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Shell Chemicals offers a range of ENORDET* surfactants for enhanced oil recovery. These products are being used in pilots around the world to demonstrate the potential of surfactant-based technologies to recover more oil from existing reservoirs.

 

enordet enhanced oil recovery

What is Enhanced Oil Recovery?

When the conventional extraction of oil from a reservoir has been completed, as much as two-thirds of the oil is typically left behind. Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), also known as tertiary recovery, can then be used to get substantially more of the crude oil out of the reservoir.

EOR describes a range of techniques that use steam, gas or water to push the oil out from where it is trapped in the pores of the rock. In the case of water, extraction can be further improved by adding small amounts of detergents and other additives.

Shell Chemicals, with strong cooperation from Shell Upstream, has developed these detergents – and has the required manufacturing capacity to make them. We market the Enhanced Oil Recovery Detergents under the ENORDET name.

 

How do ENORDET products work?

Oil and water don’t mix. That’s why adding water alone to an oil reservoir is never fully effective in extracting the oil. To improve this, chemicals can be added to the water. Three components work together: soda-ash (Alkali), detergent (Surfactant) and a thickener (Polymer). When this ‘ASP’ combination is used, it’s described as chemical EOR (cEOR). The ENORDET surfactants enable the oil and water to mix due to the creation of a so-called ultra-low interfacial tension between the oil and water. The alkali and polymer add to the effectiveness of the process.

 

Shell Chemicals Geismar plant

Why Shell Chemicals?

Shell Chemicals manufactures and sells large volumes of the oil-loving part of the EOR surfactants, known as ‘hydrophobes’. We already sell these materials to some of the world’s largest detergent makers and many other leading global companies.

We make the EOR molecules at our Geismar plant in Louisiana, using existing processes and equipment.

We have substantial manufacturing capability available when it’s needed, offering essential security of supply to our customers. We sell the ‘hydrophobes’ as a raw feedstock for others to further process, or contract a third party to convert them into the finished EOR surfactants.

 

More information

Our ENORDET brochure, available in four languages, offers a wealth of additional information and can be downloaded from the link below. For more information and sample requests, please use the “contact us” link to enter your enquiry.

We offer two  types of dedicated enhanced oil recovery surfactants: alcohol alkoxy sulfates (AAS) and internal olefin sulfonates (IOS). Correct blending of these surfactants allows the (Alkaline) Surfactant Polymer solution to be matched to the reservoir conditions, so achieving optimal oil recovery performance.

The benefits of each surfactant type can be summarised as follows:

EOR Surfactant type benefits

EOR Surfactant type benefits
TYPE BENEFITS
IOS
  • can be used in reservoirs up to approximately 200°C
  • limited tolerance for hard brines, these containing Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions. In blends with AAS surfactants this tolerance may significantly improve, including in sea water.
AAS
  • excellent water hardness tolerance
  • can be used up to 60°C for SP formulations, slightly higher for ASP formulations

Developing  the correct combination of surfactants prevents the formation of viscous micro-emulsions, which may otherwise hamper efficient transport of oil through the reservoir pores and to the producing wells.

Sometimes, the use of a co-solvent (such as IBA or SBA) in combination with ENORDET surfactants can help in reducing micro-emulsion viscosities and so improve the sweep efficiency and ultimate oil recovery.

Key data for ENORDET surfactants

Key data for popular ENORDET surfactants

ENORDETTM
Surfactant type Carbon number chain length
Applicable salinity PO/EO per alcohol unit (mol/mol) Applicable temperature range Di-valent ion tolerance
O242 IOS C20-24 low/med N/A ambient to 200°C limited
O332 IOS C15-18
high N/A ambient to 200°C limited
O342 IOS C19-23 medium N/A ambient to 200°C limited
O352 IOS C24-28 low N/A ambient to 200°C limited
A771 AAS C16-17 low/med 7 PO ambient to ≥ 60°C excellent
A031 AAS C16-17 med/high 3 EO ambient to ≥ 60°C excellent
J771 AAS C12-13 low/med 7 PO ambient to ≥ 60°C excellent
J11111 AAS C12-13 low/med 11 PO ambient to ≥ 60°C excellent
J13131 AAS C12-13 low/med 13 PO ambient to ≥ 60°C excellent
J071 AAS C12-13 very high 7 EO ambient to ≥ 60°C excellent

Notes

  1. IOS: internal olefin sulfonate
  2. AAS: alcohol alkoxy sulfate, or alkyl ether sulfate
  3. Applicable salinity:  the range of salinities where a surfactant can be applied is formulation dependent
  4. Applicable temperature range: for the AAS, up to 60°C for SP formulations, slightly higher for ASP formulations
  5. Di-valent tolerance: effective di-valent ion tolerance is formulation dependent

Concentrated ENORDET surfactants

For large scale commercial application it is preferable to ship concentrated surfactants thus minimising transport costs and reducing storage space. Depending on the concentration and surfactant type, the ENORDET surfactants can range in physical properties from low viscosity liquids to higher viscosity pastes.

