Pore throat blockage due to fines migration during drilling and completion is one of the leading causes of damage to unconsolidated sandstone reservoirs. Therefore, it is necessary to explore an effective control method for fines migration. Five types of nanoparticles in suspension with aqueous NaCl solutions of six different ionic strengths were chosen. Their ability to control the migration of quartz and kaolinite fines in quartz sand as the porous medium is discussed in this work. Results show that nanoparticles can effectively adsorb and fix fines, thus successfully suppressing their migration. Among these nanoparticles, Al2O3 showed the best performance, and nanoparticle suspensions with higher ionic strengths were preferable. A surface element integration method was used to establish a mathematical model for calculating the interaction energy between the formation fines and the rock pore surface with adsorbed nanoparticles. Through atomic force microscopy and zeta potential measurements, the effect of nanoparticle adsorption on the heterogeneity of the pore surface was analyzed in terms of roughness and electrical properties. The interaction energy between the formation fines and the heterogeneous pore surface was calculated; it revealed the microscopic mechanism of how nanoparticles control fines migration. The results indicated that the nanoparticles form an adsorption layer, which enhances the physical and chemical heterogeneities of the pore surface and provides favorable conditions for the adsorption and fixation of fines. As a result, the interaction energy curves of the fines and the pore surface shift downward, and their repulsive barriers decrease or even disappear, exhibiting higher attractive potential energy. These variations promote adsorption and fixation of fines at the pore surface, as confirmed by the experimental results reported in this work, thus successfully preventing formation damage.

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