Wettability Alteration of Carbonates by Optimizing the Brine and Surfactant Composition

Shubham, Agrawal (Texas A&M University at Qatar) | Martavaltzi, Christina (Texas A&M University at Qatar) | Dakik, Ahmad Rafic (Texas A&M University at Qatar) | Gupta, Anuj (Texas A&M University at Qatar)


It is well known that the majority of carbonate reservoirs are neutral to oil-wet. This leads to much lower oil recovery during waterflooding since there is no spontaneous imbibition of water in heterogeneous reservoir displacement. It has been verified by a number of researchers that Adjustment of ion concentration in brine solutions, or adding surfactant solutions can enhance the oil recovery by altering the wettability. In the published literature, contact angle studies usually refer to measurement on calcite crystals and there are no results for the contact angle of carbonate porous media representative of reservoir rocks. Moreover, there are few studies on the effect of non-ionic surfactants, compared to those for ionic surfactants. Understanding the effect of various ions and their concentration in the injection brine on the wettability of the Limestone outcrop core samples is the first step for tailoring of the optimum injection brine. This will be followed by a study of the effect of surfactant on the wettability of calcite crystal samples. The evaluation of the results may provide guidelines for the design of injection brines for efficient enhanced oil recovery from carbonate reservoirs.

In this work, a procedure is established for the measurement of the contact angle on limestone outcrop core samples. Results showed that, at atmospheric conditions, low salinity CaCl2 solution induced the most significant improvement on the wettability of the outcrop sample. Moreover, among all the non-ionic surfactants studied, only the presence of the two first members of the 15S analogous series might lead to a slight decrease of the contact angle.