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Low Salinity Water Injection for EOR

Premkumar Chandrashegaran, Heriot-Watt University

Copyright 2015, Society of Petroleum Engineers

This paper was prepared for presentation at the SPE Nigeria Annual International Conference and Exhibition held in Lagos, Nigeria, 4 6 August 2015.

This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents
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Low Salinity Waterflooding is one of the emerging oil recovery techniques which has gained its
popularity in the past decade. Many experiments and laboratory works have been conducted since its oil
recovery potential was discovered in late 1960s. Wettability alteration in the reservoir is said to be the
main cause in enhancing oil recovery. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of this type of oil recovery is very
much dependent on the initial reservoir conditions, in particular, the connate water saturation, rock physics
and connate water salinity. This work is to run simulations on ECLIPSE 100 simulator to show the effect
of injecting low salinity water into a reservoir. A simple static model was created to mimic a real reservoir.
Reservoir is of three phase with oil, gas and water and consists of one injector and one producer just to
simulate the effect of injecting a low salinity water and a normal salinity, or seawater. Effect on oil
recovery was observed by conducting sensitivity studies on rock physics; both injection and reservoir
brine salinity; tertiary recovery option; polymer injection using low salinity water solution; and grid
refinement. A difference of 14% in oil recovery is observed when lower salinity water is used to inject
compared with normal salinity water. The effect on oil recovery also showed distinct difference when the
connate water salinity is changed with difference up to 28% with low saline reservoir water. Polymer
injection with low salinity water gave 4% increment in recovery compared to injecting with higher salinity
water for the same concentration of polymer. This can indeed give better cost savings when opting for
polymer injection, where a lower concentration or amount of polymer is needed with the use of low
salinity water.

In this modern era, the thirst for energy has increased by multiple folds, where the demand for world
energy is projected to increase by 40% by 2035 (Anon. a, 2014). Most of this demand are fuelled by
countries of emerging economies, in particular, China and India (Anon. a, 2014). There are many types
of energy sources available, but the primary source comes from the oil and gas industry. Renewable
energy is the emerging type of energy source and the supply is projected to triple by 2035 (Anon. a, 2014;
Anon. b, 2012). Though, this will not be enough to fuel the entire global energy requirement. Thus, oil
and gas or fossil fuels will still be the primary energy source where it will contribute at least 50% of the
worlds energy needs in the future (Anon. a, 2014).
2 SPE-178414-MS

Low salinity water injection is an emerging oil recovery technique and it is found that low salinity
water, when injected into sandstone reservoir, increases the oil recovery by 8% 12% - even up to 40%
on secondary recovery at times (Lager et al., 2008). Water injection is the most widely accepted technique
worldwide to recover oil via pressure maintenance. Since the most readily available type of water close
to oil platforms is seawater, the most widely used secondary injection is injecting seawater into the
reservoir (Collins, 2010). Many researches have been conducted on low salinity water injection technique,
since it was first introduced by Bernard (1967), where he noticed an increase in oil recovery by low
salinity water injection into a sandstone core due to presence of clay.
The research work of Jadhunandhan and Morrow (1995) and by Yildiz and Morrow (1996) showed the
effect of crude-oil/brine/rock (COBR) interaction and the important presence of all these factors in low
salinity waterflooding. Their experiment proved that the oil recovery was affected by not only the
composition of reservoir water (or the initial water saturation or connate water) but also the composition
or salinity of the injected water.
Tang and Morrow (1999) concluded that adsorption from crude oil, the presence of potentially mobile
fines and initial water saturations were all necessary conditions to observe the positive effect of low
salinity waterflooding. Berg et al. (2010) and Hussain et al. (2013) have conducted laboratory experiments
to support fines migration theory.
The reduction in permeability and pressure drop due to fines migration is found to be the cause of
increase in oil recovery as suggested by Hussain et al. (2013), Li (2011) and Pu et al. (2010). Lager et.
al (2006) conducted experiments to study the effect of Microscopic Ionic Exchange or MIE. Webb et al.
(2008) and Lee et al. (2010) also conducted experiments to study effect of low salinity water on clay
particles and how it effects the wettability alteration. More papers were published by numerous researches
to support the wettability or ionic strength theory (Morrow et al., 1998; Jerauld et al., 2006; Nasralla et
al., 2011; Yousef et al., 2012; Kasmaei and Rao, 2014). Research work done by Shiran and Skauge (2012)
shows the aging effect of crude oil, where they concluded that the older the oil, the more oil wet behaviour
the system demonstrates. Fjelde et al. (2014) studied effects of crude oil compositions on low salinity
waterflooding. It was shown in their work that both the ionic composition of injected water and crude oil
composition are crucial for the retention of polar oil components and hence influences the wettability
The project will be run using ECLIPSE 100 Black Oil Simulator. A range of simulations cases will be
tested and recorded. The inputs will be based on previous research works and this will help to run the
simulations in a logical manner. A simple static model is to be created with three phases and live oil. The
objectives of this work are:
i. to study the impact on oil recovery when water salinity is varied. The oil recovery percentage are
plotted against time and a variation of salinity are shown on different plots.
ii. to propose the optimum water salinity for injection into different rock types. This is proposed via
reservoir simulation technique. Graphs are plotted for recovery vs salinity.
The following assumptions are made for the reservoir:
i. The reservoir is an undersaturated reservoir. The oil exists high above the bubble point pressure
in the reservoir, and thus there will be no gas cap
ii. It is a homogenous reservoir in every layer. The porosity, permeability and other rock properties
are assumed to be constant throughout or within the layers of the reservoir.
iii. Relative permeability models are taken and modified from a reservoir representation (Webb et al.,
SPE-178414-MS 3

