Potential new oil recovery method field tested

Source: Saudi Aramco

Saudi Aramco’s EXPEC Advanced Research Center has embarked on a strategic research program tagged “SmartWater Flood” to explore the potential of increasing oil recovery from carbonate reservoirs by tuning properties of injection water (e.g., salinity, ionic composition, interfacial tension, and others).

Field tests have been recently completed successfully demonstrating the potential of increasing oil recovery from Saudi Arabian carbonate reservoirs using conventional seawater injection by tuning the ionic composition of field injection water.

Mohammad Y. Qahtani, vice president of Petroleum Engineering & Development spoke of the trials’ success: “Considering these field trials are the first-ever applications in carbonate reservoirs, they further provided another confirmation that SmartWater Flood has strong potential to be a new recovery method targeting Saudi Aramco carbonate reservoirs.”

Saudi Aramco utilizes water injection in the field periphery to maintain pressure necessary for hydrocarbon production. Leveraging current field injection practices and Saudi Aramco’s existing water injection infrastructure is highly attractive as it is an efficient and economical approach to increasing recovery.

Over the last few years, in-house research efforts have revealed that injection of chemistry-optimized versions of injection seawater provided substantial oil recovery beyond conventional seawater flooding for carbonate rock samples. These results were confirmed and validated through different laboratory studies including surface chemistry, wettability and fluid-rock interaction.

“This milestone could have significant impact on how we will assess and conduct future waterflooding programs within the company,” said Samer AlAshgar, EXPEC ARC manager. “This program is one of EXPEC ARC’s research thrusts towards increasing recovery from our oil fields.”

Moving this technology from lab-scale to field-scale, a roadmap for SmartWater Flood field applications is underway targeting a full demonstration project. The first phase of the roadmap is to conduct several single well tests to prove the concept of SmartWater Flood at field environment.

The series of field trials will continue, leading to a multi-well demonstration pilot project to fully assess and optimize this new recovery mechanism.

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