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BACHELOR THESIS

CAPILLARY PRESSURE
Chair of Reservoir Engineering
School of Petroleum Engineering, Montanuniversität Leoben

Author: Mouhamed Abdellatif.

Matriculation number: 1435461

Supervised by: Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. mont. Gerhard Thonhauser.

Supported by: Dipl.-Ing. Kata Kurgyis.

Approval date: 6th Nov 2015.


Abstract

Approximately 2.5 billion dollars is spent annually to solve the problem of produced
water from oil and gas wells. In fact, the extent to which produced water problem is a big
nuisance in the oil and gas industry is reflected in the fact that unwanted production of
water has been estimated to cost the petroleum industry about $50 billion a year.
(Halliburton, 2001)
This thesis identifies a factor that could aid in better understanding and modeling a
technical solution for this issue .Especially, in the case of an oil reservoir that is subject
to bottom water drive where the capillary pressure has an important impact on the fluid
flow in the reservoir.
The aim of this report is to study the effect of the capillary pressure on fluid saturation
cumulative production and pressure profile by using the black oil simulator.

Jährlich werden etwa 2.5 Milliarden Dollar aufgewendet um das Problem der
Wasserproduktion in Öl und Gas Bohrungen zu lösen. Das Ausmaß des Problems um
das produzierte Wasser ist ein großer Störfaktor, welcher der Öl und Gas Industrie pro
Jahr etwa 50 Milliarden Dollar kostet. (Halliburton, 2001)
Diese Arbeit soll einen Faktor identifizieren, welcher ein besseres Verständnis geben
soll und bei der Erstellung einer technischen Lösung helfen soll. Speziell im Falle einer
Erdöllagerstätte, welche einem Aquifer unterliegt, wo der Kapillardruck einen großen
Einfluss auf das Fließverhalten in der Lagerstätte ausmacht.
Das Ziel ist es den Effekt des Kapillardrucks auf die Sättigungen, die kumulative
Produktion und die Druckprofile mit der Verwendung eines ‘Black Oil Simulators’ zu
studieren.

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Table of Contents
Introduction .................................................................................................................. 5
1 Capillary pressure ........................................................................................................ 6
1.1 Definition................................................................................................................ 6
1.2 Measurement of capillary pressure – General overview ........................................ 8
2 Methodology............................................................................................................... 11
2.1 Geological overview ............................................................................................. 11
2.2 Reservoir rock properties ..................................................................................... 12
2.3 Reservoir fluid properties ..................................................................................... 14
2.4 Initial and boundary conditions ............................................................................. 14
2.5 Reservoir simulation setup .................................................................................. 15
2.5.1 The black oil model ..................................................................................... 15
2.5.2 Simulation steps ......................................................................................... 15
3 Results ....................................................................................................................... 16
3.1 Capillary pressure vs. saturation .......................................................................... 16
3.2 Impact of capillary pressure on cumulative volume .............................................. 17
3.3 Impact of capillary pressure on pressure profile ................................................... 18
4 Discussion and conclusion ........................................................................................ 19
References ................................................................................................................. 20
Appendix .................................................................................................................. 21

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LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1: Curvature between wetting and non-wetting fluids ........................................... 6
Figure 2: Capillary pressure curve ................................................................................... 7
Figure 3: The mercury injection method ........................................................................... 8
Figure 4: The porous plate method ................................................................................. 9
Figure 5: The centrifuge method ..................................................................................... 9
Figure 6: Location of the johansen formation ................................................................ 11
Figure 7: Oil saturation in the layer 7 ............................................................................. 16
Figure 8: Cumulative volume of oil ................................................................................ 17
Figure 9: Average pressure of hydrocarbon in the pore volume .................................... 18
Figure 10: The wells location in the formation ............................................................... 21
Figure 11: Cumulative volume of water vs Time ........................................................... 23

LIST OF TABLES
Table 1: Porosity values ................................................................................................ 12
Table 2: Permeability values ......................................................................................... 13
Table 3: The residual saturation of oil, water and gas ................................................... 13
Table 4: Reservoir fluid properties ................................................................................ 14
Table 5: The aquifer properties ..................................................................................... 14
Table 6: Rock type and its porosity value....................................................................... 23
Table 7: Water-oil capillary pressure.............................................................................. 22

