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A New Method for Calculating Oil-Water Relative Permeabilities with Consideration of Capillary Pressure

K. Li, P. Shen, & T. Qing Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development (RIPED), P.O.B. 910, Beijing, China

Abstract Two-phase relative permeabilities from unsteady-state core flooding data are usually computed using JBN method by neglecting capillary pressure force. A new analytical method has been developed to calculate oil-water relative permeabilities with capillary pressure included.

Introduction The unsteady-state (USS) displacement in reservoir cores is very often used to measure oil-water two-phase relative permeabilities. A lot of methods 1,2,3 have been developed in order to calculate the relative permeabilities from the experimental core flooding data. The most often used method for calculating relative permeabilities is the so-called JBN method 1 . However, JBN method is derived assuming that capillary pressure is neglected. The usual way to satisfy this assumption in an immiscible oil-water-rock system is to perform the experiments at a very high flooding rate. Certain problems appear when the experiments are run at very high flooding rates. First, the relative permeabilities measured at high injection rates do not represent the real value of reservoir relative permeabilities. The flow rates in reservoirs are generally believed very low. The effect of flow rates on the relative permeabilities is not very clear. Secondly, for some low permeable cores and unconsolidated sandstone, high injection rates may not be applied. The needed working pressure to apply high flow rates in core samples with low permeability may be over the maximum pressure of the instrument. The serious formation damage may occur in unconsolidated sandstone if the high injection rate is applied in order to overcome the effect of capillary pressure on relative permeabilities.

The numerical simulation method, Automatic History Matching 4 , can be used to calculate the relative permeabilities with the consideration of capillary pressure. This type of method is complicated and much time consuming. Civan and Donaldson 5,6 proposed a semi- analytical method to calculate relative permeabilities with capillary pressure included. In their method, it is still necessary to use numerical iteration and optimal method.

As reviewed briefly above, it is necessary to develop an analytical method 7 to calculate relative permeabilities with capillary pressure included. Therefore, the relative permeabilities can be computed from the USS displacement performed at a low flooding rate. The main purpose of this paper is to derive the equations to calculate the relative permeabilities of oil and water when the capillary pressure is included.

Basic Theory Given that oil and water are incompressible, the volumetric continuity equations are expressed as:

v

i

S

i

x

t

+

= 0

(1)

where i represents oil or water phase, v i and S i are the flowing velocity and the saturation of phase i, respectively. x and t represent the distance from the inlet end of the core and the injection time, respectively. is the porosity of the core.

The flowing velocity v i can be calculated as follows based on the extended Darcy’s Law:

v

i =

kk

ri

(

p

i

i

x

i

g

sin

)

(2)

here k and k ri represent the absolute permeability of the core and the relative permeability of phase i. i and p i are the viscosity and the pressure of phase i. i is the density, g the

the angle between the central axis of a cylindrical core and the

gravity constant, and horizontal direction.

Capillary pressure is defined as:

P

c

= p

o

p

w

(3)

Capillary pressure P c is a function of water saturation S w . The flowing velocity of oil phase is obtained by substituting Equation 3 in Equation 2:

v

o =

kk

ro

(

p

w

+

P

c

o

x

x

o

g

sin

)

(4)

The flowing velocity of phase i , v i2 (t), at the production end face of the core is calculated in the following:

v

i

2 ( ) =

t

1

A

dN

pi

dt

( )

t

(5)

where A is cross section area of the core, N pi (t) is the production of phase i at the injection time t.

The fraction flow of phase i is defined as:

f

i

( )

t

=

v

i

( )

t

v

( )

t

(6)

where f i (t) is the fraction flow; v i (t) and v(t) are the flowing velocity of phase i and the total flowing velocity at time t, respectively.

The water fraction at the outlet end face, f w2 (t), can be obtained by substituting Equation 2 and 4 in Equation 6:

f

w 2

( ) =

t

∂ P o k k c + ( ) g sin + w o k
P
o
k
k
c
+
(
)
g
sin
+
w
o
k
v ( t )
v ( t )
x
ro
w
o
+
k rw
k ro

(7)

Equation 1 can be expressed in the following for the water phase using Equation 6:

( )

v t

f

w

S

w

x

t

+

= 0

(8)

The so-called Buckley-Leverett equation can be obtained from Equation 8:

(

dx

dt

)

|

S

w

=

v ( t )

df

w

w

dS

(9)

The water fraction term in Equation 9, which is expressed by Equation 7, is much more complicated in the case with the capillary pressure included than that without the capillary pressure.

Calculation of Relative Permeabilities with Capillary Pressure Included It is necessary, at first, to get the relationship between the differential pressure p applied at the two ends of the core sample and relative permeability in order to calculate the relative permeabilities.

Substituting Equation 2 in Equation 6:

p

i

v ( t )

f i

i

x

kk

ri

=

+

i

g sin

(10)

The differential pressure p between the two ends of the core can be calculated using the following equation:

p

=

L

p

i

0

x

dx

(11)

where L is the length of the core sample.

The value of the differential pressure p between the two ends of the core at a given time is unique. For a water-wet rock-oil-water system with initial water saturation, it is

. This will be

discussed later in more detail.

reasonable to calculate p referred to water phase. That is,

L

p

w

0

x

p =

dx

From Equation 9, one can obtain:

dx =

L

f w 2

w

df

(12)

 

where

f w

and

f w2

are water fraction gradient at x and L (outlet end of the core),

 

respectively. f w2

is calculated in the following:

1

f

w 2

=

AL

( t )

=

Q Q

(13)

here Q(t) is the total liquid production and Q is the dimensionless total liquid production.

