Natural Resources Research

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 213–221 | Cite as

Coupling of Low-Salinity Water Flooding and Steam Flooding for Sandstone Unconventional Oil Reservoirs

  • Hasan N. Al-SaediEmail author
  • Ralph E. Flori
  • Mohammed Alkhamis
  • Patrick V. Brady
Original Paper


In this study, we combined low-salinity (LS) water and steam as a novel enhanced oil recovery (EOR) method that can provide additional oil recovery up to 63% of original heavy oil in place, which is a very promising percentage. The LS water flooding and steam flooding are two novel combination flooding methods that were combined due to the significant effect of both methods in reducing residual oil saturation (especially heavy oil). The laboratory observations of LS water have been conducted by laboratory and pilot tests, which indicated that LS water could increase recovery to 41% of original oil in place. The thermal aspects provided by steam flooding enhanced heavy oil recovery in many field projects. Although the steam provided additional heavy oil recovery, the density difference between injected steam and in situ heavy oil raised badly behaved displacement issues. The problems could be steam channeling, gravity override, and early breakthrough. In view of that, we developed the low-salinity alternating steam flood (LSASF) to gather the benefits of LS water (altering sandstone wettability), reduce oil viscosity by steam, and prevent the steam problems mentioned earlier. Contact angle measurements showed that flooding the core using LSASF method resulted in more water wetness to the sandstone cores. Many scenarios were conducted experimentally, and the laboratory experiments showed that the optimum setup was reducing the injected LS steam cycles. The shorter the injected cycles are, the more the oil recovery is.


Unconventional oil resources Enhanced oil recovery Steam flooding Low-salinity water flooding Petroleum geochemistry 



The authors thank the Higher Committee for Education Development in Iraq and the Iraqi Ministry of Oil/Missan Oil Company for their permission to present this paper. The authors would like to express their grateful acknowledgment to Sandia National Laboratories, which is a multimission laboratory managed and operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, LLC., a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International, Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-NA-0003525. The authors would also like to express their grateful acknowledgment to the Colt Energy Company. The authors would also like to acknowledge Colt Energy, especially John Amerman, for providing core materials and crude oil for this study.


  1. Aksulu, H., Håmsø, D., Strand, S., Puntervold, T., & Austad, T. (2012). Evaluation of low-salinity enhanced oil recovery effects in sandstone: Effects of the temperature and pH gradient. Energy & Fuels, 26, 3497–3503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ali, S. M. F. (1974). Current status of steam injection as a heavy oil recovery method. Petroleum Society of Canada. Scholar
  3. Al-Saedi, H. N., Brady, P.V., Flori, R.E., & Heidari, P. (2018). Novel insights into low salinity water flooding enhanced oil recovery in sandstone with/without clays. In SPE improved oil recovery conference, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, 14–18 April 2018, SPE-190215-MS.Google Scholar
  4. Alvarado, V., & Manrique, E. (2010). Enhanced oil recovery: An update review. Energies, 3, 1529–1575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Austad, T., RezaeiDoust, A., & Puntervold, T. (2010). Chemical mechanism of low salinity water flooding in sandstone reservoirs. In Proceedings of the 2010 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) improved oil recovery symposium, Tulsa, OK, SPE Paper 129767.Google Scholar
  6. Brady, P. V., Morrow, N. R., Fogden, A., Deniz, V., & Loahardjo, N. (2015). Electrostatics and the low salinity effect in sandstone reservoirs. Energy & Fuels, 29(2), 666–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ghedan, S. G. (2009). Global laboratory experience of CO2-eor flooding. Society of Petroleum Engineers. Scholar
  8. Hadlow, R. E. (1992). Update of industry experience with CO2 injection. Society of Petroleum Engineers. Scholar
  9. Hong, K. C., & Stevens, D. E. (1990). Water-alternating-steam process improves project economics at West Coalinga field. Petroleum Society of Canada. Scholar
  10. Hong, K. C., & Stevens, C. E. (1992). Water-alternating-steam process improves project economics at West Coalinga field. Society of Petroleum Engineers. Scholar
  11. Lager, A., Webb, K. J., Black, C. J. J., Singleton, M., & Sorbie, K. S. (2006). Low salinity oil recovery—An experimental investigation. Petrophysics, 49(1), 28–35.Google Scholar
  12. Ligthelm, D. J., Gronsveld, J., Hofman, J. P., Brussee, N. J., Marcelis, F., van der Linde, H. A. (2009). Novel water flooding strategy by manipulation of injection brine composition. In SPE 119835; EUROPEC/EAGE conference and exhibition.
  13. Matthews, C. S. (1983). Steam flooding. Society of Petroleum Engineers. Scholar
  14. McGuire, P. L., Chatham, J. R., Paskvan, F. K., Sommer, D. M., & Carini, F. H. (2005). Low salinity oil recovery: an exciting new EOR opportunity for Alaska’s North Slope. In SPE western regional meeting, 30 March − 1 April, Irvine, California.
  15. Reinholdtsen, A. J., RezaeiDoust, A., Strand, S., & Austad, T. (2011). Why such a small low salinity EOR–Potential from the Snorre formation? In Proceedings of the 16th European symposium on improved oil recovery, Cambridge, UK, April 12 − 14, 2011.Google Scholar
  16. RezaeiDoust, A., Puntervold, T., & Austad, T. (2011). Chemical verification of the EOR mechanism by using low saline/smart water in sandstone. Energy & Fuels, 25, 2151–2162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. RezaeiDoust, A., Puntervold, T., Strand, S., & Austad, T. (2009). Smart water as wettability modifier in carbonate and sandstone: A discussion of similarities/differences in the chemical mechanisms. Energy & Fuels, 23(9), 4479–4485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Stalkup, F. I. (1983). Miscible displacement. Richardson, TX: SPE Monograph Series.Google Scholar
  19. Tang, G.-Q., & Morrow, N. R. (1999). Influence of brine composition and fines migration on crude oil/brine/rock interactions and oil recovery. Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 24(2), 99–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Association for Mathematical Geosciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Missouri University of Science and TechnologyRollaUSA
  2. 2.Missan Oil CompanyAmarahIraq
  3. 3.Sandia National LaboratoriesAlbuquerqueUSA

Personalised recommendations