Model Initialization
A simple corner plot grid of 11 x 11 x 5 (X, Y, Z) is created to represent the field in this project (Mackay
and Stephen, 2013). The number of grids are chosen to be minimal so that the simulation runs are
completed at a minimal time and to reduce complexity. As previously mentioned, the main objective of
this project is to simulate low salinity effects using ECLIPSE simulator on a mimicked real field. The
potential of low salinity waterflooding using ECLIPSE simulator is easily understood using this method.
PVT data uses a live oil and dry gas. The PVT properties of oil for base model initialization are given in
Table 1 below:

Table 1PVT properties for the Base Case model

Bubble point pressure, Pb (psia) 3100
Oil formation volume factor, Bo @ Pb (RB/STB) 1.21
Gas to oil ratio, GOR (SCF/STB) 350
Viscosity @ Pb (cp) 0.456
Oil Density @ SC (lb/cuft) 53
API 34.9

Brine tracking option is activated in RUNSPEC section via keyword LOWSALT (Anon. d, 2013;
Anon. e, 2013) to track the water salinity of the injected water and reservoir water. The density of the
water is set to be 64.3 lb/cuft at surface conditions. Other properties are set in PVTWSALT (Anon. d,
2013; Anon. e, 2013) keyword as shown in appendix to match with the salt concentrations. Note that salt
concentration of 0.7 lb/STB and 10.52 lb/STB equals to 2,000ppm and 30,000 ppm respectively. Keyword
LSALTFNC is used to specify the usage of salinity curves as either low or high salinity water is injected.
Keywords SATNUM and LWSLTNUM in the REGIONS section are used to specify high and low salinity
rock regions respectively (Anon. d, 2013; Anon. e, 2013). The values used in LSALTFNC keyword are
specified in appendix section. Please note that these values are used for all sensitivity runs. The base case
is run from 2005 until 2040 and the injectors are started two years after production. As for the base case,
the reservoir in injected with seawater with concentrations of 30,000 ppm or 10.52 lb/STB (Anon. c, 2011)
with injection rate of 500 bbl/d. The case name for base case is Salinity16. This will be modified for the
sensitivity runs in the next section. The injectors and producers are then placed as Figure 1.

Figure 1Base Case model initialization and representation in Floviz

4 SPE-178414-MS

Sensitivity Runs
The Base Case model is then put through a series of sensitivity runs to meet the objectives of this work.
These runs include the tests for water salinity which also includes tests for connate water versus injection
water salt concentration; relative permeability generation and effect analysis; variation on injection time
for secondary recovery versus tertiary recovery analysis; polymer flood runs; and tests on grid refinement
effects. Normal seawater has a salt concentration of about 30,000 36,000 ppm (Anon. f, 2014, Anderson,
2008; Anon. g, 2014). The water concentration in an oil and gas reservoir, however, has very high
dissolved material concentration of around 100,000 ppm (Kuchuk et al., 1999). This also depends whether
its an old stable basin or a shallow and unstable basin. The cases are shown in Table 2 and Corey
parameters in Table 3.

