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Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 143 (2016) 235244

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Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/petrol

Emulsion ooding for enhanced oil recovery: Filtration model

and numerical simulation
Iryna I. Demikhova a, Natalya V. Likhanova c,n, Joaquin R. Hernandez Perez c,
Dennys A. Lopez Falcon c, Octavio Olivares-Xometl b, Andres E. Moctezuma Berthier c,
Irina V. Lijanova a

Instituto Politcnico Nacional, CIITEC, Mexico

Benemrita Universidad Autnoma de Puebla, FIQ, Mexico
Instituto Mexicano del Petrleo, Mexico

art ic l e i nf o

a b s t r a c t

Article history:
Received 7 September 2015
Received in revised form
19 January 2016
Accepted 22 February 2016
Available online 24 February 2016

The present paper discusses emulsion ooding laboratory experiments in porous media with the application of the Filtration Theory, and a series of simulation experiments that showed the potential use of
emulsions as EOR technologies in Mexican mature elds with approximately 20 API gravity oil and high
water cut production. This method is based on the hydrophobization of sandstone rocks and the reconguration of water ow patterns, by means of O/W emulsion injections, improving and increasing the
oil recovery. Emulsion ooding laboratory experimental tests were performed with Ottawa sand and
Berea sandstones. During the oil recovery process, the additional oil recovery was above 25%. The dispersed phase of the emulsion is retained at the pore throats, leading to porous medium impediments
described by two mechanisms: (a) pore blockage by size exclusion, and (b) drop retention due to interactions between droplets and pore walls. Both mechanisms cause irreversible permeability reduction.
In order to know the general effect on this process, a ltration model describing emulsion ow through
porous media was used to obtain ltration parameters. In our work, we describe the use of a well-known
mathematical model, which consists of a differential equation system based on the Filtration Theory and
a modied Darcy equation that is characterized by three parameters: lter coefcient, ow redistribution
and local ow restriction factors. The EOR simulation model by emulsion ooding was created using
STARS by CMG. The conceptual mathematical model and tting of the experimental results concerning
the oil displacement by water and additional oil displaced by the emulsion show that the wettability
change caused by the emulsion is the main recovery mechanism.
& 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Emulsion ooding
Enhanced oil recovery
Wettability change

1. Introduction
When an oil reservoir has been exploited, the oil pressure declination rate is frequently reduced by injecting water. Water
ooding is the preferred secondary recovery method. However,
there are some problems related to this method such as the rapid
channeling of water from injection to production wells through
the most permeable portions of the reservoir. Water ooding typically displaces from 50% to 80% of contacted oil, so by taking into
account the volumetric sweep efciency, the average oil recovery
is 30% for conventional reservoirs (Lake, 1989).
As for mature elds, many of them produce a high water yield, and
Correspondence to: Instituto Mexicano del Petrleo, Gerencia de Ingeniera de
Recuperacin Adicional, Eje Central Lzaro Crdenas Norte, N 152, Col. San Bartolo
Atepehuacan, Mxico D.F. 07730, Mexico.
E-mail address: nvictoro@imp.mx (N.V. Likhanova).

0920-4105/& 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

in this sense, in general, three methods for reconnecting unswept oil

and consequently reducing the water production are used: injection of
polymers, oil-based-surfactant-stabilized emulsions, and siloxanebased microemulsions for rock hydrophobization.
From the methods mentioned above, the injection of emulsions
is one of the potential oil recovery technologies with promising
results (Schramm, 2005). This method has been successfully applied in different oil elds, which can be explained by effects on
different mechanisms such as: (1) alteration of the rock wettability
towards wettable by oil, modifying the capillary forces; (2) partial
area blockage by blocking pores in the rock through the dispersed
emulsion phase; and (3) modication of the relative permeability,
which causes the reduction of water mobility and reconnects
disconnected oil (Cobos et al., 2009; Engelke et al., 2013; Guillen
et al., 2012a, 2012b; Rocha De Farias et al., 2012; Romero et al.,
1996, 2011; Taylor and Hawkins, 1992).
It has been reported that emulsions based on siloxanes increase


I.I. Demikhova et al. / Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 143 (2016) 235244