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Introduction

Capillary pressure is important in reservoir engineering because it is a major factor


controlling the fluid distribution in a reservoir rock. Capillary pressure is only observable
in the presence of two immiscible fluids in contact with each other.
The pores in a reservoir rock are usually containing two immiscible fluid phases in
contact with each other for example oil-water contact. Thus capillary pressure becomes
an important factor to be considered when dealing with oil reservoir.
This thesis studies the effect of the capillary pressure on fluid saturation, pressure profile
and cumulative volumes in the oil reservoir: I compare the cumulative oil volume
produced, as well as, the average pressure in the pore volume at two different
scenarios: with P capillary and without P capillary. In this study the reservoir is located in
the johansen formation at the west coast of Norway.
The investigation of the effect of the capillary pressure in this reservoir is done by the
black oil simulator of CMG-IMEX (Computer Modelling Group Ltd). Two simulations are
conducted, one with oil – water capillary pressure taken into account and one neglecting
it. Thus I create a comparative simulation study.
This report is organized as the following: At first a general introduction about the
capillary pressure is given. Then the reservoir properties and reservoir simulation setup
are presented. Finally, the results of the simulation models are presented, evaluated and
discussed.

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1 Capillary pressure
1.1 Definition

The capillary forces are the result of cumulative actions that occur as a consequence of
the interfacial tensions between rocks and fluids in a hydrocarbon reservoir, grain sizes
and geometry of pore spaces, and the wetting characteristics of the fluids. (Ahmed, T,
2000).
For a typical oil reservoir water is considered as the wetting phase while oil is the non-
wetting phase.
As the wetting and non-wetting phase (immiscible fluids) come in contact with each other
a discontinuity in pressure occurs at the interface. This pressure is called the Capillary
Pressure.
The main equation to calculate capillary pressure is the following:

𝑐𝑜𝑠𝜃
𝑝𝑐 = 2𝛾
𝑟
This equation is the Young-Laplace equation. It shows capillary pressure equals 2 times
of interfacial tension multiplied by the cosine contact angle divided by the porous radius.

Figure 1: Curvature between wetting and non-wetting fluids


(Al Ghamdi, B, 2009)

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Capillary pressure is a function of saturation and it can control the initial distribution of
fluids in the pore spaces of a reservoir. Furthermore, the capillary pressure is dependent
on pressure, temperature and phase composition.
The displacement of one fluid by another fluid is controlled by capillary forces. Drainage
and imbibition are the two main displacement processes within a porous media.
Drainage consists of displacement of the wetting phase by the non-wetting phase while
imbibition is the inverse process.
The capillary pressure curve is a function showing how the capillary pressure varies with
the fluid saturation. A typical capillary pressure curve is shown in Figure 2. In this
example the capillary pressure is plotted as a function of water saturation (or wetting
phase saturation).
This curve provides several information about the porous medium in which the fluids are
flowing. For example, it can tell us about pore size distribution and the wettability of the
system.

Figure 2: Capillary pressure curve


(http://perminc.com/resources/fundamentals-of-fluid-flow-in-porous-media/chapter-2-the-
porous-medium/multi-phase-saturated-rock-properties/capillary-pressure-hysteresis).

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1.2 Measurement of capillary pressure – general overview

Three major groups of measurement techniques exist for measuring capillary pressure:

 Mercury methods
 Porous plate methods
 Centrifuge methods

“The various kinds of measurement methods are all based on the same principle: A
constant pressure is exerted on the porous medium, until capillary equilibrium has
generated a constant saturation. Consequently this applied pressure equals capillary
pressure which corresponds to the given saturations. The saturation can be calculated
with the help of material balance”. (Heinemann, Z, 2003)

Mercury methods
Capillary pressure data are acquired by injecting mercury into a dried, cleaned core plug.
In this method, the non-wetting fluid used is mercury. After the placement of the sample
in a cell as shown in Figure 2, mercury is injected into the sample. The volume of
mercury which has entered the pores at each pressure is determined from volumetric
readings, and the proportion of the pore space filled can be calculated, then the pressure
is plotted against the mercury saturation. (Bognø, T, 2008)

Figure 3: Mercury injection method


(http://petrowiki.org/Measurement-of-capillary-pressure-and-relative-permeability#
Centrifuge methods).

