Oil Recovery Performance by Surfactant Flooding: A Perspective on Multiscale Evaluation Methods

Khaled Al-Azani, Sidqi Abu-Khamsin*, Ridha Al-Abdrabalnabi, Muhammad Shahzad Kamal*, Shirish Patil, Xianmin Zhou, Syed Muhammad Shakil Hussain, Emad Al Shalabi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Chemical-enhanced oil recovery (cEOR) is a class of techniques commonly used to extract hydrocarbon fluids from reservoir rocks beyond conventional waterflooding. Surfactants are among the chemical agents employed in a cEOR process, as they aid in enhancing oil recovery by lowering the oil-water interfacial tension (IFT) and altering the rock wettability toward less oil-wet conditions. Understanding the flow characteristics and mechanisms involved during surfactant flooding helps improve the performance of injected surfactants and results in higher oil recovery. The objective of this review is to outline the recent applications of the different methods employed to understand the behavior and mechanisms involved during surfactant-enhanced oil recovery. The review begins with a general background highlighting the basic characteristics of surfactants and the main mechanisms by which they exert their influence. Recent studies conducted to investigate the oil recovery performance through different methods are then presented, including traditional coreflooding experiments, microfluidics studies, and oil recovery through sand packs. The methodology of the analysis and the interpretation of the data obtained from the different oil recovery tests, including oil recovery factor, pressure data, and relative permeability, are also described. Pore-scale analysis and imaging methods including nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and X-ray medical and microcomputed tomography (μCT) scanning and their applicability in assessing the recovery performance are described. Finally, a few examples of field monitoring methods for surfactant flooding are highlighted. This review provides knowledge of the different multiscale evaluation methods and their applicability during surfactant flooding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13451-13478
Number of pages28
JournalEnergy and Fuels
Issue number22
StatePublished - 17 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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