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Chapter 3 Permeability

3.17
3.3 Porosity-Permeability Relationships
To this point we have independently developed the fundamental properties of
porosity and permeability. Environmental and depositional factors influencing porosity also
influence permeability, and often there is a relationship between the two. The relationship
varies with formation and rock type, and reflects the variety of pore geometry present.
Typically, increased permeability is accompanied by increased porosity. Figure 3.14
illustrates the various trends for different rock types. For example, a permeability of 10 md
can have a porosity range from 6 to 31%, depending on the rock type and its pore geometry.
Constant permeability accompanied by increased porosity indicates the presence of more
numerous but smaller pores.
Figure 3.14 Permeability and porosity trends for various rock types [CoreLab,1983]
For clastic rocks, the k-| trend is influenced by the grain size as shown in Figure 3.15. Post
depositional processes in sands including compaction and cementation will result in a shift to
the left of the permeability-porosity trend line. Dolomitization of limestones tends to shift the
permeability- porosity trend lines to the right.

Chapter 3 Permeability
3.18

Figure 3.15 Influence of grain size on the relationship between porosity and permeability [Tiab & Donaldson,
1996]
The inter-relationship of rock properties has lead to numerous correlations to estimate
permeability. Several of the more notable are as follows. Darcys Law (1856) uses
empirical observations to obtain permeability as previously shown. Slichter in 1899
performed theoretical analysis of fluid flow through packed spheres of uniform size and
introduced packing as a factor influencing permeability.
s
k
d
k
2
2 . 10
= (3.11)
where d is the sphere diameter (cm) and k
s
is a packing constant and function of porosity (| =
26% & hexagonal packing k
s
= 84.4; | = 45% & cubic packing k
s
= 13.7).
One of the more well-known correlations was developed by Kozeny (1927) and later
modified by Carmen(1939). It is based on fundamental flow principles by considering the
porous media as a bundle of capillary tubes with the spaces between filled with a non-porous
cementing material. Figure 3.16 is a schematic representation of the capillary tube model.

Chapter 3 Permeability
3.19

Figure 3.16 Capillary tube model

We can define the porosity for the model shown in Figure 3.16 as,
t t |
2
r n
t
= (3.12)
where r is the radius of the capillary tube and n
t
is the number of tubes per unit area (A).
Also, the permeability can be derived from combining Poiseuilles Equation for flow through
a conduit with Darcys Law for flow in porous media,
t
t
8
4
r n
k
t
= (3.13)
Combining Eqs (3.12) and (3.13) leads to an expression relating k and |.
t
|
8
2
r
k = (3.14)
Example 3.3
For the cubic packing arrangement shown in the diagram below, determine the porosity and
permeability.

r



Chapter 3 Permeability
3.20
Solution
The number of tubes per unit area is:
2
) 4 /( 4 r tubes . Substituting into Eq. (3.12) results in an
estimate for porosity.
4
2
*
2
4
1 t
t | = = r
r

The permeability from Eq. (3.14) is tr
2
/32.
To relate the capillary radius, r, to the porous media, we must first define S
pv
, the
specific surface area per unit pore volume. In the case of cylindrical pore shape, S
pv
= 2/r.
Similar expressions can be derived for S
bv
, specific surface area per unit bulk volume and
S
gv
, specific surface area per unit grain volume.
pv
S
gv
S
pv
S
bv
S
|
|
.
|

\
|

=
=
|
|
|
1
*
(3.15)
Substitution of S
pv
for pore radius in Eq. (3.14) results in the Carmen-Kozeny equation for
porous media.
2
pv
S
z
k
k
|
= (3.16)
The Kozeny constant, k
z
, is a shape factor to account for variability in cross-sectional shape
and length. It can be separated into two components, k
z
= k
o
* t, where t is known as the
tortuosity and describes the variability in length between the capillary tube, L
a
, and unit
length, L.
2
|
|
.
|

\
|
=
L
a
L
t (3.17)
k
o
is a shape factor to account for various cross-sectional shapes; e.g., k
o
= 2 for circular, =
1.78 for square. If we go back to our example of circular tubes and substitute k
o
= 2, t = 1
(tubes and unit length are equal and parallel), and S
pv
= 2/r into Eq. (3.16), we obtain Eq.
(3.14).


