A Review of Wettability Alteration by Spontaneous Imbibition Using Low-Salinity Water in Naturally Fractured Reservoirs

Marzhan Karimova, Razieh Kashiri, Peyman Pourafshary, Randy Hazlett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Analysis of fluid flow in naturally fractured reservoirs (NFRs), as a highly heterogeneous and complex system, requires a detailed study of the fracture-matrix interactions. The main process of fluid movement between the fracture and matrix is spontaneous imbibition (SI), which can occur in co/countercurrent fluid flow states. In addition, most carbonate rocks are fractured and non-water-wet, which can lead to low oil recovery. Wettability greatly affects the performance of the SI process. Injection of water or chemicals can be insufficient because fluids mostly pass through highly permeable fractures and lead to early breakthrough. Therefore, the wettability alteration mechanism should be applied in NFRs, and low-salinity water (LSW) injection is considered an effective enhanced oil recovery (EOR) approach. In this review, experimental and numerical studies of co/counter-imbibition are analyzed to show the importance of investigating the fracture-matrix interactions. In addition, the review shows the wettability effect on imbibition in fractured rocks. The review of experimental studies of LSW imbibition in fractured carbonates shows the possibilities for implementing an EOR method. However, the wettability alteration process during SI using LSW has not yet been studied, and no simulation models of co/countercurrent flows have yet been provided. Based on this review, more experimental studies are recommended to duplicate co/countercurrent imbibition using LSW. Advanced techniques such as CT scanning, MRI, and NTI can be used to reveal fluid distribution. Using experimental data, numerical models can be developed to characterize dynamic wettability alteration during co/countercurrent imbibition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2373
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • carbonate
  • low-salinity water
  • naturally fractured reservoirs
  • spontaneous imbibition

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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