Low Salinity Waterflooding (LSF) is an emerging IOR/EOR technology that can improve oil recovery efficiency by lowering the injection water salinity. Field scale incremental oil recoveries are estimated to be up to 6% STOIIP. Being a natural extension of conventional waterflooding (WF), LSF is easier to implement than other EOR methods. However, the processes of screening, designing and executing LSF projects require an increased operator competence and management focus compared to conventional waterflooding. This paper discusses the practical aspects of deploying LSF in fields, focusing on the maturation stages, while highlighting the key success factors.
LSF deployment starts with a portfolio screening against specific surface and subsurface screening criteria to prioritize opportunities. Next, the identified opportunities are run through reservoir conditions SCAL tests to quantify the LSF benefits, while de-risking the potential for any injectivity loss due to clay swelling or deflocculation. Standardized LSF SCAL protocols have been incorporated into the general WF guidelines, so that any suitable new WF project conducts LSF SCAL. For mature waterfloods, this SCAL program provides additional reservoir condition relative permeability data, enabling operating units to optimize well and reservoir management (WRM). The next steps in the process are production forecasting, facilities design, and project economics for the LSF opportunity. The multidisciplinary nature of LSF deployment requires integrated (sub)surface technology teams closely collaborating with R&D and asset teams. The standardization of the facilities design, including cost models, can significantly accelerate the deployment effort.
In Shell, LSF is currently at different stages of deployment around the world and across the whole spectrum of WF projects, from the rejuvenation of brown fields to green field developments (offshore and onshore). The LSF deployment effort is combined with the screening of other EOR technologies, to identify where LSF may be able to unlock additional value by creating the appropriate conditions for subsequent chemical flooding.