Scaling up low-salinity waterflooding in heterogenous reservoirs

Hasan Al-Ibadi, Karl Stephen, Eric Mackay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Modeling the dynamic fluid behavior of low-salinity waterflooding (LSWF) at the reservoir scale is a challenge that requires a coarse-grid simulation to enable prediction in a feasible time scale. However, evidence shows that using low-resolution models will result in a considerable mismatch compared with an equivalent fine-scale model with the potential of strong, numerically induced pulses and other dispersion-related effects. This work examines two new upscaling methods that have been applied to improve the accuracy of predictions in a heterogeneous reservoir where viscous crossflow takes place. We apply two approaches to upscaling to bring the flow prediction closer to being exact. In the first method, we shift the effective-salinity range for the coarse model using algorithms that we have developed to correct for numerical dispersion and associated effects. The second upscaling method uses appropriately derived pseudorelative permeability curves. The shape of these new curves is designed using a modified fractional-flow analysis of LSWF that captures the relationship between dispersion and the waterfront velocities. This second approach removes the need for explicit simulation of salinity transport to model oil displacement. We applied these approaches in layered models and for permeability distributed as a correlated random field. Upscaling by shifting the effective-salinity range of the coarse-grid model gave a good match to the fine-scale scenario, while considerable mismatch was observed for upscaling of the absolute permeability alone. For highly coarsened models, this method of upscaling reduced the appearance of numerically induced pulses. On the other hand, upscaling by using a single (pseudo)relative permeability produced more robust results with a very promising match to the fine-scale scenario. These methods of upscaling showed promising results when they were used to scale up fully communicating and noncommunicating layers as well as models with randomly correlated permeability. Unlike documented methods in the literature, these newly derived methods take into account the substantial effects of numerical dispersion and effective concentration on fluid dynamics using mathematical tools. The methods could be applied for other models where the phase mobilities change as a result of an injected solute, such as surfactant flooding and alkaline flooding. Usually these models use two sets of relative permeability and switch from one to another as a function of the concentration of the solute.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2167-2188
Number of pages22
JournalSPE Journal
Issue number4
Early online date9 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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