Two-phase imbibition relative permeability was measured in an attempt to validate a method of calculating imbibition relative permeability. The stationary-liquid-phase method was used to measure several hysteresis loops for alundum and Berea sandstone samples. The method of calculating imbibition relative permeability is described, and calculated relative permeability curves are compared with measured curves. The calculated relative Permeability is shown to be a reasonably good Permeability is shown to be a reasonably good approximation of measured values if an adjustment is made to some necessary data. Due to the compressibility of gas, which is used as the nonwetting phase, a correction to the measured trapped gas saturation is necessary to make it agree with the critical gas saturation of the imbibition relative permeability curve.
The existence of hysteresis in the relationship of relative permeability to saturation has been recognized for many yews. Geden et al. and Osoba et al. called attention to the occurrence of hysteresis and the importance of the direction of saturation change on the relative permeability-saturation relations. It is generally believed that relative permeability is a function of saturation alone for a permeability is a function of saturation alone for a given direction of saturation change, but that there is a distinct difference in relative permeability curves for saturation changes in different directions. The reservoir engineer should be aware of this hysteresis, and he should select the relative permeability curve which is appropriate for the permeability curve which is appropriate for the recovery process of interest.
The directions of saturation change have been designated "drainage" and "imbibition" in reference to changes in the wetting-phase saturation. In a two-phase system, an increase in the wetting-phase saturation is referred to as imbibition, while a decrease in wetting-phase saturation is called drainage. The solution-gas-drive recovery mechanism is controlled by relative permeability to oil and gas in which the saturation of oil, the wetting phase, is decreasing. In waterflooding a water-wet reservoir rock, the saturation of water, the wetting phase, is increasing. These two sets of relative permeability curves, gas-oil and oil-water, do not have the same relationship to the wetting-phase saturation. This difference is not due to the difference in fluid properties, but is a result of the difference in properties, but is a result of the difference in direction of saturation change.
The flow properties of the drainage and imbibition systems differ because of the entrapment of the nonwetting phase during imbibition. As drainage occurs, the nonwetting phase occupies the most favorable flow channels. During imbibition, part of the nonwetting phase is bypassed by the increasing wetting phase, leaving a portion of the nonwetting phase in an immobile condition. This trapped part phase in an immobile condition. This trapped part of the nonwetting phase saturation does not contribute to the flow of that phase, and at a given saturation the relative permeability to the nonwetting phase is always less in the imbibition direction phase is always less in the imbibition direction than in the drainage direction.
The concept that some of the nonwetting phase is mobile and some is immobile during a saturation change in the imbibition direction previously was used to develop equations for imbibition relative permeability. In this development, it was assumed permeability. In this development, it was assumed that the amount of entrapment at any saturation can be obtained from the relationship between initial nonwetting-phase saturations established in the drainage direction and residual saturations after complete imbibition. The equations for imbibition relative permeability were not verified by laboratory measurements. The purpose of this report is m give the results of a laboratory study of imbibition relative permeability and to present a comparison of calculated relative permeability with relative permeability from laboratory measurements. permeability from laboratory measurements. In two-phase systems, hysteresis is more prominent in the relative permeability to the nonwetting phase than in that to the wetting phase. The hysteresis in the wetting-phase relative permeability is believed to be very small, and thus difficult to distinguish tom normal experimental error.