Direct pore-scale reactive transport modelling of dynamic wettability changes induced by surface complexation.

Maes J, Geiger S, Advances in Water Resources, 10.1016/j.advwatres.2017.10.032. 2017. Link


Laboratory experiments have shown that oil production from sandstone and carbonate reservoirs by waterflooding could be significantly increased by manipulating the composition of the injected water (e.g. by lowering the ionic strength). Recent studies suggest that a change of wettability induced by a change in surface charge is likely to be one of the driving mechanism of the so-called low-salinity effect. In this case, the potential increase of oil recovery during waterflooding at low ionic strength would be strongly impacted by the inter-relations between flow, transport and chemical reaction at the pore-scale. Hence, a new numerical model that includes two-phase flow, solute reactive transport and wettability alteration is implemented based on the Direct Numerical Simulation of the Navier-Stokes equations and surface complexation modelling. Our model is first used to match experimental results of oil droplet detachment from clay patches. We then study the effect of wettability change on the pore-scale displacement for simple 2D calcite micro-models and evaluate the impact of several parameters such as water composition and injected velocity. Finally, we repeat the simulation experiments on a larger and more complex pore geometry representing a carbonate rock. Our simulations highlight two different effects of low-salinity on oil production from carbonate rocks: a smaller number of oil clusters left in the pores after invasion, and a greater number of pores invaded.