Fractures and oil-wet conditions significantly limit oil recovery in carbonate reservoirs. Gel treatment has been applied in injector wells to modify the prevailing reservoir streamlines and significantly reduce fracture permeability, whereas low-salinity waterflooding has been applied experimentally to modify rock wettability toward water-wet for improved oil recovery. However, both processes have limitations that cannot be resolved using a single method. The objective of this study was to test whether low-salinity water could enable gel particles to move deeply into fractures to efficiently increase oil recovery and control water production. A semitransparent fracture model of carbonate cores and acrylic plates was built to study the effect of low-salinity waterflooding, fracture width, gel-injection volume, and fracture uniformity on oil recovery and to redirect the flow path to unswept zones. Preformed partial gel (PPG) and brine movements were visible through the model's transparent acrylic plate. Seawater was used for brine flooding and to prepare swollen particles; the seawater was diluted 100 times to create low-salinity water. A light crude oil was used, with 10-cp viscosity. Low-salinity water was injected after gel placement to test the gel-plugging efficiency. The results showed that the low-salinity water could improve gel propagation into the fracture and increase oil recovery because the gel strength (apparent viscosity) decreased as the brine concentration decreased. The gel-injection volume had a significant effect on the oil-recovery factor when seawater flooding followed the gel-injection process, although there was less of an effect when the gel was followed by low-salinity waterflooding. Moreover, the effect of low-salinity waterflooding on gel propagation decreased as the fracture width decreased. In addition, the resulting fracture uniformity illustrates a viable effect of the in-depth water-diversion treatment.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Carbonation; Crude oil; Flood control; Floods; Fracture; Low permeability reservoirs; Petroleum reservoir engineering; Seawater effects; Viscosity; Water treatment, Apparent viscosity; Brine concentration; Carbonate reservoir; Fracture permeability; Fractured carbonates; Improved oil recovery; Injection process; Low-salinity water, Oil well flooding, carbonate rock; enhanced oil recovery; fracture; numerical model; performance assessment; reservoir; salinity; steam injection; wettability

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

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© 2019 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Feb 2019