Factors confronting the application of surfactant flood in high temperature, high salinity carbonate reservoirs include: high concentration of divalent ions in the formation brine, the stability of the surfactant in high thermal environment, surfactant adsorption on carbonate rock fabrics and the effect of high salinity and brine mineral composition on the multiphase system, typically encountered in carbonate reservoirs. For preliminary screening purposes, thermal stability, salinity tolerance and emulsification characteristics are given importance, while the capacity to alter the wettability of the reservoir rock towards a water-wet system is desired.
Several surfactants were screened based on their abilities to address issues of high thermal environment, high salinity effects and capacity to create a water-wet environment. A series of akyl-polyglucoside (APG) surfactants were studied which are established as eco-friendly, renewable, nontoxic and bio-degradable surfactant and one of them found to be suitable for the target carbonate reservoir. An unique approach adopted during the screening process for thermal stability was the analysis of the UV-visible light absorption profile of the surfactants after subjecting them to reservoir condition for specific periods. The APG showed salinity tolerance up to 263,000 ppm at 220 oF. During phase study divalent ions are seen to have considerable impact on the nature of microemulsion (middle phase). Incremental recovery between 19-15% was observed for surfactant flood after secondary waterflood and spontaneous imbibition of aqueous phase was enhanced in the presence of surfactant solution. The recovery was correlated with microemulsion phase behavior and wettability alteration.