for a wide range of reservoir conditions and crude oil types. The objective for this work was to determine if the addition of alkaline additives will allow the design of surfactant formulations that are effective for the recovery of crude oil, while, at the same time, maintaining the surfactant concentration at a much lower level than has previously been used for micellar flooding. Specifically, the focus of the work was on light, midcontinent crudes that typically have very low acid contents. These oils are typical of much of the midcontinent resource. The positive effect of alkaline additives on the phase behavior of the surfactant formulations and acidic crude oils is well known. The extension to nonacidic and slightly acidic oils is not obvious. Three crude oils, a variety of commercial surfactants, and several alkaline additives were tested. The oils had acid numbers that ranged from 0.13, which is quite low, to less than 0.01 mg KOH/g of oil. Alkaline additives were found to be very effective in recovering Delaware-Childers (OK) oil at elevated temperatures, but much less effective at reservoir temperatures. Alkaline additives were very effective with Teapot Dome (WY) oil. With Teapot Dome oil, surfactant/alkali systems produced ultralow IFT values and recovered 60% of the residual oil that remained after waterflooding. The effect of alkaline additives on recovering Hepler (KS) oil was minimal. The results of this work indicate that alkaline additives do have merit for use in surfactant flooding of low acid crude oils; however, no universal statement about applicability can be made. Each oil behaves differently, with this treatment, and the effect of alkaline additives must be determined (at reservoir conditions) for each oil. 23 refs., 13 figs., 3 tabs.

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created March 4, 2014
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