Sauter diameter
drop diameter
pore diameter
hydrophilic-lipophilic balance
ionic liquid
absolute water permeability
pore volume
residual oil saturation
zeta potential
molar density of trapped emulsion.
cn c
total diffusion coefcient
gravity vector

permeability tensor
k i, i = o, w relative permeabilities
total number of components
total number of drop sizes
pressure of phase = w, o.
capillary pressure
volumetric ux of water
q w0
volumetric ux of emulsion
rrk1 = reaction rate
phase velocity
xi , i = 2, , nc 1. oil components
wi, i = 0, 1. water components

water component of the water phase or Initial

emulsion component in the water phase
i = 2, , nc 1, nc 2 oleic components of the oil phase
nal test time (24 h)

the oil recovery above 40% (Kalfoglou, 1981; Bousaid, 1980). Likewise, there are several publications about the application of hydrophobic emulsions based on the same oil or its fractions and a
leavening agent for the oil recovery; in this sense, Mandal et al.
reported a further oil recovery up to 23% by applying o/w type
emulsions with gear oil (Mandal et al., 2010). Despite the satisfactory test results, the problem of applying the same oil-based
emulsions is the high concentrations of oil and emulsiers (over
10%) (McAuliffe 1973a, 1973b). In the case of siloxanes, due to their
poisonous effect on the reforming catalysts, their concentration is
restricted and in produced oil, it must be less than 1 ppm. Abdul
and Farouq Ali used polymers and crude-oil-based emulsions to
control the relative movement of water in the oil zone and block
the water channels (Abdul and Farouq Ali, 2003). Nevertheless,
polymers increase the water phase viscosity, but their use is restricted by many factors such as the water production ratio, salinity, and temperature of reservoirs; in addition, high injection
volumes make this technology not so attractive (Rocha De Farias
et al., 2012).
The oil recovery search through the injection of oil-in-water (O/
W) emulsions, which are free of siloxanes, prompted Jeirani et al.
to apply micro-emulsions based on triglycerides or fatty acids;
despite the attractive results in sand packages, fatty acids and
emulsier concentrations were higher than 10% (Jeirani et al.,
Another important tool necessary to describe how these
emulsions behave is the modeling of emulsion transport through
porous media, which is extremely challenging because of the interacting physical-chemical phenomena, and their interrelated
effects (Lei et al., 2008). Three traditional models have been used
to describe the emulsion ow in porous media: (a) bulk viscosity

Greek symbols

s nc


number of trapped emulsion moles
ltration coefcient
volume of emulsion drops retained per clean void
volume available for water ow
density of the emulsion trapped in the solid.
ow redistribution factor
ow restriction factor
boundary with prescribed inlet ux
boundary with prescribed pressure

(Alvarado and Marsden, 1979; Abou-Kassem and Farouq Ali, 1995),

(b) droplet retardation (McAuliffe, 1973a, 1973b; Devereaux, 1974),
and (c) Filtration Theory (Herzig et al., 1970; Tien and Payatakes,
1979; Soo and Radke, 1986a, 1986b). The rst model is adequate to
describe only the ow of highly concentrated emulsions with
small average oil droplet/average pore throat ratios. The main
limitation of the second model is that it cannot predict the irreversible permeability reduction observed in experimental tests.
The ltration model is recognized as the most adequate continuous model for describing the ow of diluted emulsions in
porous media on account of two droplet capture mechanisms in
porous media: (a) blockage by size exclusion (straining) and
(b) retention by interaction with pore walls (interception); both
processes cause irreversible permeability reduction as observed in
experiments. Our displacement experiments were used for ltration modeling because our system (emulsion and cores) satises
the assumptions and conditions set by the Filtration Theory:

Thermal equilibrium between phases.

Phases (emulsion and rock) are incompressible.
The emulsion is stable and diluted (concentration is 1%).
Irrelevant diffusion (drop average radius41 m).
Similar drop and pore average radii (4 and 15 m, respectively).
Retention kinetics is linear with the ow of drops.
Filtering function depends on the retained drops.
All necessary factors to justify the continuity (continuum

In the present work, O/W emulsions based on a hydrophobic

ionic liquid derived from trioctylmethylammonium, which possesses properties such as being immiscible with water, liquid at

I.I. Demikhova et al. / Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 143 (2016) 235244

room temperature and capable of being adsorbed on the rock

surface by electrostatic forces, were used for the process of rock
wettability changing and the blocking of water preferential ways
by forming new water routes to displace the oil that is located in
not-swept areas. Based on our experimental laboratory tests, we
performed an in-depth analysis of mechanisms regarding the
emulsion behavior in porous media during the ooding processes.
An extended transport model of emulsions in water is proposed to
model an oil displacement experiment. Firstly, a simulation study
was done to obtain an insight of the mechanisms involved in the
displacement of oil by using an emulsion, and secondly to obtain a
platform for designing a eld test.

