Presently, two-phase flow behavior through propped and unpropped fractures is poorly understood, and due to this fact, reservoir modeling using numerical simulation for the domain that contains fractures typically assumes straight-line relative permeability curves and zero capillary pressure in the fractures. However, there have been several studies demonstrating that both viscous and capillary dominated flow can be expected in fractured reservoirs, where non-linear fracture relative permeabilities must be used to accurately model these reservoirs. The objective of this study is to develop an understanding of the relative permeability of oil-water systems in fractures through experimental study.

The experimental measurements conducted in this study were done using downhole cores from the Wolfcamp and the Eagle Ford Shale formations. The cores were cut to 1.5-in diameter and 6-in length testing samples. The specimens are saw-cut to generate a fracture along each sample first, and then conditioned in the reservoir fluid at the reservoir temperature for a minimum of 30 days prior to any testing. Wolfcamp and Eagle Ford formation oil and reconstituted brine with and without surfactants are used as the test fluids. The measurements were recorded at effective fracture closure stress and reservoir temperature. Also, real-time measurements of density, pressure, and flow rate are recorded throughout the duration of each test. Fluid saturation within the fracture was calculated using the mass continuity equation. The oil-water relative permeability was measured using the steady-state method. All measurements were conducted at reservoir temperature and at representative effective fracture closure stress.

The data from the experimental measurements was analyzed using Darcy's law, and a clear relationship between relative permeability and saturation was observed. The calculated relative permeability curves closely follow the generalized Brooks-Corey correlation for oil-water systems. Furthermore, there was a significant difference in the relative permeability curves between the oil-water only systems and the oil-water surfactant systems.

The result of this study is useful for estimating the expected oil production more realistically. It also provides information about the effect of surfactants on oil-water relative permeability for optimal design of fracture fluids.

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