Effect of Temperature on Oil/Water Relative Permeabilities of Unconsolidated and Consolidated Sands
- Mark A. Miller (Stanford U.) | H.J. Ramey Jr. (Stanford U.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal
- Publication Date
- December 1985
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 945 - 953
- 1985. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.3.4 Scale, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 5.6.2 Core Analysis, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 5.3.4 Reduction of Residual Oil Saturation, 5.4.6 Thermal Methods, 6.5.2 Water use, produced water discharge and disposal, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.4.10 Microbial Methods
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Over the past 20 years, a number of studies have reported temperature effects on two-phase relative permeabilities in porous media. Some of the reported results, however, have been contradictory. Also, observed effects have not been explained in terms of fundamental properties known to govern two-phase flow. The purpose of this study was to attempt to isolate the fundamental properties affecting two-phase relative permeabilities at elevated temperatures.
Laboratory dynamic-displacement relative permeability measurements were made on unconsolidated and consolidated sand cores with water and a refined white mineral oil. Experiments were run on 2-in. [5.1-cm] -diameter, 20-in. [52.-cm] -long cores from room temperature to 300F [149C].
Unlike previous researchers, we observed essentially no changes with temperature in either residual saturations or relative permeability relationships. We concluded that previous results may have been affected by viscous previous results may have been affected by viscous instabilities, capillary end effects, and/or difficulties in maintaining material balances.
Interest in measuring relative permeabilities at elevated temperatures began in the 1960's with petroleum industry interest in thermal oil recovery. Early thermal oil recovery field operations (well heaters, steam injection, in-situ combustion) indicated oil flow rate increases far in excess of what was predicted by viscosity reductions resulting from heating. This suggested that temperature affects relative permeabilities.
One of the early studies of temperature effects on relative permeabilities was presented by Edmondson, who performed dynamic displacement measurements with crude performed dynamic displacement measurements with crude and white oils and distilled water in Berea sandstone cores. Edmondson reported that residual oil saturations (ROS's) (at the end of 10 PV's of water injected) decreased with increasing temperature. Relative permeability ratios decreased with temperature at high water saturations but increased with temperature at low water saturations.
A series of elevated-temperature, dynamic-displacement relative permeability measurements on clean quartz and "natural" unconsolidated sands were reported by Poston et al. Like Edmondson, Poston et al. reported a decrease in the "practical" ROS (at less than 1 % oil cut) as temperature increased. Poston et al. also reported an increase in irreducible water saturation. Although irreducible water saturations decreased with decreasing temperature, they did not revert to the original room temperature values. It was assumed that the cores became increasingly water-wet with an increase in both temperature and time; measured changes of the IFT and the contact angle with temperature increase, however, were not sufficient to explain observed effects.
Davidson measured dynamic-displacement relative permeability ratios on a coarse sand and gravel core with permeability ratios on a coarse sand and gravel core with white oil displaced by distilled water, nitrogen, and superheated steam at temperatures up to 540F [282C]. Starting from irreducible water saturation, relative permeability ratio curves were similar to Edmondson's. permeability ratio curves were similar to Edmondson's. Starting from 100% oil saturation, however, the curves changed significantly only at low water saturations. A troublesome aspect of Davidson's work was that he used a hydrocarbon solvent to clean the core between experiments. No mention was made of any consideration of wettability changes, which could explain large increases in irreducible water saturations observed in some runs.
Sinnokrot et al. followed Poston et al.'s suggestion of increasing water-wetness and performed water/oil capillary pressure measurements on consolidated sandstone and limestone cores from room temperature up to 325F [163C]. Sinnokrot et al confirmed that, for sandstones, irreducible water saturation appeared to increase with temperature. Capillary pressures increased with temperature, and the hysteresis between drainage and imbibition curves reduced to essentially zero at 300F [149C]. With limestone cores, however, irreducible water saturations remained constant with increase in temperature, as did capillary pressure curves.
Weinbrandt et al. performed dynamic displacement experiments on small (0.24 to 0.49 cu in. [4 to 8 cm3] PV) consolidated Boise sandstone cores to 175F [75C] PV) consolidated Boise sandstone cores to 175F [75C] with distilled water and white oil. Oil relative permeabilities shifted toward high water saturations with permeabilities shifted toward high water saturations with increasing temperature, while water relative permeabilities exhibited little change. Weinbrandt et al. confirmed the findings of previous studies that irreducible water saturation increases and ROS decreases with increasing temperature.
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