Unlocking the effects of fluid optimization on remaining oil saturation for the combined sulfate-modified water and polymer flooding
Interfacial interactions and wettability alteration remain as the main recovery mechanism when modified water is applied seeking to obtain higher oil recoveries. Fluid-fluid interaction could lead to the development of the called viscoelastic layer at the interface in oil-brine systems. This interfacial layer stabilizes thanks to the slow chemical interaction between oil polar compounds and salts in the brine. This study investigates the role of sulfate presence in injection brine that could possible lead to develop the interfacial viscoelastic layer and hence to contribute to the higher oil recovery. Furthermore, polymer flooding is performed in tertiary mode after brine flood to investigate/unlock the synergies and potential benefits of the hybrid enhanced oil recovery. Brine optimization is performed using the composition of two formation brines and four injection brines. Moreover, interfacial tension measurements and oil drop snap-off volume measurements are performed in parallel with the core flooding experiments to define the role of interfacial viscoelasticity as the recovery mechanism other than wettability alteration. Synthetic seawater spiked with double amount of sulfate depicted potential results of interfacial viscoelastic layer development and hence to contribute the higher oil recovery. Total oil recovery after secondary-mode using sulfate-modified water and tertiary-mode polymer flood was higher than the combination of seawater brine in secondary-mode and polymer flood in tertiary-mode. Nevertheless, experiments helped us concluding that the amount of sulfate added is a critical factor to obtain maximum oil recovery and to avoid pore-plugging problems. We, therefore, demonstrate that executing a detailed fluid optimization leads to promising laboratory results, potentially linked with an improvement in the economics of the field applications.