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For a geological reservoir with hydrocarbon prospect the two essential characteristics to
make it a commercial petroleum reservoir are its storage capacity and transmissibility. While the
former provides accumulation of petroleum, the latter enables the petroleum to flow through
relatively long distances in the reservoir under small pressure drop to the drilled wells and finally
to the surface. Both these requirements are met by the interconnected voids in the rock of the
reservoir. The storage capacity is termed as porosity and the transmissibility is called


While some estimates of reservoir rock properties can be made from electrical and
radioactive log surveys, it is always desirable to study core samples to supplement such
estimates. A core is a sample of reservoir rock from the well section generally obtained by drilling
into the formation. Depending upon the way a core sample is collected from a well, cores can be
termed as conventional core or side wall core.
A conventional core is taken by drilling into the formation with a hollow drill pipe and a coring
bit in a well. The hollow section of the drill pipe where the core sample is retained by a special
provision called core catcher is known as core barrel. The coring bit is a special drag type drill bit
with a hollow internal cross section of same or slightly less internal diameter as/than that of the
core barrel. The core barrel is of two types – a conventional core barrel or a special core barrel.
The conventional one is just a simple barrel with a core catcher while the special type core barrel
may consist of any one or combination of the following special provisions in the core barrel:
(a) rubber sleeve to protect disintegration of friable or unconsolidated formation,
(b) pressure retaining system to preserve the in-situ formation pressure,
(c) sponge insert to retain the fluid expulsion from the captured core sample as the coring
tool is being pulled out from bottom,
Conventional coring generally results in cores up to 10m in length and 11cm in diameter. It is
frequently found that variation in drilling conditions and in formation rock characteristics prevent
100% recovery of the core. In addition, the core may be recovered in a broken condition. Friable
or unconsolidated rock is frequently recovered only as loose grains, unless special core barrels
are used.
Conventional core handling & examinations:
A conventional core represents the record of rock type in a well section and is the basic
data for interpretation of geological and engineering properties. It is desirable to preserve the core
in as unchanged a condition as possible prior to laboratory evaluation. Some parts of the core
should then, immediately after lithological examinations and logging, be wrapped tightly in
polythene or immersed in fluid/molten wax and sealed into containers for transit to laboratory.
Otherwise exposure to atmospheric condition may cause drying of the core and subsequent
washing with incompatible fresh water or sea water may change the wettability or porosity as well
as permeability of the sample prior laboratory evaluation. The remaining parts may be examined
for hydrocarbon indications e.g. gas bubbling or oil seeping from the core, core fluorescence on a
freshly exposed surface, fluorescence and staining in solvent cuts etc. and some samples from
this part may be washed thoroughly for detailed lithlogical, sedimentological and palaeontological
It is to be noted that unlike side wall cores, particularly taken by percussion method, the
conventional cores are relatively less prone to damage /alteration with respect to the in-situ
reservoir rock characteristics during the coring process. Further, small core plugs in both
horizontal and vertical directions to the reservoir bedding plane can be taken out from the
conventional core samples at selective depths covering the span of variations in the reservoir
rock-properties. Such a processing in case of side wall cores is not possible. It is because of
these factors, special core analysis to determine the required rock characteristics for reservoir
simulation work is done on small core plugs taken from conventional core samples only, apart
from routine core analysis, geological studies etc. Side wall cores are used mostly for geological
studies and routine core analysis like porosity, permeability, fluid saturations, carbonate content,
grain density etc.

A typical evaluation of a conventional core is given below:

Slabbed core
• Photograph
• Sedimentology Routine Core Plug analysis
• Lithology Porosity
• Samples Permeability
Grain density
As-received saturations

Thin Sections
• Detail pore structure
• Diagenesis Core
• Porosity type from
Special Core Analysis
• Environmental evidence well
Preserved/restored state
Capillary pressure
Relative permeability
Electrical properties
Acoustic properties
Small samples Compressive properties
Grain size distribution Clay chemistry effects
Mineral analysis Specific tests
X-ray and SEM analysis
Bio dating and association

Calibration of Wire line Logs

Side wall coring:

