Injection water with selective ionic content and composition is a key requirement for smart-waterflooding (SWF) application in carbonate reservoirs. Smart water—depleted in monovalent ions, but enriched in sulfates and divalent cations—is desired for incremental oil recovery in carbonates, which constitute complex water chemistry when compared with sandstones. Most of the published work available in this area is focused on addressing water-chemistry requirements for low-salinity waterflooding in sandstones. However, none of these studies describes the complex injection-water requirements of SWF in carbonate reservoirs. Also, injection-water chemistry has a known impact on several tertiary enhanced-oil-recovery (EOR) processes among the three major categories of chemical, gas, and thermal EOR. The main purpose of this study is, therefore, to identify and optimize a novel water-ionic technology that can serve as a “one-shop solution” to generate desired water chemistries suited for different improved-oil-recovery (IOR)/EOR processes, including SWF in carbonates.
A novel water-ionic technology, comprising nanofiltration and reverse-osmosis membrane-based processes, was identified for optimization in this study. The proposed technology makes use of these two membrane-desalination processes in parallel configuration to provide multiple water streams of widely varying ionic strength and content. Different water streams obtained from this novel solution can be blended effectively to yield a smart-water cocktail of desired ionic strength, composition, and monovalent- to divalent-ion content suited for carbonates.
Smart-water cocktails obtained from the proposed solution are also suited for application in other EOR processes such as polymer flooding, alkaline/surfactant/polymer flooding, low-salinity surfactant flooding, dilute surfactant flooding, carbonated waterflooding, and miscible gasflooding, and are suited for boiler feedwater in steamflooding. The optimized scheme thereby offers a novel one-shop solution to meet the complete suite of desired water-chemistry requirements for different IOR/EOR processes. In addition, comparative evaluation-study results between novel water-ionic technology and other already-known advanced-desalination schemes highlight the major advantages of the new solution in terms of better water-ion-tuning flexibility, higher recovery efficiency, lower energy requirement/footprint, and ease of operation.