Waterflooding recovers little oil from fractured carbonate reservoirs, if they are oil-wet or mixed-wet. Surfactant-aided gravity drainage has the potential to achieve significant oil recovery by wettability alteration and interfacial tension (IFT) reduction. The goal of this work is to investigate the mechanisms of wettability alteration by crude oil components and surfactants. Contact angles are measured on mineral plates treated with crude oils, crude oil components, and surfactants. Mineral surfaces are also studied by atomic force microscopy (AFM). Surfactant solution imbibition into parallel plates filled with a crude oil is investigated. Wettability of the plates is studied before and after imbibition. Results show that wettability is controlled by the adsorption of asphaltenes. Anionic surfactants can remove these adsorbed components from the mineral surface and induce preferential water wettability. Anionic surfactants studied can imbibe water into initially oil-wet parallel plate assemblies faster than the cationic surfactant studied.

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