High pressure core flood experiments using gas condensate fluids in long sandstone cores have been conducted. Steady-state relative permeability points were measured over a wide range of condensate to gas ratio's (CGR), with the velocity and interfacial tension (IFT) being varied between tests in order to observe the effect on relative permeability. The experimental procedures ensured that the fluid distribution in the cores was representative of gas condensate reservoirs. Hysteresis between drainage and imbibition during the steady-state measurements was also investigated, as was the repeatability of the data.
A relative permeability rate effect for both gas and condensate phases was observed, with the relative permeability of both phases increasing with an increase in flow rate. The relative permeability rate effect was still evident as the IFT increased by an order of magnitude, with the relative permeability of the gas phase reducing more than the condensate phase. The influence of end effects was shown to be negligible at the IFT conditions used in the tests, with the Reynolds number indicating that flow was well within the so called laminar regime at all test conditions. The observed rate effect was contrary to that of the conventional non-Darcy flow where the effective permeability should decrease with increasing flow rate. A generalised correlation between relative permeability, velocity and IFT has been proposed, which should be more appropriate for condensing fluids than the conventional correlation.
The results highlight the need for appropriate experimental methods and relative permeability relations where the distribution of the phases are representative of those in gas condensate reservoirs. This study will be particularly applicable to the vicinity of producing wells, where the rate effect on gas relative permeability can significantly affect well productivity. The findings provide previously unreported data on relative permeability and recovery of gas condensate fluids at realistic conditions.
During the production of gas condensate reservoirs, the reservoir pressure will be gradually reduced to below the dew-point, giving rise to retrograde condensation. In the vicinity of producing wells where the rate of pressure reduction is greatest, the increase in the condensate saturation from zero is accompanied by a reduction in relative permeability of gas, due to the loss of pore space available to gas flow. It is the perceived effect of this local condensate accumulation on the near wellbore gas and condensate mobility that is one of the main areas of interest for reservoir engineers. The availability of accurate relative permeability data applicable to flow in the wellbore region impacts the management of gas condensate reservoirs.