This study focuses on the mechanisms responsible for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) from fractured carbonate reservoirs by surfactant solutions, and methods to screen for effective chemical formulations quickly. One key to this EOR process is the surfactant solution reversing the wetting of the carbonate surfaces from oil-wet to water-wet conditions. This effect allows the aqueous phase to imbibe into the matrix spontaneously and expel oil bypassed by a waterflood.

This study used different naphthenic acids (NA) dissolved in decane as a model oil to render calcite surfaces oil-wet. Because pure compounds are used, trends in wetting behavior can be related to NA molecular structure as measured by solid adsorption, contact angle and a novel, simple flotation test with calcite. Experiments with different surfactants and NA-treated calcite powder provide information about mechanisms responsible for sought after reversal to a water-wet state. Results indicate this flotation and a calcite chip cleaning test are rapid screening tools to identify better EOR surfactants for carbonates.

The study considers the application of surfactants for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) from carbonate reservoirs. This technology provides a new opportunity for EOR, especially for fractured carbonate where waterflood response typically is poor and the matrix is a high oil-saturation target for this process.

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