Reservoir simulation is essential for defining the best exploitation and production strategy during different stages of development in a hydrocarbon field. The phenomenological understanding of fluid dynamics within the porous media is vital for reservoir engineers. The more accurate the permeability curves, the better the planning for exploitation. Several analytical and experimental techniques are used to determine the permeability curves with the least amount of associated uncertainty. Sometimes they have high degrees of complexity and cost, using direct and indirect methods in which the scale ranges from microscopic to macroscopic.
CFD has been moderately used in the oil industry for mechanical modeling of sand and Cutting Transport in Wellbores. It has also being used in the design and development of new drill bits and Inflow Control Devices (ICDs). The potential of using these packages in microfluidics studies (Glatzel 2008) has been shown recently.
This study provides evidence of the feasibility of using CFD for fluid flow modeling through a specific-shape porous media so core plug experiments may be optimized. Through this modeling, the relative permeability curves for oil and water in a porous medium can be estimated. The system was modeled in a rhombohedral-packing geometry with dual-sphere array. It was tested for different multiphase models available. A quantitative comparison with analytic-experimental models shows excellent results. The simulated displacement of the fluids is qualitatively comparable to those reported by visual experiments reported previously.
With little cost of money and time, this technique can be used for characterization of micro-phenomena within the porous media such as: Distribution of fluids in steady-state and transient processes (drainage and imbibition), Interaction of injection agents for improved or enhanced oil recovery, rock wettability and temperature effect on relative permeability curves, and nanotechnology applications.