Inadequate sweep efficiency is one of the main concerns in conventional heavy oil recovery processes. Alternative processes are therefore needed to increase heavy oil sweep efficiency. Foam injection has gained interest in conventional oil recovery in recent times as it can control the mobility ratio and improve the sweep efficiency over chemical or gas flooding. However, most of the studies have focused on light crude oil. This study aims to investigate the static and dynamic performances of foam and polymer-enhanced foam (PEF) in the presence of heavy oil. Static and dynamic experiments were conducted to investigate the potential of foam and PEF for heavy oil recovery. Static analysis included foam/PEF stability, decay profile, and image analysis. A linear visual sand pack was used to visualize the performance of CO2
foam and CO2
PEF in porous media (dynamic experiments). Nonionic, anionic, and cationic surfactants were used as the foaming agents. Static stability results showed that the anionic surfactant generated relatively more stable foam, even in the presence of heavy oil. Slower liquid drainage and collapse rates for PEF compared to that of foam were the key observations through foam static analyses. Besides improving heavy oil recovery, the addition of polymer accelerated foam generation and propagation in porous media saturated with heavy oil. Visual analysis demonstrated more stable frontal displacement and higher sweep efficiency of PEF compared to conventional foam flooding. Unlike foam injection, lesser channeling (foam collapse) was observed during PEF injection. The results of this study will open a new insight on the potential of foam, especially polymer-enhanced foam, for oil recovery of those reservoirs with viscous oil.
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