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Phys. chem & Analysis

Improving our models through an in-depth understanding of the physical and chemical interactions that take place between hydrocarbons, water and solids, from the reservoir right up to production. The aim is to optimize the cost-effectiveness of current processes, and create innovative designs for use in Exploration & Production (reservoir, wells, production in surface lines and networks — flow assurance) and for the Group’s other branches.

PERL Physical Chemistry and Analysis
Screening of surfactants for use in water/oil microemulsion formulations.

Screening of surfactants for use in
water/oil microemulsion formulations

EXPERTISE

PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY OF INTERFACES
The dominant focus of activities is liquid/liquid interfaces (management of emulsions, scale, corrosion, and formulation of surfactants for CEOR, demulsifiers, marine dispersants for oil spill response applications, etc.), with additional research on solid/liquid interfaces (rock wettability, corrosion inhibitor mechanisms) and liquid/gas interfaces (injection of gas and CO2 in reservoirs, well productivity, riser stability and multiphase transport).

POLYMERS IN SOLUTION
Development of polymers designed to increase the viscosity of injection water to optimize sweep efficiency in the reservoir and boost hydrocarbon recovery.

DEVELOPMENT OF STATE-OF-THE-ART TECHNICAL ANALYSES
For example, for the analysis of polymers in solution and the identification and quantification of species contained in water, oil and at interfaces that affect interfacial equilibria of complex multiphase samples.

EXPERIMENTAL RESOURCES

MICROMODELS
Built in-house based on the NOA (Norland Optical Adhesive) technology developed at ESPCI-ParisTech or on sintered silicon beads to visualize fluid flow dynamics at micrometer scale.
Coupling physical measurements and image analyses produces physical models representative of the phenomena observed.

PILOTS
Monitoring of liquid/liquid separation (up to a maximum flow rate of 9,000 l/h), preparation of polymers in solution, creation of reconstituted produced water as feed for water-treatment pilots, etc.

TEST BENCHES FOR WATERFLOODING IN POROUS MEDIA AND SPECIAL EQUIPMENT
Tensiometers to measure interaction energies at interfaces, advanced rheometers fitted with original equipment for the study of polymers in solution, micro-emulsions, wax deposits; microscopy and image analysis techniques, pressure cells for working with CO2, etc.

Microfluid system to visualize physical phenomena at pore scale

Microfluid system to visualize physical phenomena at pore scale

KEY COLLABORATIONS

EOR

  • CNRS (PIC laboratory)
  • ESPCI
  • University of Austin
  • University Pierre and Marie Curie
  • ENS of Lyon

FLOW ASSURANCE

  • CNRS (PIC laboratory)
  • ESPCI
  • Trondheim University of Science and Technology (NTNU, Norway)
  • University of Pau et des Pays de l'Adour (UPPA)
  • University Pierre and Marie Curie

FROM THE MOLECULE TO THE FIELD

The involvement of the PERL's physical chemists in the development of new chemical-based applications goes well beyond the selection or development of molecules. Alongside the other E&P entities concerned, they take care of designing and executing a workflow that maps out the progressive upscaling of tests as well as designing the pilot in the field.

Even when formulating new molecules, the researchers of the R&D team are already fully aware of the constraints of the target reservoir or site chosen to host a pilot study. This integrated process, from the laboratory to the field operators in our affiliates, was one of the keys to the success of the single-well C-EOR demonstration pilot at ABK (Abu Dhabi).

The injection of surfactants formulated and patented by the PERL to withstand the high salinity of the field’s carbonate reservoirs resulted in an incremental recovery of approximately 35% in the near wellbore area. This success story then led to the kick-off of studies to apply this technology to various projects in Russia and the Middle East.

THE PIC, A JOINT LABORATORY WITH THE ESPCI

Handling polymers in a glovebox with 0 ppb of oxygen
Handling polymers in a glovebox with 0 ppb of oxygen

Handling polymers in a glovebox with 0 ppb of oxygen

The PERL’s physical chemists and the specialists at ESPCI share a long-standing history of numerous and fruitful collaborative partnerships.
Established in 2015, a joint laboratory dedicated to the physical chemistry of complex interfaces (known by the French acronym PIC, for Physico-chimie des Interfaces Complexes) reflects their mutual interest in strengthening the bonds between fundamental science and applied research.
At stake is an understanding of the uniquely complex phenomena at play at the interfaces between oil/water and solids (porous reservoir media)/fluids (namely oil or water).

Advancing our fundamental knowledge will contribute to the momentum of our cross-functional R&D effort, which spans from the reservoir to the surface, thus enhancing our expertise in areas decisive for the future of the oil and gas industry. In particular, the laboratory will be focusing on: CO2 storage, managing the properties of foams using surfactants, filtration in multiphase systems (water treatment, re-injection of water, algae, etc.).