Chapter 3 Permeability
3.21
Example 3.4
Measurements from capillary pressure, adsorption and statistical techniques are available to
obtain the specific surface area per unit pore volume. A given sample measurement resulted
in a reading of 182 mm
-1
. Tortuosity is measured from electrical resistivity and was
determined to be 3.6. Porosity of the sample is 27.7% Assuming circular, capillary tubes to
represent the porous media what is the permeability of the sample?
Solution
For a circular cross-sectional area of a capillary tube, the pore radius is

1
011 . 0
182
2 2

= = = mm
pv
S
r
Substituting into the Carmen-Kozeny equation (Eq. 3.16) results in,

2 6
10 164 . 1
) 4 )( 6 . 3 ( 2
2
) 011 . 0 )( 277 (.
mm x k

= =
Converting to darcies,
Darcys
cm x
darcy
mm
cm
mm x k 18 . 1
2 8
10 987 . 0
1
*
2
10
1
*
2 6
10 164 . 1 =
|
|
.
|

\
|

|
|
.
|

\
|
=
If porosity and pore radius are substituted into Eq. (3.12) we can solve for n,
2
729
2
) 011 . 0 (
277 .
2

= = = mm
r
t
n
t t
|

that is 729 tubes per unit area.
Generalized Capillary tube model
The above derivation illustrates the simple capillary tube model. We can modify this
model to be more complex by considering the tube length to be greater than the unit length of
the sample. The results are expressions for porosity and permeability which include
tortuosity.
t t |
2
r
t
n = (3.18)

t
|
8
2
r
k = (3.19)
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.22
Furthermore, lets introduce the concept of hydraulic radius, the ratio of the volume open to
flow to the wetted surface area or,
pv
S
gv
S
h
r
1 1
1
=
|
|
.
|

\
|

=
|
|
(3.20)
thus for a bundle of circular capillary tubes, Eq (3.19) reduces to,
t
|
o
k
h
r
k
2
= (3.21)
where k
o
= 2 for circular tubes. As another example, consider spherical particles with
diameter, d
p
. In this case, S
gv
= 6/d
p
, substitute into Eq. (3.20) and then the result into Eq.
(3.21) provides,
( ) t |
|
2
1 72
2 3

=
p
d
k (3.22)
In summary, Kozeny found that variables, such as specific surface area of the pore
system, tortuosity and shape factor, were missing from standard permeability and porosity
relationships. Using a simple model, a bundle of capillary tubes, Kozeny described this new
relationship and extended it to fit porous media. His equation introduced specific surface area
and a constant (generally assumed to be 2).
Carmen elaborated on the specific surface area and Kozeny constant. Carmen
showed that textural parameters, such as the size, sorting, shape and spatial distribution of
grains, drastically affect permeability. Considering Kozeny constant as 5 the Kozeny-Carmen
equation has been adopted for homogeneous rocks with a dominance of nearly-spherical
grains. Since nature provides a random geometry, as encountered in reservoir rocks, this
assumption of homogeneity in the Kozeny- Carmen equation has made its application
questionable, and impossible to transfer from one zone to another. This deficiency has also
curtailed the development of a strong dynamic link between the microscopic and
macroscopic properties measured on reservoir rock. Nevertheless, this model does illustrate
the basic principles of porosity and permeability.
The objective of understanding the Carmen Kozeny equation is related to the
development of porosity permeability correlations. The general form of the Carmen
Kozeny equation demonstrates how permeability depends on the pore geometry. The success
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.23
of this model in explaining and to some extent predicting permeability is surprising because
the model neglects converging diverging flow, pore entrance effects, dead-end pores, and
local pore arrangements.
No petrophysical tool is more frequently applied than permeability porosity
correlations and the Carmen Kozeny model provides the fundamental basis for this
relationship. The three primary methods of estimating permeability are well log correlations,
core analysis, and welltest analysis. Conventional well logs cannot directly measure
permeability; however, they can provide a reasonably accurate value for porosity.
Numerous correlations have been developed to use the abundance of log porosity data to
determine permeability. Unfortunately, the results are only an order of magnitude in
accuracy. However, recent advances in specialized logging methods and specifically the
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) log have resulted in directly measuring or inferring
permeability. Core analysis provides accurate permeability values, but is limited by the
small scale of the measurement volume to the reservoir volume. On the other hand,
welltesting investigates the largest portion of the reservoir; however, this permeability is
averaged throughout this volume. Subsequently, the fine details of individual zones or facies
is masked within the averaging process.
A novel approach in enhancing reservoir description is the development of Hydraulic
Flow Units (HFU). This concept is based on the Carmen Kozeny equation and will be
elaborated on later in this chapter.

Chapter 3 Permeability
3.24
3.4 Distribution of Rock Properties
In most petroleum engineering applications reservoir properties are assumed to be
constant over a spatial direction; i.e., homogeneous. Unfortunately, it is well recognized that
most reservoirs are heterogeneous; i.e., rock properties vary with a spatial direction. Both
vertical and areal variations are possible and usually coexist. It therefore is the objective of
this section to discuss methods of quantifying the reservoir heterogeneity.
A key concept in describing variation in properties is scale. For example, consider
the difference in investigative volumes between core, log, and pressure transient testing. All
three methods are accurate, can determine key properties such as permeability or porosity,
but will likely provide significantly different results. That is because a core is averaging a
property over a 3 diameter, a log approximately 12 diameter and well testing from 10s
to 100s of feet. It is suffice to say that not only do rock properties vary spatially but also our
methods of analysis are subject to variations due to averaging different volumes.
Two properties we will focus on are porosity and permeability. Porosities typically
exhibit a normal distribution (Figure 3.17); i.e., a distribution symmetric about the mean.
Figure 3.29 is a histogram of porosity vs. the frequency of samples within a given range of
porosity and the cumulative frequency. Table 3.2 lists the data for this example.

