The impact of pressure-dependent interfacial tension and buoyancy forces upon pressure depletion in virgin hydrocarbon reservoirs

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    Abstract

    This paper describes a combined experimental and theoretical study of the microscopic pore-scale physics characterizing gas and liquid production from hydrocarbon reservoirs during pressure depletion. The primary focus of the study was to examine the complex interactions between interfacial tension and buoyancy forces during gas evolution within a porous medium containing oil, water and gas. A specialized 2-dimensional glass micromodel, capable of operating at pressures in excess of 35 MPa was used to visualize the physical mechanisms governing such microscopic processes. In addition, a 3-dimensional, 3-phase numerical pore-scale simulator was developed that can be used to examine gas evolution over a range of different lengthscales and for a wide range of fluid and rock properties. The model incorporates all of the important physics observed in associated laboratory micromodel experiments, including: embryonic nucleation, supersaturation effects, multiphase diffusion, bubble growth-migration-fragmentation, and three-phase spreading coefficients. The precise pore-scale mechanisms governing gas evolution were found to be far more subtle than earlier models would suggest because of the large variation of gas/oil interfacial tension with pressure. This has a profound effect upon the migration of gas structures during depletion and, in models pertaining to reservoir rock, the process of gas migration is consequently much slower than previously thought. This is the first time that such a phenomenon has been modelled at the pore-scale and the implications for production forecasting are thought to be significant.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)553-561
    Number of pages9
    JournalChemical Engineering Research and Design
    Volume76
    Issue numberA5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 1998

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