Reservoir wettability plays an important role in various oil recovery processes. The origin and evolution of reservoir wettability were critically reviewed to better understand the complexity of wettability due to interactions in crude oil-brine-rock system, with introduction of different wetting states and their influence on fluid distribution in pore spaces. The effect of wettability on oil recovery of waterflooding was then summarized from past and recent research to emphasize the importance of wettability in oil displacement by brine. The mechanism of wettability alteration by different surfactants in both carbonate and sandstone reservoirs was analyzed, concerning their distinct surface chemistry, and different interaction patterns of surfactants with components on rock surface. Other concerns such as the combined effect of wettability alteration and interfacial tension (IFT) reduction on the imbibition process was also taken into account. Generally, surfactant induced wettability alteration for enhanced oil recovery is still in the stage of laboratory investigation. The successful application of this technique relies on a comprehensive survey of target reservoir conditions, and could be expected especially in low permeability fractured reservoirs and forced imbibition process.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR); Reservoir; Surfactant; Wettability Alteration

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2011 China University of Petroleum Beijing, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Dec 2011

Included in

Geology Commons