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Prudhoe Bay Gas/Oil Relative Permeability

G.R. Jerauld, SPE, Arco E&P Technology

Summary
Prudhoe Bay is a mixed-wet reservoir where about half the oil recovery is attributable to gravity drainage. Gas/oil relative permeability
data show that gravity-drainage recovery efficiency is poorer for
more fine-grained sandstone and increases as the grain size increases.
Gravity-drainage efficiency also increases with connate-water saturation. Dependence of recovery efficiency on grain size is related to
changes in sorting. An effective grain size, defined by inverting the
Carman-Kozeny relation, provides a useful parameter for correlating
recovery efficiency. This estimate correlates well with visual estimates and direct measurements on disaggregated core. Grain size is
also found to be a more effective parameter for correlating trapped gas
than porosity, a common alternative. Lithology impacts trapped-gas
level with finer-grained, more poorly sorted rock having higher
trapped gas. Trapped gas decreases with increasing microporosity.
Because little gas is trapped in microporosity, a zero-slope generalization of the Land curve better represents trapped-gas data.
Introduction
As a result of the size and economic importance of Prudhoe Bay and
because of the variety of oil recovery methods operating in the reservoir, data for a variety of recovery mechanisms have been collected.
Much of the work to date on understanding relative permeability of
Prudhoe Bay has focused on water/oil1 largely because it is an EOR
target, but gas/oil is at least as important. The oil recovery by gravity
drainage constitutes approximately half the production and potential reserves of the field. Understanding gravity drainage is important for forecasting recovery efficiency in the future and in managing the relative contributions of gravity drainage, waterflooding,
and EOR recovery processes. Because macroscopic recovery efficiency is generally high for the gravity-drainage process, variations
in microscopic efficiency have an even larger impact on overall recovery efficiency than in waterflooding. Gas relative permeability
and trapped-gas measurements are important to predicting miscible
gas usage and recovery efficiency.
Endpoints and Film Drainage
Strictly speaking, a relative permeability endpoint, residual, or irreducible saturation is that saturation at which a phase becomes discontinuous and therefore stops flowing. This definition is meaningful in discussing nonwetting phases, such as gas, but is less
meaningful for wetting phases like oil in the gas/oil system. The
endpoint is controlled by the slow rate of film flow, which depends
on the number of pore volumes (PVs) of throughput or the time allowed for drainage. To understand recovery efficiency, it is more
useful to compare microscopic displacement efficiency,
Ed +1*So /(1*Swi ), at a given small oil relative permeability in a
centrifuge test or a large gas/oil relative permeability ratio in a displacement test. Analysis of gravity drainage at low, stable rates indicates that oil relative permeability is often low enough to control recovery and that gas relative permeability is irrelevant.2 To identify
the effects of relative permeability alone, it is useful to plot recovery
efficiency vs. dimensionless drainage time.2
t5

dkdS
ro
o

*1

DtDgk V
,
Dzfm o

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (1)

Copyright 1997 Society of Petroleum Engineers


Original SPE manuscript received for review 11 March 1996. Revised manuscript received
2 December 1996. Paper peer approved 9 December 1996. Paper (SPE 35718) first presented at the 1996 SPE Western Regional Meeting, Anchorage, 2224 May.

