Large quantities of oil usually remain in oil reservoirs after conventional waterfloods. A significant part of this remaining oil can still be economically recovered by water-alternating-gas (WAG) injection. WAG injection involves drainage and imbibition processes taking place sequentially; therefore, the numerical simulation of the WAG process requires reliable knowledge of three-phase relative permeability (kr) accounting for cyclic-hysteresis effects. In this study, the results of a series of unsteady-state two-phase displacements and WAG coreflood experiments were used to investigate the behavior of three-phase kr and hysteresis effects in the WAG process. The experiments were performed on two different cores with different characteristics and wettability conditions. An in-house coreflood simulator was developed to obtain three-phase relative permeability values directly from unsteady-state WAG experiments by history matching the measured recovery and differential-pressure profiles. The results show that three-phase gas relative permeability is reduced in consecutive gas-injection cycles and consequently the gas mobility and injectivity drop significantly with successive gas injections during the WAG process, under different rock conditions. The trend of hysteresis in the relative permeabilty of gas (krg) partly contradicts the existing hysteresis models available in the literature. The three-phase water relative permeability (krw) of the water-wet (WW) core does not exhibit considerable hysteresis effect during different water injections, whereas the mixed-wet (MW) core shows slight cyclic hysteresis. This may indicate a slight increase of the water injectivity in the subsequent water injections in the WAG process under MW conditions. Insignificant hysteresis is observed in the oil relative permeability (kro) during different gas-injection cycles for both WW and MW rocks. However, a considerable cyclic-hysteresis effect in kro is observed during water-injection cycles of WAG, which is attributed to the reduction of the residual oil saturation (ROS) during successive water injections. The kro of the WW core exhibits much-more cyclic-hysteresis effect than that of the MW core. No models currently exist in reservoir simulators that can capture the observed cyclic-hysteresis effect in oil relative permeability for the WAG process. Investigation of relative permeability data obtained from these displacement tests at different rock conditions revealed that there is a significant discrepancy between two-phase and three-phase relative permeability of all fluids. This highlights that not only the three-phase relative permeability of the intermediate phase (oil), but also the three-phase kr of the wetting phase (water) and non-wetting phase (gas) are functions of two independent saturations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology