Enhancing surfactant desorption through low salinity water post-flush during Enhanced Oil Recovery



Low Salinity Water (LSW) incorporates in surfactant Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) as a pre-flush is a common practice aiming to reduce the formation salinity, which affects surfactant adsorption. However, in a field implementation, the adsorption of surfactant is unavoidable, so creating a scheme that detaches the trapped surfactant is equally essential. In this study, LSW was a candidate to enhance the desorption of surfactant. LSW solely formulated from NaCl (1 wt.%), Sodium Dodecylbenzene Sulfonate (SDBS) was chosen as the primary surfactant at its critical micelle concentration (CMC, 0.1 wt.%).

It found that injecting LSW as post-flush achieved up to 71.7% of SDBS desorption that lower interfacial tension against oil (31.06 API) to 1.3 mN/m hence bring the total Recovery Factor (RF) to 56.1%. It was 4.9% higher than when LSW injecting as pre-flush and 5.2% greater than conventional surfactant flooding (without LSW). Chemical analysis unveiled salinity reduction induces Na+ ion adsorption substitution onto pore surface resulting in an increment in surfactant desorption. The study was further conducted in a numerical simulation upon history matched with core-flood data reported previously. By introducing LSW in post-flush after SDBS injection, up to 5.6% RF increased in comparison to other schemes. The proposed scheme resolved the problems of adsorbed surfactant after EOR, and further improve the economic viability of surfactant EOR.