The paper presents the development of new surfactant formulations composed of various low-cost and low-performance surfactants to make them high performance products for high temperature and high salinity carbonate reservoirs. The objective of this study is to optimize the surfactant chemistry by mixing different kinds of surfactants (ionic, nonionic, and amphoteric), which results in significant synergistic effects in interfacial properties to improve oil production at the given harsh conditions.

The optimal mixing surfactant ratios were determined according to the brine-surfactant compatibility, microemulsion phase behavior, and the interfacial tension (IFT) between oil and surfactant solutions in high salinity brine and at 90˚C. Comprehensive performance of the surfactants was evaluated, including adsorption of the surfactants onto the carbonate rocks and the long-term stability at 95˚C. The coreflooding displacement experiments were performed using carbonate core plugs at 95˚C to evaluate the potential of the optimal mixing surfactants in improving oil production.

Three formulations composed of two types of low-cost surfactants were developed in this study. The mixing surfactants were chosen based on moderate electrostatic interaction among the surfactants. It appeared the synergistic effect between the mixing surfactants was enhanced with increasing temperature. Although the IFT of the individual surfactants with crude oil was in the range of 100mN/m, a significant IFT reduction in the magnitude of 10−2 - 10−3 mN/m was observed by mixing the surfactants. A salinity scan showed that the IFT values maintained a value of 10−2 mN/m in a wide salinity range, which demonstrated the robustness of the surfactants mixtures. In microemulsion phase behavior studies, these mixed surfactant solutions in the presence of crude oil exhibited Winsor Type III emulsions. The static adsorptions of the mixed surfactants were lower than the individual surfactant adsorption. All this indicated the feasibility of these formulations for their applications in the harsh reservoir conditions. The results of coreflooding displacement tests demonstrated significant oil production improvement beyond water flooding.

This work provides an efficient way to get surfactant formulations by mixing low-performance and low cost surfactants to obtain high performance in improving oil production under the harsh conditions.

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