The influence of individual clay minerals on formation damage of reservoir sandstones; a critical review with some new insights
The influence of individual clay minerals on formation damage of reservoir sandstones; a critical review with some new insights (in 7th Cambridge diagenesis conference 2011, C. V. Jeans (prefacer) and N. J. Tosca (prefacer))
Clay Minerals (April 2014) 49 (2): 147-164
The influence of individual clay minerals on formation damage of reservoir sandstones is reviewed, mainly through the mechanism of fine particle dispersion and migration leading to the accumulation and blockage of pore throats and significant reduction of permeability. The minerals discussed belong to the smectite, kaolinite, illite and chlorite groups respectively. These minerals usually occur in an aggregate form in reservoir sandstones and the physicochemical properties of these aggregates are reviewed in order to reach a better understanding of the factors that lead to their dispersion in aqueous pore fluids. Particularly significant properties include the surface charge on both basal and edge faces of the clay minerals and how this varies with pH, external surface area of both swelling and non-swelling clays, porosity and pore size distribution in the micro- and meso-pore size range and overall aggregate morphology. For non-swelling clays, and perhaps even for swelling clays, dispersion is thought to be initiated at the micro- or meso-pore level, where the interaction between the pore solution and the charged clay surfaces exposed on adjacent sides of slit- or wedge-shaped pores brings about expansion of the diffuse double electric layer (DDL) and an increase in hydration pressure. Such expansion occurs only in dilute electrolyte solutions in contrast to the effect of concentrated solutions which would shrink the thickness of the DDL and so inhibit dispersion. Stable dispersions are formed, particularly where the solution pH exceeds the isoelectric pH of the mineral, which is often at alkali pH values, so that both basal face and edge surfaces are negatively charged and the particles repel each other. The osmotic swelling of smectitic clays to a gel-like form, so effectively blocking pores in situ, is often invoked as an explanation of formation damage in reservoir sandstones. Such swelling certainly occurs in dilute aqueous solutions under earth surface conditions but it is uncertain that stable smectitic gels could form at the temperatures and pressures associated with deeply buried reservoir sandstones.