66

where f+porosity, kV +vertical permeability, mo +oil viscosity,


D z+distance from the gas/oil contact, and D +density difference
between oil and gas. This measure is used in this paper. However,
to understand the recovery of any particular zone or portion of the
field, it is important to be mindful of the other primary controls.
The origin of the low residual oil saturations seen in gravity drainage is spreading. Spreading is the tendency of oil to form a film between water and gas spontaneously. The measure this tendency is
the spreading coefficient, S5sgw *sow *sgo , where sij is the interfacial tension between Phases i and j. Data in the literature indicate
that, if the spreading coefficient is non-negative, oil will drain down
to very low saturations and will not disconnect, while systems with
negative coefficients (nonspreading oils) can become disconnected.3-5 Measurements indicate that the initial spreading coefficient for Prudhoe Bay crude at reservoir conditions is positive, with
a value of S+58.1*25.3*1.7+31"0.5 dynes/cm. At typical lab
conditions, the initial spreading coefficient is also positive and of a
similar magnitude. Field data from the gas cap, which according to
the theory of oil accumulation at Prudhoe was once fully occupied
by oil,6-8 show very low oil saturations averaging 8%. This is more
consistent with a spreading oil than a nonspreading oil. Although
mechanistically it might seem that wettability would affect oil relative permeability, available data show little difference between preserved and extracted samples. Two separate studies on two different
wells showed no systemic difference between experiments on preserved or extracted samples at room conditions. This is consistent
with observations made in the literature.9,10
Impact of Connate Water
Review of the literature9,11-14 indicates that the presence of connate
water is generally thought to increase oil recovery up to the point that
water becomes mobile, when oil recovery begins to decrease. Many authors have found that gas/oil relative permeability is essentially a function of gas or liquid saturation, independent of connate-water saturation. These results imply that the sum of residual oil saturation and
connate-water saturation should be a constant. Consequently, residual
oil saturation is strongly dependent on connate-water saturation, and recovery efficiency should increase with increasing connate-water saturation. This picture characterizes Prudhoe Bay oil relative permeability
at moderate and high but not low liquid saturations.
Fig. 1 shows that the residual oil saturation determined from capillary pressure experiments for Prudhoe Bay decreases with connatewater saturation down to approximately 2%. Core residual oil saturations from the Prudhoe Bay gas cap support the idea that very low
residual oil saturations can be reached, consistent with these data. Although widely accepted theory states that gas migrated into Prudhoe
Bay after it was filled with oil,6-8 oil saturations in the cap reach less
than 4% (with connate-water saturations less than 20%).
Although oil saturations approaching ultimate residual are insightful, they do not reflect much of what is important in the field
because these values are not attained in realistic field lifetimes. For
example, a compensated neutron log (CNL) study in 1990 of 12
wells in the gravity-drainage area showed an average oil saturation
of 23"8%, with more than one-third of the intervals having oil saturations less than 20%. A second CNL study in 1988 showed an average of Sorg +0.31 for Zone 4 and Sorg +0.25 for Zone 2. Fig. 2
shows that the recovery efficiency at a fixed moderate dimensionless recovery time, t+40, decreases with decreasing connate-water
saturation [the trends are the same at fixed low relative permeability15 (e.g., kro +0.004)]. The data are measurements made on plugs
for which two or three saturations are reported on the same plug.
Thus, one can clearly ascribe differences to height above water/oil
contact rather than to changes in the level of microporosity. Because
the experiments were done on extracted rocks with refined fluids,
wettability changes are unlikely.
SPE Reservoir Engineering, February 1997

Fig. 2Displacement efficiency at krog +0.004 (top) and at a dimensionless time of 40 (bottom) vs. initial water saturation.
Each kind of data point is from a separate sample.

Fig. 1Residual oil to gas at 100-psi capillary pressure as a


function of initial water saturation.