Table 2Cases for sensitivity runs

Sensitivity Case name Parameters

Water salinity SalinityX; X43,44,45,46,47,48 Reservoir salinity 3.52 - 10.52 lb/stb, Injection salinity 0 - 10.52 lb/stb
SalinityX; X17,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27 Reservoir salinity 1.75 - 5.25 lb/stb, Injection salinity 0.7 - 10.52 lb/stb
SalinityX; X16,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35 Reservoir salinity 9.52 - 17.52 lb/stb, Injection salinity 0.7 - 10.52 lb/stb
Relative permeability DiffX_SalinityY; X3,4,5,6,7 ; Y16,28 Reservoir salinity 9.52 - 17.52 lb/stb, Injection salinity 10.52 or 0.7 lb/
stb, base corey parameters changed
Tertiary recovery SalinityX; X36,37,8,39,40 Reservoir salinity 9.52 - 17.52 lb/stb, Secondary injection of 4.2, 5.2 or
10.52 lb/stb, tertiary injection of 0.7 lb/stb, injection rate 500 stb/d or
1000 stb/d
Polymer flooding PolymerX; X 3, 23, 24,25,26,27,28 Reservoir salinity 9.52 - 17.52 lb/stb, Secondary Injection: water salinity
1.0 - 10.52 lb/stb, polymer concentration 0.0 lb/stb; Tertiary injection;
water salinity 1.0-10.52 lb/stb, polymer concentration 1.0 lb/stb
Grid refinement SalinityX_refined; X16,28 Reservoir salinity 9.52 - 17.52 lb/stb, Injection salinity 10.52 or 0.7 lb/
stb, grid X, Y Z refined with factors 5,3,5

Table 3Corey parameters for relative permeability sensitivity tests

Case SwcrSwi Kro(Swmin) Sorw Krw(Sorw) Swcr

Base High salinity 0.130 0.900 0.270 0.530 0.130

Low salinity 0.250 1.000 0.100 0.370 0.250
Diff3 High salinity 0.100 0.900 0.330 0.700 0.100
Low salinity 0.200 1.000 0.170 0.400 0.200
Diff4 High salinity 0.050 0.700 0.350 0.490 0.050
Low salinity 0.050 0.800 0.300 0.240 0.050
Diff5 High salinity 0.145 0.700 0.290 0.600 0.145
Low salinity 0.145 0.800 0.200 0.280 0.145
Diff6 High salinity 0.212 0.700 0.220 0.650 0.212
Low salinity 0.212 0.800 0.150 0.330 0.212
Diff7 High salinity 0.212 0.700 0.190 0.410 0.212
Low salinity 0.212 0.700 0.140 0.330 0.212

Effect of Water Salinity

Base case, Salinity16 was modified according to the tests to give different reservoir water salinity. Since
the variables were reservoir water salinity and injection water salinity, the results also gave quite a
variance in terms of these two varying parameters. The results for medium reservoir water salinity are
shown in Figure 2 below, and the following recovery factor is shown in Table 4:
SPE-178414-MS 5

Figure 2Plot of FOE vs time for varying water salinity on medium saline reservoir water

Table 4 Salinity cases and recovery factors for different salinity water injections into medium salinity reservoir
Salinity of the Improvement Improvement
injection water from Salinity16 from Salinity17
Case Reservoir water salinity (lb/STB) (lb/STB) RF (%) (%) (%)

Salinity16 9.52 (3500ft), 11.5 (4000ft) and 17.5 (5000ft) 10.52 46.02 0.00 N/A
Salinity17 3.52 (3500ft), 5.52 (4000ft) and 10.5 (5000ft) 10.52 46.99 2.13 0.00
Salinity20 3.52 (3500ft), 5.52 (4000ft) and 10.5 (5000ft) 0.70 55.55 20.72 18.21
Salinity21 3.52 (3500ft), 5.52 (4000ft) and 10.5 (5000ft) 1.00 55.51 20.63 18.12
Salinity22 3.52 (3500ft), 5.52 (4000ft) and 10.5 (5000ft) 1.45 54.62 18.70 16.23
Salinity23 3.52 (3500ft), 5.52 (4000ft) and 10.5 (5000ft) 1.75 53.70 16.70 14.27
Salinity24 3.52 (3500ft), 5.52 (4000ft) and 10.5 (5000ft) 2.01 53.66 16.62 14.20
Salinity25 3.52 (3500ft), 5.52 (4000ft) and 10.5 (5000ft) 3.01 52.69 14.50 12.12
Salinity26 3.52 (3500ft), 5.52 (4000ft) and 10.5 (5000ft) 4.01 50.84 10.49 8.19
Salinity27 3.52 (3500ft), 5.52 (4000ft) and 10.5 (5000ft) 5.01 50.76 10.31 8.01

*Note: Salinity17 is the base for this test

The plot and table shows lowest recovery factor for base case, Salinity16 with a value of 46.02% of
the total oil in place. The water injected for base case is seawater with salinity concentration of 0.7 lb/STB
or 30,000 ppm and a high reservoir water salinity ranging between 27,000 ppm and 50,000ppm or 9.52
lb/STB and 17.52 lb/STB. This value can be compared with the high reservoir water salinity cases below.
As a record, there is 20% increase in recovery factor when low salinity water is injected into a medium
salinity reservoir compared to a high salinity reservoir.
For different water salinity injection into medium salinity reservoir, case Salinity17 is taken as the base
and compared with the other cases. The recovery factor improvement of injecting seawater of 30,000 ppm
compared to a low salinity water of 2,000 ppm is about 18%, as is seen when Salinity17 is compared with
Salinity20. In terms of recovery factor, it has increased from 46% to 55.5 %. Considering the oil in place
of the tested reservoir being around 8 MMSTB, an additional 9% recovery is an increase in oil production
6 SPE-178414-MS

by up to 720,000 STB. This additional recovery by injecting low salinity water is comparable to even more
expensive recovery alternatives such as chemical injection and so forth. The only additional cost of having
a low salinity water injection compared to normal seawater injection is an addition of a filtration chamber
to reduce the seawater salinity.
It can be also seen from the Figure 3 below and Table 4 that increasing salt concentration in the injected
water almost linearly reduces the oil recovery factor.

