Developing stable foams from polymeric surfactants for water production control
Bhide, Vikram V.
Miller, Clarence A.; Hirasaki, George J.
Doctor of Philosophy
This research explores a new method using foams for water production control in an oilfield. Reducing water production during oil production is an important objective impacting the profitability of a mature oilfield. Currently practiced methods using gel or polymer based systems either offer inadequate water flow reduction or suffer problems of proper placement in the field. Because of its properties, foam has the potential for use in water control. In this study, foams stable in presence of flowing water (washout stability) were developed using polymeric surfactants. A screening test was developed to measure the washout resistance of various conventional and polymeric surfactants. Foam from several polymeric surfactants such as triblock F108 and hydrophobically modified HMPA1 exhibited remarkable improvement in washout stability over conventional surfactants. Strong foam that offered a large resistance to flow of water was generated in a two-foot long sand pack with some of these polymeric surfactants. Again, the polymeric surfactants exhibited higher foam washout resistance than the conventional surfactants as predicted by the screening tests. Investigation of surfactant desorption from an air-water interface using bubble shape analysis showed that this improved foam washout resistance was due to almost irreversible adsorption of polymeric surfactants. Collapse of foam from polymeric surfactants at long times in the screening test was determined to be due to hydrodynamic effects and not desorption. Also, foam washout stability with polymeric surfactants in sand pack was found to be limited by air dissolution into flowing water. Scale-up calculations for oilfield geometries showed that foam from F108 can be stable for a long enough time, even with gas dissolution, for the process to be practicable. Foam stable to residual oil, expected in the water producing zones, was created by mixing an anionic surfactant CS-330 with nonionic F108. This is because ionic surfactants produce an electrostatic barrier that prevents entry of oil droplets into the air water interface. Flowing oil, however, produced a stable emulsion with this surfactant combination which offered a large resistance to flow. This was undesirable and was minimized by a brine flush to remove surfactant from the aqueous phase of the foam region before contact with flowing oil.
Chemical engineering; Petroleum engineering