Fig. 3 shows oil relative permeability isoperms from the same set
of experiments. The isoperms show that oil relative permeability is
a function of liquid saturation at higher oil saturations or high oil relative permeability as long as water is not mobile (St0.3, Sl u0.6).
A constant liquid-saturation approximation is nearly adequate even
at relative permeability levels as low as 0.004. At low oil saturations
and sufficiently high water saturations, oil relative permeability depends only on oil saturation. This is consistent with the idea that oil
flow is dominated by the thickness of the oil film between water and
gas at low oil saturations; but when oil films are thick, oil relative
permeability is unaffected by the presence of water. Larger pores
contribute more to hydraulic conductance, according to a relationship of pore size to a power of at least two but probably three or
more. At large oil saturations, the contribution of small pores (i.e.,
those that may be occupied by oil or water depending on the initial
water saturation) is insignificant and the presence or absence of oil
in those pores has negligible impact on oil relative permeability. In
the limit of low water saturations, water is in the microporosity and
does not impact the relative permeability of oil but does impact its
saturation because oil is also in the microporosity. As a result, oil relative permeability depends mainly on total liquid saturation in the
limit of low water and high oil saturations. When the oil saturation
is very low, oil relative permeability becomes nearly independent of
water saturation because oil spreads along the gas/water interface
and in the limit of no oil saturation, the flow must be zero.
Lithology and Effective Grain Size
Studies in the literature indicate that permeability level impacts gas/oil
displacement behavior, with generally higher recovery efficiency at
higher permeabilities. Honoring such trends is an important factor in
obtaining accurate reservoir simulations.16,17 Empirical correlations of
gas/oil relative permeability usually include a permeability dependence, either explicitly or implicitly.16,18,19 Lower-permeability rocks
often have larger capillary pressure exponents, broader pore-size distributions, and poorer sorting, with associated higher Corey exponents
or more unfavorable liquid phase relative permeability curves. The
central idea is that pore-size distribution controls recovery efficiency,
with more broad pore-size distributions leading to lower recovery effiSPE Reservoir Engineering, February 1997

ciency. There are three major causes of low permeability: smaller grain
size, more consolidation or overgrowths, and poorer sorting. Although
grain size itself does not impact relative permeability, the other two
mechanisms lead to broader pore-size distributions20,21 and are often
associated with grain-size changes. These trends can be found in the
Prudhoe data, but the lithologic trends are more complex than those
typically reported in the literature. In particular, the dependence of
permeability and sorting on grain size is nonmonotonic.
Prudhoe Bay consists of sandstones and conglomerates with a
range of grain sizes. A simple way to distinguish lithology is to estimate an average grain size from comparitors, as is standard in geological description. Begg et al.22 did this for a large set of plugs from
Prudhoe Bay. Fig. 4 shows that both porosity and permeability have
a maximum with respect to grain size, which occurs for coarsegrained sands. Because porosity tends to decrease with poorer sorting and large variations in the degree of cementation are not expected for rocks in the same zone, the primary reason for these
variations is that sorting is poor for both very-fine- and very-coarsegrain rocks. Permeability decreases with decreasing porosity, decreasing grain size, and poorer sorting, so the observed permeabilities are consistent with this idea. Because reliable estimates of grain
size are not always available from special core analysis and grain
sizes can change dramatically from foot to foot, it is useful to estimate grain size from permeability and porosity.
The Carman-Kozeny equation estimates permeability from grain
size, porosity and tortuosity. For a uniform sand, the surface to vol-

Fig. 3Oil relative permeability isoperms: kro is a function of liquid saturation at higher So and a function of So at low So .
67

Fig. 5Grain size in phi units based on visual analysis vs. grain
size estimated by Carman-Kozeny relation from permeability and
porosity of the core sample (W). There is good agreement in the
range of coarse to very fine grain but poor agreement otherwise.

Fig. 4Dependence of porosity (top) and log permeability (bottom) on grain size, in phi units, estimated from visual inspection.

ume ratio is known and other factors may be estimated so that


permeability and porosity can be related directly to particle radius
squared. This equation can be used to estimate particle size, d, from
permeability and porosity. To be consistent with geological nomenclature this is done on the Wentworth scale yielding,

W5* ln 2(d)+* ln 1.784 10 *3

1 * f
f

fk , . . . . . . . (2)

where W is in phi units and d is in millimeters.