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The porous plate method

It is an example of a static method to measure the capillary pressure curve. The principle
of this technique is based on desaturating of a core sample by placing one end in
capillary contact with a porous plate and applying pressure to the remaining surfaces. As
the pressure of the non-wetting phase is increased, smaller and smaller pores of the
sample will be drained. The highest capillary pressure is determined by breakthrough of
the non-wetting phase through the porous plate. Imbibition capillary pressure curve can
be measured by reversing the process, reducing the pressure of the non-wetting phase
and letting wetting phase imbibe back into the sample. (Bognø, T, 2008)

Figure 4: The porous plate method


(Bognø, T, 2008, impacts on oil recovery from capillary pressure and capillary
heterogeneities).

The centrifuge method

It is a dynamic method to obtain capillary pressure curve. To obtain drainage curves


samples containing 100% wetting phase is immersed in non-wetting phase and spun in
a centrifuge.
As the angular velocity of the centrifuge increases, the higher density of the wetting
phase to the non-wetting phase makes the wetting phase leave the sample at its outer
radius and it is simultaneously replaced with the non-wetting phase. At each different
angular velocity, a different equilibrium will form. The produced volumes of the wetting
phase are recorded for each rotation speed to give the drainage curve. (Bognø, T, 2008)

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Figure 5: The centrifuge method
(Bognø, T, 2008, impacts on oil recovery from capillary pressure and capillary
heterogeneities).

Conversion of laboratory measurements of capillary pressure to reservoir


condition.

After the measurement of capillary pressure under laboratory condition, we need a


proper conversion of this measurement in order to determine the capillary pressure
under reservoir conditions.
The laboratory measurements must be up-scaled to reservoir conditions using the
Young-Laplace equation:
cosθ𝑅 σ𝑅
𝑝𝑐𝑅 = 𝑝𝑐𝐿
cosθ𝐿 σ𝐿

Where: PcR is the capillary pressure under reservoir conditions.


PcL is the capillary pressure measured under laboratory conditions.
σR is the interfacial tension under reservoir conditions.
σL is the interfacial tension measured under laboratory conditions.
θR is the contact angle measured under reservoir conditions.
θL is the contact angle measured under laboratory conditions.

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2 Methodology

2.1 Geological overview

The Johansen Formation is located in the deeper part of the Sognefjord delta, 60 km
offshore the Mongstad area at the west coast of Norway. It has been identified as a
possible candidate for storage of CO2 from future point sources at Mongstad and Kårstø.
The depth levels of the formation range from 1800-3500 m below sea level. The average
thickness of the formation is roughly 100 m and the lateral extensions are up to 16 km in
both direction.
The Johansen formation consists of several sand layers with less lateral continuity and
several shale layers as seal layers.
The formation contains 5 faults where the most significant fault in the study area is the
main north-south trending fault.
The Johansen Formation may be described as a micaceous, feldspathic arenite, and
comprises relatively thick successions of porous sand and poorly consolidated
sandstone in the central parts, with the formation top at burial depths of around 2000 m,
while more distal, less sandy facies are representative of the wells towards the north,
west and south.

Figure 6: Location of the Johansen Formation


The Johansen Formation is contained within the green curve, and the yellow curve
represents areas where seismic is known. The Norwegian sector of the Utsira Formation
is bounded by the blue line.
(http://www.npd.no/en/Publications/Reports/Compiled-CO2-atlas/4-The-Norwegian-)

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2.2 Reservoir rock properties

Porosity

Porosity is a ratio between void spaces and the total volume of the rock.

𝑃𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑒
𝜙=
𝑇𝑜𝑡𝑎𝑙 𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑒
It is expressed in percentage (%) or fraction between 0 and 1. Porosity is identified as
one of the most fundamental properties of the rock. The higher the rock porosity, the
greater is the capacity of the space to contain the fluids. There are two types of porosity:
total porosity and effective porosity. The total porosity considers the connected and
the isolated pore spaces, while, the effective porosity considers only the pore spaces
which are connected to each other.
The value of porosity is affected by several parameters such as the size and the shape
of the grain, sorting and compaction.
Furthermore, the value of porosity depends on the type of the rock. In fact, sandstone
and carbonate do not have the same value of porosity. A typical values of porosity for
some rock type was listed below in the Table 6 (appendix)
In our case, we have a different value of porosity since our formation contains different
rock type: sandstone and shale.
Table 1: Porosity values

Rock type Porosity value


Sandstone Layers 13 - 30 %

Shale Layers 10 %

Permeability

Permeability is defined as the ability of the rock to transmit the fluid. It represents the
connectivity of the pore spaces and it represents the flow capacity of the rock. Thus the
higher the permeability, the easier the fluid flows in the porous medium. The permeability
unit is denoted by Darcy (D): 1 𝐷 = 10−12 𝑚².

