Dynamic investigation of nutrient consumption and injection strategy in microbial enhanced oil recovery (MEOR) by means of large-scale experiments
Microbial enhanced oil recovery (MEOR) depends on the in situ microbial activity to release trapped oil in reservoirs. In practice, undesired consumption is a universal phenomenon but cannot be observed effectively in small-scale physical simulations due to the scale effect. The present paper investigates the dynamics of oil recovery, biomass and nutrient consumption in a series of flooding experiments in a dedicated large-scale sand-pack column. First, control experiments of nutrient transportation with and without microbial consumption were conducted, which characterized the nutrient loss during transportation. Then, a standard microbial flooding experiment was performed recovering additional oil (4.9 % Original Oil in Place, OOIP), during which microbial activity mostly occurred upstream, where oil saturation declined earlier and steeper than downstream in the column. Subsequently, more oil remained downstream due to nutrient shortage. Finally, further research was conducted to enhance the ultimate recovery by optimizing the injection strategy. An extra 3.5 % OOIP was recovered when the nutrients were injected in the middle of the column, and another additional 11.9 % OOIP were recovered by altering the timing of nutrient injection.