Fig. 5 shows a test of this Carman-Kozeny estimate of grain size
and compares the estimate of grain size based on visual estimates to
that estimated from the permeability and porosity of the observed
plug. The results indicate that, while the estimate works well for medium- to very-fine-grained rocks, for very coarse grain and above,
the Carman-Kozeny estimate does not match visual estimates. This
may be because sorting is not well modeled or because visual estimates inaccurately portray mean grain size (because larger grains
influence the visual estimates more than flow). Note, however, that
the majority of the rock is finer grained and, therefore, a method that
works on these rocks is quite useful. For example, in the data collected by Begg et al.,22 94% of the rock had grain sizes less than
coarse grain. Rock with a grain size in phi units of 3.5 or greater is
also not of interest because it is so fine grained and low in permeability that it is usually nonpay. Grain-size measurements made with laser-light scattering on disaggregated plugs more directly addresses
the accuracy of this estimate. Fig. 6 shows that there is reasonably
good agreement between the median grain size measured on the disaggregated samples and the estimates made with the permeability
68

Fig. 6Effective grain size (in microns) vs. measured value.

and porosity of the plug and the Carman-Kozeny equation. Thus, direct measurements, visual estimates, and estimates based on the
Carman-Kozeny equation all agree.
Fig. 7 shows the dependence of sorting on grain size for disaggregated core. Finer-grained rocks have poorer sorting. The sorting coefficient, defined as the standard deviation in grain size measured
in phi units, increases nearly linearly with the grain size in phi units.
This trend is also apparent in visual inspection. Extrapolating with
respect to grain size in phi units indicates that perfect sorting occurs
around W+0. In this limit, the relative permeability behavior may
approach that of uniform sands. Because poorly sorted rock tends
to have lower recovery efficiency, one can expect that fine-grained
rocks will have poorer recoveries.
Fig. 8 shows recovery efficiency vs. sorting coefficient. As expected, the data show that poorly sorted sandstones have lower recovery efficiency. Recovery efficiency at an oil relative permeability of 0.004 and at a dimensionless time of 40 show the same trend.15
Other studies of Prudhoe Bay relative permeability support and expand on the simple trend with lithology given previously. There are
consistent trends found in studies on other wells. In particular,
SPE Reservoir Engineering, February 1997

Fig. 7Sorting vs. grain size. Data are from laser particle-size
measurements on disaggregated core.

coarse-grained and better-sorted material has consistently more favorable behavior when viewed on a liquid-saturation basis.
Fig. 9 shows displacement gas/oil relative permeability data on composites of different lithologies along with centrifuge oil relative permeability data taken on the plugs from the composites. The conglomeratic
sample has the most unfavorable behavior, the medium-grained sandstone the most favorable behavior. The fine-grained sandstone has less
favorable behavior than the medium-grained sandstone, and the very
fine-grained sandstone slightly less favorable behavior.
Differences in lithology reflect more than differences in microporosity level. Medium to pebbly sandstones have more favorable
relative permeability behavior than fine-grained sandstones both on
a liquid-saturation basis and a displacement-efficiency basis. Con-

Fig. 9Data that demonstrate systematic difference between


lithologies and between centrifuge (closed symbols) and displacement (open symbols) data. Diamonds+conglomerate, circles+
medium grained, triangles+fine grained, and squares+very fine
grained; centrifuge data taken on plugs from the composite.
SPE Reservoir Engineering, February 1997

Fig. 8Displacement efficiency at krog +0.004 (top) and at a dimensionless drainage time of 40 vs. sorting coefficient. Solid
line is RMA and dashed line is a least-squares fit .

glomeratic samples look more unfavorable on a liquid-saturation basis than on a displacement-efficiency basis largely because they contain more microporous chert, which in these experiments is saturated
with water and does not participate in the flow. While these general
descriptions are useful in exploring differences in behavior, the effective-grain-size concept helps to quantify the impacts and correlate the
data in a more meaningful way. Fig. 10 shows recovery efficiency as
a function of effective grain size for sandstones and conglomerates at
a dimensionless time of 40. The data are derived from centrifuge relative permeability experiments for all available data that contained
connate water. This figure shows that recovery efficiency is lower for
finer-grained samples. The data also show that, for large effective
grain sizes, the conglomerates and sandstones have essentially the
same recovery efficiency, but that conglomerates have a lower recovery efficiency for small effective grain sizes. The difference in recov-