2. Theoretical basis
Oil mobilization in reservoirs is an important part of emulsion
ooding processes, and the adsorption of these emulsions on the
rock surfaces is an important topic for improving the oil recovery
by emulsion ooding. In this sense, there are a few studies that
describe sufciently the emulsion ooding in porous media, and as
a result, the physicochemical phenomena and inuence of emulsions are not included in the current numerical simulations of oil
recovery processes. The deep-bed ltration theory (Herzig et al.,
1970; Tien and Payatakes, 1979) is the most appropriate continuous model of emulsion ow through homogeneous porous
media according to the materials and methods used in our experimental tests, with similar drop and pore sizes, as shown in
Fig. 1. The study system consists of two phases: a uid one
(emulsion) and a solid one (rock). The emulsion has two components: a continuous one (water) and a dispersed one (oil). The oil
emulsion component is retained by the rock, so this component is
partitioned between both phases. The model consists of a set of
partial differential equations with appropriate initial and boundary conditions for the problem to be solved. For this purpose, a
dispersed component continuity equation is used:

( 0 cEo + cCo )

0 cEo vE



where 0 is the initial core porosity,

are the concentrations of the dispersed component (oil) in the phases


(emulsion and core, respectively), vE is the interstitial velocity of

the emulsion in the core, t is the time and x is a spatial coordinate.
A retention kinetics equation is also used:

= o ( cCo ) cEo vE.


With a phenomenological ltering function:

c o
o ( cCo ) = 1 C .


where is the ltration coefcient, and is the ow redistribution

factor. These ltration parameters must be obtained by tting
macroscopic ow measurements and new ttings for each different porous medium might be needed. In order to take into account
the permeability reduction, a modied Darcy equation is added to
describe the transport problem set above. A permeability function
dependent on the retained drop concentration, called damage
function, is considered:

vE =

kE ( cCo, x) pE


A phenomenological expression has also been proposed (Stein,

1940; Camp, 1964):

kE ( cCo, x) =

( cCo ).
0 0


where E is the emulsion viscosity, pE is the emulsion pressure, k 0

is the initial core permeability, and is the local ow restriction
factor which measures how effective retained drops are in reducing uid permeability per unit volume of retained drops.
In summary, the analytical solution of a simple ltering model
based on the ow redistribution phenomenon due to the capture
of emulsion droplets in the core pores was developed. The model,
which describes the ow of stable and diluted emulsions through
porous media, is characterized by three parameters: (a ltration
coefcient), (an inter-pore ow redistribution factor), and (a
local ow restriction factor). The ltration coefcient establishes
how sharp the emulsion front is; the ow redistribution factor
denes this phenomenon as well as the elapsed time to get a
steady state retention; and the ow restriction factor states how
effective the retained drops are to reduce permeability.
The emulsion transport through a porous medium is modeled
with the component balance equations for two phase ows. In the
phase and component diagram (Table 1), the emulsion was considered to be dissolved in water, the oil composed of nc3 hydrocarbon components and a solid phase for the trapped emulsion.
It was assumed that:

 Flow mechanisms of the diluted stable emulsion occur through

the reduction of the local permeability (entrapment) without

viscosity alteration.
Flow parameters are the ltration coefcient, ow diversion
coefcient, and ow restriction parameter.
There could be a small number of drop sizes.
Entrapment depends on permeability at single ow velocity.

Table 1
Phase and component matrix.
0 Water 1 Emulsion

Fig. 1. Schema of emulsion ltration through porous media (by Soo and Radke

Water X

2, , nc 1 Hydrocarbon

nc Trapped



I.I. Demikhova et al. / Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 143 (2016) 235244

 The emulsion is trapped and released from the rock in a non

linear way.
The clogging and release of the drops would be modeled by two
Clogging reduces permeability and porosity.

