Shale swelling during drilling is attributed to osmotic pressure, where low-salinity water enters the shale pores to cause swelling. Low-salinity water injected into high-salinity Bakken formation could similarly enter the matrix pores to displace oil by counter-current flow observed in core experiments. As a result, we believe, low-salinity water can potentially enhance oil recovery from oil-wet Bakken formation.
In this paper, we report experimental and numerical modeling studies we conducted to evaluate the potential of low- salinity waterflooding in Bakken. For laboratory experiments, we used horizontal core plugs drilled parallel to the bedding plane.
The mathematical included osmotic pressure, gravity and capillary effects. In the mathematical model, the osmotic pressure mass transfer equations were calibrated by matching time-dependent salinities in a published laboratory osmotic pressure experiment. We also modeled oil recovery for a Bakken core using our osmotic pressure mass transport model. The results indicate that osmotic pressure promotes counter-current flow of oil from both the water-wet and oil-wet segments of the core.