Side wall coring is done in an open hole after a well has been drilled while conventional coring
is done when the well is being drilled. Side wall coring is done with the help of wire-line logging
tools. Side wall coring may be taken in one of the two modes – percussion drilling or rotary
drilling. In either mode the logging sonde is fitted with a number of coring barrels arranged in
vertical stack at close spacing enabling to recover as many as 30-70 cores in a single run( about
30 ft ). Positioning of the coring barrels is done with the help of a depth positioning detector (e.g.
SP log or Gamma ray detector)
In the percussion-type device, also known as gun, hollow cylindrical core barrels (i.e.,
bullets) can be shot in sequence, from the gun into the formation. After each core barrel has been
fired into the formation wall, it is pulled free and retrieved by wires connecting the barrel to the
gun. Core barrels are available for penetrating formations of different hardness. The type of barrel
and size of charge are varied to optimize recovery in different formations. Generally core plugs of
about 1” diameter and 1.75” length are retrieved on 100% recovery. A schematic diagram to
describe the process is given hereafter:
In the Rotary Sidewall Coring Tool (RSCT) each core barrel is provided with a diamond bit
rotating at 2000 rpm to cut a 15/16" x 1-3/4" sample from the formation. After the sample has
been cut, a slight vertical movement of the bit breaks the core sample from the formation. The
sample is withdrawn into the tool and the core is ejected into a receiver tube. The tool is then
ready for the next selected core point. Up to 30 core samples may be cut on one trip in the well.

Core samples obtained with the RSCT do not suffer the any such damage as caused by
percussion coring methods, and they may therefore be used interchangeably with plugs obtained
from conventional cores for quantitative petrophysical measurements. Unlike in percussion
method very good recovery is possible in RSCT mode even in very hard, consolidated
Coring Mud Systems:
It is inevitable that coring fluid will invade a porous reservoir rock to some degree.
Consequently, additives used in mud system may cause a change in the relative affinity i.e.,
wettability of the reservoir rock surface for oil and water. As a result the porosity, permeability and
flow properties as determined in the laboratory tests may not be truly representative of those of
the reservoir rock. In order to minimize such effects the coring mud system should be carefully
designed and controlled.
Wellsite Controls:
The recovery of conventional core at a wellsite requires care in handling core barrels and
an awareness of the ultimate use of the core. The recovered core should be wiped clean for
visual inspection and marked for top and bottom and core depth in a box. Now-a-days it is
customary to pass the whole core along a conveyor belt through a device called a Coregamma
surface logger which records a reading of natural radioactivity against equivalent downhole
position of the core. The readings may be later compared with the gamma ray log readings of the
cored well and thus used to position the core pieces more precisely during subsequent
studies/laboratory tests. Further, photographs of fresh core also prove invaluable in correcting
later misplacements and sometimes in locating fracture zones. Core for special core analysis
hould be selected quickly and preserved in the agreed manner. Core for routine analysis should
be dispatched quickly following the wellsite geologist’s preliminary observations.

Core Preservation:
The objective of core preservation is to retain the wettability condition of a recovered core
sample and to prevent change in petrophysical character. Exposure to air can result in oxidation
of hydrocarbons or evaporation of core fluids with subsequent wettability change. Retention of
reservoir fluids should maintain wetting characterter . So core may be stored anaerobically under
fluid in sealed containers. Reservoir brine or chemically equivalent brine will prevent ion
exchange process in interstitial clays and maintain porosity-permeability character. The use of
refined oils and paraffins may cause deposition of plugging materials particularly with asphaltinic
crude oils. Failing these techniques , the core plugs may be wiped clean, wrapped in a plastic
seal and foil and stored in dry ice. Usually only samples for special core analysis are stored and
transported under these special conditions. The core for routine analysis, following visual
inspection at well site, is placed in boxes, marked for identification, without any special care of
preservation and then sent to the laboratory as such.

