A Review of Wettability Alteration using Surfactants in Carbonate Reservoirs


The wettability of carbonate rocks is often oil-wet or mixed wet. A large fraction of oil is still remained in carbonate reservoirs, it is therefore of particular significance to implement effective methods to improve oil recovery from carbonate reservoirs. Altering wettability from oil-wet to more favorable water-wet has been proven successful to achieve this goal. Surfactants are widely investigated and served as wettability modifiers in this process. Yet a comprehensive review of altering wettability of carbonate reservoirs with surfactants is ignored in literature. This study begins with illustration of wettability evolution process in carbonate reservoirs. Techniques to evaluate wettability alteration extent or to reveal behind mechanisms are also presented. Several surfactant systems are analyzed in terms of their wettability alteration mechanisms, influential factors of performance, applicable conditions, and limitations. Mixture of different types of surfactants could obtain synergic effects, where applicable conditions are extended, and final performance is improved. Gemini surfactants have many desirable properties, which warrants further investigation for understanding their wettability alteration mechanisms and performance. At the end, this review discusses strategies related with surfactant cost, surfactant adsorption, and challenges at high temperature, high salinity reservoirs conditions. Also, some unclear issues are discussed.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Carbonate Reservoirs; Enhanced Oil Recovery; Surfactants; Wettability Alteration

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Document Type

Article - Journal

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© 2021 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Aug 2021