alkaline flooding

1. n. [Enhanced Oil Recovery, Enhanced Oil Recovery]
An enhanced oil recovery technique in which an alkaline chemical such as sodium hydroxide, sodium orthosilicate or sodium carbonate is injected during polymer flooding or waterflooding operations. The alkaline chemical reacts with certain types of oils, forming surfactants inside the reservoir. Eventually, the surfactants reduce the interfacial tension between oil and water and trigger an increase in oil production. Alkaline flooding is not recommended for carbonate reservoirs because of the abundance of calcium: the mixture between the alkaline chemical and the calcium ions can produce hydroxide precipitation that may damage the formation. Alkaline flooding is also known as caustic flooding.