Core Analysis:

Core analysis has been categorized into two types – Routine Core Analysis and Special
Core Analysis. While routine core analysis is performed on both side wall cores and conventional
cores, special core analysis is generally done on small core plugs drilled out from the
conventional core only for reasons already explained. Sometimes on exceptional situations like
vugular carbonate cores where vug size may be too large to allow drilling out representative plugs
from the core, the whole core is used for analysis. The various tests done in Routine Core
analysis as well as Special Core analysis are listed below:

Routine Core Analysis Special Core Analysis

Residual fluid saturation Capillary pressure
Grain density Relative permeabilities : gas/oil;
Porosity water/oil ; gas/water.
Formation resistivity factor Wettability
Absolute permeability Formation factor and resistivity ratio,
Sonic transit time,
Formation compressibility factor,
Clay mineralogy,
Any other specific tests

Routine Core Analysis:

Routine Core Analysis is the laboratory methodology of determining the basic
petrophysical properties of cores or outcrop samples recovered from specific geologic formations
at depth or at surface exposure.Cores can be obtained in various lithologies such as sandstones,
uncemented sediments, carbonates, shales, and coal. They may also be taken in either a vertical
or horizontal orientation with respect to the surface. Routine core analysis is the determination of
generally, non-dynamic petrophysical properties that may be performed in a well completion time
frame depending on the type and volume of analysis. This time frame may be from 24 hours to
several weeks, depending on the amount of material to be analyzed, the type of analysis, and the
permeability of the material. The specific objectives of determining the various petrophysical
properties in a typical routine core analysis are to assess the reservoir characteristics as listed

• Porosity - To assess storage capacity

• Grain Density - To calibrate density log

• Horizontal Permeability - To assess flow capacity, permeability distribution and profile

• Vertical Permeability - Evaluates gravity drainage potential, coning probability,
and seal effectiveness

• Residual Saturations - To indicate qualitatively: a) Presence of hydrocarbons

b) Type of hydrocarbons c) Connate water, with use of appropriate muds

• Lithology - Provides rock description, texture, structures, etc.

• Water Salinity - Aids in correlation of electric logs and assessing degree of flushing
by drilling fluids

• Core Gamma Log - Correlates to downhole gamma log for depth identifications

• Core Photography - Provides permanents, visual documentation of the core. It provides

comparisons with core characteristics such as mineralogy and fractures. UV photography
can assess hydrocarbon distribution.

Special Core Analysis:

Tests Purpose

Capillary Pressure To determine irreducible water saturation &

assess hydrocarbon reserve

Relative Permeability To simulate two/three phase flow in reservoirs

for reservoir management as required in
optimizing hydrocarbon recovery/production
from an oil/gas field.

Wettability Determination To know the reservoir –rock surface’s relative

affinity for water and oil which is essential in
planning hydrocarbon recovery from the

Formation factor & Resistivity To down hole calibrate electric logs

ratio under simulated reservoir
Mechanical properties – sonic To calibrate down hole sonic logs
transit time, rock compressibility and determine total compressibility factor of
Special Core Studies :
Some times besides the special core analysis certain specific laboratory studies on
conventional core samples are required to be done in planning development of an oil/gas field. A
few such typical studies are listed below:

• Reservoir Condition Corefloods

• Improved Oil Recovery (IOR, EOR) studies
• Formation Damage Remediation
o Rock, fluid sensitivity
o Mobile fines (fines migration)
o Fluid compatibility
o Mud completion fluid damage
o Perforation optimization
o Relative permeability effects
o Asphaltene precipitation
• Computed Tomagraphy CT Scan Evaluation

Core Analysis Methods:

Sample Preparation :
Since except for the test to determine residual saturations, all other tests for both routine
and special core analysis require a clean and dry sample, a thorough cleaning of all the
interstitial fluids and then drying of the core samples is the first step in core analysis. The cleaning
process is commonly done in a Soxhlet extractor using a suitable solvent like pentane, naphtha,
toluene, carbon tetrachloride, etc. The Soxhlet extractor consists of a heating mantle over which
a solvent flask is placed. The flask is connected with a reflux chamber where core samples are
placed in a porous thimble. Over the reflux chamber a condenser is connected to cause the
solvent vapour to condense and fall back onto the porous thimble inside the reflux chamber. Thus
the solvent boiled in the flask goes to the condenser in vapour phase and then condenses back to
liquid phase and falls on the core samples in the thimble thereby causing repeated leaching of the
core samples to make them free of the interstitial fluids. This process of cleaning takes several
hours sometimes as high as 24 hours. After the extraction is complete as indicated by the
presence of colourless solvent around the core samples, the core samples are dried in an oven at
a little over 100 oC and the cooled to make the samples ready for analysis.

