Low-Salinity Water, CO₂, Alkaline, and Surfactant EOR Methods Applied to Heavy Oil in Sandstone Cores


Generally, injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) into oil reservoirs is an effective enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technique that improves oil recovery, but injecting CO2 alone can be compromised by problems, such as early breakthrough, viscous fingering, and gravity override. The base CO2 injection method was improved by water-altemating-gas (WAG) injection with formation water (FW) and with low-salinity (LS) water (LSW), with LSW WAG achieving greater recover)' than WAG with FW.

This study investigates various combinations of standard waterflooding (with FW); flooding with nonmiscible gaseous CO2; WAG with CO2 and FW and/or LSW; foam flooding by adding a surfactant with CO2; adding an alkaline treatment step; and finally adding an LSW spacer between the alkaline step and the foam. These various EOR combinations were tested on Bartlesville sandstone cores (Ø of approximately 12%, K of approximately 20 md) saturated with a heavy oil diluted slightly with 10% heptane for workability. The ultimate outcome from this work is a "recipe" of EOR methods in combination that uses alkaline, LSW, surfactant, and CO2 steps to achieve recovery of more than 63% of the oil originally in place (OOIP) in coreflooding tests.

Combining CO2 injection with surfactant [sodium dodecyl sulfonate (SDS)] to produce a foam resulted in better recover)' than the WAG methods. Adding alkaline as a leading step appeared to precipitate the surfactant and lower recovery somewhat. Adding an LSW spacer between the alkaline treatment and the foam resulted in a dramatic increase in recovery. The various cases of alkaline + LSW spacer + surfactant + CO2 (each with various concentrations of alkaline and surfactant) achieved an average improvement of 7.71% of OOIP over the identical case(s) without the LSW spacer. The synergistic effect of the LSW spacer was remarkable.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2020 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2020