An Investigation of the Role of Capillary Forces in Laboratory Water Floods
- F.M. Perkins Jr. (Humble Oil & Refining Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- November 1957
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 49 - 51
- 1957. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 4.3.4 Scale, 6.5.2 Water use, produced water discharge and disposal, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 5.3.4 Reduction of Residual Oil Saturation
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Capillary forces play a controlling role in waterdrive displacement processes both in laboratory experiments and in actual reservoirs, but their quantitative importance may be quite different in the two cases. Because of the importance of conducting laboratory experiments which are representative of field conditions, it is necessary to understand exactly the role of capillary forces in the displacement process. Though a number of experimental investigations related to this subject are contained in the literature, there appears to be a lack of information pertaining to unsteady-state experiments in water-wet media. This experimental study was conducted to obtain additional laboratory data to clarify further the role of capillary forces in both the macroscopic and microscopic flow of oil and water in porous materials.
The capillary pressure is defined as the difference in pressure between a continuous oil phase and a continuous water phase in a porous material. The magnitude of this pressure difference depends on the interfacial curvature and the interfacial tension. The interfacial curvature is determined by the geometry of the pore spaces, the wettability of the rock surfaces, and the quantity of each phase present. Capillary forces are involved in a water-drive displacement process in that they exert a controlling influence on the microscopic fluid distribution which in turn is reflected in the saturation or macroscopic flow behavior.
Microscopic Fluid Distribution
Because of the microscopic nature of the displacement of oil by water, it is necessary to consider the flow and the fluid distribution in individual pores. On this microscopic scale the capillary forces, which act over a distance of one or two sand grain diameters, control the distribution of oil and water under static equilibrium conditions. When an external force is applied to the fluids, such as in a water-injection experiment, the applied forces tend to distort the oil-water interfaces. However, in most fine-grained, water-wet sands, the applied pressure difference across one or two grain diameters is usually several orders of magnitude less than the capillary pressure difference.
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