After water flooding in carbonate reservoirs, a significant fraction of the original oil as remaining oil is left in the swept zone. The remaining oil in the pore, trapped by viscous and capillary forces, is to target for improved and enhanced oil recovery. The mobilization of remaining oil can be predicted by a dimensionless parameter called capillary number. The interfacial tension and injection flow rate strongly affect the capillary number. Unfortunately, the interrelationship between capillary number, interfacial tension, injection flow rate, and the temperature has been poorly studied for carbonate reservoirs. This paper focuses on studying the remaining oil saturations at different orders of magnitude capillary numbers related to interfacial tension, injection flow rate, and temperature by seawater and surfactant flooding. Several core flooding experiments were performed by changing the injection rate and surfactant concentrations at evaluated conditions.

Four displacement experiments of seawater/oil and surfactant solution/oil were performed using oil-wet carbonate cores to obtain the relationship between the residual oil saturation vs. the capillary number. The surfactant flooding experiments with different concentrations of 0.01 and 0.2 wt% were conducted when the remaining oil saturation was reached after water flooding. Three core flooding experiments were conducted at ambient conditions, and one was under evaluated conditions of a temperature of 100° and pore pressure of 3200 psi. Several injection rates were selected to experiment with a 0.2 wt% surfactant solution, which is to study the effect of injection rate on the capillary number and residual oil saturation.

The experimental findings show that some remaining oil can be recovered from oil-wet carbonate cores if the capillary number increases by a critical Nc =2.1E-05 by surfactant flooding at reservoir conditions. After water flooding, the remaining oil saturation was decreased from 51% to 16% with 0.01wt% surfactant flooding. The reduction of interfacial tension from 6.77dyne/cm to 0.017dyne/cm led to an increased capillary number. It decreased the remaining oil saturation by about 5% OOIP when the capillary number increases three magnitudes. The effect of temperature and injection rate on the capillary number was observed based on experimental displacement results. Compared with results between the ambient and specified conditions, the effect of temperature on the capillary number is significant. Under the same capillary number, the remaining oil recovered by surfactant flooding at HPHT conditions was higher than that at ambient conditions. Also, the effect of the injection flow rate on the capillary number was observed by 0.2wt % surfactant flooding for all experiments. The capillary number increased with an increase in the injection rate for both ambient and evaluated conditions.

This paper provides valuable results to evaluate the interrelationship between remaining oil and capillary numbers by surfactant flooding and design field application for oil-wet carbonate reservoirs.

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