Extended Fractional-Flow Model of Low-Salinity Waterflooding Accounting for Dispersion and Effective Salinity Range

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Low–salinity waterflooding (LSWF) is an emergent technology developed to increase oil recovery. Laboratory–scale testing of this process is common, but modeling at the production scale is less well–reported. Various descriptions of the functional relationship between salinity and relative permeability have been presented in the literature, with respect to the differences in the effective salinity range over which the mechanisms occur. In this paper, we focus on these properties and their impact on fractional flow of LSWF at the reservoir scale. We present numerical observations that characterize flow behavior accounting for dispersion.

We analyzed linear and nonlinear functions relating salinity to relative permeability and various effective salinity ranges using a numerical simulator. We analyzed the effect of numerical and physical dispersion of salinity on the velocity of the waterflood fronts as an expansion of fractional–flow theory, which normally assumes shock–like behavior of water and concentration fronts.

We observed that dispersion of the salinity profile affects the fractional–flow behavior depending on the effective salinity range. The simulator solution is equal to analytical predictions from fractional–flow analysis when the midpoint of the effective salinity range lies between the formation and injected salinities. However, retardation behavior similar to the effect of adsorption occurs when these midpoint concentrations are not coincidental. This alters the velocities of high– and low–salinity water fronts.

We derived an extended form of the fractional–flow analysis to include the impact of salinity dispersion. A new factor quantifies a physical or numerical retardation that occurs. We can now modify the effects that dispersion has on the breakthrough times of high– and low–salinity water fronts during LSWF. This improves predictive ability and also reduces the requirement for full simulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2874–2888
Number of pages15
JournalSPE Journal
Issue number6
Early online date2 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


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