Fig. 10Displacement efficiency at a dimensionless time of 40


vs. effective grain size for conglomerates and sandstones.
69

Fig. 11Gas relative permeability data from steady-state (solid


circles), pseudosteady-state (x,+,*) and low-rate displacements
corrected for capillary end effects (open diamonds). Primarydrainage oil/water relative permeability (solid diamonds) is the
same as gas/liquid data. Bold lines are correlation with grain
size; solid triangles are Leveretts23 unconsolidated sand data.

ery between coarse- and fine-grain material is rather dramatic, with


coarse-grained sandstones having a recovery efficiency in excess of
65% and fine-grained rocks less than 50% (at krog +0.004 or t+40).
Recovery-efficiency data for samples from a single well and Zone 4
show similar trends to those in the entire database. Thus, lithology
rather than structural location is controlling.
The dominant factor in these trends is permeability variation. However, statistical tests on the centrifuge data and evidence in the literature19 indicate that porosity as well as permeability influences recovery efficiency. In particular, a more statistically significant correlation
exists between recovery efficiency and effective grain size than between recovery efficiency and permeability or log permeability. In
addition, simultaneous regression on both initial water saturation and
effective grain size shows that both are statistically significant.
Gas Relative Permeability
Fig. 11 shows primary drainage gas relative permeability data for
Prudhoe Bay. Not shown are displacement data, which are thought
to be impacted by viscous fingering and are systematically different
from other data types (e.g., steady-state, pseudosteady-state, and
low-rate gasfloods corrected for end effects).15 This figure also
plots results of a two-parameter gas relative permeability equation,
k rgS g +

1 ) c g2S g * S gtS max


1 * S max

g
gr

1)1cg2

1 * S max
gl
1 ) c g2S g * S gtS max
g
gr
c

c gl

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (3)
used to fit the data. This equation approaches the Corey equation18
at low gas saturations and has a continuously decreasing slope at
high gas saturations, consistent with the idea that gas enters larger
pores first and then successively smaller pores. The Corey exponent
portion models the way a nonwetting phase becomes connected
(i.e., the dependence of relative permeability on the shape and number of pores in the connected set of pores filled by gas). The latter
portion models the successively smaller contribution of smaller
pores to the relative permeability. The hysteresis behavior implicit
in the choice of reduced saturation is the same as Carlsons24; imbibition relative permeability is the same as secondary-drainage rel70

Fig. 12Decrease of gas saturation at krg +0.5 with decreasing


grain size. Open triangles are for conglomeratic samples and
solid circles for sandstones. Lines are RMA fits of the data; solid
for sandstone and dashed for conglomerates.

ative permeability and is related to primary-drainage relative


permeability through the gas-trapping function. Evidence in the literature25 and Prudhoe Bay data15 indicate that there is no hysteresis
between imbibition and secondary drainage, consistent with this
model. Other experiments show that there is no difference between
miscible injectant (reservoir conditions) and nitrogen (ambient
conditions) relative permeability in both imbibition and secondary
drainage. These results are consistent with the bulk of the evidence
in the literature, which indicates that gas relative permeability depends only on the current and maximum gas saturation, and is independent of the other two-phase saturations in the immiscible limit.9,11,26,27
On the basis of the results of the last section, it is clear that one
should expect differences in gas relative permeability curves owing
to differences in lithology. In addition, studies of gas relative permeability found in the literature indicate that there is a correlation between permeability level and gas relative permeability,19,16 with
lower gas relative permeability at a given saturation for more permeable rock. Fig. 12 shows a similar correlation between the gas
saturation at a displacement gas relative permeability of 0.5 and the
effective grain size. The figure shows that gas relative permeability
at a given gas saturation decreases with increasing grain size. To
match this behavior (Fig. 11), displacement data were regressed to
determine gas saturation at given relative permeability levels as a
function of effective grain size and the parameters in the gas relative
permeability equation were made simple functions of effective
grain size to reproduce the trends.15
Trapped Gas
Fig. 13 shows laboratory measurements of trapped gas as a function
of initial gas for Prudhoe Bay. Consistent with the literature,28 the
data indicate little dependence on whether oil or water is trapping,
whether the experiment is done at reservoir or laboratory conditions, and whether the experiments are done on composites or plugs
(or even with centimeter-scale in-situ saturation measurements) or
on native-state or extracted cores. Moreover, there is little apparent
difference between sandstone and conglomeratic data plotted on
this basis.15 The data are well correlated with a zero-slope adaptation of the Land29 curve,
S gt +