Measurement of Porosity:
Porosity is defined as the ratio of the void space in a rock to the bulk volume of that rock,
multiplied by a hundred to express in per cent. When the entire void space in a rock is measured
we get total porosity whereas if only the interconnected void space is measured we get effective
porosity. In reservoir engineering work the term porosity refers to the effective porosity only.
Depending upon the origin of the voids in the reservoir rock the porosity is classified as primary
porosity or secondary porosity. Primary porosity refers to the intergranular voids in case of
sandstone reservoirs and intercrystalline and oolitic voids in case of limestone reservoirs. This is
created by the initial sedimentation and compaction process. Secondary porosity refers to the
voids due to fractures, vugs or solution cavities formed during subsequent geological process like
folding, faulting, dissolution, etc.
Laboratory measurements of porosity involve determination of three parameters of a core
sample – bulk volume, interconnected pore volume and grain volume. Bulk volume less the grain
volume will give the total void volume which can be used to determine total porosity.
Bulk volume: Usual procedures utilize the observation of the volume of fluid displaced by the
sample. The fluid displaced by a sample may be determined either volumetrically or
gravimetrically. In either procedure it is necessary to prevent fluid penetration into the pore space
of the sample. This may be accomplished by: (1) coating the sample by paraffin or a similar
substance, (2) saturating the sample with the fluid into which it is immersed or (3) using non-
invasive fluid like mercury.
Gravimetric determination is done by observing the loss in weight of the sample when
immersed in a fluid or the change in weight of a pycnometer between that when filled with a fluid
and when filled with the fluid and the core sample.
Volumetric determination is done by using a variety of specially constructed pycnometers
or volumeters. A very commonly used pycnometer is the electric pycnometer which consists of a
U-tube like transperant system and uses mercury as the system fluid to measure the bulk volume.
One end of the U-tube is slim to cause appreciable change in mercury level when the core
sample is immersed in the mercury while the other end is large enough to accommodate the core
sample.A micrometer screw type contact point is fitted on the slim end and supplied with low
voltage electric current and the bigger end is provided with a cap fitted with several prongs to
keep the core sample immersed in mercury. The electric circuit is closed as long as the
micrometer screw point is in contact with the mercury. The travel of the micrometer screw point is
calibrated in volume units such that the difference in the open circuit readings with and without
the core sample in the bigger end represents directly the bulk volume of the core sample.
Interconnected pore volume: Boyle’s law porosimeter is one of the very commonly used device
to measure interconnected pore volume of core sample In this method two cells of known
volumes, V1 and V2 are connected to a source of gas pressure. The connecting valve between the
cells is initially kept closed and cell 1 is filled to an absolute pressure p1+ pa. The gas source valve
is then closed. The clean and dry core sample is then placed in cell 2 at atmospheric pressure
pa.The interconnecting valve between the two cells is then opened and the pressure in cell 1 is
allowed to reach equilibrium with cell 2 interconnected. Assuming isothermal expansion of a
perfect gas, a material balance calculation as given below will provide the pore volume of the
core sample:
Suppose n1 and n2 are moles of gas in cell 1 and 2 at condition I and n3 and n4 are
moles of gas in condition II. Then applying ideal gas law equation we get
( p1+ pa ) V1 pa (V2 – Vs) ( p2+ pa ) V1 ( p2+ pa ) (V2 – Vs)
—————— + —————— = —————— + —————————
- Vs being grain volume of the core sample

i.e. Vs = V1 + V2 –- ─ V1

Starting all sample measurements at the same p1 pressure and calibrating p2 against
standard volumes of various sizes steel balls the measurement of Vs can be done directly without
doing any such laborious calculations each time. Considerable attention must be given to the gas
used. Helium has been found to be most suitable for this purpose for being most inert and perfect
gas at pressures of 50 to 100 psig.
Using a high pressure mercury injection pump to determine interconnected pore
volume together with bulk volume at normal pressure is another widely used porosimeter.
Pore volume measurement by saturation method is also very commonly used by many
operators. A clean, dry and previously weighed core sample is saturated with a nonreactive fluid
like kerosene applying high vacuum in a flask and the weight of the saturated core minus the
weight of the unsaturated core divided by the density of the saturating fluid provides the pore
volume of the core sample.

