Surfactant-alternating-gas (SAG) is often the injection method for foam enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in order to improve injectivity. However, liquid injectivity can be very poor once foam is created in the near-wellbore region. In a previous study, we reported core-flood experiments on liquid injectivity after foam flooding and liquid injectivity after a period of gas injection following foam. Results showed the importance of the gas slug to subsequent liquid injectivity. However, the effects of multiple gas and liquid slugs were not explored.

In this paper, we present a coreflood study of injectivities of multiple gas and liquid slugs in a SAG process. We inject nitrogen foam, gas and surfactant solution into a sandstone core sample. The experiments are conducted at a temperature of 90°C with 40-bar back pressure. Pressure differences are measured to quantify the injectivity and supplemented with CT scans to relate water saturation to mobility.

We find that during prolonged gas injection in the first gas slug following foam, a collapsed-foam region forms near the inlet due to the interplay of evaporation, capillary pressure and pressure-driven flow. This region slowly propagates downstream. During subsequent liquid injection, liquid mobility is much greater in the collapsed-foam region than downstream, and liquid sweeps the entire core cross section there rather than a single finger. In the region beyond the collapsed-foam region, liquid fingers through foam. Liquid flow converges from the entire cross section to the finger through the region of trapped gas.

During injection of the second gas slug, the liquid finger disappears quickly as gas flows in, and strong foam forms from the very beginning. A collapsed-foam region then forms near the inlet and slowly propagates downstream with a propagation velocity and mobility similar to that in the first gas slug. Behavior of the second liquid slug is likewise similar to that of the first liquid slug.

Our results suggest that, in radial flow, the small region of foam collapse very near the well is crucial to injectivity because of its high mobility. The subsequent gas and liquid slugs behave like the first slugs. The behavior of the first gas slug and subsequent liquid slug is thus representative of near-well behavior in a SAG process.


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