Inderscience Publishers

Prediction of three–phase saturation profiles from two–phase capillary pressure curves as a function of wettability

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Gravity drainage of oil with gas is an efficient recovery method in strongly water–wet reservoirs and yields very low residual oil saturations. However, many of the oil–producing reservoirs are not strongly water–wet. Thus, predicting the profiles and ultimate recovery for mixed and oil–wet media is essential to design and optimisation of improved recovery methods based on three–phase gravity drainage. In this study, we perform two– and three–phase gravity drainage experiments in sand–packed columns with varying wettability. We propose a simple method for predicting the three–phase equilibrium saturation profiles as a function of wettability. In each case, the three–phase results were compared to the predictions from two–phase results of the same wettability. We find that the gas/oil and oil/water transition levels can be predicted from pressure continuity arguments and the two–phase data. The predictions of three–phase saturations work well for the water–wet media, but become progressively worse with increasing oil–wet fraction. [Received: April 12, 2011; Accepted: September 19, 2011]

Keywords: three–phase saturation profiles, gravity drainage, capillary pressure, wettability, oil–wet, fractional–wet, oil reservoirs, petroleum reservoirs, gas–oil, oil–water, recovery methods

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