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Atomistic Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Crude Oil/Brine Displacement in Calcite Mesopores

Sedghi, Mohammad, Piri, Mohammad, Goual, Lamia
Langmuir 2016 v.32 no.14 pp. 3375-3384
calcite, carbonates, contact angle, electrostatic interactions, hydrogen bonding, models, molecular dynamics, nanopores, oils, petroleum, porosity, shale, surface tension, temperature, water salinity, North America
Unconventional reservoirs such as hydrocarbon-bearing shale formations and ultratight carbonates generate a large fraction of oil and gas production in North America. The characteristic feature of these reservoirs is their nanoscale porosity that provides significant surface areas between the pore walls and the occupying fluids. To better assess hydrocarbon recovery from these formations, it is crucial to develop an improved insight into the effects of wall–fluid interactions on the interfacial phenomena in these nanoscale confinements. One of the important properties that controls the displacement of fluids inside the pores is the threshold capillary pressure. In this study, we present the results of an integrated series of large-scale molecular dynamics (MD) simulations performed to investigate the effects of wall–fluid interactions on the threshold capillary pressures of oil–water/brine displacements in a calcite nanopore with a square cross section. Fully atomistic models are utilized to represent crude oil, brine, and calcite in order to accommodate electrostatic interactions and H-bonding between the polar molecules and the calcite surface. To this end, we create mixtures of various polar and nonpolar organic molecules to better represent the crude oil. The interfacial tension between oil and water/brine and their contact angle on calcite surface are simulated. We study the effects of oil composition, water salinity, and temperature and pressure conditions on these properties. The threshold capillary pressure values are also obtained from the MD simulations for the calcite nanopore. We then compare the MD results against those generated using the Mayer-Stowe-Princen (MSP) method and explain the differences.