It is widely recognized that the determination of the amount and distribution of residual oil saturation (Sorw) is a significant factor in managing ongoing waterflooding and the selection of EOR methods that are applicable and economically suitable for oil reservoirs. Laboratory core flooding tests are often used to estimate the amount of Sorw. The same core samples are then usually subjected to EOR flooding experiments to estimate the extra amount of oil that can be recovered with the specific EOR option. Failure to accurately determine Sorw will lead to wrong estimates of recovery factor of both waterflooding and the subsequent EOR methods.

Significant amount of data is available in the literature on determining Sorw and on the critical capillary or bond number to mobilize Sorw. However, most of the data are measured on sandstone rock and for water-wet conditions. In this study the focus is on 1- determination of Sorw in the laboratory for carbonate reservoirs, 2- The factors that affect Sorw, including capillary end effect, capillary and Bond numbers, initial oil saturation, rock permeability, rock heterogeneity and experimental techniques and 3- The use of numerical simulation as tool to aid proper interpretation of laboratory experiments.

The main conclusions of the study are: 1- Performing the water flooding experiments at reservoir rates of ~1 ft/d will lead to overestimation of Sorw as the data can be dominated by capillary end effect; 2- The relative contribution of capillary end effect increases as the permeability increases especially for heterogeneous carbonate rocks; 3- There is no correlation between Sorw and rock permeability or porosity for the case understudy; 4- The critical capillary or bond number of non-water-wet carbonates is much higher than those reported in the literature for water-wet sandstone; thus experiments can be performed at higher rates than those expected in the field without the risk of de-saturation of Sorw and 5- Once an equilibrium between capillary and viscous (or gravity) forces is established, the remaining oil saturation is independent of the number of pore volumes injected.

The data presented in this paper has significant impact on the design of any subsequent EOR process. It shows that the EOR target (after waterflood) is significantly reduced if the measurements are performed using high rates (or high centrifuge speed) to overcome capillary end effect. Moreover, for non-water wet rock surfactant flooding will require much higher reduction in IFT to mobilize residual oil saturation than for water-wet rocks.

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