Measurement of Permeability:
Permeability is a measure of the capacity of a porous medium to transmit fluids.
Permeability is defined by the Darcy’s law as per the following equation in case of a horizontal

k = ————
- where k is permeability in darcy,
- Q is flow rate of the fluid in cm3/sec.
- μ is fluid viscosity in cp,
- A is area of cross section of the porous
medium in cm2
- dP/dL is pressure drop per unit length of
the flow path in atm/cm
A porous medium will have a permeability of 1 darcy if a pressure drop of 1 atm occurs
per 1cm length of the flow path with a fluid viscosity of 1cp through a cross sectional area of 1
cm2 of the porous medium under 1 cm3/sec rate of flow of the fluid through the porous medium.
The unit Darcy is considered large for a practical use and milliDarcy is commonly used.
Two methods are used to determine the permeability of cores. The method most
commonly used for fairly uniform formations is known as perm-plug method where small
cylindrical samples of approximately 3/4 inch diameter and 1 inch length are used. The other
method is generally applied for non-uniform cores having fractures/vugs/cavities where the full
diameter cores of about 1 to 1.5 ft length are required to be used.
Permeability is an anisotropic property of porous rock i.e., it is directional. Core plugs
drilled normal to the long axis of the whole core are referred to as horizontal plugs while those
along the long axis are vertical plugs. Sometimes, when the long axis of the whole core retrieved
is not normal to the bedding plane of the formation, the direction of drilling the core plugs is
adjusted at appropriate inclination to the long axis of the whole core so that the plugs are truly
horizontal or vertical to the bedding plane of the formation. Permeability measurements are done
on both horizontal and vertical plugs.
Permeability of a core sample is determined from flow test data. When the core sample
used for flow test is clean of the interstitial fluids and a single phase flow occurs in the core in a
flow test, the permeability so obtained is absolute permeability. For permeability measurement
gas ( usually air ) is used as the flowing medium for several reasons like:
(1) steady state flow which is a requirement for the test is quickly obtained thereby reduces
the test period,
(2) dry air does not alter the mineral constituents of the core sample,
(3) 100% saturation of the flowing medium in the pore space is easily established,
While various types of flow test equipment for measurement of permeability are available
in the market, all the equipment are basically fulfill the following scheme:
The core is placed in a suitable holder where the sides of the core sample remain sealed
and linear flow of the flowing medium occurs through the core from one end to the other. The
pressure differentail caused across the core due to flow of the flowing medium is measured by
suitable manometers. The flow volume is obtained by a calibrated capillary / orifice meter or a wet
test meter or by direct liquid displacement.
We know from Darcy’s equation for linear flow test that:

k = ————
- where k is permeability in darcy,
- Q is flow rate of the fluid in cm3/sec.
- μ is fluid viscosity in cp,
- A is area of cross section of the porous
medium in cm2
- dP/dL is pressure drop per unit length of
the flow path in atm/cm
For gas flow where the flow rate is measured at standard conditions, the relationship
between rate and pressure upstream and downstream at isothermal conditions is given by:
P1Q1 = P2Q2
as shown below:
Core sample

Q2 →

For P2 = 1atm, then Q1= Q2/P1

The linear Darcy relationship for gas flow at standard conditions thus becomes:
kA( P12 ─ P22)
Qsc= ——————

Knowing all the parameters in the above equation from the flow test data of pressures
and flow rate as well as A & L from the core sample dimensions and μ from the gas property data
base in consistent units as given earlier for the Darcy’s equation, the permeability k can be
obtained in Darcy unit.
It is to be noted that at low pressures, the permeability measured using gas as the fluid is
higher than the actual permeability of the sample due to gas slippage known as Klinkenberg’s
effect. A correction is therefore required to be made for which several measurements of
permeability at different inlet pressures are made, the respective permeability data are plotted
against the reciprocal of the mean pressures of each set of inlet & outlet pressures and the
correct permeability is obtained from the extrapolation of the plotted permeability data to the
reciprocal mean pressure value = 0 ( i.e. infinite mean pressure ).The phenomenon of gas
slippage occurs when the diameter of capillary openings approaches the mean free path of the
gas. In general correction for Klinkenberg’s effect is necessary for permeability values below 1
Darcy but is not required at around or above 1 Darcy.