Figure 3.17 Typical porosity histogram




Chapter 3 Permeability
3.25
POROSITY RANGE,% NO. OF SAMPLES FREQUENCY F, % CUMULATIVE F, %
< 10 161 3.78 3.78
10 12 257 6.04 9.82
12 14 398 9.35 19.17
14 16 493 11.58 30.75
16 18 608 14.28 45.03
18 20 636 14.94 59.97
20 22 623 14.63 74.60
22 24 447 10.50 85.10
24 26 340 7.99 93.09
26 28 176 4.13 97.23
>28 117 2.75 100.00
Table 3.2 Classification of Porosity data for distribution analysis [Amyx,et at., 1960]
The mean is a thickness weighted average for n number of beds in parallel.
T
h
n
1 i
i
h
i

=
|
= | (3.23)
Common applications of this method are to describe the vertical variability in data from logs
and cores. A drawback is the increase in error due to outliers; i.e., data points which are
considerably different than the others. It is common practice to ignore these points as
measurement errors.
Example 3.4
Core was retrieved from the NBU Well No. 42W-29 in the North Burbank Field of northeast
Oklahoma. The conventional core analysis is shown in Table 3.4. A porosity histogram and
cumulative frequency curve are shown in Figure 3.18 with the accompanying tabulated data
in Table 3.3
The results illustrate a bimodal distribution with an overall mean of 17.5% and median of
15.5%. The dominant mode is centered at 15% porosity while the secondary mode occurs in
the higher porosity range, approximately 25 to 27%.







Chapter 3 Permeability
3.26













Figure3.18. Example porosity histogram and cumulative frequency curve
Table 3.3 Tabulated data for histogram in Figure 3.18
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28
Porosity , %
F
r
e
q
u
e
n
c
y
0.0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1.0
1.2
C
u
m
u
l
a
t
i
v
e

F
r
e
q
u
e
n
c
y
Porosity Frequency Cumulative
interval Frequency
4 1 0.025
5 0 0.025
6 0 0.025
7 0 0.025
8 1 0.050
9 0 0.050
10 1 0.075
11 2 0.125
12 1 0.150
13 4 0.250
14 3 0.325
15 9 0.550
16 3 0.625
17 2 0.675
18 1 0.700
19 0 0.700
20 1 0.725
21 1 0.750
22 1 0.775
23 2 0.825
24 0 0.825
25 2 0.875
26 1 0.900
27 2 0.950
28 1 0.975
29 1 1.000
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.27
The method described above for porosity has been applied also to permeability.
However, the abrupt changes in permeability and lack of representative samples introduce
uncertainty into the interpretation of the data. An alternative relies on an empirical
correlation of permeability data. It has been shown that permeabilities in most reservoirs
exhibit a log normal distribution. That is, geologic processes that create permeability in
reservoir rocks appear to generate distributions about the geometric mean.
n
n
i
i
k
g
k
/ 1
1
|
|
.
|

\
|
[
=
= (3.24)

Figure 3.19 illustrates the skewed normal and log normal distributions of typical data.

Figure 3.19 Skewed normal and log normal histograms for permeability [Craig,1971]

To evaluate the heterogeneity of the sample set, plot permeability vs. cumulative
frequency distribution on log-normal probability coordinates. Cumulative frequency
distribution is the fraction of the samples with permeabilities greater than the particular
sample. If a straight line develops then the data exhibits the log normal distribution. The
straight line is a measure of the dispersion or the heterogeneity of the reservoir rock. Dykstra
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.28
and Parsons (1950) recognized this important feature and introduced the permeability
variation, V as,

50
k
1 . 84
k
50
k
V

= (3.25)
where k
50
is the mean permeability and k
84.1
is the permeability of the mean + one standard
deviation. The Dykstra-Parsons coefficient ranges from a minimum of 0 (pure
homogeneous) to a maximum of 1.0 (heterogeneous), with most reservoirs falling within V =
0.5 to 0.9. Figure 3.20 is an illustration of the log-normal probability plot and the range of
the coefficient of variation seen in most reservoirs.

