Alkaline-Surfactant-Polymer (ASP) flooding is potentially the most efficient chemical EOR methods. It yields extremely high incremental recovery factors in excess of 95% of residual oil for water flooding. The current opinion is that such extremely high recoveries can only be achieved at optimum salinity conditions, i.e. for the Winsor type III micro-emulsion phase characterized by an ultra-low interfacial tension (IFT). This represents a serious limitation since several factors including alkali-rock interaction, initial state of reservoir water and salinity of injected water may shift the ASP flood design to either under or over optimum conditions.
A recent experimental study of ASP floods, based on a single internal olefin sulfonate (IOS), in natural sandstone cores varying salinity from under-optimum to optimum conditions indicated that indeed high recovery factors can be obtained also at under-optimum salinity conditions (see parent paper in this conference by Battistutta et al (2015).
In this paper a mechanistic model is developed to explore the causes behind the observed phenomena.
The numerical simulations were done using the UTCHEM research simulator (University of Texas at Austin) together with the geochemical module EQBATCH. UTCHEM combines multiphase multicomponent simulator with a robust phase behaviour modelling. An excellent match of the numerical simulations with the experiments was obtained for oil cut, cumulative oil recovery, pH profile, surfactant, and carbonate concentration at effluents. The simulations gave additional insight into the propagation of alkali consumption, salinity, surfactant and polymer profiles within the core. The study showed that the initial condition of the core is important in designing an ASP flood. Due to the uncertainties in the various chemical reactions taking place in the formation, an accurate geochemical model is essential for operating the ASP flood at a particular salinity region. Moreover, simulation results demonstrate for the crude oil with considerably low acid number, the ultralow IFT and low surfactant adsorption can be achieved over a wide range of salinities less than optimal salinity. The results provide a basis to perform better modelling of the under-optimum series of experiments and optimizing the design of ASP floods methods for the fields scale with more complicated geochemical condition.