At low oil price, using expensive chemicals in EOR methods is not economically feasible. Injecting water of a tailored composition, i. e. Smart Water, is thus a better option. It has previously been shown that injecting a brine of low salinity (LS), very often results in an increased oil production. In laboratory experiments it has been found that an “in situ” induced pH increase is a key parameter to experiencing a LS EOR effect in sandstones. In a field situation, e.g. Endicott, this pH increase is rarely observed, due to pH buffering by fluids, minerals and sour gases. When a LS injection brine is introduced into a core containing crude oil and high salinity (HS) formation water, desorption of cations from the mineral surface, and a subsequent adsorption of protons, H+, leaves OH−, which increases pH. At high OH− concentrations, the acidic and basic polar organic molecules attached to the mineral surface transform into species of lower affinity to the mineral surface, and are released, leading to increased oil recovery. However, the different minerals present in sandstone can influence the induced pH increase. A pH screening test has been developed to investigate the minerals’ influence on pH. Clays are the main wetting materials in sandstone rocks, and they are also known to be cation exchangers, which can influence pH in the system. Feldspars have also been shown to influence pH in both a positive and a negative way, the latter responsible for the poor LS effect in the Snorre field on the NCS.

A mineral often present in reservoir rock, but usually ignored, is anhydrite, CaSO4. In this paper the LS EOR potential in reservoir sandstone containing anhydrite and significant clay content was tested. Because of the amount of clays, this reservoir should be a good candidate for LS injection. The LS EOR potential was investigated using the pH screening test, oil recovery tests and chemical analyses.

The main results from this study showed that reservoir core material containing anhydrite experienced poor LS EOR effects. When LS brine is injected into a reservoir containing anhydrite, some of the anhydrite dissolves and prevents parts of the cation desorption from the clay surface, thereby lowering the pH increase needed to observe increased oil recovery. Based on this study, other minerals than clays, such as anhydrite, can have a serious influence on the reservoir LS EOR potential, and should not be overlooked.


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