In recent years, low salinity flooding has attracted significant attention as a new method for improving/enhancing oil recovery for both sandstone and carbonate reservoirs. Extensive laboratory experiments investigating the effect of low salinity injection are available in the literature, which show a wide range of responses in the extra oil recovery, ranging from 0 to more than 20%. In this paper, we report experimental programs performed using cores and fluids from several reservoirs in Abu Dhabi with the objective of quantifying low salinity effect in both secondary and tertiary modes and to establish a procedure to screen reservoirs for their suitability for low salinity waterflooding.
To quantify the low salinity effect, multi-rate unsteady state flooding experiments have been performed in both secondary and tertiary mode using reservoir fluids and core material at reservoir conditions of 120 C and 4000 psi. All core floods were performed using 30 cm long and 2 inch diameter core samples. In addition, fluid-fluid interaction experiments were performed using fluids from more than 20 carbonate reservoirs in Abu Dhabi. The fluid-fluid experiments were performed to measure the water in oil micro-dispersion formed upon contacting crude oil with both formation water and low salinity water in order to screen ADNOC's oil reservoirs for suitability for low salinity waterflooding.
The fluid-fluid interaction experiments showed that a number of crude oil samples from carbonate reservoirs in Abu Dhabi were able to create micro-dispersion upon contact with low salinity water. These crude oils are called positive crudes in this paper. On the other hand, several crude oil samples did not show micro-dispersion upon contact with the same low salinity water, hence they are referred to as negative crude oils. Two positive crude oils and two negative crude oils have been used in the flooding experiments. The main conclusions of the study are: 1- The flooding experiments using positive crude oil samples have led to extra oil recovery upon injecting low salinity water, while the negative crude oil resulted in either no or little extra recovery, 2- The data base developed in this study is used for screening ADNOC's oil reservoirs for low salinity waterflooding based on fluid-fluid interaction and shows a significant potential of this promising EOR technology for carbonate reservoirs, and 3- The flooding experiments show up to 6.5% extra recovery in tertiary mode and up to 12.5% extra recovery in secondary mode.
The study presented in this paper demonstrates that the use of fluid-fluid interaction experiments and measuring the creation of micro-dispersion upon contacting crude oil with low salinity is a robust screening method for low salinity water flooding. Moreover, this screening method can lead to significant saving in both time and cost of running low salinity flooding experiments.