Figure 3.20 Characterization of reservoir heterogeneity by permeability variation [Willhite, 1986]

Example 3.5
Given a distribution of permeability data from core samples determine the Dykstra Parsons
permeability coefficient.
Solution
a. Arrange the permeability data in descending order.
b. Compute the percent of total number of k-values exceeding each tabulated, permeability.
c. Plot the log of permeability vs. the cumulative frequency distribution. (Figure 3.21).
d. From the figure, the mean value = 475 md and the k
84.1
= 324 md, respectively.
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.29
e. Using Eq. 3.25, the Dykstra-Parsons coefficient is V = 0.318. The reservoir has a
reasonably low degree of heterogeneity.


Figure 3.21 Example of log normal permeability distribution [Willhite, 1986]

Example 3.6
The previous example was an ideal case of a single flow unit, which by virtue of the straight-
line relationship follows a log-normal distribution. In comparison, examining the data from
the NBU Well No. 42W-29 shows more variability. The resulting Dykstra-Parsons
coefficient of 0.795 confirms the high degree of variability. Also in this example, four units
are identified by HFU analysis and are illustrated on Figure 3.22 with different symbols.




Chapter 3 Permeability
3.30


Figure 3.22 Example of permeability distribution for the Burbank Sandstone

A second method to describe reservoir heterogeneity is to relate the cumulative flow
capacity to the cumulative storage capacity of the reservoir. A curved relationship will
develop as shown in Figure 3.23. The greater the deviation of this curve from the 45

Figure 3.23 Flow capacity vs storage capacity distribution [Craig, 1971]
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.31
degree line the greater the heterogeneity of the system. To construct this plot, arrange
permeability and porosity in descending order. Determine each intervals flow capacity (kh)
and storage capacity (|h), and then sum these values to obtain cumulative curves. Dividing
by the maximum results in the fraction or percent of flow or storage capacity.
The Lorenz Coefficient, L
k
, was introduced to characterize permeability distributions
within a formation using the above information. Referring to Figure 3.23, it is defined as,
ADCA Area
ABCA Area
k
L = (3.26)
The Lorenz coefficient varies from 0 to 1, where uniform permeability is 0. Several
permeability distributions can result for the same value for L
k
, therefore the solution is not
unique. However, comparison of L
k
for various wells will provide a relative magnitude of
heterogeneity between wells.
Example 3.7
Core analysis for 40 samples from the Burbank Sandstone is given in Table 3.4. Determine
the Lorenz coefficient for this data.
Solution
Table 3.5 presents the sorted data and cumulative capacities for permeability and porosity.
Figure 3.24 is the plot of the fraction of total flow capacity vs. the fraction of total storage
capacity for this formation. Using Eq. (3.26) the Lorenz coefficient is 0.643, suggesting this
well is relatively heterogeneous. (The area of ADCA is a triangle = bh = . The Area
under the curve can be integrated using the equation on the figure = 0.822. The area ABCA
= 0.822-0.5 = 0.322.)









Chapter 3 Permeability
3.32



Table 3.4 Input data for Example 3.7
Depth,ft Sample k, md | |
r
RQI, m
2905 1 0.224 0.1200 0.136 0.043
2906 2 0.337 0.1015 0.113 0.057
2907 3 0.187 0.1165 0.132 0.040
2908 4 0.653 0.1304 0.150 0.070
2909 5 1.040 0.1153 0.130 0.094
2910 6 0.450 0.0853 0.093 0.072
2911 7 434.000 0.2519 0.337 1.303
2912 8 196.000 0.2159 0.275 0.946
2913.1 9 0.007 0.0467 0.049 0.012
2913.5 10 1156.000 0.2949 0.418 1.966
2915 11 531.000 0.2679 0.366 1.398
2916 12 1059.000 0.2874 0.403 1.906
2917 13 822.000 0.2765 0.382 1.712
2918 14 1014.000 0.2769 0.383 1.900
2934 15 109.000 0.2269 0.293 0.688
2935 16 138.000 0.2330 0.304 0.764
2936 17 166.000 0.2381 0.313 0.829
2937 18 362.000 0.2554 0.343 1.182
2938 19 77.900 0.2009 0.251 0.618
2939 20 64.900 0.1863 0.229 0.586
2940 21 51.100 0.1685 0.203 0.547
2941 22 89.900 0.1555 0.184 0.755
2942 23 84.100 0.1636 0.196 0.712
2943 24 21.200 0.1537 0.182 0.369
2944 25 23.700 0.1676 0.201 0.373
2945 26 39.600 0.1728 0.209 0.475
2946 27 44.400 0.1770 0.215 0.497
2947 28 20.800 0.1578 0.187 0.361
2948 29 13.900 0.1510 0.178 0.301
2949 30 20.800 0.1543 0.182 0.365
2950 31 6.390 0.1365 0.158 0.215
2951 32 10.000 0.1449 0.169 0.261
2952 33 15.300 0.1492 0.175 0.318
2953 34 11.400 0.1447 0.169 0.279
2954 35 22.800 0.1518 0.179 0.385
2955 36 37.200 0.1537 0.182 0.488
2956 37 29.100 0.1537 0.182 0.432
2957 38 5.840 0.1364 0.158 0.205
2958 39 13.900 0.1529 0.180 0.299
2959 40 16.400 0.1387 0.161 0.341
Arith mean 167.76 md
Geo mean 23.28 md
Har mean 0.25 md
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.33


