Abstract

The success of improved oil recovery from natural fractured chalk fields by injection of water depends largely on the wetting conditions of the reservoir rock and also, to some extent, on the compaction due to water weakening of the formation. Samples from outcrops are often used to mimic the reservoir properties in laboratory work. The present study illustrates that care must be taken when selecting outcrop material; in particular, the content of silica will affect these important properties. Chalk samples from Aalborg, which contained significant amounts of silica and minor amounts of clay (6.3 wt% Si), were studied by SEM and the mineral properties of the silica characterized. The surface chemistry of the porous medium was different from chalk containing smaller amounts of silica and clay (1.4–2.8 wt%). In the presence of a crude oil with high acid number and initial formation water, the water-wet fraction of Aalborg chalk remained close to 1.0 after aging for four weeks at 90°C in the crude oil. The Amott–Harvey wetting index showed, however, the wetting condition to be close to neutral, and only small amounts of water and oil imbibed spontaneously at the residual saturations. The difference in wetting conditions due to different content of silica and clay is also reflected in differences in the mechanical properties. It appeared that the mechanical strength, as studied by a large number of tests, became weaker as the water wetness decreased. The effect of wettability on the water weakening of chalk is discussed in terms of chalk dissolution and the chemistry associated with thin water films. As an overall conclusion and recommendation, a careful comparison should be made of the Si-content in the reservoir rock and outcrop chalk when picking material for laboratory experiments.

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