Figure 3Trend of water salinity versus recovery factor increment

The results from simulating a high reservoir salt concentration versus injection water salinity also show
off similar trends. These are shown in Figure 4 above and Table 5 below. Injecting with a salt
concentration of 2,000 ppm gives the highest recovery, about 53% compared to injecting with water
salinity of 30,000 ppm which is considerably a seawater. The recovery factor increase from the base case
of this test, Salinity16 however, is lesser than injecting into a medium salinity reservoir, which is about
7%, but still considerably very high in terms of reservoir scale. The percentage improvement from base
case is also lesser than injecting into medium salinity reservoir, about 14% compared to 18%.
SPE-178414-MS 7

Figure 4 Plot of FOE vs time for varying water salinity on high saline reservoir water

Table 5Salinity cases and recovery factors for different salinity water injections into a high salinity reservoir
Salinity of the
injection water Improvement from
Case Reservoir water salinity (lb/STB) (lb/STB) RF (%) Salinity16 (%)

Salinity16 9.52 (3500ft), 11.5 (4000ft) and 17.5 (5000ft) 10.52 46.02 0.00
Salinity28 9.52 (3500ft), 11.5 (4000ft) and 17.5 (5000ft) 0.70 52.72 14.58
Salinity29 9.52 (3500ft), 11.5 (4000ft) and 17.5 (5000ft) 1.00 52.70 14.52
Salinity30 9.52 (3500ft), 11.5 (4000ft) and 17.5 (5000ft) 1.45 51.78 12.53
Salinity31 9.52 (3500ft), 11.5 (4000ft) and 17.5 (5000ft) 1.75 51.75 12.46
Salinity32 9.52 (3500ft), 11.5 (4000ft) and 17.5 (5000ft) 2.01 50.87 10.54
Salinity33 9.52 (3500ft), 11.5 (4000ft) and 17.5 (5000ft) 3.01 49.89 8.42
Salinity34 9.52 (3500ft), 11.5 (4000ft) and 17.5 (5000ft) 4.01 48.94 6.36
Salinity35 9.52 (3500ft), 11.5 (4000ft) and 17.5 (5000ft) 5.01 48.87 6.20

*Note: Salinity16 is the base for this test

The results of water injection into a low salinity reservoir is plotted and shown in Figure 5 and the
corresponding recovery factors are in Table 6 below. The plot and table also shows a similar trend
compared to the other cases, an increase in oil recovery as the salt concentrations in the injecting water
are reduced. The increase from injecting a high salinity water, Salinity47 compared to low salinity water,
salinity43 is about 10%, and this is higher than injecting into high or medium salinity reservoirs.
8 SPE-178414-MS

Figure 5Plot of FOE vs time for varying water salinity on low saline reservoir water

Table 6 Salinity cases and recovery factors for different salinity water injections into a low salinity reservoir
Salinity of the Improvement Improvement
injection water from Salinity16 from Salinity47
Case Reservoir water salinity (lb/STB) (lb/STB) RF (%) (%) (%)

Salinity16 9.52 (3500ft), 11.5 (4000ft) and 17.5 (5000ft) 10.52 46.02 0.00 N/A
Salinity43 1.75 (3500ft), 3.5 (4000ft) and 5.25 (5000ft) 0.70 58.27 26.64 19.41
Salinity44 1.75 (3500ft), 3.5 (4000ft) and 5.25 (5000ft) 1.75 56.50 22.79 15.78
Salinity45 1.75 (3500ft), 3.5 (4000ft) and 5.25 (5000ft) 3.01 54.59 18.63 11.86
Salinity46 1.75 (3500ft), 3.5 (4000ft) and 5.25 (5000ft) 5.01 52.60 14.31 7.79
Salinity47 1.75 (3500ft), 3.5 (4000ft) and 5.25 (5000ft) 10.52 48.80 6.05 0.00
Salinity48 1.75 (3500ft), 3.5 (4000ft) and 5.25 (5000ft) 0.00 58.39 26.89 19.65

