An experimental workflow to assess the applicability of microemulsions for conformance improvement in oil-bearing reservoir

Nilanjan Pal*, Yara Alzahid, Abdulkareem M. AlSofi, Muhammad Ali, Nurudeen Yekeen, Hussein Hoteit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A comprehensive workflow approach is necessary to link multiple experimental tasks and identify microemulsion (ME) formulations with ‘optimal’ stability, displacement behavior and technical feasibility in the petroleum industry. In this paper, a systematic approach is described with the aid of a case study which involves the formulation of an anionic sodium dodecyl sulfate-based microemulsion. The design of such ME systems requires a proper methodology, substantial laboratory work, and functional assessment from research/industrial viewpoints. The surfactant has been screened in terms of its micellization potential, followed by phase behavior analysis and Winsor classification of prepared microemulsions. The desired composition(s) are characterized via several tools to determine droplet size, morphology, oil/water solubilization potentials and salinity scan results. The suitability of the microemulsion system for conformance improvement technology (CIT) is proposed to be assessed via physicochemical evaluation studies encompassing two attributes: rheology and stability. For a favorable ‘conforming’ drive, the microemulsion must exhibit phase stability, sufficient injectivity, and moderate-to-high viscosity under shear. Technical assessment by the industry and research team must also include factors related to cost, availability of chemicals, environmental degradation, and reservoir considerations. The article demonstrates a comprehensive all-inclusive workflow methodology to design and formulate surfactant-stabilized microemulsions via case study analysis for application in CIT. This represents a sound approach to identifying efficient, cost-effective injection fluid systems and provides a framework to identify useful parameters for ME formulation design and employ the proposed (effective) strategy for conformance control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere17667
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


  • Conformance improvement
  • Microemulsion
  • Phase behavior
  • Salinity effect
  • Stability
  • Viscosity
  • Workflow design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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