Enhanced Sweep Efficiency by Use of Smart Water in Tight Oil Reservoirs

Topics: Enhanced recovery Tight gas/shale gas/coalbed methane
Relative permeability curve for the CEC effect scenario.

In the literature, improvement of oil recovery in smart-water-injection schemes has been shown to be mediated by wettability alteration. This process reduces residual oil saturation, which, in turn, affects microscopic sweep efficiency and leads to subsequent enhancement of overall waterflood performance. Currently, there are few studies on smart waterflooding in tight and very tight oil reservoirs. This work examines smart-waterflood opportunities in such reservoirs.


Residual-oil-saturation reduction improves microscopic sweep efficiency and, therefore, overall waterflood performance. Furthermore, decreasing endpoint water relative permeability diminishes mobility of the water phase such that water production is similarly reduced. Though these circumstances improve oil-production behavior, the primary parameters that lead to this improvement are still not well-understood.

Among the statistically significant parameters that can influence smart-­waterflood performance is clay content. One plausible explanation for the strong correlation between clay content and oil recovery is the positive correlation between cation-exchange capacity (CEC) and clay content. With higher CEC values, more rock surface may be charged. This results in either the expansion or compression of the double layer, which also induces a wettability alteration. Although tight oil reservoirs have limited flow capability, high CEC values in these reservoirs facilitate the ­wettability-alteration process. The objectives of the complete paper are to examine the smart-waterflood potential in tight and very tight oil reservoirs, and to identify the CEC effect on smart-water-injection performance. The complete paper provides a discussion of the methodology (procedures and strategies) of the study.

This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 185032, “Enhance Microscopic Sweep Efficiency by Use of Smart Water in Tight and Very Tight Oil Reservoirs,” by T. Kadeethum, H.K. Sarma, and B.B. Maini, University of Calgary, prepared for the 2017 SPE Canada Unconventional Resources Conference, Calgary, 15–16 February. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Enhanced Sweep Efficiency by Use of Smart Water in Tight Oil Reservoirs

01 October 2017

Volume: 69 | Issue: 10