*Note: Salinity47 is the base for this test

From Table 6, increment of recovery factor for water injection of 2,000 ppm (Salinity43) from the base
case of this sensitivity, Salinity47 is 19.41%, and this is higher compared to other cases because of the
low salinity reservoir. Comparing Salinity43 with the actual base case for this work, Salinity16, the
percentage increase in recovery factor is 26.64%, the highest increase for recovery factor for this
sensitivity type, with even when other cases are also injected with low salinity water of 2,000 ppm or 0.7
lb/ft. This shows that having a reservoir with low connate water salinity combined with low salinity gives
best oil recovery with low salinity injection technique. But this cannot be the case in real life as most oil
reservoirs are with high salt concentrations (Kuchuk et al., 1999).
There is a distinct difference in terms of injecting the same salinity water into a reservoir of different
connate water salinity, obviously a better recovery factor for a reservoir with lower salt content than a
reservoir with high salt content. This can be explained by the mixing between the injected water and
reservoir water, and the resultant mixtures salt concentration is thus lower for a low salinity injected
SPE-178414-MS 9

water and reservoir water and vice versa for a high salinity injection water and reservoir water. This low
salt concentration water mixture then alters the wettability of the formation via microscopic ionic
exchange (MIE) where the divalent cations are swept off the clay particles, bringing along the oil in place
(Lager et al., 2006). The formation becomes more water wet and this in turn increases the sweep efficiency
of the reservoir oil by the injected water.
Effect of Relative Permeability
To monitor the effect of relative permeability, different saturation functions and relative permeability
curves are generated using Corey equation. These cases are then tested on base case, Salinity16 and
Salinity28. Both cases are with a high reservoir water salinity. This is tested such way because most
reservoirs have a high mineral concentration as described by Kuchuk et al. (1999). The results from case
Salinity16, high salinity water injection is shown in Figure 6 below for different relative permeability. The
corresponding recovery factors are shown in Table 7.

Figure 6 Plot of FOE vs time for effect of different relative permeability on case Salinity16

Table 7Cases and recovery factors of different relative permeability on Salinity16

Case Description RF (%)

Diff7_Salinity16 Corey parameters of SwcrSwi0.1, Kro(Swmin)0.9, Sorw0.33, Krw(Sorw)0.7 58.12

Diff6_Salinity16 Corey parameters of SwcrSwi0.05, Kro(Swmin)0.7, Sorw0.35, Krw(Sorw)0.49 56.51
Diff5_Salinity16 Corey parameters of SwcrSwi0.145, Kro(Swmin)0.7, Sorw0.29, Krw(Sorw)0.6 49.21
Diff4_Salinity16 Corey parameters of SwcrSwi0.212, Kro(Swmin)0.7, Sorw0.22, Krw(Sorw)0.65 45.26
Diff3_Salinity16 Corey parameters of SwcrSwi0.212, Kro(Swmin)0.7, Sorw0.19, Krw(Sorw)0.41 51.24

Since base case Salinity16 is will be a high salinity case because of high salinity water injection, as
specified in the LSALTFNC, ECLIPSE simulator will actually point to the high salinity curve when case
Salinity16 is tested for different relative permeability, of which, the parameters are shown in the graph
10 SPE-178414-MS

above. The results from Table 7 show a very interesting variance, with the recovery factor of case
Salinity16 is highest using relative permeability curve Diff7. As for the record, Diff7 was generated such
that even the high salinity curve is slightly water wet. Knowing that ECLIPSE utilizes wettability
alteration to differentiate between low salinity and high salinity injection, an initial water wet reservoir
will yield an almost similar recovery factor for both low salinity and high salinity water injection. This
can be seen by referring to Table 8, where the recovery factor for Salinity28 using Diff7 is 61%, only 3
percent more from Salinity16. From this test, it can be said that low salinity water injection efficiency
depends on the initial reservoir condition, mainly whether the reservoir is water wet or oil wet (or very
water wet versus less water wet) at the start of injection. So the selection of reservoir for low salinity water
injection plays a great role here.

Table 8 Cases and recovery factors of different relative permeability on Salinity28

Case Description RF (%)

Diff7_Salinity28 Corey parameters of SwcrSwi0.2, Kro(Swmin)1, Sorw0.17, Krw(Sorw)0.4 61.15

Diff6_Salinity28 Corey parameters of SwcrSwi0.05, Kro(Swmin)0.8, Sorw0.3, Krw(Sorw)0.24 61.21
Diff5_Salinity28 Corey parameters of SwcrSwi0.145, Kro(Swmin)0.8, Sorw0.2, Krw(Sorw)0.28 55.97
Diff4_Salinity28 Corey parameters of SwcrSwi0.212, Kro(Swmin)0.8, Sorw0.15, Krw(Sorw)0.33 50.33
Diff3_Salinity28 Corey parameters of SwcrSwi0.212, Kro(Swmin)0.7, Sorw0.14, Krw(Sorw)0.33 60.50

