Three-Phase Relative Permeability Measurements by Unsteady-State Method
- A.M. Sarem (Union Oil Co. Of California)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal
- Publication Date
- September 1966
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 199 - 205
- 1966. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.5 Reservoir Simulation
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- 787 since 2007
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For the performance prediction of multiphase oil recovery processes such as steam stimulation, there is an acute need for three-phase relative permeability data. No fast and simple experimental technique, such as the unsteady-state method proposed by Welge for two-phase flow, is available for the three-phase flow.
In this paper, an unsteady-state method is presented for obtaining three-phase relative permeability data; this method is as fast and easy as Welge's method for two-phase flow. Analytical expressions are derived by extension of the Buckley-Leverett theory to three-phase flow to express the saturation at the outflow face for all three phases in terms of the known parameters. It is assumed that the fractional flow and relative permeability of each phase are a function of the saturation of that phase. Other simplifying assumptions made include the neglect of capillary and gravity effects. The effect of saturation history upon relative permeability is acknowledged and attainment of similar saturation history in laboratory and field is recommended.
The required experimental work and computations are simple to perform. The test core is presaturated with oil and water, then subjected to gas drive. During the test, required data are the rates of oil, water, and gas production, together with pressure drop and temperature. The ordinary gas-oil unsteady-state relative permeability apparatus can be readily modified to measure the required data. The proposed technique was applied to samples of a Berea and a reservoir core. The effect of saturation history upon relative permeability was studied on one Berea core. It was found that increase in initial water saturation has a similar effect upon three-phase relative permeability as it does in two-phase flow.
In the light of increasing demand for three-phase, relative permeability data for predicting the performance of thermal and other multiphase-flow recovery processes, a simple and accurate method of experimental determination of such data is extremely desirable.
Leverett and Lewis1 described the simultaneous flow method of obtaining three-phase relative permeability data. However, Caudle et al.2 reported that this method is very time consuming and cumbersome. Corey3 proposed calculating the three-phase relative permeability from measured krg data. Corey's theory is based on simplified capillary pressure curves,4 assuming a straight line relationship between 1/Pc2 and saturation. Also, Corey's method assumes a preferentially water-wet system.
The simplest and quickest method of obtaining three-phase relative permeability data is the unsteady-state method where, for instance, oil and water are displaced by gas. However, in such a test the correlation of average saturation with relative permeability does not give a valid relationship because the rates of oil, water and gas flow in the sample change continuously from the upstream to downstream end. This difficulty in calculating valid relationships was solved by Welge for two-phase flow by deriving an expression from Buckley and Leverett frontal advance equations.5,6
In this paper, relations are established to determine the outflow face saturation and relative permeability to all phases in a three-phase flow displacement experiment.
The fundamentals established by Buckley and Leverett5 for two-phase flow were extended to three-phase flow and used as a basis for the derivation of saturation equations. This approach is comparable to Welge's6 use of Buckley and Leverett theory in arriving at expressions to determine the outflow face saturation of the displacing fluid in a two-phase flow system.
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