Table 3.5 Calculations for Lorenz Coefficient
Descending Permeability for Lorenz Coefficient
Fraction of Fraction of
cumulative total flow cumulative total
k, md k,md capacity porosity porosity volume
1156.000 1156 0.172 0.2949 0.2949 0.042
1059.000 2215 0.330 0.2874 0.5823 0.083
1014.000 3229 0.481 0.2769 0.8592 0.123
822.000 4051 0.604 0.2765 1.1357 0.162
531.000 4582 0.683 0.2679 1.4036 0.200
434.000 5016 0.747 0.2519 1.6555 0.236
362.000 5378 0.801 0.2554 1.9109 0.273
196.000 5574 0.831 0.2159 2.1268 0.303
166.000 5740 0.855 0.2381 2.3649 0.337
138.000 5878 0.876 0.2330 2.5979 0.370
109.000 5987 0.892 0.2269 2.8248 0.403
89.900 6077 0.906 0.1555 2.9803 0.425
84.100 6161 0.918 0.1636 3.1439 0.448
77.900 6239 0.930 0.2009 3.3448 0.477
64.900 6304 0.939 0.1863 3.5311 0.504
51.100 6355 0.947 0.1685 3.6996 0.528
44.400 6399 0.954 0.1770 3.8766 0.553
39.600 6439 0.960 0.1728 4.0494 0.577
37.200 6476 0.965 0.1537 4.2031 0.599
29.100 6505 0.969 0.1537 4.3568 0.621
23.700 6529 0.973 0.1676 4.5244 0.645
22.800 6552 0.976 0.1518 4.6762 0.667
21.200 6573 0.979 0.1537 4.8299 0.689
20.800 6594 0.983 0.1578 4.9877 0.711
20.800 6615 0.986 0.1543 5.1420 0.733
16.400 6631 0.988 0.1387 5.2807 0.753
15.300 6646 0.990 0.1492 5.4299 0.774
13.900 6660 0.992 0.1510 5.5809 0.796
13.900 6674 0.995 0.1529 5.7338 0.818
11.400 6685 0.996 0.1447 5.8785 0.838
10.000 6695 0.998 0.1449 6.0234 0.859
6.390 6702 0.999 0.1365 6.1599 0.878
5.840 6708 1.000 0.1364 6.2963 0.898
1.040 6709 1.000 0.1153 6.4116 0.914
0.653 6709 1.000 0.1304 6.5420 0.933
0.450 6710 1.000 0.0853 6.6273 0.945
0.337 6710 1.000 0.1015 6.7288 0.960
0.224 6710 1.000 0.1200 6.8488 0.977
0.187 6711 1.000 0.1165 6.9653 0.993
0.007 6711 1.000 0.0467 7.0120 1.000
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.34



















Figure 3.24 Fraction of flow vs. storage capacity for determination of L
k
.

The previous statistical approaches of estimating reservoir heterogeneity fail to capture an
accurate description of the reservoir for several reasons. First, the data is arranged in a
sequential order, while a true reservoir is not in any ordered sequence (Figure 3.24). [Lake,
1998, Chopra, et al.,1989]
Flow Capacity Distribution
y = -3.8012x
4
+ 10.572x
3
- 11.01x
2
+ 5.2476x - 0.0146
R
2
= 0.9991
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
Fraction of total Volume
F
r
a
c
t
i
o
n

o
f

t
o
t
a
l

F
l
o
w

C
a
p
a
c
i
t
y
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.35

d
e
p
t
h

arranged un-arranged

Figure 3.24. Schematic of statistical approach of arranging data in comparison to true reservoir data, which is
not ordered.

In multiphase flow the displacement response is different for both arrangements in
Figure 3.24, unless gravity is neglected (kv 0). Subsequently, the ordering and position of
layers is critical when crossflow occurs. The problem reveals the need for spatial correlation
which is the topic of the next section.
A second drawback of the statistical approaches is the reliance on permeability
variations for estimating flow in layers. It can be shown from mass balance concepts that
the speed fluid travels through a layer is dependent on the phase mobility, pressure gradient,
and the k/| ratio. In the hydraulic flow unit method the Reservoir Quality Index is defined as
this ratio to account for the effect of porosity with permeability. Furthermore, variations for
irreducible water saturation are not accounted for in the statistical approaches.

