Towards In-Situ Reservoir Nano-Agents
Clean Technology 2008

Towards In-Situ Reservoir Nano-Agents

M.Y. Kanj, J.J. Funk
Saudi Aramco, SA

upstream E&P, coreflood, nanofluid

The advent of atomically accurate sensing and manipulation tools has spurred a widespread interest in nanotechnology with the prospect of re-engineering matter and synthesizing functional systems at the nanoscale. This enabled thinking “outside-the-box” in valuable applications in biotechnology, medicine, material science, computing, energy, and most recently the upstream sector of E&P in the oil and gas industry. The petroleum industry needs strong stable materials suited for use in harsh and corrosive environments. Nanotechnology could also provide new tiny metering solutions to address wellbore and reservoir sensing requirements in-situ. Even now smart fluids are being used to enhance oil recovery, limit water production with the oil, and reduce drag and friction forces during drilling. The capabilities become limitless with the dream of functionalized nanomachines in the reservoir. To test the future reality of having molecular devices in the reservoir, we embarked on a research initiative to run core-flooding experiments on carbonate samples from ARAB-D formations using inert nanoparticle suspensions. This was aimed also to set the stage for injecting traceable nanoparticles into the rock. Broadly, the study intended to generate baseline data for the injection response of nanoparticles in the carbonate bimodal samples and correlate the impact on the rock permeability and the particle transport efficiency in terms of particle size, concentration, and surface chemistry. Thirty samples were selected and tested from three different petrophysical rock types assessed by mercury injection. Supporting tests involved micro-CT scanning, ESEM, EDX, and NMR T2 distributions. Cross-linked copolymer microsphere suspensions in ultra pure water were used as the injection fluid. These come in a variety of particle concentrations (0-500NTU) and particle sizes (20-200nm). The characterization of the effluent and influent suspensions for nanoparticle size and size distribution were done using LLS and DLS instruments. This paper describes the procedures and results from these tests. Key considerations related to surface and viscous force partitioning along with cross-discipline models (e.g. deep bed filtration model, particle tracking using Navier-Stokes, and Nanoscale NMR Velocimetry) that may be useful for petroleum engineering applications are discussed.