The Mathematical Model of Non-Equilibrium Effects in Water-Oil Displacement

by G. I. Barenblatt, Tadeusz W. Patzek, Dmitriy B. Silin
Year: 2002


Barenblatt, G. I., Silin, D. B., and Patzek, T. W., Paper SPE 75169: “The Mathematical Model of Non-Equilibrium Effects in Water-Oil Displacement,” Proceedings of the SPE/DOE 13th Symposium on Improved Oil Recovery, Tulsa, OK, 13-17 April, 2002.


Forced oil-water displacement and spontaneous countercurrent imbibition are crucial mechanisms of secondary oil recovery. The classical mathematical models of these phenomena are based on the fundamental assumption that in both these unsteady flows a local phase equilibrium is reached in the vicinity of every point. Thus, the water and oil flows are locally redistributed over their flow paths similarly to steady flows. This assumption allowed the investigators to further assume that the relative phase permeabilities and the capillary pressure are universal functions of the local water saturation, which can be obtained from steady-state flow experiments. The last assumption leads to a mathematical model consisting of a closed system of equations for fluid flow properties (velocity, pressure) and water saturation. This model is currently used as a basis for predictions of water-oil displacement with numerical simulations.
However, at the water front in the water-oil displacement, as well as in capillary imbibition, the characteristic times of both processes are comparable with the times of redistribution of flow paths between oil and water. Therefore, the nonequilibrium effects should be taken into account. We present here a refined and extended mathematical model for the nonequilibrium two-phase (e.g., water-oil) flows. The basic
problem formulation as well as the more specific equations are given, and the results of comparison with experiments are presented and discussed.