To simplify operations in the field, it may be desirable to ship the surfactant system as a concentrated blend rather than ship the single surfactants. This has the advantage of only needing one surfactant storage tank and removes the need for on-site surfactant mixing. An additional benefit is that a combination of IOS and AAS surfactants often results in a lower viscosity liquid, which is easier to handle than a paste. 

enordet samples

We can support you in developing a surfactant formulation for your oil field. For this we would need a crude-oil sample that is representative for your reservoir.

Crude-oil parameters like total acid number (TAN) and viscosity may be taken into account when formulating, as well as brine composition - salinity and hardness. The specific reservoir conditions, such as temperature, permeability and rock type, as well as practical considerations such as the availability of fresh water or softened (saline) water will also need to be discussed.

Additional practical considerations to include are the constraints posed by the location of your field. For example, off-shore locations often have limited storage space, weight and power availability.

Core flood testing using the customer’s crude-oil and brine under the prevailing reservoir conditions can be arranged in cooperation with selected independent laboratories.

Concentrated ENORDET surfactant blends

To simplify operations in the field, it may be preferable to ship the surfactant system as a concentrated blend rather than ship the single surfactants.

In these circumstances, Shell Chemicals can develop a customer-specific, concentrated blend. The parameters to be taken into account will be discussed with you. These can include prevailing climate, storage options, logistic challenges (e.g. off-shore supply), modes of shipment, product unloading and mixing into the water stream. Given the many possibilities, blend development will need to be done in close collaboration with our customer. 

Supply security

Shell Chemicals companies are large volume suppliers of surfactants and surfactant feedstock to major detergent manufacturers. We operate world class production facilities in Geismar, Louisiana (USA) and in Stanlow (UK), that are ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified. By being fully integrated with the ethylene feedstock supply chain, we offer a strong record of reliable supply to our customers.

Logistics

We serve customers globally; products can be shipped using isotanks, railcars and trucks. Smaller quantities, typically for field tests such as single-well test (SWT) or multiple well pilot (MWP), can be arranged in intermediate bulk containers (IBC) or drums.

We work continually to reduce transport costs for our customers by offering more shipping options. Examples of our innovative approach include: high active matter (HAM) liquids and pastes, even more concentrated surfactant powders, and effective means to dilute these concentrates down to the required concentration in the final ASP solution.

Health, Safety, Security & Environment (HSSE)

Shell chemicals companies are committed to complying with all regulations during manufacture, transport, storage and use of our ENORDET surfactant products. HSSE specialists are available to support our customers in meeting their HSSE requirements.

Technical papers

 

 

Shell Chemicals presentations

 
Shell Chemicals Presentations
SPE number Title Date Published by
SPE 169096 Effects of Hardness and Co-surfactant on Phase Behavior of Alcohol-Free Alkyl Propoxylated Sulfate Systems. Presented at the 2014 SPE Improved Oil Recovery Symposium held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.  12-16 April 2014 Shell 
SPE-159620 A New Approach to Deliver Highly Concentrated Surfactants for Chemical Enhanced Oil Recovery. Presented at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition held in San Antonio, Texas, USA 8-10 October 2012 Shell
SPE-154084 Controlled Hydrophobe Branching to Match Surfactant to Crude Oil Composition for Chemical EOR. Presented at the 2012 SPE Improved Oil Recovery Symposium held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA 14-18 April 2012 Shell
SPE-129769-PP Application of Internal Olefin Sulfonates and Other Surfactants to EOR. Part 2: The Design and Execution of an ASP Field Test". Presented at the 2010 SPE Improved Oil Recovery Symposium held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA 24–28 April 2010 Shell
SPE-129766-PP Application of Internal Olefin Sulfonates and Other Surfactants to EOR. Part 1: Structure - Performance Relationships for Selection at Different Reservoir Conditions. Presented at the 2010 SPE Improved Oil Recovery Symposium held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA 24–28 April 2010 Shell
SPE-129675-PP Surfactant systems for EOR for high salinity, high temperature environments. Presented at the 2010 SPE Improved Oil Recovery Symposium held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA 24–28 April 2010 Rice University and Shell
SPE-113314-PP Phase Behaviour Methods for the Evaluation of Surfactants for Chemical Flooding at Higher Temperature Reservoir Conditions. Presented at the SPE Improved Oil Recovery Symposium held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA 19–23 April 2008 Shell and Rice University
SPE-113313-PP Development of Surfactants for Chemical Flooding at Difficult Reservoir Conditions. Presented at the SPE Improved Oil Recovery Symposium held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA 19–23 April 2008 Shell and Rice University
SPE-100089 Identification and Evaluation of High Performance EOR Surfactants. Presented at the 2006 SPE/DOE Improved Oil Recovery Symposium held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA 22-26 April 2006 University of Texas

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