Substituting Equations 10 (using water phase) and 12 in Equation 11:

p

=

f

w 2

0

[

v ( t ) kk

f w

w

rw

w

f

w 2

g

sin

]

L

w

df

(14)

The above equation can be reduced using Equations 5 and 13. The reduced Equation 14 is then differentiated and the relative permeability of water phase can be obtained:

k

rw

=

f

w 2

d [

1

Q

]

d [

k

(

P

+

w

gL

sin

)

v ( t )

w

LQ

]

(15)

The relative permeability of oil phase can be obtained using Equation 7:

k

ro

=

f

 

o

o 2

 

w

f

w 2

k

sin

+

dP

c

S

w

]

k

rw

v ( t )

[(

w

o

)

g

dS

w

x

(16)

If the gravity and capillary pressure are neglected, Equations. 15 and 16 are reduced to the equations of the most often used JBN method. It can be seen from Equations 15 and 16 that the relative permeabilities of water as a wet phase are not affected by the capillary pressure. The relative permeabilities of oil as a non-wet phase, however, are affected by the capillary pressure. A lot of experimental results 8 show that the imbibition relative permeabilities of wet phase are the same as the drainage relative permeabilities of wet phase. This implies that there is no effect of the capillary pressure on the relative permeabilities of wet phase but the effect of the capillary pressure on the relative permeabilities of non-wet phase is significant. This is also confirmed by the fact that there is an evident hysteresis between imbibition and drainage relative permeabilities of non-wet

phase. Qadeer et al 4 showed that there is almost no effect of the capillary pressure on the relative permeabilities of wet phase, similarly, the effect of the capillary pressure on the relative permeabilities of non-wet phase is significant using automatic history matching method.

From what described above, our new equations for calculating relative permeabilities of both wet and non-wet phases are consistent with both the experimental data and the numerical simulation results.

Calculation of Water Saturation Gradient at the Core Outlet 7 It is necessary to derive the expression of the water saturation gradient at the outlet of a core (S w /x) in order to calculate the relative permeabilities of oil phase based on Equation 16. The water saturation gradient at the outlet of a core may be expressed as:

S

S

w

/

t

w =

x

dx

/ dt

(17)

By substituting Equation 9 in Equation 17:

S

w

A

S

w

x

w

f

Q

=

(18)

Given that S

can be expressed in the following:

xt

w (,) represents the average water saturation in the range of [0, x], S

   

S

w

(

x , t

)

S

w

(

x t

,

) =

S

w

(

x t

,

)

By differentiating Equation 19:

S

w

( x t )

,

=

Q

2

S

w

Q

(

2

,

x t

)

Q

 

Q

Q

 

(19)

(20)

w (,)

xt

For water flooding experiment, the average water saturation in the range of [0, x],

S

w (,) , is calculated using the following equation:

xt

[1 f ( x , t )] Q w S x t = S +
[1
f
(
x , t )]
Q
w
S
x t
=
S
+
w

(

,

)

wi

Ax

(21)

where S wi is the initial water saturation in the core.

The following equation can be obtained from Equation 21:

2

S

w

(

,

x t

)

=

1

 

f

w

(

,

x t

)

 

Q

2

Ax

 

[2

Q

 

+ Q

2

f

w

(

x , t

)

Q

2

]

Substituting Equation 22 in Equation 20:

S

w

(

x

,

t

)

Q

f

w

(

x t

,

)

Q

Ax

Q

=

[2

+ Q

2

f

w

(

x , t

)

Q

2

]

(22)

(23)

The water saturation gradient at the outlet of a core can be obtained by substituting Equation 23 in Equation 18:

S

w

(

x

,

t

)

|

Q

2

df w 2 dQ

Q

x

=

L

A

2

L

=

[2

+ Q

d

2

f

w 2

dQ

2

]

(24)

Equation 19 can be also suitable at the outlet of a core, that is, x=L. Therefore, the water saturation S w2 at the outlet of a core can be calculated using following equation:

S

w 2

=

S

w

Q

S

w

Q

(25)

where S w is the total average water saturation in the whole core.

Now all the equations needed for calculating water saturation (Equation 25) and relative permeabilities of both oil and water phases (Equations. 15 and 16) have been developed with capillary pressure included in the derivations.

Conclusions A new analytical method has been developed to calculate relative permeabilities of both oil and water phases with capillary pressure included. With the new method, the core flooding experiments may be performed at the real reservoir flow rate.

References 1. Johnson, E. F., Bossler, D.P., and Naumann, V.O.: “Calculation of Relative

Permeability from Displacement Experiments”, Trans., AIME, 1959, 216, 370-372.

2. Jones, S. C. and Roszelle, W.O.: “Graphical Techniques for Determining Relative Permeability from Displacement Experiments”, JPT, May 1978.

3. Huan, G. and Shen, P.: “A Method for Calculating Unsteady-State Oil-Water Relative Permeability”, J. of Petroleum Exploration & Development, 1982 (2), 52.

4. Qadeer, S., Dehghani, K., Ogbe, D.O., and Ostermann, R.D.: “Correcting Oil/Water Relative Displacement Experiments”, SPE 17423, presented at the SPE California Regional Meeting held in Long Beach, California, March 23-25, 1988.

5. Civan, F. and Donaldson, E.C.: “Relative Permeability from Unsteady-State Displacements: An Analytical Interpretation”, SPE 16200, 1987.

6. Civan, F. and Donaldson, E.C.: “Relative Permeability from Unsteady-State Displacements with Capillary Pressure Included”, J. of SPE Formation Evaluation, June 1989, 189.

7. Li, K.: Tomographic Study of Multi-phase Fluid Flow in Porous Media and the Systematic Investigation on the Calculations and Measurements of Relative Permeability, Ph. D. Thesis, Graduate School of RIPED, Beijing, China, 1989.

8. Hong, S.: Petrophysics, China Petroleum University Press, 1980, 119.