By using these considerations, the following mass component

balances for the water component were obtained (Chen et al.,

S w w0 + ( w vw w0 ) = 0
t f w


For each emulsion drop size, a mass balance equation in the

water phase is obtained:

S w w1 + w vw w1 + f w Dw1w1 =
t f w

f rrk1w1


Where the adsorption on the rock is modeled through a reaction

sink term. The mass balance equations for the nc 1 oil components are:

So xi + ( o voxi ) = 0, i = 2, , nc 1.
t f o


Following Soo and Radke (1986a, 1986b), it was stated that the
drop capture kinetics is linearly dependent on the ow velocity:

( cn ) = vw 1 cnc/s
t V c


) w1


The ow velocities are given by the multiphase Darcy's law:

k k ro
( po o g z)

k k rw
vw =
( pw w g z)
vo =


Finally, the capillary pressure denition and the saturation and

molar fraction restrictions are given by the following expressions:

pc ( S w ) = po pw


S w + So = 1


So > 0,


S w > 0.

i =c 1 xi = 1
i =c 1 wi = 1

p (x, 0) = p,0 (x),

wi (x, 0) = wi,0 (x),
S (x, 0) = S (x),

= o, w.
i = 1, , nc .
= o, w.

T = T0

3. Experimental section
3.1. Materials
Crude oil was purchased from a Mexican eld (20.1 API,
544 mPa s, and 0.9317 g/mL at 20 C). The decision to use this oil
was made based on the fact that Mexico is currently producing
this type of crude, which is mostly derived from mature elds, and
used to prepare the Mexican Maya crude mixed type for export
remarketing. Distilled water, brine and sea water (salinityNaCl
35276 mg/L, density20 C 1.0258, and Stiff & Davis Stability index
0.18622) were used as displacement uids. The brine solution was
prepared by using well-produced water (salinityNaCl 266881 mg/L,
density20 C 1.1764, and Stiff & Davis Stability index 1.62191), diluted three times with distilled water.
3.2. Emulsion preparation
Precursor emulsions (Em) were prepared by direct emulsication adding 70 g of the hydrophobic phase, which was represented
by a hydrophobic ionic liquid derivative of trioctylmethylammonium, into 30 g of the aqueous phase mixing with an Ultra-turrax
T25 Basic homogenizer at 16000 rpm for 8 min, where the
homogenization force comes from the rotor energy and the stator
shearing action. The aqueous phase comprised 1 g of the Igepal CO
890 (Sigma-Aldrich) hydrophilic surfactant with HLB 17, considering that for the formation of the O/W emulsion, emulsiers
with HBL 818 are needed, and 29 g of distilled water, which
contained 0.5% of Rewopol SB DO 75. The formed emulsion was an
oil-in-water-type emulsion. The diameter size of the 90% and 50%
dispersed phases, (D90) and (D50), were 3.59 and 0.24 m, respectively, and the Sauter diameter (D32) was 0.196, as measured
by using a laser diffraction Mastersizer 2000 Hydro2000S by
Malvern. The droplet size was chosen depending on the pore
throat of Berea rock (Fig. 2) to ensure that the emulsion passed
through the Berea sandstone rock. The prepared emulsion was
diluted with distilled water before being used until obtaining
1 wt% of the dispersed oil phase.

A total of nc + 11 equations is obtained, where the unknowns

are: cnc ; wi , i = 0, 1; xi , i = 2, , nc 1; Sw ; So ; po ; w ; o ; vw ; vo ;
which gives a total of nc + 11 unknowns. Additionally to the traditional biphasic transport model, the permeability variation dependent on the trapped emulsion, according to Soo and Radke,
was included:

k rw
= 1 (x, t )


With the following boundary conditions:

w vwn = q w0 (t ) + qw1(t ) en 1
p = p0 en 2
And initial conditions:


Fig. 2. Rock throat diameter distribution by Hg-method measurements.

I.I. Demikhova et al. / Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 143 (2016) 235244


0.1 PV of 1% of emulsion, which was injected to the sand pack and

the water ooding was resumed immediately.
3.3.2. Emulsion ooding with 1 wt% of emulsion in Berea cores
Some characteristics of the Berea Sandstone Petroleum cores
used in this test are listed in Table 2, where it can be seen that the
porosity of these cores was approximately 20%. The sandstone core
was placed horizontally and ooded at 25 C/78 C; after measuring the permeability of the sandstone core, the porous space
was fully saturated with water, which was displaced by injecting
crude oil until reaching the residual connate water saturation. The
injection ow rates were kept at a constant inlet ow rate of
10 mL/h. The same methodology used for the sand pack emulsion
ooding was conducted with the Berea sandstone core samples,
where the calculated cumulative tertiary oil recovery was used as
the criterion for the emulsion efciency. Initially, oil was displaced
by water/brine injection, and at the end of this step, the oil production had fallen to zero; all the oil inside the pore space was
static. A slug of 0.2 PV of 1 wt% of emulsion was injected, followed
by another water/brine injection cycle.

