Discussion of the feasibility of air injection for enhanced oil recovery in shale oil reservoirs

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Air injection in light oil reservoirs has received considerable attention as an effective, improved oil recovery process, based primarily on the success of several projects within the Williston Basin in the United States. The main mechanism of air injection is the oxidation behavior between oxygen and crude oil in the reservoir. Air injection is a good option because of its wide availability and low cost. Whether air injection can be applied to shale is an interesting topic from both economic and technical perspectives. This paper initiates a comprehensive discussion on the feasibility and potential of air injection in shale oil reservoirs based on state-of-the-art literature review. Favorable and unfavorable effects of using air injection are discussed in an analogy analysis on geology, reservoir features, temperature, pressure, and petrophysical, mineral and crude oil properties of shale oil reservoirs. The available data comparison of the historically successful air injection projects with typical shale oil reservoirs in the U.S. is summarized in this paper. Some operation methods to improve air injection performance are recommended. This paper provides an avenue for us to make use of many of the favorable conditions of shale oil reservoirs for implementing air injection, or air huff ‘n’ puff injection, and the low cost of air has the potential to improve oil recovery in shale oil reservoirs. This analysis may stimulate further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-257
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2017


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