Effect of ionic strength in low salinity water injection processes
Low salinity water injection has been frequently studied as an enhanced oil recovery process (EOR), mainly due to promising experimental results and because operational needs are not very different from those of the conventional water injection. However, there is no agreement on the mechanisms involved in increasing the displacement of crude oil, except for the effects of wettability changes. Water injection is the oil recovery method mostly used, and considering the characteristics of Colombian oil fields, this study analyses the effect of modifying the ionic composition of the waters involved in the process, starting from the concept of ionic strength (IS) in sandstone type rocks.
The experimental plan for this research includes the evaluation of spontaneous imbibition (SI), contact angles, and displacement efficiencies in Berea core plugs. Interfacial tension and pH measurements were also carried out. The initial scenario consists in formation water (FW), with a total concentration of 9,800 ppm (TDS) (IS ~ 0.17) and a 27 °API crude oil. Magnesium and Calcium brine were also used in a first approach to assess the effect of the divalent ions.
Displacement efficiency tests are performed using IS of 0.17, 0.08, and 0.05, as secondary and tertiary oil recovery and the recovery of oil increases in both scenarios. Spontaneous imbibition curves and contact angle measurements show variations as a function of the ionic strength, validating the displacement efficiencies.
Interfacial tension and pH collected data evidence that fluid/fluid interactions occur due to ionic strength modifications. However, as per the conditions of this research, fluid/fluid mechanisms are not as determining as fluid/rock.
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