As for the other cases, the recovery factor varies with the wettability of the high salinity relative
permeability curves. Higher water wet relative permeability curves gives a better recovery factor as is seen
in Table 7, where the lowest recovery factor is for case Diff4, mainly because it is highly oil wet.
Case Salinity28 was tested with a low salinity water injection into a high salinity reservoir. The effect
of relative permeability is shown below in Figure 7 and Table 8. The results of simulating a low salinity
water injection case on different reservoirs (different relative permeability shows different rock), exhibit
a similar trend of using high salinity injection case shown above in Table 7 and Figure 6. Higher water
wet reservoir, yields a better oil recovery than lower water wet reservoirs. This is seen on case Diff6 with
a recovery factor of 61.2%.
SPE-178414-MS 11

Figure 7Plot of FOE vs time for effect of different relative permeability on case Salinity28

The results of these experiments show that the main reason for higher recovery efficiency when low
salinity water is injected into an oil reservoir is due to wettability alteration in the reservoir.

Effect of Tertiary Recovery

Effect of tertiary recovery is simulated by injecting low salinity water in 2011 after start of normal salinity
water injection in 2007. These cases are tested on a high salinity reservoir connate water and the results
are as shown in Figure 8 and Table 9 below:
12 SPE-178414-MS

Figure 8 Plot of FOE vs time for tertiary recovery effect analysis with different water salinities

Table 9 Cases and recovery factors for tertiary recovery simulation with different injection water salinities
Case Description RF (%)

Salinity36 WSALT 4.0 at 2007, and WSALT 0.7 after 2011 51.80
Salinity37 WSALT 10.52 at 2007, and WSALT 0.7 after 2011 50.84
Salinity38 WSALT 5.2 at 2007, and WSALT 0.7 after 2011 51.78
Salinity39 WSALT 5.2 at 2007, and WSALT 0.7 after 2011, WCONINJE modified at 2021 to pump in at 1000bbl/d 56.74
Salinity40 WSALT 10.52 at 2007, and WSALT 1.0 after 2011,WCONINJE modified at 2021 to pump in at 1000bbl/d 56.24

The cases are simulated such that the reservoir injected with water salinity of 12,000 ppm (Salinity36),
15,000 ppm (Salinity37) and 30,000 ppm (Salinity38) for secondary recovery in 2007. This is comparable
to cases Salinity34 for 12,000 ppm injection; Salinity35 for 15,000 ppm injection; and Salinity16 (which
is the base case) for 30,000 ppm simulated in the secondary recovery technique explained in Section 3.1
Results from Table 9 shows that test on the base case, Salinity16, gives an addition of 5% to recovery
factor, from 46% to 51% when low water salinity of 2,000 ppm or 0.7 lb/STB is injected for tertiary
recovery in 2011. For the other two cases the recovery efficiency increased about 3% from secondary to
tertiary or enhanced oil recovery using low salinity water injection.
This recovery factor increase however, can be improved by tweaking the injection rate as demonstrated
by cases Salinity39 and Salinity40, where the injection rate is increased from 500 bbl/day to 1,000 bbl/day
in 2021, and in turn improved the recovery factor from secondary to tertiary by 10%, comparing
Salinity40 and Salinity16.
Injecting low salinity water as a tertiary recovery technique is a very cheap alternative to conventional
EOR techniques and can be adopted by any company looking into the economic point. The percentage
increase is contributed by the waters salt concentration, when lower salinity water is injected into an
already high salinity reservoir, the mixture produces a low salt concentration which is capable of changing
SPE-178414-MS 13

the wettability of the reservoir. The increase in recovery when the injection rate is changed in 2021 is
contributed by the increase in reservoir pressure.

Effect of Polymer Flooding

Polymer flooding is the conventional EOR technique and is used to increase the injected solution viscosity
to increase sweep efficiency and reduce viscous fingering effect. Figure 9 and Table 10 below shows the
results when polymer flooding with different water salinity is simulated.

Figure 9 Plot of FOE vs time for polymer flooding analysis with different water salinity mixtures

Table 10 Cases and recovery factors for polymer flooding simulation with different water salinity mixtures
Case Description RF (%)

Polymer3 Polymer test on Base_Case no salt effect. Concentration of Polymer 1.0 mult 12.5. WPOLYMER 1.0 at 2007 49.72
Polymer23 WPOLYMER of 0.0 with salt concentration of 1.00 at 2007, WPOLYMER of 1.0 with salt of 1.0 at 2011 and rate of 750 53.85
Polymer24 WPOLYMER of 0.0 with salt concentration of 2.00 at 2007, WPOLYMER of 1.0 with salt of 2.0 at 2011 and rate of 750 53.80
Polymer25 WPOLYMER of 0.0 with salt concentration of 3.00 at 2007, WPOLYMER of 1.0 with salt of 3.0 at 2011 and rate of 750 53.26
Polymer26 WPOLYMER of 0.0 with salt concentration of 4.00 at 2007, WPOLYMER of 1.0 with salt of 4.0 at 2011 and rate of 750 53.22
Polymer27 WPOLYMER of 0.0 with salt concentration of 5.00 at 2007, WPOLYMER of 1.0 with salt of 5.0 at 2011 and rate of 750 53.15
Polymer28 WPOLYMER of 0.0 with salt concentration of 10.52 at 2007, WPOLYMER of 1.0 with salt of 10.52 at 2011 and rate of 750 52.39

