To determine modifications of oil/water two-phase-flow properties after injection of water-soluble polymers, unsteady-state flow experiments were performed on both water- and oil-wet (silanetreated) sandstones. The same imbibition cycle (water displacing oil) under the same conditions was performed on the same core, first without any polymer and then after polyacrylamide had been adsorbed within the core. The capillary pressure was measured directly along the core by use of water- and oil-wet semipermeable membranes, while relative permeabilities were determined from the measurement of the saturation profile (by gamma ray absorption), outlet fluid production, and pressure drop.

The action of adsorbed polymer on relative permeabilities was found to be the same with both water- and oil-wet cores (i.e. a selective reduction of the relative permeability to water with respect to the relative permeability to oil). The trend was somewhat different for the capillary pressure. For the case of water-wet sandstones, the capillary pressure remained positive but increased dramatically after polymer adsorption. Because the polymer has little effect on the interfacial tension (IFT), this effect was attributed to the reduction of pore-throat size caused by macromolecule adsorption and to a possible improvement of the wettability of the core to water. For the case of oil-wet sandstone, the capillary pressure curve moved from negative to positive values, indicating that, in addition to pore-size restriction, the wettability of the core changed after polymer adsorption. This wettability change also induced a dramatic drop in residual oil saturation (ROS).

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