Pore-Level Investigation of Oil Mobility Enhancement in Heavy-Oil Reservoirs

Ortiz-Arrango, J.D. and Kantzas, A.

DOI: 10.2118/2008-075 & 10.2118/145308-PA
CIM 2008-075 presented at the 59th Annual Technical Meeting of the Petroleum Society held in Calgary, June 17-19, 2008.
Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology, 50(05), May 2011, Pages 59-74.


One of the most important properties for understanding multiphase flow in porous media is relative permeability. In two-phase flow, the relative permeability to a given phase is generally assumed only to be a function of its saturation, independent of the properties of fluids involved and/or flow conditions and ranging from zero to unity.

Considering the physical principles of multiphase flow through porous media, the momentum transfer or viscous coupling appears as a hidden driving mechanism that might lead to higher than expected oil-flow rates.

In an effort to provide a better understanding of oil mobility in heavy-oil reservoirs, a capillary model is used to assess the importance of lubrication in two-phase flow and to determine the effect of the viscous coupling on relative permeabilities. Different cross-sectional geometries are analyzed. The problem is addressed analytically even for the unequal-viscosity case by making use of the Galerkin method. The concept of contact angle is used in the determination of the fluid distribution inside a noncircular channel.

The model results show that the viscosity ratio theoretically affects relative permeabilities, especially in systems involving heavy oil.

A full version of this paper is available on OnePetro Online.