Transient Interfaces During Immiscible Liquid-Liquid Displacement in Porous Media
- H.D. Outmans (Union Oil Co. Of California)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal
- Publication Date
- June 1962
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 156 - 164
- 1962. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 5.3.1 Flow in porous media
- 2 in the last 30 days
- 203 since 2007
- Show more detail
- View rights & permissions
In steady vertical flow, the interface of an immiscible liquid-liquid displacement is horizontal for any flow rate below the critical in non-vertical flow, however, the shape of the interface in the steady state does depend on the flow rate, and the purpose of this paper is to calculate the unsteady interfaces during the transition of one steady state of flow to another. A knowledge of these transient interfaces is of considerable importance in reservoir engineering where the calculation of breakthrough recovery depends on the instant the interface reaches the producing wells and on the shape of the interface at that time. Although the emphasis is put on transient interfaces, which eventually approach stable equilibrium, it is shown that if the displacement exceeds a critical rate no equilibrium is possible. The interface is then unstable and viscous fingers are formed during the displacement. The critical rate and the shape of the transient and equilibrium interfaces are affected by the effective interfacial tension; but since this effective inter facial tension appears in the calculations only in combination with the in verse square of the thickness of the medium, its effect in the reservoir would appear to be negligible compared to its significance in model experiments.
Stability criteria and the early growth of interfacial disturbances in a plane parallel to the boundaries of a dipping formation in which oil is displaced by an incompressible fluid were described in a previous paper. This type of instability is significant in thin reservoirs. However, if the reservoir has appreciable thickness, then interfacial stability in vertical planes, normal to the upper and lower boundaries, also becomes important (the displacement is supposed to be parallel to these vertical planes). The difference between the two stability problems is that, in the first case, the intersections of the interface with planes parallel to the boundaries are normal to the direction of the displacement; in the second case, the intersections, this time with vertical planes, are not normal to the displacement. Instead, they are tilted at an angle which depends on the displacement rate. The tilt of steady interfaces was calculated by Dietz who also determined the critical rate of displacement for stability in the vertical plane by assuming that this rate would coincide with an interfacial tilt equal to the dip of the formation. The critical rate thus calculated is the same as has been found for thin reservoirs (see Eq. 1.1 of Ref. 1 and of the present paper). Dietz's calculation of the stable tilt was verified by laboratory experiments and the agreement was found to be fairly good. It is doubtful, however, that stable tilts actually exist in the reservoir because a change in production rate is not followed by an instantaneous adjustment of the interface to the new rate but, rather, by a transition period during which the interface changes from one equilibrium tilt to the other. The principal objective of this paper has been to describe these transient interfaces without putting any restrictions on the flow conditions or the shape of the interface, as had been done previously. The second objective was to compute the critical velocity, taking into account capillary effects, and the third was to evaluate, at least qualitatively, the shape of the front at rates above the critical, again without making the simplifying assumptions introduced by previous investigators. In the following sections two examples are given of the calculation of interfacial motion. The first describes this motion for an initially horizontal interface in a dipping layer, and the second for a vertical interface in a horizontal layer. The mathematical formulation of the problem is non linear in the boundary conditions, and this prohibits its solution in closed form. Instead, the solution is obtained in the form of higher-order approximations.
|File Size||479 KB||Number of Pages||9|