Fig. 3. Setup of the experimental ooding system.

3.3. Emulsion ooding tests

A schematic diagram of the core ood apparatus used in the
core ood tests is shown in Fig. 3. After measuring the permeability of the sand pack/sandstone core, the porous space was fully
saturated with water. It was displaced by injecting crude oil until
reaching the connate water saturation, approximately 90/10 (oil/
water). Initially, oil was displaced by water injection (secondary oil
recovery), and at the end of this step, the oil production had fallen
to zero; all the oil inside the pore spaces was immobile. An
emulsion slug of 1 wt% was injected (tertiary oil recovery), followed by another water injection cycle. The ow rates of the injections were kept at a constant inlet ow rate of 10 mL/h (the
intrinsic velocity is approximately 2 ft/day) due to the fact that the
velocity rates in Berea cores vary between 0.04 and 1 mL/min, in
the usual way 0.1 mL/min (Nasralla and Nasr-El-Din, 2011; Zeinijahromi and Bedrikovetsky, 2013). The same methodology used for
the sand pack and Berea sandstone emulsion ooding, where the
calculated cumulative tertiary oil recovery was used as the criterion for the emulsion efciency, was applied.
3.3.1. Emulsion ooding in sand packs
Quartz Ottawa sand with 150250 m in grain size was packed
vertically in an acrylic sand pack holder, where both sides were
equipped with stainless steel sieves to prevent any sand ow. The
sand pack was placed horizontally and ooded at room temperature. For the secondary oil recovery, 3 or 4 PV of water were injected. Then, for the tertiary oil recovery, the slug consisted of

3.3.3. Filtration model estimation test

In order to study the emulsion transport, it was injected in a
Berea core at a constant rate of 10 ml/h and 25 C. 240 mL (  10
PV) of emulsion were injected through a Berea core with average
pore throat size of 15 m, initial porosity of 22.36% and initial
permeability of 135.4 mD. The emulsion density was very close to
that of water. The core was 9.4 cm long with a 1.9 cm radius. Some
characteristics of the cores and emulsions used in this test are
listed in Table 2.
3.3.4. Simulation of emulsion ooding based on the oil displacement
experiment 3.3.2
This experiment was performed to study the displacement of
residual oil by the emulsion. For this purpose, the data of experiment 3.3.2 with Berea core at 78 C were used. The cumulative oil
volume produced by water ooding in this experiment and the
water and oil relative permeabilities that reproduced the oil production were taken into account. In the second step, the cumulative oil recovery, including the additional oil produced by the
emulsion injection, was carried out. The reactions that dene the
kinetics of emulsion clogging and release are triggered during the
emulsion injection. Then, the new water and oil relative permeabilities that reproduce the additional oil recovery were

Table 2
Sand pack and Berea core properties featured in the tests.
Core property


Length, cm
Radius, cm
Pore volume, cm3
Initial porosity, %
Initial permeability (water), mD
Oil/Water saturation, %


Emulsion density, g/cm3

Emulsion viscosity, cp
Emulsion inlet concentration, %

cEo or cin

Test with seawater.


Tests in sand packs and Berea cores

25 C

25 C

78 C

25 C









I.I. Demikhova et al. / Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 143 (2016) 235244

