Coupling polymer with low-salinity water (LSW) to promote enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in carbonate reservoirs has attracted significant interest in the petroleum industry. However, low-salinity polymer (LSP) application to improve oil extraction from such rocks remains a challenge because of the complex synergism between these two EOR agents. Thus, this paper highlights the main factors that govern the LSP displacement process in carbonate reservoirs in terms of wettability alteration and mobility control. A series of experiments including contact angle, spontaneous imbibition, injectivity, adsorption, and oil displacement tests were performed. The impact of mineral dissolution on the polymer/brine and polymer/rock surface interactions and its possible connection to the efficiency of the LSP in carbonates was also investigated using f potential analysis following an elaborative procedure. All experiments were executed at elevated temperature (75oC) using two polymers (SAV10) of different molecular weights (MWs) prepared at varying concentrations and salinities. Contact angle measurements showed that increasing the polymer concentration and MW and, at the same time, decreasing the solution salinity could effectively rend homogeneous oil-wet calcite surfaces strongly water-wet. Conversely, spontaneous imbibition tests using heterogonous oil-wet Indiana limestone cores showed that the polymer viscosity and its molecular size hinder the performance of the polymer to modify the wettability of the core samples at high concentration and MW because they could limit its penetration into the porous medium. On the other hand, the results obtained from polymer injectivities showed that LSP had better propagation with lower filtration effects in comparison with high-salinity polymer (HSP). However, polymer adsorption and inaccessible pore volume (IPV) increased with the decrease of salinity. Calcite mineral dissolution triggered by LSP, which is associated with an increase in pH and [Ca2þ], considerably influenced the polymer viscosity. In addition, f potential measurements showed that the LSP altered the rock surface charge from positive toward negative and at the same time, the Ca2þ released due to mineral dissolution could modify the polymer molecule charge toward positive. This confirms that mineral dissolution impressively results in better wettability alteration performance; however, it could lead to undesirable high polymer adsorption at low salinity. These findings provide new insight into the influence of mineral dissolution on polymer performance in carbonates. Finally, forced oil displacement tests revealed that both HSP and LSP extracted approximatively the same amount of oil. The HSP could enhance the oil recovery through mobility control. By contrast, wettability alteration could take part in the improvement of oil recovery at LSP, as proved by spontaneous imbibition tests, along with mobility control. Despite possessing high wettability alteration potential, LSP could not yield very high recovery because of its low accessibility into the porous medium. Shearing of the LSP was found effective in improving oil recovery through enhancing the polymer accessibility. This will lead us to simply say that polymer accessibility into carbonates is crucial for the success of the wettability alteration and mobility control processes, which is remarkably important not only for this specific study but also for other various polymer EOR applications.
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