China University of Petroleum Beijing
School of Engineering
Surfactant flooding is an important technique used to improve oil recovery from mature oil reservoirs due to minimizing the interfacial tension (IFT) between oil and water and/or altering the rock wettability toward water-wet using various surfactant agents including cationic, anionic, non-ionic, and amphoteric varieties. In this study, two amino-acid based surfactants, named lauroyl arginine (l-Arg) and lauroyl cysteine (l-Cys), were synthesized and used to reduce the IFT of oil–water systems and alter the wettability of carbonate rocks, thus improving oil recovery from oil-wet carbonate reservoirs. The synthesized surfactants were characterized using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance analyses, and the critical micelle concentration (CMC) of surfactant solutions was determined using conductivity, pH, and turbidity techniques. Experimental results showed that the CMCs of l-Arg and l-Cys solutions were 2000 and 4500 ppm, respectively. It was found that using l-Arg and l-Cys solutions at their CMCs, the IFT and contact angle were reduced from 34.5 to 18.0 and 15.4 mN/m, and from 144° to 78° and 75°, respectively. Thus, the l-Arg and l-Cys solutions enabled approximately 11.9% and 8.9% additional recovery of OOIP (original oil in place). It was identified that both amino-acid surfactants can be used to improve oil recovery due to their desirable effects on the EOR mechanisms at their CMC ranges.
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