Measurement of Three-Phase Relative Permeability with IFT Variation
- Yildiray Cinar (U. of New South Wales) | Franklin M. Orr (Stanford U.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering
- Publication Date
- February 2005
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 33 - 43
- 2005. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.4.2 Gas Injection Methods, 5.4.9 Miscible Methods, 1.8.5 Phase Trapping, 5.3.1 Flow in Porous Media, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.3.4 Scale, 2.5.2 Fracturing Materials (Fluids, Proppant), 5.5 Reservoir Simulation, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 5.7.2 Recovery Factors
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In this paper, we present results of an experimental investiga-tion of theeffects of variations in interfacial tension (IFT) on three-phase relativepermeability. We report results that dem-onstrate the effect of low IFT betweentwo of three phases on the three-phase relative permeabilities.
To create three-phase systems in which IFT can be con-trolledsystematically, we used a quaternary liquid system composed of hexadecane(C16), n-butanol (NBA), water (H2O), and isopropanol (IPA). Measuredequilibrium phase compositions and IFTs are reported. The reported phasebe-havior of the quaternary system shows that the H2O-rich phase shouldrepresent the "gas" phase, the NBA-rich phase should represent the "oil" phase,and the C16-rich phase should repre-sent the "aqueous" phase. Therefore, weused oil-wet Teflon (PTFE) bead packs to simulate the fluid flow in a water-wetoil reservoir. We determined phase saturations and three-phase relativepermeabilities from recovery and pressure-drop data using an extension of thecombined Welge/Johnson-Bossler-Naumann (JBN) method to three-phase flow.Measured three-phase relative permeabilities are reported.
The experimental results indicate that the wetting-phase relativepermeability was not affected by IFT variation, whereas the other two-phaserelative permeabilities were clearly affected. As IFT decreases, the oil andgas phases become more mobile at the same phase saturations. For gas/oil IFTsin the range of 0.03 to 2.3 mN/m, we observed an approximately 10-fold increasein the oil and gas relative permeabilities against an approximately 100-folddecrease in the IFT.
Variations in gas and oil relative permeabilities as a function of IFT areof particular importance in the area of composi-tional processes such ashigh-pressure gas injection, where oil and gas compositions can varysignificantly both spatially and temporally. Because gas-injection processesroutinely include three-phase flow (either because the reservoir has beenwater-flooded previously or because water is injected alternately with gas toimprove overall reservoir sweep efficiency), the effect of IFT variations onthree-phase relative permeabilities must be delineated if the performance ofthe gas-injection process is to be predicted accurately. The development ofmul-ticontact miscibility in a gas-injection process will create zones of lowIFT between gas and oil phases in the presence of water.
Although there have been studies of the effect of low IFT on two-phaserelative permeability,1-14 there are limited ex-perimental data published sofar analyzing the effect of low IFT on three-phase relativepermeabilities.15,16 Most authors have focused on the effect of IFT on oil andsolvent relative permeabilities.17 Experimental results show that residual oilsaturation and relative permeability are strongly affected by IFT, especiallywhen the IFT is lower than approximately
0.1 mN/m (corresponding to a range of capillary number of 10-2 to 10-3).Bardon and Longeron3 observed that oil relative permeability increased linearlyas IFT was reduced from ap-proximately 12.5 mN/m to 0.04 mN/m and that for IFTbelow 0.04, the oil relative permeability curves shifted more rapidly withfurther reductions in IFT. Later, Asar and Handy6 showed that oil relativepermeability curves began to shift as IFT was reduced below 0.18 mN/m for agas/condensate system near the critical point.
Delshad et al.15 presented experimental data for low-IFT three-phaserelative permeabilities in Berea sandstone cores. They used abrine/oil/surfactant/alcohol mixture that included a microemulsion and excessoil and brine. The measurements were done at steady-state conditions with aconstant capillary number of 10-2 between the microemulsion and other phases.The IFTs of microemulsion/oil and microemulsion/brine were low, whereas the IFTbetween oil and brine was high. They concluded that low-IFT three-phaserelative permeabilities are functions of their own saturations only. Amin andSmith18 re-cently have published experimental data showing that the IFTs foreach binary mixture of brine, oil, and gas phases vary as pressure increases(Fig. 1). Fig. 1 shows that the IFT of a gas/oil pair decreases as the pressureincreases, whereas the IFTs of the gas/brine and oil/brine pairs approach eachother.
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