Interfacial phenomena in mixed-wet oil reservoirs: 2-phase fluid dynamics and chemo-rheology at pore-scale

  • Ahmed Mohamed Saad

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Asphaltenic crude oil is a complex fluid containing various components with different chemical properties. When it comes in contact with water, its polar components adsorb at the oil/water interface, reducing the interfacial tension and eventually developing viscoelastic films. The interfacial films impact emulsion stability and adhere to the oil-bearing reservoirs rocks, altering their wettability and thus hindering oil mobilization. Here, we investigate the formation of crude oil/water interfacial films. We measure both the time-dependent shear and extensional interfacial rheology moduli, and we relate it to the chemical composition of the films, highlighting the role of polar aromatic molecules in film formation. Varying chemical composition of the aqueous phase, we show that the properties of the interfacial films depend not only on the concentration of ionic species in water but also on their chemical nature. In particular, we highlight the role of sulfate salt in promoting interfacial viscoelasticity and in altering the composition of fully developed films. To study the rock/fluid interaction, we fabricate mixed-wet capillaries with angular cross-sections inspired by the naturally occurring primary drainage of pore-filling brine by invading crude oil. After employing our novel coating procedure, we experimentally investigate water invasion in mixed-wet capillaries and compare it with predictions of dynamic and quasi-static (Mayer-Stowe-Princen (MSP)) meniscus-invasion models. None of the dynamic models built for uniformly-wet pores can fully describe our experimental data in mixed-wet capillaries. However, the experimental results agree with predictions of MSP theory. To our knowledge, this is the first direct experimental validation of MSP theory under mixed-wet conditions. We confirm the possibility of spontaneous piston-type imbibition with high ($> 90^{\circ}$) advancing contact angles into mixed-wet pores, given that the contact angle is lowered below a critical value that is a function of pore geometry and residual water saturation. In oil reservoirs, injection of specific brines would be required to change the contact angle to values below the imbibition threshold. Finally, we extend our study and introduce a powerful 3D high-speed laser imaging of dynamic fluid flow in angular capillaries and investigate its capability to capture non-equilibrium shapes of fluid interfaces.
Date of AwardOct 2022
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorTadeusz Patzek (Supervisor)


  • Interfacial rheology
  • Low salinity water
  • Asphaltenes
  • Viscoelasticity
  • Angular capillaries
  • Imbibition
  • 3D Laser imaging

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