Determining CO2-brine relative permeability and capillary pressure simultaneously: an insight to capillary entrance and end effects

Monday, 15 December 2014: 12:05 PM
Xiongyu Chen, Amir Kianinejad and David A DiCarlo, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, United States
CO2-brine relative permeability relations are important parameters in modeling scenarios such as CO2 sequestration in saline aquifers and CO2 enhanced recovery in oil reservoir. Many steady-state experimental studies on CO2-brine relative permeability showed that the CO2-brine relative permeability differs greatly from typical oil-brine relative permeability. Particularly, they reported a very small endpoint CO2 relative permeability of 0.1~0.2 at a relative high residual water saturation of 0.4~0.6.

In this study, we hypothesize the measured low endpoint CO2 relative permeability in previous studies was an experimental artifact that is primary due to low CO2 viscosity. We conducted steady-state CO2 drainage experiments by co-injecting equlibrated CO2 and brine into a long (60.8 cm) and low permeability (116-mD) Berea sandstone core at 20 °C and 1500 psi. During every experiment, both the overall pressure drop across the core and the pressure drops of the five independent and continuous sections of the core were monitored. The in-situ saturation was measured with a medical X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) scanner. In the center three sections where saturation was uniform, we determined the relative permeability to both brine and CO2 phases. In the entrance and exit sections, both measured pressure gradients and saturation were non-uniform. To cope with this, we make several self-consistent assumptions that reveal the nature of capillary entrance and effect in steady-state two-phase core flooding experiments. Based on these assumptions we determined the relative permeability to CO2 and CO2-brine capillary pressure simultaneously using measured pressure drops. We found: (1) a much higher endpoint CO2 relative permeability of 0.58 at a water saturation of 48%, (2) the entrance region with non-uniform saturation expanded CO2 relative permeability data to much lower water saturation, (3) the determined CO2-brine capillary pressure curve is self-consistent and matches with an independent Mercury Injection Capillary Pressure (MICP) curve measured with a plug from the same Berea sandstone after appropriate scaling. Herein we propose a dimensionless number that estimates how much the measured overall pressure drop during steady-state two-phase flow is affected by capillary effects.