Improved Characterization and Modeling of Capillary Transition Zones in Carbonate Reservoirs
- Shehadeh K. Masalmeh (Shell Abu Dhabi BV) | Issa M. Abu-Shiekah (Shell Intl. E&P) | Xudong Jing (Shell Intl. E&P)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering
- Publication Date
- April 2007
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 191 - 204
- 2007. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.5.8 History Matching, 5.1 Reservoir Characterisation, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 5.6.1 Open hole/cased hole log analysis, 3.3.6 Integrated Modeling, 5.3.1 Flow in Porous Media, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 5.1.5 Geologic Modeling, 5.1.1 Exploration, Development, Structural Geology, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 5.6.2 Core Analysis, 5.7.2 Recovery Factors, 5.5.2 Core Analysis, 5.6.9 Production Forecasting, 5.3.4 Reduction of Residual Oil Saturation, 5.8.7 Carbonate Reservoir, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 5.5 Reservoir Simulation, 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing
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An oil/water capillary transition zone often contains a sizable portion of a field's initial oil in place, especially for those carbonate reservoirs with low matrix permeability. The field-development plan and ultimate recovery may be influenced heavily by how much oil can be recovered from the transition zone. This in turn depends on a number of geological and petrophysical properties that influence the distribution of initial oil saturation (Sor) against depth, and on the rock and fluid interactions that control the residual oil saturation (Sor), capillary pressure, and relative permeability characteristics as a function of initial oil saturation.
Because of the general lack of relevant experimental data and the insufficient physical understanding of the characteristics of the transition zone, modeling both the static and dynamic properties of carbonate fields with large transition zones remains an ongoing challenge. In this paper, we first review the transition-zone definition and the current limitations in modeling transition zones. We describe the methodology recently developed, based on extensive experimental measurements and numerical simulation, for modeling both static and dynamic properties in capillary transition zones. We then address how to calculate initial-oil-saturation distribution in the carbonate fields by reconciling log and core data and taking into account the effect of reservoir wettability and its impact on petrophysical interpretations. The effects of relative permeability and imbibition capillary pressure curves on oil recovery in heterogeneous reservoirs with large transition zones are assessed. It is shown that a proper description of relative permeability and capillary pressure curves including hysteresis, based on experimental special-core-analysis (SCAL) data, has a significant impact on the field-performance predictions, especially for heterogeneous reservoirs with transition zones.
The reservoir interval from the oil/water contact (OWC) to a level at which water saturation reaches irreducible is referred to as the capillary transition zone. Fig. 1 illustrates a typical capillary transition zone in a homogeneous reservoir interval within which both the oil and water phases are mobile. The balance of capillary and buoyancy forces controls this so-called capillary transition zone during the primary-drainage process of oil migrating into an initially water-filled reservoir trap.
Because the water-filled rock is originally water-wet, a certain threshold pressure must be reached before the capillary pressure in the largest pore can be overcome and the oil can start to enter the pore. Hence, the largest pore throat determines the minimum capillary rise above the free-water level (FWL). As shown schematically in Fig. 2, close to the OWC, the oil/water pressure differential (i.e., capillary pressure) is small; therefore, only the large pores can be filled with oil. As the distance above the OWC increases, an increasing proportion of smaller pores are entered by oil owing to the increasing capillary pressure with height above the FWL. The height of the transition zone and its saturation distribution is determined by the range and distribution of pore sizes within the rock, as well as the interfacial-force and density difference between the two immiscible fluids.
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