Response of crude oil deposited organic layers to brines of different salinity: An atomic force microscopy study on carbonate surfaces

Saravana Kumar*, Ashit Rao, Mohammed B. Alotaibi, Subhash C. Ayirala, Ali A. Yousef, Igor Siretanu, Frieder Mugele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

The various microscopic processes that take place during enhanced oil-recovery upon injecting low salinity brines are quite complex, particularly for carbonate reservoirs. In this study, we characterize the in-situ microscopic responses of the organic layers deposited on flat Iceland spar calcite surface to brines of different salinity using Atomic force Microscopy (AFM). Organic layers were deposited from crude oil at the end of a two-step aging procedure. AFM topography images reveal that the organic layers remain stable in high-salinity brines and desorb upon exposure to low-salinity brines. In addition, the organic layers swell in low-salinity brines, and the stiffness of the organic layers is found to directly proportional to the brine salinity. These observations are explained in terms of ‘salting-out’ effects, where the affinity of organic layers to solvent molecules increases upon reducing the brine salinity. The swelling and desorption of organic materials provide access for the brine to mineral surface causing dissolution and change in wetting properties of the surface. Our results show the significance of de-stabilizing the organic layer on rock surfaces in order to design any successful improved oil recovery (IOR) strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121129
JournalFuel
Volume302
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Improved oil recovery
  • Low-salinity effect
  • Polyaromatic hydrocarbons
  • Salting-out effects

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