Referring to Table 10, the cases are all simulated on a high salinity reservoir connate water. Polymer3
is the Base Case with polymer injection from 2007 instead of water injection. There is an increase in oil
recovery of about 5% using normal water concentration and no brine effect. As for the other cases, the
reservoir is first injected with water of salt concentration ranging from 3,000 ppm to 30,000 ppm for
secondary recovery in 2007, and with polymer concentration of 1.0 lb/bbl with same water concentration
in 2011.
14 SPE-178414-MS

The results show that injecting polymer with low salinity water mixture yields a higher oil recovery as
is seen for case Polymer 23. The recovery factor decreases as the salt concentration in the mixture
increases. The increment from polymer flooding the base case Salinity16 versus polymer flooding the low
salinity case is about 4%. Comparing polymer flooding using low saline water for EOR versus low salinity
water injection for EOR, that is, comparing case Salinity36 and Polymer23, shows an increment of about
2% using polymer flooding and low salinity water mixture. This is not that much of an increment and it
is at companys discretion to spend the extra amount on polymer injection.
Effect of Grid Refinement
Grid refining plays a big role in reservoir simulation and the effect of grid refining on recovery factor is
also studied. Cases Salinity28 and Salinity16 are refined and the results are compared with the cases
without refinement. The results are shown below in Figure 10 and Table 11.

Figure 10 Plot of FOE vs time for grid refinement analysis

Table 11Cases and recovery factor of grid refinement analysis on different cases
Case Description RF (%)

Salinity16 No refinement base case 46.02

Salinity16_Refined Cells X, Y and Z are refined at a factor of 5,3 and 5 respectively for Base Case 46.15
Salinity28 No refinement low salinity injection case 52.72
Salinity28_Refined Cells X, Y and Z are refined at a factor of 5,3 and 5 respectively for Salinity28 55.07

The results are no so imminent in the base case, Salinity16, where only an improvement about 0.1%
is observed from Table 11. This is probably because there are no much differences in terms of time steps
and gridding effect when high salinity water is injected into the reservoir, whereby, the sweep of the oil
is almost equally simulated in high salinity case.
SPE-178414-MS 15

The results are quite significant for Salinity28 with LOWSALT function. With an increment of about
2.5%. This can be explained by better sweep efficiency when the cells are refined. A better explanation
for this occurrence can be found with numerical dispersion theory. Gridding effect plays a big role in
numerical dispersion. The more grid blocks represented in a reservoir, the better the reservoirs sweep
efficiency is simulated. This is because the higher number of grid blocks allows the injected water to be
nicely swept over each block, and in turn, increases the ratio of oil swept out of each grid block. A higher
difference was noted with low salinity injection because of wettability alteration effect.

It is known that the simulations done using a reservoir simulator are not as accurate as carrying out the
tasks on a real field, but reservoir simulator serves a purpose to be able to simulate multiple scenarios on
a scale close enough to real life.
Nevertheless, using numerical simulator to simulate low salinity water injection will yield in few
uncertainties. The uncertainties associated with this work include the lack of real field data to be
simulated. The reservoir model used was a simple model with simple PVT data. Data for Bo, Bg, Bw, oil
surface densities and so forth were all estimates. The data used for permeability and porosity were not well
represented as well, as the porosity taken was an average porosity for the whole reservoir.
Besides that, relative permeability models, which are crucial for this work were also estimated from
previous works done and was not from an actual reservoir. This however, closely matches the real
reservoir. Another uncertainty closely matched with relative permeability models is the way ECLIPSE
numerical simulator interprets the effect of low salinity water injection. The user specifies the low and
high salinity curves, and the simulator interpolates between these two curves to get a resultant relative
permeability curve. This ultimately is dependent on user input, so a good study on previous work or real
data is required for the simulation to be close to accurate.
Then there is gridding uncertainty. The represented model is considerably poor in terms of gridding,
mainly because of simulation time constrains. A better refined model may increase the recovery factor
efficiency of the model, either to a more optimistic or pessimistic case. A good model is thus always hard
to be interpreted.