ο m→

Klinkenberg permeability correction

It is to be noted that permeability measurements should be done at very low flow rates to
ensure that the flow of the fluid in the core is in viscous regime and not turbulent since the
Darcy’s equation used to determine the permeability is valid for viscous flow. A plot of Qsc/A vs
( P12 ─ P22)/ 2L should yield a straight line in viscous flow.

Residual fluid saturations:

Core samples as received in the laboratory from wells do not contain the fluids in the
original state as they were in the reservoir conditions. This occurs because of two factors – mud
filtrate invasion during coring in case of conventional coring or during drilling in case of side wall
coring and pressure as well as temperature reduction as the core is taken out of the reservoir to
the surface. Typical changes in fluid saturations as determined by Kennedy et al are shown below
for two different situations – one in case of water base mud drilling and the other in case of oil
base mud drilling:

Status Water base mud drilling Oil base mud drilling

Oil saturation = 67.6% PV Oil saturation = 50.9% PV

Original state

Water saturation = 32.4%PV Water saturation = 49.1%PV

After mud flushing
Oil saturation = 53.4% PV Oil saturation = 32.9% PV

Mud Filtrate = 18.0%PV

Water saturation = 46.6%PV Water saturation = 49.1%PV

After mud flushing & pressure

Gas saturation = 34.8%PV Gas Saturation = 25.5%PV

Oil saturation = 26.7% PV Oil saturation = 26.7%PV

Water saturation = 38.5%PV Water saturation = 47.7%PV


In case of water base mud drilling/coring the mud filtrate invasion reduced the oil saturation
by approximately 14 per cent. The fluid expansion due to the pressure reduction displaced water
and additional oil. It is to be noted that the residual water saturation has remained greater than
the original one even after expulsion. With oil-base mud, wherein the filtrate is oil, the filtrate
invasion did not alter the water saturation from its original state, but, however, on expansion at
surface there is a marginal drop in the water saturation whereas the oil saturation has reduced to
almost 50% of its original value. Thus, even when high water saturations are involved, up to
approximately 50%, the original water saturation does not change significantly if oil-base mud is
used for drilling/coring. Hence it may be concluded that :
(1) fairly representative values of in-place water saturation may be obtained if oil-base mud
is used for drilling/coring.
(2) residual oil saturation values of core samples in as-received status are far less than the
in-place reservoir condition values irrespective of different types of mud used.
Although the oil saturation values as found out from core samples are far different from
the original values, the trend of the core derived oil saturation data when plotted against depth of
the cored section may be useful in locating water-oil or gas-oil contacts if they exist in the cored
One of the most popular means of measuring fluid saturations of cores is the retort
method. This method takes a small rock sample and heats the sample so as to vaporize the
water and the oil, which is condensed and collected in a small receiving vessel. The retort method
has, however, several disadvantages e.g.
(i) the bound water within the rock sample is driven off thereby causing the
measured water saturation much higher than actual,
(ii) drop in hydrocarbon content of the of the rock sample due to cracking and
coking from high temperature retorting, thus causing lower oil saturation than
actually present in the rock sample,
Such errors are some what taken care of through calibration curves made for the retorts
used .The calibration curves are made through “blank” runs i.e. retorting known volumes of fluid
saturations in some restored core samples.
The retort method is a relatively fast test method and with error corrections through
calibrations yield reasonably satisfactory results. Knowing the oil and water volumes from the
retort tests and the corresponding pore volumes of the rock samples from the porosity tests, the
residual fluid saturations are computed as shown below:
water, cc
Sw, % = ─────────── X 100
pore volume, cc

oil, cc
So, % = ─────────── X 100
pore volume, cc

Sg, % = 100 - Sw - So

The other method of determining fluid saturations is by extraction with a solvent.

