Capillary desaturation curve: does low salinity surfactant flooding significantly reduce the residual oil saturation?

Davood Zivar, Peyman Pourafshary, Nikoo Moradpour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Different oil displacement experiments conducted on sandstone and carbonate samples show that low salinity water (LSW) injection can reduce the residual oil saturation (ROS). Recently, surfactant flooding (SF) in combination with low salinity water (known as low salinity surfactant (LSS) flooding) is proposed as a potentially promising hybrid enhanced oil recovery (EOR) process. A lower ROS is reported for a LSS process compared to that seen in SF or with LSW at the same capillary number. The capillary desaturation curve (CDC) is a well-known tool to study the effect of viscous and capillary forces on ROS for different EOR techniques. In this study, ROS data of various LSW, SF, and LSS flooding experiments at different capillary numbers are collected to develop a CDC to analyze the performance of the hybrid LSS method. This can help to analyze the effect of the hybrid method on an extra improvement in sweep efficiency and reduction in residual oil. A lower ROS is observed for LSS compared to LSW and SF in the same capillary number range. Our study shows different behaviors of the hybrid method at different ranges of capillary numbers. Three regions are identified based on the capillary number values. The difference in ROS is not significant in the first region (capillary number in the range of 10−7–10−5), which is not applicable in the presence of surfactant due to the low interfacial tension value. A significant reduction in ROS is observed in the second region (capillary number in the range of 10−5–10−2) for LSS compared to SF. This region is the most practical range for SF and LSS flooding. Hence, the application of LSS provides a noticeable benefit compared to normal EOR techniques. In the third region (capillary numbers greater than 10−2), where the surfactant flooding is a better performer, the difference in ROS is negligible.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Petroleum Exploration and Production Technology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Capillary desaturation curve
  • Capillary number
  • Low salinity surfactant flooding
  • Low salinity water flooding
  • Residual oil saturation
  • Surfactant flooding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • General Energy


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