Amino Acid as a Novel Wettability Modifier for Enhanced Waterflooding in Carbonate Reservoirs
- Ricardo A. Lara Orozco (University of Texas at Austin) | Gayan A. Abeykoon (University of Texas at Austin) | Mingyuan Wang (University of Texas at Austin) | Francisco Arguelles-Vivas (University of Texas at Austin) | Ryosuke Okuno (University of Texas at Austin) | Larry W. Lake (University of Texas at Austin) | Subhash C. Ayirala (Saudi Aramco) | Abdulkareem M. AlSofi (Saudi Aramco)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering
- Publication Date
- May 2020
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 741 - 757
- 2020.Society of Petroleum Engineers
- wettability alteration, waterflooding, low-salinity waterflooding, carbonate reservoirs, amino acids
- 30 in the last 30 days
- 139 since 2007
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Reservoir wettability plays an important role in waterflooding, especially in fractured carbonate reservoirs since oil recovery from the rock matrix is inefficient because of their mixed wettability. This paper presents the first investigation of amino acids as wettability modifiers that increase waterflooding oil recovery in carbonate reservoirs.
All experiments used a heavy-oil sample taken from a carbonate reservoir. Two amino acids were tested, glycine and ß-alanine. Contact angle experiments with oil-aged calcite were conducted at room temperature with deionized (DI) water, and then at 368 K with three saline solutions: 243 571-mg/L salinity formation brine (FB), 68 975-mg/L salinity injection brine 1 (IB1), and 6898-mg/L salinity injection brine 2 (IB2). IB2 was made by dilution of IB1.
The contact angle experiment with 5-wt% glycine solution in FB (FB-Gly5) resulted in an average contact angle of 50°, in comparison to 130° with FB, at 368 K. Some of the oil droplets were completely detached from the calcite surface within a few days. In contrast, the ß-alanine solutions were not effective in wettability alteration of oil-aged calcite with the brines tested at 368 K.
Glycine was further studied in spontaneous and forced imbibition experiments with oil-aged Indiana limestone cores at 368 K using IB2 and three solutions of 5 wt% glycine in FB, IB1, and IB2 (FB-Gly5, IB1-Gly5, and IB2-Gly5). The oil recovery factors from the imbibition experiments gave the Amott index to water as follows: 0.65 for FB-Gly5, 0.59 for IB1-Gly5, 0.61 for IB2-Gly5, and 0.33 for IB2. This indicates a clear, positive impact of glycine on wettability alteration of the Indiana limestone cores tested.
Two possible mechanisms were explained for glycine to enhance the spontaneous imbibition in oil-wet carbonate rocks. The primary mechanism is that the glycine solution weakens the interaction between polar oil components and positively charged rock surfaces when the solution pH is between glycine’s isoelectric point (pI) and the surface’s point of zero charge (pzc). The secondary mechanism is that the addition of glycine tends to decrease the solution pH slightly, which in turn changes the carbonate wettability in brines to a less oil-wet state.
The amino acids tested in this research are nontoxic and commercially available at relatively low cost. The results suggest a new method of enhancing waterflooding, for which the novel mechanism of wettability alteration involves the interplay between amino acid pI, solution’s pH, and rock’s pzc.
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