Structure of residual oil as a function of wettability using pore-network modelling

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In the water flooding of mixed-wet porous media, oil may drain down to relatively low residual oil saturations (Sor). Various studies have indicated that such low saturations can only be reached when oil layers in pore corners are included in the pore-scale modelling. These processes within a macroscopic porous medium can be modelled at the pore-scale by incorporating the fundamental physics of capillary dominated displacement within idealised pore network models. Recently, the authors have developed thermodynamic criteria for oil layer existence in pores with non-uniform wettability which takes as input geometrically and topologically representative networks, to calculate realistic Sor values for mixed-wet and oil-wet sandstones [16, 21]. This previous work is developed in this paper to include (i) the visualisation of the 3D structure of this residual oil, and (ii) a statistical analysis of this "residual/remaining" oil. Both the visualisation and the statistical analysis are done under a wide range of wettability conditions, which is reported for the first time in this paper. The structure of residual oil for strongly water wet systems is well known (where residual = remaining oil) and our model agrees with this but this structure changes radically for mixed wet systems (where residual ? remaining) and this has not yet been visualised experimentally. We find that for more water-wet systems high final residual oil saturations are reached at relatively small amounts of water injected and this oil is present in the pores as bulk oil. On the other hand, for more oil-wet systems we find a slow decrease of the amount of remaining oil with increasing amounts of injected water. During the process, the remaining connectivity of the oil phase is increasingly provided by oil layers only, hence the slow drainage. The final residual oil saturation, only reached in the theoretical limit of an infinite amount of injected water, is almost entirely contained in large number of (relatively low volume) oil layers, which are present in pores of most radius sizes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-21
Number of pages11
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


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