4. Results and discussion

4.1. Emulsion ooding
The high water volumes that accompany the oil extraction
technique known as water ooding have always been a troublesome issue. Despite these high water cuts from production wells,
this exploitation technique cannot be discarded yet for the residual oil amounts to be extracted, where parts of them are located
in porous cavities and other important parts are found in disconnected zones that cannot be swept by water, are very important. According to the aforesaid, one of the methods that can be
used is the injection of O/W emulsions in order to modify the
relative permeability and improve the volumetric sweep of the
system. The emulsion drop size plays a major role in the oil displacement by water in a multi-scale manner, and in this sense, if a
macroemulsion with drop size above 10 mm had been used for this
type of rock, the major part of it would have gotten trapped on the
core face without any big impact on additional recovery; on the
other hand, which is the case of the present work, drops at least
4 times smaller than rock throat (Fig. 2) penetrated the rock core
at some distance causing the change of the rock surface wettability
(Likhanova et al., 2014; Demikhova et al., 2014) and formation of
water repellent zones which lead to divert the water ow path at
pore level. Pore blockage by macroemulsion can be useful for the
process of water control in the produced oil well with high water
cut, where the emulsion dispersed phase should be deposited in
the small well radius. However, for the oil recovery process, the
emulsion slug should be displaced at a certain distance to alter the
preferential water ow path.
Fig. 4 shows the experimental data of cumulative oil recovery
during water and emulsion injections through the sand packs and
sandstone core at 25 C.
The results for both experiments with distilled and seawater
and with 1 or 2 emulsion slugs were quite similar. After the secondary recovery, the residual oil saturation was 29.137.3%; these
percentages are quite typical for the ooding with seawater and
non- or low-water in the laboratory experiments, where the
cumulative oil recovery with seawater is worse (around 510%)
than with other water type (Yousef et al., 2012; Alotaibi et al.,
2010). Then, for the tertiary oil recovery, after injecting the
emulsion slug(s) and another water ooding cycle, the oil production for more than 40 h was evaluated, obtaining 17.7%
(11.26 mL) of additional oil recovery with 1 emulsion slug and
distilled water, and the total oil recovery was raised to 88.6%. On
the other hand, the production of the experiment with 2 slugs and
seawater was 16.5% (7.85 and 8.68%) of additional oil recovery, and
the total oil recovery was raised to 79.2%, the emulsion injection

Fig. 5. Cumulative oil recovery and pressure difference during brine and 1 wt%
emulsion injections through a Berea core at 78 C.

did mobilize oil with both types of water, achieving additional

recovery around 17%, although the surface chemistry, because of
the different distributions of mono and divalent ions around crude
oil droplets and the uid/rock interaction, could be different in the
presence of seawater (Cha et al., 2015).
Due to the fact that in the average Mexican mature oil elds
with depths around 2.5 km the temperatures in the wells are
around 7580 C, the next experiment was carried out at 78 C.
Figs. 4 and 5 show the experimental data of cumulative oil recovery during water and emulsion injections through the sandstone core (Test 3.3.2) at 25 and 78 C, respectively. Initially, oil
was displaced by distilled water or brine injections and the recovery oil factor approached a value of 83.3% (at 25 C) or 34.6% (at
78 C) for the Berea core. At this point, the oil production had
fallen to zero and an emulsion slug was injected, followed by another water or brine injection cycle. It was expected that the
secondary oil recovery with brine would be worse in comparison
with distilled water (Ashraf et al., 2010), however, the emulsion
addition led to restore the oil production, recovering in both cases
quite good percentages of residual oil (Table 3).
During this process, the total oil recovery was raised to 95.3%
for the experiment at 25 C (Fig. 4) and to 64.6% with 30% of additional oil recovery for the experiment at 78 C.
The inlet pressure and oil cut increased during the emulsion
ooding, which indicates that ow diversion occurred at pore level. The initial water ow path is now partially awry by emulsion
and oil trapped inside pores not swept by water.
In the displacement tests, the investigated varied parameters
were the temperature, water salinity, permeability, and porous
media. By analyzing Table 3, it can be seen that the recovery of
residual oil (Tertiary/Sor) using distilled water was, as expected,
slightly better than that obtained with salty water, nonetheless,
the use of emulsion allowed a recovery of up to 45% of additional
oil, which leads to conclude that the emulsion is not affected by
the salty medium. On the other hand, the total additional oil recovery is independent of the way the emulsion slugs are injected
(as a succession of slugs or as whole slug, Fig. 4), and due to the
Table 3
Oil recovery data from 3.3.1 and 3.3.2 tests.
Oil recovery (%)

Fig. 4. Cumulative oil recoveries during water and 1 wt% of emulsion injections
through sand packs: (a) with distilled water and 1 emulsion slug of 0.1 PV; (b) with
seawater and 2 emulsion slugs of 0.5 PV each (Test 3.3.1); and (c) with distilled
water and 1 wt% emulsion injections through a Berea core at 25 C.


