Research conducted to determine the potential of nuclear explosions to stimulate gas production verifies that the gas permeability of tight sandstone cores is markedly decreased with increasing overburden pressure. Water saturation also reduces the gas permeability by a pressure. Water saturation also reduces the gas permeability by a large amount. The relative permeability, however, does not change significantly with overburden pressure.
Research on the potential of nuclear explosions to stimulate gas production from low-permeability (tight) sandstone reservoirs is being conducted by the U. S. Bureau of Mines in cooperation with the Atomic Energy Commission. This report describes the part of that research that was conducted to establish part of that research that was conducted to establish correlation between permeability measured on dry cores at low external pressure (routine analysis) and permeability at reservoir conditions. Cores used in this research were obtained from two Plowshare gas-stimulation projects. Project Gasbuggy Plowshare gas-stimulation projects. Project Gasbuggy cores from the Pictured Cliffs formation, Choza Mesa field, Rio Arriba County, N. M., can be described as very fine grained, slightly calcareous, well indurated sandstone. Project Wagon Wheel cores from the Fort Union formation, Pinedale field, Sublette County, Wyo., can be described as very fine grained, slightly calcareous, very well indurated sandstone. Underground reservoirs are under considerable compressive stress as a result of the weight of overlying rocks (offset somewhat by internal-fluid pressure). The resultant net confining pressure or pressure). The resultant net confining pressure or effective overburden pressure is referred to in this report simply as overburden pressure. The resulting effects on the physical properties of the reservoir rock have been studied. Overburden pressure causes only a small decrease in porosity, which can usually be ignored. This was confirmed for Project Gasbuggy and Project Wagon Wheel cores. A commercial laboratory found that the porosity of these cores is reduced by about 5 percent of the original porosity. The effect of overburden pressure on permeability, however, is appreciable and varies considerably for different reservoir rocks, causing greater reductions in permeability for low-permeability rocks. The effect permeability for low-permeability rocks. The effect of overburden pressure on relative permeability has been found to be small or nonexistent. This report presents material that confirms and extends previous research findings on the effect that overburden pressure has upon the permeability of dry cores. Also presented are the results of research on the relative gas permeability of low-permeability cores under overburden pressure.
Cylindrical cores 2.0 to 7.5 cm long and 2.5 cm in diameter were cut parallel to the bedding plane. After the cores were dried overnight in a vacuum oven (4.5 psia, 70C), the gas (N2) permeability of each core psia, 70C), the gas (N2) permeability of each core was measured in a Hassler cell. An external pressure of 100 psi over the inlet pressure was used to maintain a good seal between the rubber sleeve and the core. Permeability was measured at inlet pressures of 45, Permeability was measured at inlet pressures of 45, 60, and 100 psia, with atmospheric pressure at the outlet. A bubble tube and timer were used to measure gas flow rate. Initial permeability (ki) then was calculated by the Klinkenberg technique to correct for the effect of gas slippage. All other permeabilities reported here were calculated by this permeabilities reported here were calculated by this method.