Improving Oil Recovery using Zeolite Nanoparticles Flooding

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Both primary and conventional secondary recovery methods can approximately produce 35% of the original oil in place (OOIP). Application of nanotechnology in the petroleum industry as part of nanotechnology has already drawn attention for its great potential of enhancing oil recovery. In the last few years, some publications have already addressed this topic, but its mechanism to enhance oil recovery has not been released very clearly. The main objective of this paper is to investigate the effect of zeolite nanoparticles to improve oil recovery. This paper also aims to investigate the reason behind this improvement in oil recovery. A series of sand pack flooding experiments were conducted to study the effect of zeolite nanoparticles concentration in the displacing brine on wettability alteration, oil viscosity, interfacial tension and finally the ultimate recovery factor. Zeolite nanoparticles were prepared in 4 different concentrations (0.005, 0.01, 0.1 and 1 wt. %) using sonication method. Then zeolite nanoparticles were used for flooding in a sand pack model that was initiated using brine and crude oil of 30.749 API that was extracted from the western desert in Egypt. All nanoparticles have the same size of 5 nm. The base run was performed using conventional water flooding. The ultimate recovery factor by water flooding was found to be 50.4 % of the OOIP. Results have proved an enormous improvement on the recovery factor that reaches 70 % of the OOIP by using zeolite nanoparticles of a concentration of 0.01 wt. %. In this paper also, the effect of zeolite nanoparticles on oil viscosity, interfacial tension, and wettability alteration was investigated. Finally, an economic study was conducted to construct a comparison between zeolite nanoparticles flooding and conventional water flooding.