Effect of wettability and phase distribution on critical salt concentration for fines migration initiation in sandstone reservoirs

Nurzhan Askar, Rizwan Muneer, Peyman Pourafshary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fines migration in sandstone oil reservoirs during different field operations is influenced by the salinity of injected brine. When salinity drops below a critical salt concentration (CSC), fines migration is initiated, leading to pore throat blockage and formation damage. Factors such as rock wettability, fluid type, fines size and concentration, and flow rate contribute to the severity of this issue. However, the impact of phase distribution and rock wettability on the CSC remains unexplored. Most results are reported for water-wet systems, but in many cases, assuming a strong water-wet state is not accurate. The current research fills that gap and provides new insights by investigating the relationship between the CSC, phase distribution, and rock wettability. Upper Berea sandstone cores were used in this study, and the CSC was experimentally determined. Brine was injected into strong water-wet and weak water-wet core samples. The injection brine salinity was gradually reduced to identify the salinity at which fines migration initiated within the core. The analysis of pressure drops and effluent analysis was applied to estimate CSC at different wettability states. The step-by-step reduction in salinity led to CSCs of 0.12 M and 0.09 M NaCl for the weak water-wet core and strong water-wet core in the presence of oil, respectively. A weak water-wet system results in a higher CSC value compared to a strong water-wet system because fine particles are contained within a thin water film, and weak water wettability facilitates their easy migration under low reduced salinity conditions. The CSC corresponded to the point of maximum pressure difference and the highest concentrations of produced fines. The findings of this research provide valuable insights into the significant influence of rock wettability and phase distribution on the initiation of fines migration. These parameters must be carefully determined and considered during the design phase of production and enhanced oil recovery in sandstone reservoirs to ensure efficient operations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123113
JournalJournal of Molecular Liquids
Publication statusPublished - Nov 30 2023


  • Critical salt concentration
  • Formation damage
  • Phase distribution
  • Sandstone
  • Wettability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Spectroscopy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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