Taking advantage of the analogy between hydraulic and electrical flows to facilitate the prediction of porous media characteristics is a longstanding practice in petroleum engineering. The relationship between hydraulic and electrical properties is widely used in well-logs interpretation and characterization of transport properties of porous media relying on the strong correlation between electric and hydraulic flow conductance. However, due to the lack of direct investigations, the similarity among their pathways/tortuosities is still unclear. It is a challenging and almost impractical task to identify the streamlines experimentally. Here a series of direct finite element numerical simulations are conducted within pore-level microstructures to extract and compare the streamlines of both electric and fluid flow currents and examine the accuracy of the analogy by predicting the petrophysical characteristics of the case studies. The fluid flow and electric transports are simulated through pore-level digital rocks of synthetic unconsolidated sand packs representing the Athabasca oil sands deposit as the second largest oil reserve in the world. The formation factor, porosity, and absolute permeability of the media under consideration are predicted, and consequently, the streamlines of both electric and hydraulic currents are extracted and compared in terms of length, shape, and pathways. According to the results, the fluid flow pathways pose differently and are longer than the homogeneous electric current streamlines. The ratio between the hydraulic and electric tortuosities follows a polynomial trendline, and a local extremum occurs at the porosity of eighteen percent. Pedotransfer functions for tortuosities, dimensionless permeability, and formation factor are proposed underpinning the rigorous relationships between transport processes in rocks.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.