This study investigates the potential of enhancing oil recovery from a Middle East heavy oil field via hot water injection followed by injection of a chemical surfactant and/or a biosurfactant produced by a Bacillus subtilis strain which was isolated from oil-contaminated soil. The results reveal that the biosurfactant and the chemical surfactant reduced the residual oil saturation after a hot water flood. Moreover, it was found that the performance of the biosurfactant increased by mixing it with the chemical surfactant. It is expected that the structure of the biosurfactant used in this study was changed when mixed with the chemical surfactant as a probable synergetic effect of biosurfactant-chemical surfactants was observed on enhancing oil recovery, when used as a mixture, rather than alone. This work proved that it is more feasible to inject the biosurfactant as a blend with the chemical surfactant, at the tertiary recovery stage. This might be attributed to the fact that in the secondary mode, improvement of the macroscopic sweep efficiency is important, whereas in the tertiary recovery mode, the microscopic sweep efficiency matters mainly and it is improved by the biosurfactant-chemical surfactant mixture. Also as evidenced by this study, the biosurfactant worked better than the chemical surfactant in reducing the residual heavy oil saturation after a hot water flood.
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