Low sa linity waterflooding (LSF) research has been gaining more momentum in recent years for both sandstone and carbonate reservoirs. Published laboratory data and field tests have shown an increase in oil recovery by changing injected brine salinity, especially for sandstone reservoirs. It is widely accepted that low salinity water alters the wettability of the reservoir rock from less to more water-wet conditions, oil is then released from rock surfaces and recovery is increased. The main objectives of the current study are to: test the potential of increasing oil recovery by LSF of a carbonate reservoir and to investigate the factors that control it. The impact of LSF on oil recovery was investigated by conducting coreflood and spontaneous imbibition experiments at 70 oC using core samples from a carbonate reservoir, crude oil and synthetic brine (194,450 ppm) which was mixed with distilled water in four proportions twice, 5 times, 10 times and 100 times dilution brines. Moreover, both crude oil/brine interfacial tension measurements (IFT) and ionic exchange experiments were carried out at room temperature (25 oC).
The results of the study show higher oil recovery as a result of reducing injected water salinity in both coreflood and spontaneous imbibition experiments. Coreflood experiments showed an increase in oil recovery by 3 to 5 % of OOIP, while spontaneous imbibition experiments showed an increased by 16 to 21 %. Additionally, spontaneous imbibition experiments provide direct evidence of wettability change by the LSF. The study also shows that the increase in oil recovery was obtained at much higher water salinity than the one observed in the case of sandstone rock.