Flow through fault systems in high-porosity sandstones

T. Manzocchi, P. S. Ringrose, J. R. Underhill

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    59 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper is part of the special publication Structural geology in reservoir characterization (eds M.P. Coward, T.S. Daltaban and H. Johnson). Small-scale faults in high-porosity sandstones form highly connected systems over a range of length scales. The effective permeability and oil recovery in such fault systems are strongly controlled by their geometrical architecture. This paper describes partially sealing faults in terms of: (a) characterization of their spatial distribution; (b) their effects on reservoir compartmentalization; and (c) their significance for fluid flow. Four suites of numerical flow simulations in highly compartmentalized fault systems are used to assess the influence of geometrical variability on single- and two-phase flow. The single-phase suites demonstrate that effective permeability is approximately linearly related to the number of fault-enclosed compartments present in a fault system. Use of a fault heterogeneity measure allows effective permeability for a geometrical case to be estimated from fault density and fault and matrix permeability. The two-phase simulations model water-floods, and show the relationships between length sclae, fault system geometry and oil recovery. In a self-similar fault system oil recovery is preferentially inhibited at the smaller length scales. Oil recovery is influenced by compartment volume distribution and is therefore sensitive to fault clustering. The fault density necessary to severely affect either single- or two-phase flow is likely to occur only close to structures which are large relative to the scale under consideration. This improved understanding of the relative influences of fault system geometry, density and petrophysics should lead to significantly improved hydrocarbon recovery from faulted high-porosity sandstones.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)65-82
    Number of pages18
    JournalGeological Society Special Publications
    Issue number127
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


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