According to the Norwegian petroleum law, the national oil resources should be produced in a way that benefits the society as a whole. The National IOR Centre of Norway has worked closely with internationally leading experts and oil companies to contribute to an efficient and environmentally friendly drainage of the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS). At the end of 2021, we have educated 11 postdocs, and 15 PhD students, and more than 100 master students in association with the IOR Centre. In total, we have published more than 200 papers in peer reviewed journals, and over 700 contributions for outreach. The yearly international conference, IOR NORWAY, which from 2022 has been named Energy Norway, organized by the Centre, is now well established as an important meeting place for stakeholders from the government, industry, and academia. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic we were able to arrange IOR NORWAY 2020 and 2021 with high attendance and good outreach using digital tools.
The improved recovery of oil is in principle simple: replacing the oil left behind with a cheaper fluid such as (sea)water. The injected fluids must have properties to mobilise the trapped oil, sweep large reservoir volumes at low environmental risk. We therefore focused on seawater, smart water, such as modified seawater and low salinity water, combined with polymer and silicate-based chemicals for water diversion. We tried to understand their behaviour and optimise their use at various reservoir conditions and rock types and to establish a description of their performance with mathematical formulations. These formulars, integrated in field scale simulation models, are the key to estimating IOR potential from existing or new injection wells with optimised location, how much water to inject in each well, and which fluids to use for efficient recovery of the petroleum resources.
Many of the commercial simulation tools cannot handle these more complex fluids and their reactions with the reservoir rocks. We have therefore developed two new simulation tools: IORSim and IORCoreSim. IORCoreSim fills a very important need for interpreting core scale experiments to extract valuable information and to improve our understanding of the IOR recovery mechanisms. IORSim is an add-on module to commercial simulators for field scale evaluation of IOR processes. The rock-fluid interaction formulars based on new knowledge from our research are validated to make sure that the process description is consistent with the lab-calibrated models in IORCoreSim and IORSim. Thus, IORSim can serve as a bridge between the lab models and the field models, allowing for fast implementation of the Centre's research in the commercial reservoir models.
Chemical tracers can be injected together with the injected fluids to obtain additional information, e.g. the time it takes for the injected water to reach the producers. We have come far in developing new tracers for in-situ determination of residual oil saturation and for better description of the flow fields, fully qualified phase-partitioning tracers for inter-well flow monitoring, and explored potential for nanoparticles as carriers of trace elements. The new inter-well tracers are now ready for testing at larger scale, either in the laboratory or in the field.
We are continuously developing the ensemble-based methodology, both for history matching (HM) and optimization. A large effort has been made on including 4D seismic data in the HM workflow. Full field demonstration of the workflow of ensemble-based optimization with sandstone and chalk reservoirs at the NCS has been delivered. The conclusions are that the Net Present Value can be increased using the new and advanced optimization methods, and the strengths and efficiency of ensemble-based optimization is especially demonstrated when handling geological uncertainty.
To make sure our projects are industry-relevant and could be implemented for field operations, we established 4 delivery forums in the last 2 years of the Centre: 1) Wettability and Smart Water EOR, 2) Polymer, 3) Field application and 4) Up-scaling. We organised a large number of topic- or field-specific workshops with the industrial partners during the Centre lifetime. Through discussions and brainstorming sessions our researchers were challenged by the industry, and the industry was exposed to the recent research results, helping us to identify possible field application of our research results and knowledge gaps to be filled.
Overall, the impact from our 8 years research activities extends from master student education, PhD and postdoc career development and researcher competence strengthening, to knowledge accumulation to the end users in their improved daily field operations, which has made us better prepared for meeting current and future challenges. This has contributed to making Norway a leading nation within IOR.
The National IOR Centre of Norway, with its 8 intensive years of competence building, education and research through industry collaboration have resulted in deliveries of a large number of skilled resources to the scentific community and society.
In addition to almost 200 papers published in peer-reviewed journals, and more than 700 contributions for outreach, the main research results are summarised in 11 recommended practices in assessing EOR strategies for all the steps in the process. The Centre has developed new data acquisition methods and workflows to better resolve the remaining potential in the fields. The collaboration between the Centre and the industry has been continuously strengthened along the lifetime, helping the industrial partners to improve the day-to-day operational efficiency and reduce cost.
The learnings will also form basis for transition to new industries on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, such as sustainable energy production and CCS.
The Centre will develop knowledge and experience required to suggest the most appropriate EOR fluids for a given reservoir. To achieve this we have divided the Centre's work into 2 main research themes (T1 and T2). We will work closely with the users and a service company; Halliburton (T1), and Schlumberger (T2). This will secure that the work will be focused towards application, and we will have access to national and international IOR experience gained by these companies. T1 will focus on developing a c ore to field program. Based on core scale experiments, we will suggest optimal or sequences of EOR fluids that will improve the recovery. The core scale results will be upscaled and modification to the EOR fluids will be suggested. Furthermore, the reserv oir cores will be subjected to nano and pore scale investigations to increase the understanding of the recovery mechanism, and thereby contribute to field scale optimization. In T2, methods that provide guidance on how to flood a specific field most effic iently will be developed. An important step is by integrating all possibly available field data into the reservoir simulation models in order to capture the most important aspects of the field. We will develop the tools and methodologies required to inclu de the available data into an consistent model, and by this closing the gap between the essential phenomena observed in reservoirs and field data. Close collaboration with the service industry and operators will secure that we will have field data availab le for evaluation of the new methods developed in the Centre. The environmental and economic impact for an offshore field test will be thoroughly evaluated. The Centre has an open structure and we will further develop the existing close links established between the research environments at UiS, IRIS, IFE, UiB (e.g., Prof. Graue), UiO (e.g., Prof. Dysthe), NTNU (e.g., Prof. Whitson), CIPR (Prof. Oliver), and SINTEF (Prof. Lie) to secure broad national involvement.