Insights into the Role of Clays in Low Salinity Water Flooding in Sand Columns


Clays in sandstone are thought to be a key factor in low salinity (LS) water flooding. This study investigates the effects of quartz, kaolinite and illite in LS water flooding in synthetic sand columns as a function of temperature. Four chromatography columns containing different amounts of pure quartz sand, illite, and kaolinite (100% quartz sand; 95/5% sand/illite; 95/5 sand/kaolinite; and 95/2.5/2.5% sand/illite/kaolinite). The use of these synthetic columns gives full control over mineralogy. These columns were saturated with high salinity (HS) formation water with 0.01 M (M) sodium acetate and aged for a week at 70 °C. They were then flooded with waters (yes, the use of water to displace water) with various salinities at four different temperatures (25, 70, 90 and 120 °C). Effluent concentrations of Ca2+ and acetate (CH3COO) and pH were measured. This is a novel experimental design, where formation water containing sodium acetate is flooded with waters of varying salinity to gain insight into LS flood performance and possible recovery mechanisms. The hypothesis pursued here is that the behavior of the acetate ion (attached to matrix minerals during the aging process and then released due to ionic exchange) in an LS flood would provide a valuable analog that would simulate the bonding of carboxylic acids in crude oils with reservoir matrix minerals (and subsequent desorption during LS flooding). Key results include the following: (a) Our hypothesis was correct--the use of Na acetate behaved analogously to carboxylic acid, giving useful insights; (b) The quartz-only column showed strong evidence (elevated pH, presence of Ca2+ and acetate in effluent) of ionic exchange due to LS flooding, showing that pure quartz is responsive to LS flooding and that clays are not absolutely needed; (c) Quartz plus kaolinite plus illite gave a slightly higher response than pure quartz so clays can play a role. Oil displacement results were also done for a pure quartz sand column, and this showed a strong response to the LS flood, confirming that clays are not absolutely needed.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Enhanced Oil Recovery; Geochemistry; Low salinity Water Flooding; Mechanisms of the Low Salinity Water

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0920-4105; 1873-4715

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2019 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Mar 2019