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A residual oil zone (ROZ) assessment methodology with application to the central basin platform (Permian Basin, USA) for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and long-term geologic CO2 storage

August 24, 2023

Residual oil zones (ROZ) form due to various geologic conditions and are located below the oil/water contact (OWC) of main pay zones (MPZ). Since ROZs usually contain immobile oil, they have not typically been considered commercially attractive for development by conventional primary recovery methods used in the initial phases of oil production. However, during the last decade some operators of these viable fields that also contain ROZs have extended carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) to below the MPZ to commercially recover oil from the associated ROZ. Increased interest in ROZs is also due to the application of anthropogenic CO2 for oil recovery, leading to the subsurface sequestration of CO2, which can be part of the current net-zero carbon oil and climate change objectives.

Several detailed studies of selected formations in the Permian Basin of the United States have shown that ROZs can be as common as traditional conventional oil reservoir traps, suggesting significant resources for potential additional hydrocarbon recovery and subsurface CO2 sequestration via CO2-EOR. However, applications of CO2-EOR to ROZs have been limited despite the estimation of significant oil resources considered recoverable through CO2-EOR, and the benefit of concurrent geologic CO2 storage that would help offset carbon emissions from the produced oil. The combination of insufficient economic incentives and technical reasons related to data scarcity, such as lack of penetration of wells and well logs, for locating ROZs has limited development of their resource potential when compared to known fields.

This paper presents a probabilistic methodology for identifying and evaluating ROZ resources for CO2-EOR and CO2 sequestration potential with the use of public and proprietary data sources. The methodology was developed during a pilot study that focused on the ROZ in the San Andres Formation of a nine-county area in the Permian Basin in West Texas. The pilot study estimated a mean oil in place of 25 × 109 barrels (bbl) of oil and a mean potential incremental oil recovery and CO2 utilization of 2.6 × 109 bbl and 28.2 Tcf (1.46 × 109 tons), respectively, with 1 hydrocarbon pore volume (HCPV) of injection using the water alternating gas (WAG) method. The results of this pilot study are consistent with reported volumes in the literature for a similar area in the Permian Basin. The pilot study demonstrated that this methodology could be used to identify and assess the recoverable oil and coincident CO2 storage volumes of ROZs in other formations and regions.

Publication Year 2023
Title A residual oil zone (ROZ) assessment methodology with application to the central basin platform (Permian Basin, USA) for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and long-term geologic CO2 storage
DOI 10.1016/j.geoen.2023.212275
Authors C. Özgen Karacan, Sean T. Brennan, Marc L. Buursink, Philip A. Freeman, Celeste D. Lohr, Matthew D. Merrill, Ricardo A. Olea, Peter D. Warwick
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geoenergy Science and Engineering
Index ID 70247939
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Energy & Minerals Science Center