The Importance of Water-Hydrocarbon Phase Equilibria During Reservoir Production and Drilling Operations

Abstract : The inevitable presence of water in high pressure-high temperature reservoirs leads to a number of new challenges for petroleum engineers. A brief state of the art on water-hydrocarbon phase equilibria is presented. It appears that large amounts of water may be present in the hydrocarbon phase (up to 10% molar), and non negligible amounts of gas can dissolve in water. Based on experimental data, a large number of models have been developed. However, concerning the limitations of the data, caution is expressed about the correctness of some models. Recent studies have proven the usefulness of Henry's constants to predict hydrocarbon solubilities in water. The new challenges that are raised by this problem are discussed based on a number of recent publications. The water present in the hydrocarbon may lead to salt deposits downwell, and it must be taken into account in order to estimate the amount of gas in place. It can also result in modifications of the saturation pressure. Due to the presence of water, additional treatment is needed for pipe transport. On the other hand, the large amount of hydrocarbons dissolved in the water phase may result in a modification of the hydrocarbon composition, especially when reservoir pressure becomes very low. The increased toxicity of the water, containing either H2S or aromatics, can become a real burden for gas reservoirs in contact with aquifers or when disposing of production water. During drilling, large amounts of dissolved gas can become very hazardous, increasing the risk of eruption. A particular attention must be paid to acid gas injection in reservoirs, as the true effect of the injected gas may not be straightforward to predict. In conclusion, in light of the industrial importance of this information, some general guidelines are provided concerning additional data to be gathered and ideas for improving current models.
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H. Zhou, J. C. de Hemptinne, A. Dhima. The Importance of Water-Hydrocarbon Phase Equilibria During Reservoir Production and Drilling Operations. Revue de l'Institut Français du Pétrole, EDP Sciences, 1998, 53 (3), pp.283-302. ⟨10.2516/ogst:1998025⟩. ⟨hal-02078985⟩

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