Impact of Ultra-Low Interfacial Tension on Enhanced Oil Recovery of Ultra-Low Permeability Reservoir

Lin ZHAO, Aifen LI, Haojun XIE, Yuli ZHANG, Zhimei SI, Qianqian GU, Qian WANG


Ultra-low permeability reservoirs have the characteristics of complex pore throat structure, generally higher injection pressure and lower oil recovery. By means of casting thin sections, pore structure of selected ultra-low permeability core was surveyed. The core was classified into low porosity, low permeability and without natural fractures. Vast majority of throats of the core varied in width from 2.5 μm to 15 μm. Core displacement experiments showed that surfactant flooding could have certain effect of reducing injection pressure and enhancing oil recovery. When interfacial tension was 5.93×10-2 mN/m, decompression rate reached 7.65%, and recovery was improved by 4.09%. And when interfacial tension was 4.9×10-5 mN/m, decompression rate reached 25%, and recovery was improved by 11.6%. The lower interfacial tension is, the better the effect of reducing injection pressure is, and the higher the extent of enhancing oil recovery is. In general, surfactants have a great application prospect on the oil field development of ultra-low permeability reservoir, and the interfacial tension should be reduced as far as possible.
Key words: Low permeability; Surfactant; Interfacial tension; Emulsion; Enhancing oil recovery


Low permeability; Surfactant; Interfacial tension; Emulsion; Enhancing oil recovery

Full Text:



[1] Adams, W.T., & Schievelbein, V.H. (1987). Surfactant Flooding Carbonate Reservoirs. SPE Reservoir Engineering, 2(4), 619-626. Retrieved from

[2] Adibhatia, B., & Mohanty, K.K. (2007). Simulation of Surfactant-Aided Gravity Drainage in Fractured Carbonates. Paper SPE 106161 presented at the SPE Reservoir Simulation Symposium, Houston, Texas, 26-28 February. Retrieved from

[3] Babadagli, T., Al-Bemani, A., & Boukadi, F., et al. (2005). A Laboratory Feasibility Study of Dilute Surfactant Injection for the Yibal Field, Oman. Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 48(1), 37-52. Retrieved from

[4] Berger, P.D., Hsu, C., & Arendell, J.P. (1988). Designing and Selecting Demulsifiers for Optimum Field Performance on the Basis of Production Fluid Characteristics. SPE Production Engineering, 3(4), 522-526. Retrieved from

[5] Bortolotti, V., Macini, P., & Srisuriyachai, F. (2010). Wettability Index of Carbonatic Reservoirs and EOR: Laboratory Study to Optimize Alkali and Surfactant Flooding. Paper SPE 131043 presented at the International Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition, Beijing, China, 8-10 June. Retrieved from

[6] Edin, A., & Arne, S. (2010). Combined Low Salinity Brine Injection and Surfactant Flooding in Mixed-Wet Sandstone Cores. Energy Fuels, 24(6), 3551-3559. Retrieved from

[7] Liu, A.W., & Li, X.W. (2006). Two Phase Percolation Characteristics in Low Permeability Reservoirs and Its Influence. Journal of Oil and Gas Technology, 28(3), 325-327.

[8] Liu, Q., Dong, M., & Ma, S. (2006). Alkaline/Surfactant Flood Potential in Western Canadian Heavy Oil Reservoirs. Paper SPE 99791 presented at the SPE/DOE Symposium on Improved Oil Recovery, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 22-26 April. Retrieved from

[9] Mantique, E.J., Muci, V.E., & Gurfinkel, M.E. (2006). EOR Field Experiences in Carbonate Reservoirs in the United States. Paper SPE 100063 presented at the SPE/DOE Symposium on Improved Oil Recovery, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 22-26 April. Retrieved from

[10] Mohan, K. (2009). Alkaline Surfactant Flooding for Tight Carbonate Reservoirs. Paper SPE 129516 presented at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, New Orleans, Louisiana, 4-7 October.

[11] Seethepalli, A., Adibhatla, B., & Mohanty, K.K. (2004). Wettability Alteration During Surfactant Flooding of Carbonate Reservoirs. Paper SPE 89423 presented at the SPE/DOE Symposium on Improved Oil Recovery, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 17-21 April. Retrieved from

[12] Sun, C.H., Liu, W.D., & Tian, X.C. (2009). An Alkaline/Surfactant System for Injection Well Stimulation in Low Permeability and High Temperature Oil Reservoirs. Oilfield Chemistry, 26(4), 419-421.

[13] Taylor, K.C., Hawkins, B.F., & Islam, M.R. (1990). Dynamic Interfacial Tension in Surfactant Enhanced Alkaline Flooding. Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology, 29(1), 50-55. Retrieved from

[14] Torabzadeh, S.J., & Handy, L.L. (1984). The Effect of Temperature and Interfacial Tension on Water/Oil Relative Permeabilities of Consolidated Sands. Paper SPE 12689 presented at the SPE Enhanced Oil Recovery Symposium, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 15-18 April. Retrieved from

[15] Yin, D., Gao, P., & Pu, H., et al. (2010). Investigation of a New Simulator for Surfactant Floods in Low Permeability Reservoirs and Its Application in Chao-522 Field, 2010 Update. Paper SPE 128645 presented at the SPE EOR Conference at Oil & Gas West Asia, Muscat, Oman, 11-13 April. Retrieved from

[16] Zeng, B.Q., Cheng, L.S., & Hao, F. (2010). Experiment and Mechanism Analysis on Threshold Pressure Gradient with Different Fluids. Paper SPE140678 presented at the Nigeria Annual International Conference and Exhibition, Tinapa-Calabar, Nigeria, 31 July-7 August. Retrieved from

[17] Zeng, L.B., Qi, J.F., & Li, Y.G. (2007). The Relationship Between Factures and Tectonic Stress Field in the Extra Low-permeability Sandstone Reservoir at the South of Western Sichuan Depression. Journal of China University of Geosciences, 18(3), 223-231. Retrieved from



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c)

Share us to:   


  • How to do online submission to another Journal?
  • If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:

1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author

  • Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.

2. Submission

  • Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.

We only use three mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases:;;

 Articles published in Advances in Petroleum Exploration and Development are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY)


Address:1055 Rue Lucien-L'Allier, Unit #772, Montreal, QC H3G 3C4, Canada.

Telephone: 1-514-558 6138
Website: Http://

Copyright © 2010 Canadian Research & Development Centre of Sciences and Cultures