Hydraulic Flow Unit
Introduction
The concept behind hydraulic flow units is to provide a method of identifying and
characterizing zones with similar hydraulic characteristics. Figure 1 illustrates the separation
of a formation into hydraulic flow units.
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.36

HFU1
HFU2
HFU3
HFU4

Figure 3.25 Schematic illustrating the concept of flow units.
The approach is to integrate microscopic and macroscopic measurements into
meaningful relationships and to develop a dynamic link that will allow the prediction of fluid
flow characteristics.
It is desirable to obtain accurate permeability from well logs. Currently, empirical
methods are an order of magnitude in accuracy. However, the preponderance of log data to
core data is a driving motivation in accomplishing this task. Amaefule et al.,1993 showed a
successful application in predicting permeability in uncored sections or wells. However, Lee,
et al., 1999, using principal component analysis, have shown difficulty in identification of
hydraulic flow units in uncored wells.
What is a hydraulic flow unit? It can best be described as unique units with similar
petrophysical properties that affect flow. Hydraulic quality of a rock is controlled by pore
geometry; which is dependent upon mineralogy (type, abundance, morphology) and textural
parameters (grain size, shape, sorting and packing). It is the distinction of rock units with
similar pore attributes, which leads to the separation of units into similar hydraulic units. A
hydraulic unit is the same as a flow unit; however they are not equivalent to a geologic unit.
The definition of geologic units or facies are not necessarily the same as the definition of a
flow unit.
Method
The formulation begins with a generalized form of the Carmen-Kozeny equation,
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.37
( )
|
|
|
|
.
|

\
|

=
2
1
2
1
3
gv
S
o
k
k
t
|
|
(3.27)
where t is the tortuosity and k
o
is a shape factor. Previous sections have shown the S
gv
can
be measured using imaging or gas adsorption techniques, and from electrical resistivity
measurement, the tortuosity. In this method, the objective is to avoid measuring these
microscopic properties by lumping these parameters into a single variable called the Flow
Zone Indicator (FZI).
Rearranging Eq. (3.27) we obtain,
|
|
|
.
|

\
|
|
|
.
|

\
|

=
gv
S
o
k
k
t |
|
|
1
1
(3.28)
We can define the Reservoir Quality Index (RQI), as the ratio of permeability to porosity.
|

} {
0314 . 0 } {
md k
m RQI = (3.29)
This term is similar to Leveretts mean hydraulic radius and is an approximation of the mean
pore throat size. Furthermore, we can define the FZI as a function of specific surface and
tortuosity.
z
k
gv
S
FZI
1
= (3.30)
This parameter indicates samples with similar pore throat characteristics and; therefore,
constitute a hydraulic unit. For example, two samples with different grain sizes will result in
different FZIs. The larger grain size will have the greater FZI and also the greatest
permeability. A final definition is the pore-to-grain volume ratio expressed as,
|
|
|

=
1
r
(3.31)
Substitution of Eqs (3.29-31) into Eq. (3.28), and taking the logarithm of both sides results
in,
) log( ) log( ) log( FZI
r
RQI + = | (3.32)
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.38
Subsequently, a log-log plot of RQI vs |
r
will result in a unit slope with a y-intercept equal to
FZI. Samples that lie on the same straight line have similar pore characteristics and are
therefore considered a flow unit. Samples with different FZI values will lie on different but
parallel lines. Figure 3.26 is an example from a sandstone reservoir in Amaefule, et al.
showing six distinct flow units. Figure 3.27 from Lee et al., is from a carbonate reservoir.

Figure 3.26 Plot of RQI vs |
r
for East Texas Well [Amaefule, et al.,1993]
Figure 3.27 Plot of RQI vs |
r
for a carbonate well in Permian Basin [Lee, et al.,1999]


Chapter 3 Permeability
3.39
Determination of the number of hydraulic units
As seen in Figures 3.26 and 3.27, a decision is required to the determination of the
specific number of flow units. This number is constrained by the random errors in
measurement of the porosity and permeability data. The magnitude of the random errors can
be estimated by the root-mean-square technique on FZI.
5 . 0
2
2
1
3
*
2
5 . 0
(
(

|
.
|

\
| A
+
|
|
.
|

\
|

|
|
.
|

\
| A
=
A
k
k
FZI
FZI
|
|
|
|
(3.33)
Any sample with the coefficient of variance (AFZI/FZI > 0.5) are considered unreliable and
consequently omitted from the process. In Eq. (3.33), the tolerance for permeability was
20% and for porosity was 0.5%.
Furthermore, the selection of hydraulic flow units must be consistent with core
geologic descriptions. This results in a resolution of numerous hydraulic units on the core
scale; however, the desire is to be able to measure flow units on the log scale. It has been
suggested [Johnson, 1994] that only four hydraulic zones are discernable with well logs:
macropores (r > 1.5 m), mesopores (0.5m < r < 1.5 m), micropores (r < 0.5 m) and no-
flow layers. Amaefule, et al. state the size distribution of pore throat radii are excellent
delineators of hydraulic units; but do not adhere to the idea of only four zones identifiable on
well logs. Unfortunately, the values of FZI to differentiate zones are somewhat subjective,
based on experience as to which pore radii provides the correct flow zones.
Permeability prediction in uncored sections/wells
Mentioned in the introduction was the desire to obtain permeability from well logs.
A flowchart of the procedure taken from Amaefule is shown in Figure 3.28.
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.40

