Microscopic Scale Study of Individual Water Ion Interactions at Complex Crude Oil-Water Interface: A New SmartWater Flood Recovery Mechanism
- S. C. Ayirala (Saudi Aramco) | S. H. Saleh (Saudi Aramco) | A. A. Yousef (Saudi Aramco)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Improved Oil Recovery Conference, 11-13 April, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2016. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.8 Unconventional and Complex Reservoirs, 5 Reservoir Desciption & Dynamics, 5.8.7 Carbonate Reservoir, 4.3.4 Scale
- Recovery mechanism, Viscoelasticity, SmartWater flood, Oil-water interface, Surface potential
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SmartWater flooding through injection of chemistry optimized waters by tuning individual ions is recently getting more attention in the industry for improved oil recovery in carbonate reservoirs. Most of the research studies described so far in this area have been limited to studying the interactions at rock-fluids interfaces by measuring contact angles, zeta potential, and adhesion forces. The other widely reported interfacial tension data at oil-water interfaces do not consider the formation of interfacial monolayer and the interfacial tension is estimated as an average parameter relying on the properties of two individual bulk phases. As a result, such measurements have serious shortcomings to provide any details on complex microscopic scale interactions occurring directly at the interface between crude oil and water to understand the SmartWater flood recovery mechanism.
In this study, two novel interfacial instruments of interfacial shear rheometer and surface potential sensor were used to study microscopic scale interactions of various individual water ions at both air-water and complex crude oil-water interfaces. The measured interfacial rheology data indicated totally different interfacial behavior at crude oil-water interface when compared to air-water interface due to presence of crude oil functional groups. Viscous dominated response was observed at crude oil-water interface for all brine compositions. These interfaces behaved like a viscous fluid without exhibiting viscoelastic solid like properties. Lower interfacial viscous modulus was observed for certain key ions such as calcium, magnesium, and sodium. The interfacial viscous modulus was found to be substantially much higher for sulfates, besides exhibiting some elasticity. The surface potential was gradually decreased by replacing seawater with calcium only brine. The better surface activity with seawater can be attributed to adsorption of more key water ions at the surface.
The interesting results observed with certain water ions at fluid-fluid interfaces are expected to work in tandem with rock-fluids interactions to impact oil recovery in SmartWater flood. At first, they play a role to control the accessibility of active water ions to approach the rock surface, interact with it and subsequently alter wettability. Next oil droplets adhering to the rock surface will be detached and released due to favorable interactions occurring at rock-fluids interfaces. The interfacial film between oil and water can then quickly be destabilized due to less viscous interfaces observed with certain ions to promote drop-drop coalescence and easy mobilization of released oil droplets. This coalescence process is sequential and it would continue until the formation of small oil bank.
This is the first study that showed added importance of fluid-fluid interactions in SmartWater flood by using direct measurements on individual water ions at crude oil-water interface. In addition, a new oil recovery mechanism was proposed by combining both the interactions occurring at fluid-fluid and rock-fluids interfaces. The new fundamental knowledge gained in this study will provide an important guidance on how to synergize water ion interactions at fluid-fluid interfaces with those at rock-fluids interfaces to optimize oil recovery from SmartWater flood.
|File Size||2 MB||Number of Pages||18|
Zhang, Y. and Sarma, H., "Improving Waterflood Recovery Efficiency in Carbonate Reservoirs through Salinity Variations and Ion Exchanges: A Promising Low Cost Smart Water Flood Approach," Paper SPE 161631 presented at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, Abu Dhabi, UAE, 11-14 Nov., 2012.