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Research

The National IOR Centre of Norway performs multi-disciplinary research, exploring a wide range of topics in improved oil recovery [IOR] and enhanced oil recovery [EOR] methods.

Petroleum research at the National IOR centre is carried out in state-of-the-art laboratories.

The Centre's research personnel come from physics, chemistry, geomechanics, geology, geochemistry, mathematics, petroleum engineering and other sciences. In addition, psychologists, sociologists, and economists widen the technology perspective to improve the decision making process in IOR operations. 

Research is grouped in two main themes: Mobile and immobile oil and EOR methods and Mobile oil: reservoir characterisation to improve volumetric sweep. These are again split into tasks.

These are the main areas of research:

Experimental IOR research

Our laboratories perform experiments on 

  • physical and chemical interactions between crude oil, brine, and rock  
  • how the ion composition in the injection water («Smart Water») may improve the recovery by mobilizing oil
  • chemical and physical rock-fluid interactions 
  • how fluid components influence wetting and interfacial tension parameters

Flooding experiments
The instrumentation allows core flooding experiments on fluid-rock interactions to run uninterrupted for years at high temperatures and pressures.

Spontaneous imbibition experiments display the wetting state and other oil recovery characteristics in outcrop and reservoir cores. Tri-axial rock mechanical tests show the deformation dynamics at a variety of stress states during flooding of non-equilibrium fluids.

Mineral alteration of flooded cores is directly observed in-house by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM).

Water weakening of chalk
Chalk mechanical behaviour and changes in permeability is observed at in-situ conditions during normal reservoir operations.

Core sample deformation dynamics is studied at high pressure and temperature  In uniaxial strain experiments, with special emphasis on the relation between the deformation dynamics and pore fluid composition.

Optimized water chemistry
The reservoir rock properties will be altered whenever seawater, or any fluid with a different chemical composition than the formation water  is injected.  

The alteration entails physical changes and changes in surface chemistry and may affect the water imbibition (and oil expulsion), the change of compaction and exacerbate or moderate scaling problems in production wells.

A proper upscaling of pore scale results to the core- and field scale requires an understanding of how the water chemistry affects the pore space texture.  

A pore scale lattice Boltzmann simulator including a geochemical description has been developed to study the impact of reactive flow at the pore scale.

EOR from Carbonates and Sandstones by Smart Water
The wetting condition dictates the distribution of oil and water in the porous medium, which in turn influences important reservoir parameters like capillary pressure and relative permeability of the oil and water phases.

By designing injection water with optimum ion composition, i.e., make a «Smart Water», the wetting conditions of the reservoir rock can be changed in a positive way to maximize the oil recovery.

To design the smart water, the chemical interaction between the rock surface, formation brine, crude oil, and the injection brine must be understood in details.

Evaluation of companies’ decision criteria for IOR
The task is to convert the output of an IOR process into economic calculations. This is not straight forward as cause-and-effect may be uncertain.

Also, the willingness to accept risk differs among different parts of an oil company, and is typically less in the production department than in exploration.

On a general level the IOR Centre can evaluate whether the oil companies account for all the benefits of IOR:

  • Are there options that are not being priced?
  • Are the investment analyses sufficiently curtailed to IOR issues?
  • Are the economic and technical assumptions too conservative?