Figure 3.28 Flowchart for estimation of permeability from well logs [Amaefule, et al,1993]
Step 1: Compute the FZI, RQI and |
z
from the core data as described in the previous section
and zone the data into hydraulic units.
Step 2: For each hydraulic unit, develop regression models for FZI based on logging
attributes in cored intervals. A non-parametric regression analysis was used to rank the
logging tool responses to FZI. Then transformation equations were developed after
normalizing the data distribution with logarithmic filtering. In general terms, weighting
coefficients, c
1
, c
2
, .c
n
are calculated for each log response such that for each flow unit,
.... * ) *
3
( * ) *
2
( * ) *
1
(
ild
R c
b
c c FZI = (3.34)
where is gamma ray,
b
is bulk density and R
ild
is deep induction resistivity.
Step 3: Predict the hydraulic unit profiles in uncored sections or wells using probabilistic
methods constrained with deterministic hydraulic unit variables. Probabilities are computed
from estimated distributions of each hydraulic unit by application of Bayes Theorem. The
control wells provide the reference set for the uncored wells to determine the probability of
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.41
having the same hydraulic unit in a given prediction window; thus providing the basis of
qualitatively predicting the hydraulic units in uncored sections/wells.
Step 4: Compute FZI in uncored wells/sections using the regression models based on the
logging attributes. Calculate permeability from the following expression,
2
) 1 (
3
2
) ( 1014
|
|

= FZI k (3.35)
An example from Amaefule, et al., is illustrated in the next sequence of figures. In figure
3.29 is the predicted permeability from a classical multilinear correlation technique without
hydraulic zonation. Note the deviations from the actual measured values are significant.

Figure 3.29. Predicted permeability versus actual core permeability without zonation
[Amaefule, et al, 1993]
In contrast, permeability predicted from the same logging responses after zonation exhibit
excellent correlation with the actual core values (Figure 3.30). Figure 3.31 illustrates the
relationship between porosity and permeability for the two methods. Again, note the
excellent predictive capabilities of the proposed method.
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.42
Figure 3.30. Predicted permeability versus actual core permeability with zonation
[Amaefule, et al, 1993]

Figure 3.31 Relationship for permeability and porosity with and without zonation [Amaefule,
etal.,1993]
An alternative description for predicting permeability in uncored sections is given by
Johnson, 1994. In this work, a predictive permeability database is constructed with unique
log responses for each core permeability. In essence a scaling up procedure was
accomplished between log and core data. The assumption is that the log data provides a
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.43
unique fingerprint for the entire range of permeability. If a given set of log data has multiple
permeability solutions, then the average permeability value will be assigned to those input
log values. Kriging is used on log values which do not precisely match the input database.

Flow Unit A
Sample Cored well log data
1 k
1
x
1
,x
2
,
2 k
2
x
1
,x
2
,
. . .
. . .
y
1
,y
2
,
Uncored
log data

Figure 3.32 Schematic of permeability database for estimating permeability from uncored wells/sections.

A more conventional approach was presented by Ti, et al., 1995. The determination
of flow units in cored wells was achieved by applying cluster analysis. Cluster analysis is a
statistical method of displaying the similarities and dissimilarities between objects. These
objects form groups or clusters where objects within the group tend to have similar traits
while those in different groups do not. Figure 3.33 is the example presented in Ti, et al. for
the Endicott Field in Alaska. The parameters transmissibility and storativity are normalized
so that each contribute equally to the objective classification scheme.
The next step was to establish a statistical relationship between the core and log data
and then extend these relationships for flow unit determination in the uncored wells. Three
regression relationships were developed;
5
) log( *
4
) log(
3
*
2
) log(
log
*
1
c
h
k c
v
k
c
core
c
h
k
c
core
+ =
=
=
|
| |
(3.36)
The estimate of permeability is related to the cluster analysis to ascertain the flow unit.
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.44

Figure 3.33 Results of cluster analysis,[Ti,et al.,1995]
Example 3.8
Using the same data as in Example 3.7, plot RQI vs |
r
and identify the flow units.
Solution
Table 3.4 contains the input data and calculations for this example. Figure 3.34 is the plot of
the results. Three flow units are identified on the plot.


