Visual investigation of the effect of clay-induced fluid flow diversion on oil recovery, as a low-salinity water flooding mechanism

Arash Mehdizad, Behnam Sedaee*, Peyman Pourafshary

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Low-salinity water flooding (LSWF) is an EOR method applicable to both sandstone and carbonate reservoirs. In recent years, LSWF has become an attractive technique but still some uncertainties concerning the governing mechanisms exist in studies. Mechanisms such as wettability alteration, osmosis, and fluid flow diversion by fines migration are proposed to explain the incremental oil recovery by LSWF in sandstones. Flow diversion is still being debated as to whether this mechanism works and, if it does, to what extent. This mechanism occurs due to clay swelling and fines migration, which results in pores blockage, diversion of the fluid flow to unswept areas, and enhanced oil displacement. Hence, the presence of clays is claimed to be a necessity for the success of LSWF in sandstone reservoirs. Here we proposed a new approach to study effects of different mechanisms of LSWF alone and in combination of each other using micromodels to track fluid flow diversion and the reason behind it and its subsequent benefits in case of oil recovery, visually. In this paper micromodel tests in different wetting and clay presence conditions were designed and conducted to investigate the standalone fluid flow diversion mechanism and the combination of it with wettability alteration and osmosis effects during LSWF. Tests conducted in water wet and oil wet states showed that the presence of clays is not the main criterion for activating the LSWF effect and the initial wettability is more critical. Our studies showed that the fluid flow diversion share in oil recovery is only 30% of the total incremental oil displaced by LSWF, while about 70% of the oil is produced by wettability alteration and osmosis mechanisms. It is reasonable to say that, although flow diversion is an active mechanism, it is not the dominant one and on the other hand wettability alteration is.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109959
JournalJournal of Petroleum Science and Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Clay migration
  • Clay swelling
  • Flow diversion
  • Image processing
  • Low-salinity waterflooding
  • Micromodel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fuel Technology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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