Oil recovery by low salinity waterflooding in secondary and tertiary modes was investigated in the present study. Cores from Berea outcrop sandstone and Minnelusa reservoir sandstone were used in the single phase and two phase experiments. Two types of Minnelusa crude oils were used in the two phase experiments. The single phase experiments provided the baseline for pH and pressure changes in the two phase experiments.
Set of experiments were performed by using low salinity brine for the tertiary waterflood recovery method where oil saturated cores were first flooded with high salinity brine to simulate the secondary recovery method. In the second set of experiments, oil saturated cores were directly flooded with the low salinity brine. Conductivity and pH analysis of effluent brines were performed in all the single phase and two phase experiments.
Increase in oil recovery with low salinity brine as the invading brine was observed in both secondary and tertiary modes (28% OOIP) with Berea sandstone. However, higher oil recoveries (5-8% OOIP) were observed when low salinity waterflooding was implemented as a secondary recovery method. Minnelusa reservoir cores had little to no response to low salinity brine when it was used as a tertiary recovery method. However, Minnelusa cores showed an increase in oil recovery (10-22 % OOIP) with both types of crude oils when it was used as a secondary recovery method. An increase in pH of the effluent brine was observed during the low salinity brine injection in both Minnelusa and Berea cores. However, magnitude of the pH increase was smaller with the Minnelusa cores compared to Berea cores.
The level of investigation into the mechanism of low salinity incremental production has sharply increased in the past two years. Most of the studies focus on core floods using the tertiary mode. Our work contributes systematic coupled secondary and tertiary mode experiments that offer an expanded dataset for all researchers to use in investigation of the mechanisms.