Geochemical investigation of electrical conductivity and electrical double layer based wettability alteration during engineered water injection in carbonates

Ilyas Khurshid, Imran Afgan

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The injection of engineered water to increase the oil recovery from carbonates is increasingly becoming popular due to its reduced environmental impact and low cost of operation. However, the related variation in electric properties of rock and fluid with this technique is still ambiguous and needs thorough investigation. This study explores the variation in electrical conductivity, ion mobility, electrical double layer thickness, and the related oil recovery with the change in water composition from a geochemical perspective. In this study, we implemented an improved wettability alteration model based on the variation in electrical conductivity with a Matlab-IPhreeqc coupled simulator, to model the electrical conductivity, ion mobility, and electrical double layer (EDL) thickness. The variation in concentration of the ionic species obtained from the geochemical model is used to determine the electrical conductivity. This electrical conductivity-based wettability modification is dynamically simulated in the transport model. The model is validated with experimental coreflood data conducted on carbonates by simulating the electrical conductivity measurements reported in the literature. From the findings, it is evident that the formation temperature, sulfate concentration, and dilution of injected seawater has a noticeable effect on electrical conductivity during engineered water injection. It is important to mention that the EDL thickness is the main parameter affected by the change in electrical conductivity. In consequence, it is suggested to inject high-temperature water in carbonate reservoirs because it will increase ion mobility. This increase in ion mobility will enhance the EDL thickness and water film will become stabilized. Moreover, seawater dilution decreases electrical conductivity while spiking of sulfate concentration increases the activity of sulfate ions. However, the concentration of sulfate ions must be controlled as a wettability alteration agent, as it can cause the formation and precipitation of calcium sulfate. Furthermore, the variation in electrical conductivity and EDL thickness caused by the injection of seawater and diluted seawater increased the recovery of oil by approximately 16–21% in the selected case study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110627
JournalJournal of Petroleum Science and Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • Carbonates
  • Electrical conductivity
  • Electrical double layer
  • Engineered water injection
  • Geochemical investigation
  • Wettability alteration


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