From Mineral Surfaces and Coreflood Experiments to Reservoir Implementations: Comprehensive Review of Low-Salinity Water Flooding (LSWF)

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Low-salinity water flooding (LSWF) is an emerging and inexpensive enhanced oil recovery (EOR) method. The technique hinges on the following concept: as salinity of injected water reduces, additional oil is recovered. However, LSWF remains emerging because its underlying mechanisms have been largely elusive, and the identified ones have been controversial. If properly investigated, smart water injection may contribute to harnessing both heavy-oil reservoirs, which account for nearly 80% of world's petroleum reserves, and conventional light-to-medium oil reservoirs. This report presents a comprehensive review of low-salinity water injection as an EOR method, with a specific focus on consistencies or lack of them, that occurs primarily due to inadequate understanding of oil-brine and rock-oil-brine interactions. In presenting well-documented scientific information, we expect to apprise industry and academic researchers that LSWF warrants more-advanced research based on interdisciplinary approach (bridging the gap between science and engineering) and the integration of knowledge from R&D efforts and observations from the atomic to the field scales.

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Energy and Fuels

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