In a past decade, various nanoparticle experiments have been initiated for improved/enhanced oil recovery (IOR/EOR) project by worldwide petroleum researchers and it has been recognized as a promising agent for IOR/EOR at laboratory scale. A hydrophilic silica nanoparticle with average primary particle size of 7 nm was chosen for this study. Nanofluid was synthesized using synthetic reservoir brine. In this paper, experimental study has been performed to evaluate oil recovery using nanofluid injection onto several water-wet Berea sandstone core plugs.
Three injection schemes associated with nanofluid were performed: 1) nanofluid flooding as secondary recovery process, 2) brine flooding as tertiary recovery processs (following after nanofluid flooding at residual oil saturation), and 3) nanofluid flooding as tertiary recovery process. Interfacial tension (IFT) has been measured using spinning drop method between synthetic oil and brine/nanofluid. It observed that IFT decreased when nanoparticles were introduced to brine.
Compare with brine flooding as secondary recovery, nanofluid flooding almost reach 8% higher oil recovery (% of original oil in place/OOIP) onto Berea cores. The nanofluid also reduced residual oil saturation in the range of 2-13% of pore volume (PV) at core scale. In injection scheme 2, additional oil recovery from brine flooding only reached less than 1% of OOIP. As tertiary recovery, nanofluid flooding reached additional oil recovery of almost 2% of OOIP. The IFT reduction may become a part of recovery mechanism in our studies. The essential results from our experiments showed that nanofluid flooding have more potential in improving oil recovery as secondary recovery compared to tertiary recovery.