In the operation of a water-driven reservoir, a free gas saturation can be established by maintaining production rates fast enough to cause the reservoir pressure to decline below the bubble point. The benefit of such a procedure on the displacement efficiency of the oil by water is illustrated for two types of sandstone samples from one reservoir. Those rock samples showing the poorest recovery to water drive in the absence of a free gas saturation give the most improvement in the presence of a free gas saturation. Employing one type of reservoir fluid (low shrinkage) the benefit of evolved gas on oil displacement is calculated at several reservoir pressures below the bubble point. This demonstrates the presence of an optimum pressure for water displacement which is several hundred pounds per square inch below the bubble point. Displacement of oil at the optimum pressures results in the removal of 7 to 12 per cent more oil than would be obtained by displacement at the bubble point pressure. In some instances this magnitude of increase may be worthy of consideration in establishing the maximum efficient rate of production from many water-driven fields.


For many years the belief that the use of gas could be combined with that of water to result in a better recovery operation than the use of either of these phases alone has been prevalent in the oil industry. This is evidenced by the several field trials which have employed the injection of gas and water in combination. In most cases the small amount of any additional recovery, in combination with the limited knowledge available on the older reservoirs, has left uncertain the influence of gas on recovery in these earlier attempts to combine the use of gas with water.

Research studies in recent years have demonstrated through laboratory floods the magnitude of the benefit of the presence of gas on the displacement of oil from sandstones by water. In addition, studies of the distributions of the phases which are present during the displacement process have developed concepts concerning the mechanism by which this benefit is obtained. It now remains for the engineer to incorporate these findings into the general technology of reservoir operations.

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