Extraction may be accomplished by a modified ASTM distillation method or a centrifuge method.
The distillation apparatus can accommodate the core samples in such a way that the vapour of
the solvent ( e.g. toluene, naphtha, carbon tetrachloride, etc.) distilled in the flask below rises
through the core and condenses back on to it and then periodically decant back to the flask
below. In this way the core is subjected to repeated leaching and washing by the solvent and
during this process the pore water in the core is distilled off and collected in a graduated receiver.
The water settles down in the receiver tube while the solvent refluxes on to the cores and finally
back to the flask. The distillation is continued until no more water collects in the receiver tube.
From the recorded water volume in the receiver and the corresponding pore volume of the core
from a porosity test, the water saturation is computed as was earlier shown for the retort test.
The oil saturation is determined in an indirect method as shown below:
( wt. of wet core, g – wt. of dry core, g – wt. of water, g)
So, % = ———————————————————————————X 100
(pore volume, cc) ( density of oil, g/cc)

The gas saturation is obtained in the same manner as in the retort method.
The centrifuge method of extraction with solvent involve off-centered injection of the
solvent in a centrifuge. The high centrifugal force causes forcing of the solvent into the cores and
leaching out the interstitial fluids in the core. The leached out water gets separated out in the
centrifuge tubes from where the water volumes can be read and the fluid saturations can be
computed in the same manner as in the distillation method.

Capillary Pressure:
Capillary pressure may be defined as the pressure necessary to displace a wetting fluid
from a capillary opening. The factors which govern this capillary or displacement pressure are the
surface or interfacial tension σ of the fluids involved, the system wettability θ (contact angle) and
the size (radius r ) of the capillary.
The capillary pressure Pc for the capillary system as
shown in the figure below will be : 2σ cos θ
Pc = ————

wetting phase of density ρ

A porous medium may be visualized as a heterogeneous and tortuous bundle of capillary

tubes. Thus capillary pressure phenomenon is applicable to petroleum reservoirs as these are
also porous medium filled with multiphase immiscible fluids with interfacial properties acting on
the surface of the porous medium. The petroleum reservoirs can be considered as packing of
spheres in a simplified form. In a packing of spheres the capillary pressure is expressed in terms
of any two perpendicular radii of curvature ( these radii touch at only one point). For such packing
of spheres the capillary pressure relation changes to :

Pc = σ ( 1/r1 + 1/r2) cosθ

r1 and r2 are the radii of curvature of the two spheres forming the capillary system in
the porous medium. Since it is practically not possible to measure the values of these radii of
curvatures the term ( 1/r1 + 1/r2) can be considered as the mean radius of curvature of the
surface. The distribution of the wetting phase in such a capillary system is related to these radii of
curvatures. Thus when two immiscible phases are within the porous matrix and the wetting phase
saturation is related to the radii of curvatures of the capillary surface, it is possible to express the
capillary pressure as a function of the wetting phase saturation. Accordingly capillary pressure
data in a petroleum reservoir can be utilized to determine the wetting phase saturation i.e., the
connate water saturation which is a very important parameter for assessment of the petroleum
Essentially there are five methods to determine capillary pressure on small core
samples. These are :
(1) the desaturation or displacement process through a porous diaphragm or membrane,
(2) the centrifuge method,
(3) the dynamic capillary pressure method,
(4) the mercury injection method,
(5) the evaporation method.
Desaturation or displacement process:
This method is very widely used and is also known as restored state method. The
apparatus consists of a pressurizing cell fitted with a porous plate support on which the core
sample is placed. The pressurizing cell is connected to a precision pressure gauge, a
pressurizing source and a graduated pipette. The core sample taken for the test is cleaned of its
interstitial fluids, dried and the saturated with synthetic formation water. The porous plate is
essentially a water wet membrane having extremely small pores and will not allow a non-wetting
fluid to enter it at pressures to be used in the test. The saturated core sample is placed on the
porous plate in such a way that there is perfect contact of the resting face of the core with the
porous plate. A non-wetting fluid e.g. oil, nitrogen or air is then introduced into the cell at slightly
elevated pressure. The non-wetting fluid will then enter all those pores of the core which have a
capillary pressure less than the applied pressure. The brine displaced from the core by the non-
wetting fluid passes through the porous plate slowly into the graduated pipette. When the rise in
level in the pipette becomes steady at the applied pressure the pressure reading and the pipette
reading are noted. The applied pressure on the non-wetting fluid is then raised and further entry
of the non-wetting fluid into some of the remaining undisplaced pores is caused at that applied
pressure. Consequently there will be further rise in the liquid level in the pipette. The pipette
reading as well as the corresponding pressure reading then noted. In this way the process of
displacement of the brine from the core sample by the non-wetting fluid is continued with
additional steps of gradually increasing pressures until the pipette reading no longer increases.
Since the pore volume of the core sample is determined at the time of saturating it with the brine
the changes in the water saturation in the core at every step of pressuring it for displacement of
the brine from the core can be computed from the respective pipette readings. The pressure
readings are then plotted against the respective water saturation values. Thus a capillary
pressure curve is generated which can be used to determine the irreducible connate water
Mercury injection method:
A mercury porosimeter i.e. a mercury cell attached with a precision mercury injection
pump and a precision pressure gauge is used in this test method. A cleaned and dried core
sample is placed in the mercury cell and evacuated first. Then mercury is injected into the core in
increasing pressure steps and at each step the volume of mercury injected is noted along with the
corresponding pressure reading. Knowing the pore volume of the core sample, the injected
mercury volumes are converted into mercury saturation data in the core’s pore space at each of
the pressure steps. Thus plotting the mercury saturation data against the corresponding mercury
injection pressures a mercury capillary pressure curve is generated. The curve is then corrected
to get a water capillary pressure curve using the following correlation as proposed by Purcell:

