By pumping CO2 into oil reservoirs and storing it there, we can extract more oil. This technique is called enhanced oil recovery (EOR). But, the cost of CCS is still too high, meaning the process capturing the CO2 one intends to pump into the reservoirs is too expensive. Therefore, reducing net cost of the overall CCS chain is the main barrier addressed in this task. Good reservoir management is a huge part of that, as it will be imperative to minimize storage-related costs.

EOR
CO2 enhanced oil recovery, or CO2-EOR, is the process of injecting CO2 into oil reservoirs to mobilise some of the remaining oil. CO2-EOR has thus far been the only large-scale use of CO2 where CO2 has a positive economic value. Several studies have shown that large-scale CO2-EOR in the North Sea can be profitable for oil prices down to 50 USD/bbl. Industry relevance is therefore evident.

The activity on CO2-EOR in NCCS is mainly relevant for Deployment Case 2 (Link). In this scenario an infrastructure transporting CO2 from European sources to the North Sea is in place and sufficiently large amounts of CO2 are readily available for use in EOR operations. However, CO2-EOR may also be relevant for an extended phase of the first deployment case (DC1), where the amount of captured CO2 is increased beyond 1.25 Mt/year.

The net cost of the overall CCS chain is the main deployment barrier addressed. This barrier can be reduced or overcome by providing value through production of additional oil.

Reservoir management
Optimal use of a storage site and thereby reduction of cost per tonne CO2 stored is an important issue, as the main deployment barrier of CCS is cost. The first few injection operations will likely focus on demonstration of feasibility and safety. However, active management and optimisation of the available storage capacity will become important when the injection rate increases beyond a few Mt/year for a single storage site. Good reservoir management will be imperative in efforts to minimize storage-related costs.

Main results 2019

The NCCS CO2-brine foam module for the MATLAB Reservoir Simulation Toolbox (MRST) has been used to simulate core flooding experiments with different foam-generating surfactants. The results are compared to actual experiments performed with commercially available surfactants. This is valuable information when screening for surfactant properties that will be most beneficial for field application.

Use of foam is a promising method for mobility control of CO2 in saline aquifer storage. Simulations at field scale indicate that storage capacity can be more than doubled if CO2 mobility control can be successfully applied in the early phases of the injection operation.

Further delimitation of the scope of a tool for optimisation of storage site portfolios has been discussed with industry partners in workshops. The goal is to aid in the decision-making for the development of CO2 transport and storage network through the creation of a tool that calculates the incremental cost of reducing the risk of not being able to store an agreed annual/monthly amount of CO2The tool will include probabilistic treatment of the unknown geological properties of storage sites.

Robust risk analysis tools for the operation of CO2 transport and storage networks will enable storage operators to decide the correct level of investment in site characterisation and infrastructure development and the most appropriate timing for the development.

Results from simulation of core flooding with six different foam-generating surfactants. Pure CO2 is displacing a solution of formation water and 0.5 weight-% surfactant. The plots show the situation after 0.4 pore volumes have been injected. Differences in CO2 solubility, adsorption and foam strength between the different surfactants lead to significant differences in the development of total surfactant concentration (including adsorbed surfactant) (left plot) and the mobility reduction effect (right plot). Characterisation of such differences are important when selecting an optimal surfactant for field application.

Results 2018

Main results

  • Laboratory testing of foam-generating properties of synthetized nanomaterials. Results for first batch mainly negative. Design directions for next batch discussed.
  • Synthetized next batch of nanomaterials for CO2/brine foam generation
  • Working version of MRST CO2-foam module. Simulations with Eclipse and with MRST presented in GHGT-14 publication. Demonstrate >100% increase in CO2 storage efficiency for five-spot CO2-injection/brine-extraction patterns.
  • Initial work to optimize cost/benefit for mobility control in CO2 storage.
  • Development of a storage site optimization work flow.
Demonstration of the effect of mobility control for CO2 in a five-spot well pattern. CO2 injected at a rate of 0.5 Mt/year through the well in the left corner into a 100-m thick reservoir section with horizontal dimensions 1400x1400 m, while brine is produced at the opposite corner. Top: After 6 years the CO2 has reached the location of the production well, and this section of the reservoir will have to be closed soon thereafter. Bottom: if mobility control can be implemented, the injected CO2 will move much more slowly across the reservoir section and will not reach the opposite corner until several years later, giving 50 % increased storage capacity in the shown example.

Results 2017

The mobility contrast between CO2 and oil/water, and the large well distance, make tertiary CO2 injection more challenging as an EOR option in the North Sea than in North America, where it is already being successfully employed.

The task investigates novel methods for controlling the mobility of injected CO2, such as functionalized nanomaterials for foam generation or direct CO2 thickeners.

Following a review of recent literature, the first series of newly designed POSS (polyhedral oligomeric silsequioxanes) nanomaterials was synthesized.

Testing of CO2 solubility and other properties will commence in 2018, to give input on further generations of nanomaterials. Mobility control of injected CO2 can also be beneficial for aquifer storage, since it could postpone the point in time when CO2 reaches spill points in structural traps. Initial modelling to investigate this effect has been performed.

Conference Publications

2018:

  • CO2 storage with mobility control - Grimstad, A.A., Bergmo, P., Møll Nilsen, H., Klemetsdal, Ø. GHGT-14, Melbourne

Task leader