Sand pack test 3.3.1

Berea core tests 3.3.2

Distilled water


25 C

78 C





I.I. Demikhova et al. / Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 143 (2016) 235244

emulsion injection, approximately 50% of the residual oil (Sor) in

all type of porous media was recovered. Although these are fairly
good laboratory results, the injection of emulsions for the EOR
process has some limitations such as dependence on the rock pore
throat and emulsion droplet sizes, which limits the application of
this technology in reservoirs with permeabilities less than 15 mD
or in highly fractured reservoirs; also for reservoirs with temperatures above 140 C due to the use of expensive emulsiers and
the easy emulsion destabilization process.
Nevertheless, the use of emulsions could be useful in the water
injection process in not very heterogeneous reservoirs due to the
fact that emulsion injection changes the sweep ow pattern, and
the emulsion drops follow the preferential water channels, entering the porous space; the drops block the small pores and are
adsorbed on the surface of big pores. From the tests using sandstone cores and a brine solution at reservoir temperature (78 C), a
slight pressure increase in the system happened (Fig. 5), evidencing some blocking of pores through which the displacing ow
occurs. Both mechanisms cause irreversible permeability reduction, and in order to know the general effect on this process, a
ltration model describing emulsion ow through porous media
was used to obtain ltration parameters.


Fig. 7. Efuent relative concentration during the core emulsion injection (Test
3.3.3) and its ltration model tting.

4.2. Filtration model

The results of the test featured in 3.3.3 are summarized in
Figs. 6 and 7. Fig. 6 shows the data of pressure difference through
the core vs time plot, which is the pressure build-up. Fig. 7 shows
the measurements obtained from aliquots, i.e., cout /cin efuent
relative concentration vs PV of injected emulsion, as well as their
tting by the ltration model.
There is an important retention of emulsion in the porous
medium since it arises until the 7th injected PV. The very good
performance of the emulsion for redistributing the ow is also
noted because there is a considerable increase in the pressure
difference (about 3 psi), which is equivalent to a core permeability
of kday 11.04 mD. Finally, it is concluded that the effect of the
permeability reduction is irreversible since the measurement of
core permeability after the test (emulsion ood and core ush)
was kf 78.36 mD, which as mentioned before, provides evidence
for the use of a ltration model, instead of others, in order to
correctly describe this phenomenon.
The tting of the efuent concentration data shown in Fig. 7
leads to the following parameters for the ltration model:
= 6.179263, and = 6.208713.
Fig. 8 shows the extrapolated efuent curve from the ltration
model as well as the result for the permeability reduction estimated

at the end of the test (24 h), i.e. kday = 0.081536k 0 , which sets the
value of = 5.702479. The tting with the ltration model enabled
us to predict the average distribution of the dispersed phase in the
emulsion (oil droplets) through the porous medium (Berea core), as
shown in Fig. 9. Note that the ltration model predicts a limiting
value of drop retention by cComax = 0/ = 0.03601. This maximum
value is equivalent to a pore space reduction in the order of
1/ = 0.16106, while the permeability reduction is about 90%. In
addition, the saturation of the porous medium is reached at about
30 PV. Fig. 10 shows a zoom of the average distribution of drops
retained by the porous medium at short injection times, i.e., similar

Fig. 6. Pressure build-up during the core emulsion injection (Test 3.3.3).

Fig. 9. Distribution of oil drops along the core as predicted by the model.

Fig. 8. Extrapolation of the efuent curve and permeability reduction by the

ltration model.


I.I. Demikhova et al. / Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 143 (2016) 235244

fraction relative to the initial concentration produced at the end of

the core is plotted against the number of injected pore volumes.
We can see that only from 8% to 9% of the emulsion is not trapped
by the rock. It was necessary to postulate that the emulsion had
two different drop sizes to reproduce the efuent prole, which
has discrepancies with the Langmuir isotherm of adsorption. To
model this, we used a system of reactions for the sorption and
desorption of the emulsion on the rock equivalent to the Soo and
Radke ltration theory for each drop size:

1 Emulsion trapped drop


where the rate constant is the ltration coefcient at unit scale

factor, which in STARS can depend on the permeability.
The ow diversion is represented trough the following reaction:
Fig. 10. Distribution of oil drops along the core for short times ( t 1 PV ).