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Table 2: Permeability values

Permeability in
Rock type
I direction (mD) J direction (mD) K direction (mD)
0.01 0.01 0.001
Shale layers
30 - 875 30 - 875 3 – 87.5
Sand layers

Residual saturation

Residual saturation occurs when there are two or more immiscible fluids: because the
capillary forces are larger compared to the viscous forces, certain amount of the fluid is
trapped by other fluid in the pore space.
The reservoir is considered as a water wet system. The connate and residual saturations
of oil, gas and water are listed in the table 3.

Table 3: The residual saturation of oil, water and gas in the reservoir

Connate water saturation 0.1


Critical water saturation 0.15
Irreducible oil saturation 0.2
Residual oil saturation 0.22
Oil relative permeability at connate water 0.9
Water relative permeability at irreducible oil 0.3
Connate gas saturation 0.18
Critical gas saturation 0.21

2.3 Reservoir fluid properties

In this study, the main phases that are considered in fluid flow area are water and oil.
The important fluid properties are presented in the Table 4.

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Table 4: Reservoir fluid properties

Water density 995.7 Kg/m3

API oil gravity 38° API

Water salinity 50 000 PPM

Bubble point pressure 120 bar

2.4 Initial and boundary conditions

Initial condition states the initial values of the primary variable such as saturation and
displacement at the beginning of the simulation. The reservoir was supported by a
bottom drive aquifer with infinite extent. In this report, it is assumed that there is no flow
boundary condition for all sides of the reservoir.
The reservoir is initially undersaturated, it has a pressure higher than bubble pressure.
The water-oil contact is at the bottom of the reservoir at 3325 m. The initial pressure is
equal to a hydrostatic pressure distribution with a reference pressure of 250 bar at 3100
m depth.

Table 5: The aquifer properties

Aquifer thickness 500 m

Effective reservoir radius 1000m

Fraction of circle 1

Aquifer porosity 25 %

Aquifer permeability 250mD

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2.5 Reservoir simulation setup

2.5.1 Black oil model

Based on the complexity of the reservoir fluid properties, reservoir simulation


calculations are classified into two categories: black-oil simulation and compositional
simulation.
Black-oil simulators are models designed to solve multiphase flow in multidimensional
systems, where fluid properties are dependent on pressure and independent on
composition and temperature.
The model consists of a system of non-linear differential equations in terms of pressure
and saturation. They are viewed as two-component simulators, which are capable of
simulating gas dissolved in the oil phase, and as well as residual oil after the dissolved
gas is released below the bubble point pressure.
Hepguler and Bard (1997) express that black-oil simulator only allows for gas to be
dissolved into oil and released out of it, but does not accommodate for oil vaporizing into
gas phase.
This means that the oil and gas phases must maintain a fixed phase composition at all
time through the simulation process.
Thus, the use of black-oil simulators is constrained by the limitation of addressing the
phase transfer and change of composition between gas and oil. In this study, the black
oil model was used to examine the effect of capillary pressure.

2.5.2 Simulation steps


The production from the johansen formation is conducted by 10 wells placed in different
location. Each well has a production rate of 35 00 m3/day. The location of each well in
the formation is shown in Figure 10 in the appendix
In order to study the effect of the capillary pressure on saturation, pressure profile and
cumulative production, I have to run two simulation models based on two different
scenarios:
Scenario 1: with capillary effect
For the first scenario the oil-water capillary pressure was taken in consideration. The
values of the capillary pressure was listed in the Table 7 in the appendix.
Scenario 2: without capillary effect
For the second scenario, I run a simulation without capillary effect. Then I compare the
results of both simulation.

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3 Results

In order to make the effect of the capillary pressure more visible, I change the oil water
contact from 3325m to 3150 m.
3.1 Capillary pressure vs saturation

a) T= 0 year / without Pc b) T = 0 year / with Pc

c) T= 10 years / without Pc d) T= 10 Years / with Pc

Figure 7: Oil saturation in layer 7

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Figure 7 shows the variation of the oil saturation over time for 2 different scenario: with
and without capillary effect. By comparing Figure 7a with Figure 7b, I recognize a
difference in oil saturation. In fact, when the capillary effect is taken into consideration,
the oil saturation is lower than when it is ignored.
After 10 years, this difference in oil saturation becomes clearly visible (Figure 7c and
Figure 7d).