S max
g

max
1 ) 1S max
gr * 1 S g

1 1*S max
gr

, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (4)

with S max
gr +0.255.
SPE Reservoir Engineering, February 1997

Fig. 13Comparison of trapping of gas by oil (solid triangles),


water (open circles), and in three-phase systems (*). Trapping of
gas appears to be nearly independent of the of the liquid phase.

To understand lithology dependence of trapped gas better, an examination of general trends in the available database was undertaken. Most samples have a characteristic shape of initial/trapped saturation curve similar to the Prudhoe Bay data. To analyze the data
properly, it is important to differentiate between the dependence of
trapped gas on initial gas and the lithology dependence at a given
initial gas level. To do this, the trapped gas corresponding to a maximum gas saturation of unity can be used as a parameter to correlate
with petrophysical properties. Prudhoe data were put on this basis
by fitting a zero-slope Land curve through the data for each sample
available and determining the maximum trapped gas.
Fig. 14 shows that the maximum trapped-gas saturation decreases with increasing porosity level for sandstones. Although this
dependence has been recognized for some time,30,31 it is often overlooked. The Prudhoe data have a similar but weaker correlation with
porosity. Conglomeratic samples have a lower level of trapped gas
at a given porosity level than sandstones. Comparison of Prudhoe
with other data shows a large region of overlap, but Prudhoe has less
trapped gas both for moderate- and low-porosity levels and for conglomeratic samples.
An explanation for the dependence of trapped gas on porosity level
is that lower-porosity samples tend to have larger pore-body to porethroat aspect ratios and lower connectivity. Low porosity caused by
quartz overgrowth decreases pore-throat size more than pore-body
size and leads to higher aspect ratios.32 The major mechanism that
drives gas trapping is disconnection by the choke-off mechanism,
which occurs more readily for higher-aspect-ratio porous media.24,32
If consolidation proceeds to the point where throats are filled, the average number of pore throats connected to each pore body decreases
and there are fewer paths available for gas to escape and trapping increases.31 Another explanation is that low-porosity samples are poorly sorted, which leads to larger levels of trapped gas.
The influence of microporosity explains why Prudhoe Bay sandstones trap low levels of gas. Prudhoe Bay rock has a larger fraction
of microporosity than average sandstone and consequently less
trapped gas for a given porosity level. That microporosity does not
trap gas effectively is apparent in the shape of individual curves relating trapped-gas saturation to maximum gas saturation. Because pores
within microporosity are small, gas enters microporosity only for
larger maximum gas saturations. The change in trapped-gas saturation with increasing maximum gas saturation decreases with increasing maximum gas saturation, ultimately approaching zero, indicating
little trapping in microporosity. Moreover, trapped-gas measurements show a systematically decreasing trapped-gas saturation with
increasing connate-water saturation (Fig. 15). Because connate water
was established in the same way in these experiments, connate-water
saturation is a measure of the level of microporosity, consistent with
other evidence. One explanation for this lack of trapping is that the
SPE Reservoir Engineering, February 1997

Fig. 14Trapped-gas saturation for a maximum gas saturation


of unity vs. porosity level for Prudhoe and other sandstones.

major source of microporosity, microporous chert, is very porous


with a porosity close to 40%. Scanning electron microscope work
shows that the body-to-throat aspect ratio of chert is small, indicating
that little gas should be trapped. Another microporosity source, kaolinite clay, also has a very open structure without the internal network
that traps gas. Another plausible mechanism is diffusion from micropores to macropores driven by capillary pressure.15
On average, upstructure samples have less microporosity and
more total porosity than downstructure samples.8 This may account

Fig. 15Dependence of trapped gas on connate-water saturation.


