Transport in Porous Media

, Volume 85, Issue 1, pp 1–21 | Cite as

The Impact of Pore Water Chemistry on Carbonate Surface Charge and Oil Wettability

  • A. HiorthEmail author
  • L. M. Cathles
  • M. V. Madland


Water chemistry has been shown experimentally to affect the stability of water films and the sorption of organic oil components on mineral surfaces. When oil is displaced by water, water chemistry has been shown to impact oil recovery. At least two mechanisms could account for these effects, the water chemistry could change the charge on the rock surface and affect the rock wettability, and/or changes in the water chemistry could dissolve rock minerals and affect the rock wettability. The explanations need not be the same for oil displacement of water as for water imbibition and displacement of oil. This article investigates how water chemistry affects surface charge and rock dissolution in a pure calcium carbonate rock similar to the Stevns Klint chalk by constructing and applying a chemical model that couples bulk aqueous and surface chemistry and also addresses mineral precipitation and dissolution. We perform calculations for seawater and formation water for temperatures between 70 and 130°C. The model we construct accurately predicts the surface potential of calcite and the adsorption of sulfate ions from the pore water. The surface potential changes are not able to explain the observed changes in oil recovery caused by changes in pore water chemistry or temperature. On the other hand, chemical dissolution of calcite has the experimentally observed chemical and temperature dependence and could account for the experimental recovery systematics. Based on this preliminary analysis, we conclude that although surface potential may explain some aspects of the existing spontaneous imbibitions data set, mineral dissolution appears to be the controlling factor.


Wettability Wettability change Geochemistry Zeta potential Carbonate 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IRISStavangerNorway
  2. 2.University of StavangerStavangerNorway
  3. 3.Earth and Atmospheric ScienceCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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