to the injection time used in the recovery tests featured in 3.3.2 at

78 C.
Signicant emulsion retention during the ooding tests was
observed, since the breakthrough curve began to increase after 7
8 pore volumes injected into the porous media. Furthermore, irreversible permeability reduction accounted 28% of its initial value
as revealed by the corresponding differential pressure increase.
The information generated by the tting of the ltration model
parameters can be useful to obtain, at the same time, the required
parameters for a ow simulator, as it can be STARS by CMG,
where the ltration model is also used to describe these physicalchemical phenomena and model recovery experiments improved
by emulsion injection on laboratory scale.
4.3. Numerical simulation
Due to emulsion diffusion, mechanical dispersion, and molecular diffusion, the emulsion droplets are caught by the rock pores,
changing the permeability of the system according to a linear kinetic model of entrapment proposed by Soo and Radke. Two
components for emulsions in water and emulsions in rock are
proposed to implement the capture kinetics using STARS (STARS
User, 2007).
In Fig. 11, based on the experiment test 3.3.3, the emulsion

1 Emulsion + 1 trapped drop 2 Emulsion


The rate constant of this reaction over the rate constant of the
former one represents the ow diversion parameter at unit scale
factor. This is the result of the interception dominating the
straining capture as permeability increases.
Based on the experiment data from test 3.3.2 (Fig. 5) performed
to study the displacement of residual oil by the emulsion at 78 C,
the accumulated oil recovery vs time shows that after four hours
no more oil than 10.32 cm3 is produced, that volume amounts for
the 34.63% of the initial oil in place (29.80 cm3). Fig. 12 displays the
relative permeabilities for the water and oil phases.The critical
water saturation is 0.3, the residual oil saturation is 0.51 and the
end points are 1.0 for both curves.
After water ood, the emulsion is injected; this is specied in
the water phase composition, turning on the ltration mechanisms. The measured cumulative oil production, marked by the
orange triangles, is of 19 cm3 and the predicted recovery is of
10.76 cm3 at 10 pore volumes (Figs. 14 and 15). The additional
recovery due to blocking was of 0.34 cm3. It is necessary to assume
that the additional recovery was the result of the rock wettability
change which altered the petrophysical properties. This change is
expressed as a change in the relative permeabilities. By comparing
Figs. 12 and 13, we can see that the residual oil saturation decreases signicantly. The endpoint of the water relative permeability remained equal to 1.0 but the curvature change increased
this magnitude in a wider range. On the other hand, the oil relative

Fig. 11. Matching of the emulsion efuent.

I.I. Demikhova et al. / Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 143 (2016) 235244

Fig. 12. Relative permeabilities of water and oil for water ooding.

Fig. 13. Water and oil relative permeabilities that reproduce the additional oil.


Fig. 15. Matching of the enhanced oil recovery by colloid injection using the
STARS simulator.

porous media such as sand packs and sandstone cores. In porous

media with a high water cut, the use of 0.10.2 PV of 1 wt% of
emulsion may be a successful strategy for EOR projects. The reduction of the cumulative water-oil ratio and the increase in the
oil production after injecting an emulsion slug were observed. The
emulsion transport description is done through the irreversible
reduction of the local permeability (entrapment), and not through
viscosity alteration, therefore, the ltration model was used. The
emulsion is trapped and released from the rock in a nonlinear way,
taking into account that the emulsion drop size was a least 4 times
smaller than the rock pore throat. Clogging reduces permeability
and porosity. The experiments and the analysis done through the
simulation using STARS by CMG show that the additional recovery due to emulsion clogging is of only 1.14% and that more
than 28% of the oil recovered in the EOR stage was due to a
wettability change from water wet to oil wet. Essentially, an
emulsion slug based on a hydrophobic compound alters preferential water paths, forming a mobile oil bank.

We would like to thank the IMP (Project D.60026) for the
provided support.


Fig. 14. Cumulative oil recovery including the additional oil produced by the
emulsion injection. The blue line indicates the recovery predicted by the ltration
mechanism. (For interpretation of the references to color in this gure legend, the
reader is referred to the web version of this article.)

permeability endpoint decreased from 1.0 to 0.18, reducing this

magnitude over the whole range. This event is interpreted as the
rock changed its wettability from water wet to oil wet.
5. Conclusions
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