Figure 3.34 Flow unit identification for Example 3.8.
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.45
3.5 Measurement of absolute permeability

Absolute permeability can be obtained from pressure transient tests (buildup or
drawdowns), from correlations with well log data, or from lab measurements on physical
samples. This section will emphasize core measurement techniques.There are three types of
core analysis techniques: (1) conventional or plug analysis, (2) whole-core analysis and (3)
sidewall core analysis. The technique used depends on the coring method, the type of rock to
be analyzed, and the type of data to be obtained.
Conventional or Plug Analysis. The plug analysis method is used most frequently. In
this method, a small plug sample (3/4 dia, 1 to 1 length), which is easy to work with in
the laboratory, is cut at selected intervals from the whole core. The data obtained from the
small plugs are then assumed to represent the reservoir rock properties of the sampled
interval. The validity of this approach is increased as the rock type becomes more uniform.
It is also necessary to make a decision on the number of samples required for analysis. It is a
generally accepted practice to determine the basic rock properties such as porosity and
permeability on a frequency of one sample per foot with fluid content possibly being
determined less frequently, for example, one for every two to five feet of core. In many
instances, this may turn out to be more data than needed; the indications are that in many
reservoirs the average permeability and porosity determined from one sample for every two
feet did not differ significantly from those determined from one sample per foot.
An additional factor to consider is the sampling procedure since it is most important to avoid
any bias in selecting the samples to be analyzed. A number of techniques can be used that
will eliminate the possibility of selecting the best looking samples.
Whole-Core Analysis. The whole-core analysis method is used when the plug analysis
method becomes invalid because of the presence of heterogeneities such as fractures or vugs.
This method uses the whole core (3 to 3 dia and 6 to 12 length) for rock property
measurement in as long a length as possible. The technique requires larger equipment in the
laboratory, and not all commercial laboratories are equipped to perform this type of analysis.
Sidewall Core Analysis. Considering the process under which these cores are obtained and
the sample size of the core (same size or smaller than plugs), the measured data will have
limited value. Of course, in some areas and in some situations, this rock sample is all that is
available. It is, therefore, desirable to look at the relative value of rock properties as
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.46
determined from sidewall samples and those obtained from conventional cores. Several
studies have been conducted [Helander, 1983] with the results briefly summarized here.
These studies indicate in general that:
1. percussion sample porosities in softer, looser sands are only slightly higher than those
of conventional cores,
2. sidewall sample permeabilities are decreased in higher permeability formations, and
3. water saturations from the sidewall cores are lower and oil saturations slightly higher
than conventional core data.
Based on studies to date, different limiting values and standards of interpretation have been
shown to be necessary when using sidewall sample analysis rather than core analysis. In most
areas where sidewall coring is widely used, however, it appears that suitable relations could
be developed to permit reliable qualitative and possibly even quantitative reservoir
evaluations to be obtained. Certainly the sidewall core data and well log data would be
mutually complementary in the evaluation process.
Permeability is determined by injecting fluid of known density and viscosity through the
core sample and measuring the flow rate and pressure drop. Air is typically selected as the
injectant because of its non-reactive nature, lower cost, and less time consuming through low
permeability samples. Water is also widely used, except in formations with a significant clay
content.
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.47
The apparatus for measuring permeability is shown in Figure 3.35. As shown in the figure,
Figure 3.35 Absolute permeability measuring apparatus [CoreLab, 1983]
both vertical and horizontal permeabilities can be measured. Horizontal permeability is
routinely measured on all sizes of cores. In whole core analysis, two horizontal permeability
values are reported, one in the direction of maximum flow, labeled K
max
, and the other at 90
to the direction of maximum flow, labeled K
90
. Measurements of permeability in the vertical
orientation are made upon request. Whenever the vertical permeability characteristics are not
well documented, some measurements should be made.
Whenever an insufficient amount of sidewall sample is available for a complete analysis,
it is considered desirable to use the available material for the porosity and saturation
determinations, and to obtain a permeability value from a correlation of permeability with
Chapter 3 Permeability
3.48
porosity (measured) and other textural characteristics available from a careful visual
inspection of the sample.
Comparison of permeability measurements
Whole Core Versus Conventional Samples. Whole core pemeabilities reflect the presence
of vugs and/or fractures that are normally excluded in plug analysis and therefore they are
sometimes higher. Mud solid invasion or buildup of a layer of mud and powdered rock on the
core surface may result in reduced permeability and require sandblasting of the full diameter
sample prior to permeability measurement.
Sidewall Versus Conventional Core Permeability Data. Air permeabilities measured on
percussion sidewall samples are generally too high in hard, low permeability samples less
than about twenty millidarcies. This is due to fracturing and shattering of the samples upon
bullet impact. Percussion sidewall samples from friable and unconsolidated sands with
permeabilities greater than about 20 millidarcies usually yield measured permeabilities that
are too low. This permeability reduction is attributed to partial blocking of pore flow paths by
mud solids and to core compression by the bullet. Figure 3.36 illustrates the differences in
sidewall and conventional core permeabilities for gulf coast samples.

Figure 3.36 Comparison of sidewall and conventional core permeability [Corelab, 1983]