The use of WAG (water alternating gas) injection can potentially lead to improved oil recovery compared to injection of either gas or water alone, however the physical process is not well understood. Using high pressure glass micromodels, a series of WAG tests have been conducted using equilibrated fluids, with high quality images of the oil recovery processes operating during alternate WAG cycles being recorded. The tests were conducted using both water-wet and oil-wet micromodels. In this paper results of a typical water-wet test is presented (results of the oil-wet and mixed wet tests will be presented in a subsequent paper).

Water-wet micromodels were initially fully saturated with water and then displaced with oil to establish the connate water saturation. The micromodels were then flooded with water to observe the process of establishing the waterflood residual oil saturation (Sorw). Alternate cycles of gas and water injection were then conducted to observe three-phase flow and its associated oil recovery. The experiments were performed within the capillary dominated flow regime.

The results highlighted the importance of corner filament flow of water in the recovery process, with the initial waterflood residual oil saturation being trapped mainly in the centre of the majority of pore space surrounded by layers of water, and not in only large pores. The successive WAG cycles redistributed the oil in a way which resulted in improved oil recovery, hence, the oil which otherwise would not have been mobile under either gas or water injection alone was mobilised and produced.

It was identified that a limited number of WAG cycles were required to approach maximum oil recovery, after which additional recovery was minimal. All recovery processes were filmed and electronically stored using high resolution imaging, with oil recovery at the end of each flooding cycle being measured using image analysis techniques.

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