Increasing Reservoir Recovery Efficiency through Laboratory-Proven Hybrid Smart Water-Assisted Foam (SWAF) Flooding in Carbonate Reservoirs

Anas M. Hassan, Mohammed Ayoub, Mysara Eissa, Emad W. Al-Shalabi, Abdullah Al-Mansour, Abdulrahman Al-Quraishi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This contribution introduces a new hybrid enhanced oil recovery (EOR) method which combines smart water-assisted foam (SWAF) flooding, known as the SWAF process. The concept of applying SWAF flooding in carbonate reservoirs is a novel approach previously unexplored in the literature. The synergy effect of the SWAF technique has the potential to mitigate a number of limitations related to individual (i.e., conventional water injection and foam flooding) methods encountered in carbonates. In general, carbonate rocks are characterized by a mixed-wet to oil-wet wettability state, which contributes to poor oil recovery. Hence, the smart water solution has been designed to produce a dual-improvement effect of altering carbonate rock wettability towards more water-wet, which preconditions the reservoir and augments the stability of the foam lamellae, which has for some conditions more favorable relative permeability behavior. Then the smart water solution is combined with surfactant (surfactant aqueous solution or SAS) and gas injection produces a synergy effect, which leads to more wettability alteration, and interfacial tension (IFT) reduction, and thus improves the oil recovery. Accordingly, to determine the optimal conditions of smart water solution with an optimal SAS, we conducted a series of experimental laboratory studies. The experimental design is divided into three main steps. At first, the screening process is required so that the candidates can be narrowed down for our designed smart water using the contact angle tests that employ calcite plate (i.e., Indiana limestone or ILS) as the first filter. Following this, the optimum smart water solutions candidates are blended with different types of cationic and anionic surfactants to create optimum SAS formulations. Subsequently, a second screening process is performed with the aim to narrow down the SAS candidates with varying types of gases (i.e., carbon dioxide, CO2 and nitrogen, N2 ) via the aqueous stability test (AST), foamability test (FT), and foam stability test (FST). We employed the state-of-the-art R5 parameter tests for rapid and accurate results in place of the conventional foam half-life method. The most effective combination of SAS and gas candidates are endorsed for the core-flooding experiments. In this work, two types of crude oils (Type A and B) with different total acid and base numbers (TAN and TBN). Results showed that the greatest wettability changes occurred for SW (MgCl2 ) solution at 3500 (ppm) for both crude oil types. This demonstrates the efficacy of our designed SW in the wettability alteration of carbonates, which is also supported by the zeta-potential measurements. The concentrations of both SW (MgCl2 ) and CTAB-based surfactants considerably affect the stability of the SAS (i.e., up to 90% foam stability). However when in the presence of crude oil, for the same SAS solution, the foam stability is reduced from 90% to 80%, which indicates the negative effect of crude oil on foam stability. Moreover, the core floods results showed that the MgCl2-foam injection mixture (MgCl2 + CTAB + AOS + N2 ) provided the highest residual oil recovery factor of SWAF process of 92% cumulative recovery of original oil in core (OIIC). This showcases the effectiveness of our proposed SWAF technique in oil recovery from carbonate reservoirs. Additionally, changing the large slug of 5 PVs to a small slug of 2 PVs of smart water solution was more effective in producing higher OIIC recovery and in reducing the fluid circulation costs (i.e., thereby, lowering CO2 footprint), making the SWAF process environmentally benign. Thus, it is expected that under optimum conditions (SW solution and SAS), the novel SWAF process can be a potentially successful hybrid EOR method for carbonate reservoirs, having both economic and environmental benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3058
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • carbonates reservoirs
  • enhanced oil recovery (EOR)
  • foam flooding
  • hybrid-EOR
  • smart water (SW) injection
  • smart water-assisted foam (SWAF) flooding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Fuel Technology
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Control and Optimization
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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