Novel lab on a chip techniques to efficiently pre-screen chemicals at close to harsh underground reservoir conditions for applications in oil industry

M. Kawelah, G. Jian, W. Wang, S. Chang, A. Gizzatov, A.I. Abdel-Fattah
Aramco Services Company: Aramco Research Center—Boston,
United States

Keywords: quartz crystal microbalance, microfluidic, chemicals for oil industry


Producing oil from underground reservoirs is a complicated process and specialty chemicals need to be used at certain stages. Among examples when chemicals are used would be during drilling operations, to maintain integrity of the few kilometers deep well at high temperature and pressure conditions, during well stimulations, to increase permeability of the rock close to the well bore and the largest amount of chemicals during operations is consumed when chemical enhanced oil recovery methods are need to be used. Developing and testing chemicals in laboratory requires simulation of harsh conditions present underground. This includes temperatures up to 100 ⁰C, brine salinities up to 20 wt% of total dissolved salts and pressure up to 4000 PSI. Chemicals are mostly used to achieve certain properties of the injected liquid and/or to alter the rock surface, therefore laboratory tests at harsh conditions conducted also in the presence of the reservoir rock and crude oil. Performing evaluation of chemicals for underground applications at such condition requires expensive instruments and usually are time consuming. For example, evaluating chemical for interaction with the rock and for the oil recovery can take up to few weeks for each chemical. Therefore, development of the efficient pre-screening tools and methods to reduce cost of evaluation of chemicals is of great interest. In this study we report use of Quartz Crystal Microbalance to rapidly study interaction of chemicals with proxy rock surfaces at the nanoscale and in-house developed microfluidics device to quickly study and benchmark chemicals for enhanced oil recovery applications. Both devices offer an opportunity to pre-screen chemicals in a days, rather than weeks when compared to conventionally used instruments.