Theory and Application of Imbibition Phenomena in Recovery of Oil
- J.W. Graham (Humble Oil & Refining Co.) | J.G. Richardson (Humble Oil & Refining Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- February 1959
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 65 - 69
- 1959. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 4.6 Natural Gas, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 4.3.4 Scale, 6.5.2 Water use, produced water discharge and disposal, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 5.8.5 Oil Sand, Oil Shale, Bitumen
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The purpose of this paper is to present the results of theoretical and experimental studies of water imbibition. The imbibition processes are involved in recovery of oil from stratified and fractured-matrix formations in natural water drives and water flooding. An understanding of the role of imbibition in implementing the recovery of oil from such formations is deemed essential to proper control of these reservoirs to achieve maximum recovery.
The theoretical studies involved development of the differential equations which describe the spontaneous imbibition of water by an oil-saturated rock. The dependence of the rate of water intake by the rock on the permeability, interfacial tension, contact angles, fluid viscosities and fluid saturations is discussed. A few experiments were performed using core samples to determine the effects of core length and presence of a free gas saturation.
The role of water imbibition in recovery of oil from a fractured-matrix reservoir by water flooding was investigated by use of a laboratory model. This model was scaled to represent one element of a fractured-matrix formation. Water floods were made at various rates with several fracture widths. Interpretations were made of the behavior expected in a system containing many matrix blocks.
The presence of a free gas saturation was found to reduce the rate of water imbibition. In the reservoir prototype of the fractured-matrix model, water imbibition rather than direct displacement by water was the dominant mechanism in the recovery of oil at low rates.
Imbibition may be defined as the spontaneous taking up of a liquid by a porous solid. The spontaneous process of imbibition occurs when the fluid-filled solid is immersed or brought in contact with another fluid which preferentially wets the solid. In the process of wetting and flowing into the solid, the imbibing fluid displaces the non-wetting resident fluid. Common examples of this phenomenon are dry bricks soaking up water and expelling air, a blotter soaking up ink and expelling air and reservoir rock soaking up water and expelling oil.
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