Low salinity water injection have been long proven to be a good method in improving oil recovery
efficiency. This is now shown much in terms of reservoir simulations. Having a low salinity reservoir will
improve oil recovery when low salinity water is injected by up to 26% in increment compared to
conventional seawater waterflooding into high salinity reservoir. Oil recovery is also improved by up to
15% by injecting low salinity water into a high salt concentration reservoir, which is the case for most oil
reservoirs. Either ways, low salinity water injection is a good method for both secondary and tertiary
recovery techniques with a minimal improvement of 4% when injected as tertiary recovery as shown in
this work. These cases are also true for different rock types as shown with different relative permeability
Injection water salinity of 2,000 ppm is optimal for most rock types and cases as simulated in this work.
Using low salinity water for polymer flooding also improves polymer flooding efficiency, with an
increment of at least 4% was noticed while comparing conventional polymer flooding with seawater
versus polymer flooding with low saline water. Hence, Low salinity water injection should definitely be
a major consideration given by oil companies and be used in future oil recovery instead of conventional
waterflooding technique. Since the cost of low salinity injection is also low, EOR using low salinity water
injection should be given high attention to.
16 SPE-178414-MS

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SPE-178414-MS 17

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18 SPE-178414-MS

1. PVTWSALT keyword parameters

Table 12Initial water properties specified in PVTWSALT keyword. The salt concentrations and the corresponding water properties
Salt Concentration (lb/STB) Bw (RB/STB) Cw (1/psi) Vw (cP) Cv (1/psi)

0 1.01 3.00E-06 0.3 0

0.7 1.01 3.00E-06 0.3 0
1.05 1.01 3.00E-06 0.3 0
1.402 1.01 3.00E-06 0.3 0
1.75 1.01 3.00E-06 0.3 0
3.51 1.008 3.00E-06 0.3 0
5.26 1.005 3.00E-06 0.3 0
10.517 1.002 3.00E-06 0.3 0
12.62 1 3.00E-06 0.3 0

2. LSALTFNC parameters

Table 13LSALTFNC keyword values. These values are used

throughout all sensitivity runs
Salt Concentration (lb/STB) F1 F2

0 1 1
0.7 1 1
1.05 1 1
1.402 0.95 0.95
1.75 0.9 0.9
3.51 0.65 0.65
5.26 0.5 0.5
10.517 0.1 0.1
12.62 0 0

3. Polymer keywords with BRINE function activated

-- for polymer
-- viscosity multiplier vs polymer concentration
-- concentration multiplier for water viscosity

0.00000 1.0
1.0 /
SPE-178414-MS 19

0.25000 12.5
1.0 /
0.50000 21.125
1.5 /
0.75000 30.25
3.0 /
1.00000 45.0
3.5 /

-- 1.0 * 0.8 0.8 cP (water viscosity)

-- 12.5 * 0.8 10 cP (polymer viscosity
20 SPE-178414-MS


-- 3 keywords switch off polymer adsorption

0.0 0.0
1.0 0.0
0.0 0.0
1.0 0.0

0.0 1.0 1.0 1 1.0 /
0.0 1.0 1.0 1 1.0 /

1.0 0.00 /

-- degree of mixing between injected polymer solution and formation water

1.0 /
SPE-178414-MS 21

Table 14 Salt concentration conversions Table 14 (Continued)Salt concentration conversions

ppm kg/m3 lb/bbl ppm kg/m3 lb/bbl

1000 1 0.35 53000 53 18.58

2000 2 0.70 54000 54 18.93
3000 3 1.05 55000 55 19.28
4000 4 1.40 56000 56 19.63
5000 5 1.75 57000 57 19.98
6000 6 2.10 58000 58 20.33
7000 7 2.45 59000 59 20.68
8000 8 2.80 60000 60 21.04
9000 9 3.16 61000 61 21.39
10000 10 3.51 62000 62 21.74
11000 11 3.86 63000 63 22.09
12000 12 4.21 64000 64 22.44
13000 13 4.56 65000 65 22.79
14000 14 4.91 66000 66 23.14
15000 15 5.26 67000 67 23.49
16000 16 5.61 68000 68 23.84
17000 17 5.96 69000 69 24.19
18000 18 6.31 70000 70 24.54
19000 19 6.66 71000 71 24.89
20000 20 7.01 72000 72 25.24
21000 21 7.36
22000 22 7.71
23000 23 8.06
24000 24 8.41
25000 25 8.76
26000 26 9.12
27000 27 9.47
28000 28 9.82
29000 29 10.17
30000 30 10.52
31000 31 10.87
32000 32 11.22
33000 33 11.57
34000 34 11.92
35000 35 12.27
36000 36 12.62
37000 37 12.97
38000 38 13.32
39000 39 13.67
40000 40 14.02
41000 41 14.37
42000 42 14.72
43000 43 15.08
44000 44 15.43
45000 45 15.78
46000 46 16.13
47000 47 16.48
48000 48 16.83
49000 49 17.18
50000 50 17.53
51000 51 17.88
52000 52 18.23