Laboratory experiments have shown higher oil recovery with nanoparticle (NPs) flooding. Accordingly, many studies have investigated the nanoparticle-aided sweep efficiency of the injection fluid. The change in wettability and the reduction of the interfacial tension (IFT) are the two most proposed enhanced oil recovery (EOR) mechanisms of nanoparticles. Nevertheless, gaps still exist in terms of understanding the interactions induced by NPs that pave way for the mobilization of oil. This work investigated four types of polymer-coated silica NPs for oil recovery under harsh reservoir conditions of high temperature (60
C) and salinity (38,380 ppm). Flooding experiments were conducted on neutral-wet core plugs in tertiary recovery mode. Nanoparticles were diluted to 0.1 wt.% concentration with seawater. The nano-aided sweep efficiency was studied via IFT and imbibition tests, and by examining the displacement pressure behavior. Flooding tests indicated incremental oil recovery between 1.51 and 6.13% of the original oil in place (OOIP). The oil sweep efficiency was affected by the reduction in core’s permeability induced by the aggregation/agglomeration of NPs in the pores. Different types of mechanisms, such as reduction in IFT, generation of in-situ emulsion, microscopic flow diversion and alteration of wettability, together, can explain the nano-EOR effect. However, it was found that the change in the rock wettability to more water-wet condition seemed to govern the sweeping efficiency. These experimental results are valuable addition to the data bank on the application of novel NPs injection in porous media and aid to understand the EOR mechanisms associated with the application of polymer-coated silica nanoparticles.
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