Three confined five-spot miscible displacements at unity, favorable, and unfavorable mobility ratios were conducted in a shallow, water-saturated sandstone of Pennsylvanian age near Chandler, Okla. These studies, plus associated laboratory experiments, were designed to measure-miscible displacement performance in a controlled natural system, using known scaling criteria to develop an approach to modeling the heterogeneous field system. We have concluded from these studies that:

  1. displacement efficiency in the field is a pronounced function of mobility ratio, indicating that miscible fingering observed in simple laboratory models occurs in the field

  2. field displacements can be quantitatively predicted by scaled laboratory models if the degree and location of field permeability variations are preserved in the models and

  3. arbitrary simplifications of heterogeneity will net necessarily predict observed displacement efficiency, and the simpler the model, the more optimistic the prediction.


Many processes to achieve miscible displacement of reservoir oil by injected fluids have been conceived and field tested by the oil industry. Among the better known are high-pressure gas, enriched gas, and LPG banks. The simplest form of miscible displacement one fluid miscible, displacing another fluid of different viscosity but the same density has been studied extensively in homogeneous laboratory models. Observations of unstable fingering have been made which explain the significant decrease in displacement efficiency as the mobility ratio (ratio of displacing fluid mobility to displaced fluid mobility) increases. General industry experience with field tests of miscible displacement projects, mostly LPG banks, has been premature solvent breakthrough and lower than predicted production rate increases. These results have been attributed to either unstable fingering, unusual or unexpected permeability stratification, or both. Miscible displacement data in a controlled natural system have never been reported, however. Also, it has not been shown that properly designed and constructed laboratory models quantitatively predict field-scale behavior. The purpose of the combined field and laboratory experiments reported in this paper is twofold. The first was to measure miscible displacement performance at different mobility ratios in natural rock approaching field size under precise, controlled conditions. The second purpose was to utilize known scaling criteria plus several approaches to heterogeneity to model the field. Comparison of model and actual field results should then determine whether or not the laboratory phenomena (manifested by miscible displacement efficiency) are exhibited in large, natural rock systems. We carried out our program by first locating a shallow, water-saturated reservoir whose rock properties were representative of oil-bearing reservoirs. Detailed reservoir description by core analysis and interference testing showed the field site to be heterogeneous." A sequence of controlled, aqueous-phase miscible displacements was conducted at unity, favorable and unfavorable mobility ratios. A central, confined pattern was used to obtain the displacement data. A laboratory program using sand-packed models was conducted to determine the modeling criteria necessary to simulate field behavior of miscible displacement in a heterogeneous system.


The detailed derivations and descriptions of the scaling laws that apply to laboratory models of reservoirs are adequately described elsewhere, so the following discussion will be restricted to facets of importance in this study. For a displacement in which one liquid miscibly displaces another, the following dimensionless groups are required to have the same numerical value in the model as in the field:


The model also must be geometrically similar to the field, be spatially oriented the same as the field (same dip angle), and have the same initial and boundary conditions as the field (same initial fluid saturations and same injection-production well arrangement). When these conditions are satisfied, the theory predicts that at any dimensionless time (pore volumes of produced fluids) the dimensionless flow potential and dimensionless fluid concentrations will be identical at all dimensionless spatial locations within the model and the field. If this prediction is correct, then the local dimensionless velocities must be identical, thus the instantaneous fraction of displaced fluid produced and the cumulative recovery expressed as fraction of original fluids in place must be identical at all dimensionless times.


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