3.2 Impact of capillary pressure on cumulative Volume

Figure 8: Cumulative oil production

Figure 8 shows the cumulative volume of oil produced from Well 3. In the figure, there is
2 curves related to the two different scenarios (with capillary and without capillary).
For the first two years, the two curves correlate well and Well 3 has the same volume of
oil produced for both scenarios. Afterwards, the two curves start to diverge.
Well 3 shows better production efficiency when capillary effects are neglected.

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This result is confirmed by the low cumulative volume of water produced in the case of
zero capillary pressure compared with the volume of water produced with capillary
pressure (Figure 11 in the appendix).

3.3 Impact of capillary pressure on pressure profile

Figure 9: Average pressure of hydrocarbon in the pore volume

Figure 9 shows the average pressure curves measured at 2 different conditions: (with
capillary / without capillary). They both show the same trend. However, I find that there is
a constant pressure difference between the two curve started from the initial condition. In
fact, in the case where the effect of capillary pressure was neglected, the average
pressure within the hydrocarbon pore volume is higher than average pressure when
capillary effect is taken into account. The pressure difference between the two curves is
lower than 50 kPa (0.5 bar). Therefore, the impact of capillary pressure in the pore
pressure can be neglected.

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4 Discussion and conclusion

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of the capillary pressure on saturation
cumulative volume and pressure profile for an oil reservoir with a bottom water drive.
The capillary pressure decreases the oil saturation in the reservoir. Thus, the amount of
oil in the pore volume is affected by the presence of a transition zone where oil and
water are mixed together. The amount of water is related to the height of the transition
zone. In fact, the higher the transition zone, the larger the amount of water.
The presence of capillary pressure increases the amount of the mobile water in the
reservoir, leading to an increase in the water production. The invasion of water from the
aquifer to the oil zone becomes easy in the presence of the capillary pressure. As a
result, the amount of trapped oil will increase, leading to a decrease in cumulative oil
production.
All in all, significant effects of capillary pressure can be seen in the transition zone. The
important impact of the capillary force in the reservoir is that the amount of produced
water increases.

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References

1. Ahmed, T. (2010). Reservoir engineering handbook. Amsterdam: Gulf Professional


Pub.

2. Chen, Z. (1988). Some Invariant Solutions to Two-Phase Fluid Displacement


Problems Including Capillary Effect (includes associated papers 18744 and 19037).
SPE Reservoir Engineering, 3(02), pp.691-700

3. Christoffersen, K. and Whitson, C. (1995). Gas/Oil Capillary Pressure of Chalk at


Elevated Pressures. SPE Formation Evaluation, 10(03), pp.153-159.

4. Green, D. and Willhite, G. (1998). Enhanced oil recovery. Richardson, TX: Henry L.
Doherty Memorial Fund of AIME, Society of Petroleum Engineers

5. HEINEMANN, (2003). Fluid flow in porous media. Leoben

6. Labastie, A., Iffly, R., Delclaud, J. and Guy, M. (1980). EFFECT OF FLOW RATE
AND WETTABILITY ON WATER-OIL RELATIVE PERMEABILITIES AND
CAPILLARY PRESSURE. SPE, 9236.

7. Reed, R. and Wheatley, M. (1984). Oil and Water Production in a Reservoir with
Significant Capillary Transition Zone. Journal of Petroleum Technology, 36(09),
pp.1559-1566.

8. Bognø, T, 2008, impacts on oil recovery from capillary pressure and capillary
heterogeneities.

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Appendix

Figure 10: Wells location in the reservoir

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Figure 11: The cumulative water production, well 3

Table 6: Rock type and its porosity value

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Table 7: Water-oil capillary pressure

Sw Pcow (kPa)
0.1000 100.000000
0.1250 80.500000
0.1500 61.000000
0.1894 37.000000
0.2288 22.000000
0.2681 18.101206
0.3075 15.383067
0.3469 13.608657
0.3863 12.333893
0.4256 11.361148
0.4650 10.587353
0.5044 9.952792
0.5438 9.420166
0.5831 8.964813
0.6225 8.569691
0.6619 8.222595
0.7013 7.914522
0.7406 7.638670
0.7800 7.638670
0.7900 7.638670
0.8000 0.000000

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