71

Sgt +
S max
gr +
Sj +
Sl +
So +
Sorg +
Sw +
Swc +
Swi +
t+
Dt+
W+
Dz+
f+
D +
mj+
t+
sij +

Fig. 16Dependence of maximum trapped gas on effective


grain size for Prudhoe Bay sandstone. Solid line is RMA fit,
dashed line is least-squares fit.

for the better agreement with the database at higher porosities (e.g.,
see Fontainebleau samples,20 which are virtually microporosity
free) and for the weak trend with porosity, the impact of microporosity on trapped gas partially canceling the impact of porosity level.
Conglomeratic samples often have a larger fraction of pore space in
microporosity,8 accounting for their lower level of gas trapping at
a given porosity level.
Fig. 16 shows trapped gas vs. effective grain size calculated from
the Carman-Kozeny equation. For sandstone samples, there is a
trend of increasing trapped gas with smaller effective grain size,
consistent with the idea that poorer sorting leads to higher trappedgas levels. Moreover, the correlation is more statistically significant
with grain size than porosity.
Conclusions
1. Gravity-drainage oil recovery efficiency decreases with decreasing initial water saturation and poorer sorting. Fine-grained,
low-permeability sandstones tend to have low recovery efficiency
because they have poor sorting.
2. Effective grain size defined by inverting the Carman-Kozeny
relation provides a useful parameter for correlating recovery efficiency. This estimate of grain size correlates well with visual estimates and direct measurements on sandstones.
3. Gas relative permeability depends on rock texture with coarser-grained sandstones and conglomerates having a higher relative
permeability level at a given gas saturation. Much of this difference
between sandstones and conglomerates is because of the impact of
microporosity.
4. Trapped gas depends primarily on porosity or sorting and microporosity level. For sandstones, low porosity and poor sorting lead to
larger trapped-gas levels. Little gas is trapped in microporosity. Because conglomerates contain a larger fraction of microporosity than
sandstones, conglomerates trap less gas at a given porosity level.
Nomenclature
d+ grain diameter, L
Ed + displacement efficiency, fraction
h+ thickness, L
k+ absolute permeability, L2
krg + gas relative permeability
krj + Phase j relative permeability
krog + oil relative permeability
kV + vertical direction permeability, L2
Sg + gas saturation
72

trapped-gas saturation
maximum trapped gas
saturation of Phase j, fraction
liquid saturation
oil saturation
residual oil to gas
water saturation
connate-water saturation
initial water saturation
dimensionless recovery time
drainage time, t
effective grain size
distance from gas/oil contact, L
porosity, fraction of bulk volume
density difference between gas and oil
viscosity of Phase j+(F*t/L2)
dimensionless drainage time
interfacial tension between Phases i and j

Acknowledgments
I thank Arco Alaska Inc. and the working-interest owners of Prudhoe
Bay for permission to publish this paper. A wide variety of data in this
paper were measured by the various companies participating in the
Prudhoe Bay Unit. The results of this work would not be possible
without the dedicated and careful experimental work of many people
in these companies. The interpretations and conclusions presented in
this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of all the Prudhoe Bay working-interest owners.
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SPE Reservoir Engineering, February 1997

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SPE Reservoir Engineering, February 1997

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SI Metric Conversion Factors


dyne/cm
psi

1.0*
6.894 757

*Conversion factor is exact.

E)00 +mN/m
E)00 +kPa
SPERE

Gary R. Jerauld is a senior principal research engineer in the Fluid


Flow research group of Arco E&P Technology in Plano, Texas. His
research interests are in multiphase flow in porous media, includ
ing wettability, relative permeability, porelevel modeling, near
miscible gasinjection processes, and scaleup. Jerauld holds BS
and PhD degrees in chemical engineering from Rensselaer Poly
technical Inst. and the U. of Minnesota, respectively.

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