An Imbibition Model - Its Application to Flow Behavior and the Prediction of Oil Recovery
- J. Naar (Gulf Research & Development Co.) | J.H. Henderson (Gulf Research & Development Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal
- Publication Date
- June 1961
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 61 - 70
- 1961. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 5.1 Reservoir Characterization
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The displacement of a wetting fluid from a porous medium by a non-wetting fluid (drainage) is now reasonably well understood. A complete explanation has yet to be found for the analogous case of a wetting fluid being spontaneously imbibed and the non-wetting phase displaced (imbibition). During the displacement of oil or gas by water in a water-wet sand, the porous medium ordinarily imbibes water. The amount of oil recovered, the cost of recovery and the production history seem then to be controlled mainly by pore geometry. The influence of pore geometry is reflected in drainage and imbibition capillary-pressure curves and relative permeability curves. Relative permeability curves for a particular consolidated sand show that at any given saturation the permeability to oil during imbibition is smaller than during drainage. Low imbibition permeabilities suggest that the non-wetting phase, oil or gas, is gradually trapped by the advancing water.
This paper describes a mathematical image (model) of consolidated porous rock based on the concept of the trapping of the non-wetting phase during the imbibition process. The following items have been derived from the model.
1. A direct relation between the relative permeability characteristics during imbibition and those observed during drainage.
2. A theoretical limit for the fractional amount of oil or gas recoverable by imbibition.
3. An expression for the resistivity index which can be used in connection with the formula for wetting-phase relative permeability to check the consistency of the model.
4. The limits of flow performance for a given rock dictated by complete wetting by either oil or water.
5. The factors controlling oil recovery by imbibition in the presence of free gas.
The complexity of a porous medium is such that drastic simplifications must be introduced to obtain a model amenable to mathematical treatment. Many parameters have been introduced by others in "progressing" from the parallel-capillary model to the randomly interconnected capillary models independently proposed by Wyllie and Gardner and Marshall. To these a further complication must be added since an imbibition model must trap part of the non-wetting phase during imbibition of the wetting phase. Like so many of the previously introduced complications, this fluid-block was introduced to make the model performance fit the observed imbibition flow behavior.
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