A novel approach to solve the water saturation challenges in reservoirs under LoSal water injection

Author's Department

Petroleum & Energy Engineering Department

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Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Journal of Petroleum Exploration and Production Technology

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© 2020, The Author(s). Enhancing hydrocarbon recovery is an ongoing practice in the petroleum industry. Multiple approaches are developed and proved their effectiveness in increasing reservoirs recovery. One of the recent approaches is the Low Salinity Water Injection which is known in the industry by “LoSal”. The determination of the optimum low salinity of the injected water and the mechanism behind its ability to enhance the hydrocarbon recovery are still the subjects of interest for many researchers and industry professionals. Despite the value of the LoSal water injection, it brings with it a considerable challenge to the future formation evaluation, namely the determination of the fluids’ saturation. The mixing of the low salinity injected water with the original high-salinity formation water creates variable water salinity across the reservoir. This is known in the industry by the “mixed-salinity” problem. The horizontal and the vertical heterogeneity of the permeability and porosity across the reservoir is the main factor that controls the “mixed-salinity” distribution in the injected volume. The challenge of calculating the fluids’ saturation exists for both the infill drilling wells and the monitoring wells. For the infill drilling wells, the saturation calculations require accurate formation water resistivity values, Rw, which became variable due to the mixed-salinity. For the monitoring wells, the fluids saturation calculations require accurate formation water sigma absorption, Σw, which also became variable for the same reason. The inability to determine the current Rw and Σw on foot-by-foot basis results in incorrect calculations of the water and hydrocarbon saturations. This creates an economic burden on the reservoir management. The existing methods to interpret the fluids saturation in mixed-salinity reservoirs face the challenges of accuracy, effect of borehole environment and high-data acquisitions cost. A forward modeling is developed to illustrate the problem and its impact on the reservoir decisions making process. A solution to the challenges is proposed, investigated, and proved both theoretically and in the laboratory. The proposed solution is based on lowering the LoSal water resistivity, prior to injection, to be equal to the original formation water resistivity without changing its low salinity. This is achieved by mixing the LoSal water with either acid or alkaline based on the reservoir condition. The acid or alkaline will reduce the resistivity of the LoSal water while keeping its low salinity unchanged. The determination of the required volume of the acid or the alkaline is calculated using the conductivity mixing law and the solution is tested on core plugs. The possible effects of the acid on the formation lithology, specially the clay content is discussed and proved to be negligible due to the very low acid volume required. This is also supported by previously published measurements.

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