Descriptive Statistical Analysis of Experimental Data for Wettability Alteration with Surfactants in Carbonate Reservoirs


Surfactants have been the widely used agents to alter the wettability of carbonate rocks to more water-wet and enhanced oil recovery (EOR). As one of major EOR methods, an effective surfactant huff-puff application design requires comprehensive guidelines about where, how, and when this method could be applied. In order to construct such guidelines, a dataset including 338 effective surfactant imbibition tests is established by collecting information from nearly 50 publications. Based on this dataset, descriptive statistical analysis methods are used to conduct data analysis, including three main parts. The first part establishes the application guidelines for surfactant huff-puff treatments which displays suitable application ranges of critical parameters regarding rock, oil, and water. Results show that surfactants can be effectively applied in wide ranges: porosity from 3.1 to 51.7%, permeability from 0.04 to 1458 mD, starting oil saturation from 37.7 to 100%, temperature from 20 to 100 °C, average contact angle from 55 to 180°, oil gravity from 22 to 75.2 °API, oil viscosity from 0.3 to 23 cp, acid number from 0 to 4.5 mg KOH/g oil, base number from 0 to 1.83 mg KOH/g oil, asphaltene concentration from 0 to 10.7 wt%, salinity of connate water and imbibition water from 0 to 263.7 g/l, divalent cations concentration of connate water and imbibition water from 0 to 24.6 g/l. The second part discusses several aspects about design of surfactant huff-puff treatments. Results show that anionic, cationic, and nonionic surfactants have been applied in 83% of tests. Among them is cationic surfactants which have the most frequency. Surfactant concentration is suggested to be remained close or above a critical concentration to obtain the best performance. It is shown that 97% of tests are conducted with surfactant concentration less than 2.0 wt%. In addition, blends of different surfactants and usage of additives could enhance the effectiveness of surfactants. The last part evaluates the performance of surfactant imbibition tests. Results show that surfactants are capable to improve oil recovery either from secondary phase or tertiary phase. In general, the range of oil recovery from secondary phase and tertiary phase are similar, which covers from 1.0 to 93%. However, the average oil recovery from secondary phase is 39.1% which is higher than 32.2% from tertiary phase. Based on this, it is recommended that the treatment timing should be considered in the design of treatments.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Application Guidelines; Carbonate Reservoirs; Data Analysis; Surfactants; Wettability Alteration

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Article - Journal

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Publication Date

15 Feb 2022