PcHg σHg cosθHg

— = —————— ≈ 5
Pcw σw cosθw
- σHg = 480 dynes/cm
- σw = 70 dynes/cm
- θHg = 1400
- θw = 00
It has been observed by others through experiments that the above correction factor vary
between 5.8 for limestone to 7.5 for sandstone.
The mercury injection method is a very rapid test method and the test can be carried out to
relatively high pressure compared to the other methods. But the disadvantage of the method is
that the core sample gets damaged in the test and cannot be used further for any other tests.
Centrifuge method:
A high speed centrifuge is used to create injecting force for injecting a non-wetting fluid like
air or oil into saturated core samples. the core samples are rotated at various constant speeds
and at each speed the volume of brine ejected from the core samples are noted along with the
corresponding speed of rotation. The speed of rotations are then converted into pressure
readings through computations and plotted against the respective water saturation values derived
from the core pore volumes and the recorded water ejection volumes.
The centrifuge method is also a fast test method.
The evaporation method:
In this method a core sample of known porosity is completely saturated with water and
then placed in an oven and dried under constant conditions. The weight loss is recorded either
continuously or in increments and plotted against time. Adsorbed water evaporates at a slower
rate than the free or mobile water due to the capillary or surface forces which oppose its escape.
This difference in the drying rate exhibits a break in the drying curve which may be taken as the
critical value.
The Dynamic method:
Simultaneous steady-state flow of two immiscible fluids e.g oil and water is established at a
particular proportion and the difference in the pressure of the two fluids entering the core is noted.
The proportions are varied in different steps and thus a set of pressure data are generated at
different proportions of the two immiscible fluids . From the pressure data and the corresponding
fluid mixing proportions the capillary pressures vs saturation plot is made.

Converting laboratory data:

To use the laboratory capillary pressure data it is necessary to convert them to reservoir
conditions. Laboratory data are obtained with a gas-water or an oil-water system which does not
have the same physical properties as the reservoir water, oil and gas.
Essentially two techniques, differing only in the initial assumptions, are available for
correcting laboratory capillary pressure data to reservoir conditions.

σwo cosθwo
(Pc)R = —————— (Pc)L
σwg cosθwg

or (Pc)R =— (Pc)L
Averaging Capillary pressure data:
Capillary pressure data in a particular formation are found to vary in a certain trend
depending upon the porosity and permeability of the formation. A dimensionless grouping of the
relevant physical properties of the rock and saturating fluids in the form of a function called J
function was proposed as a means to converting all capillary pressure data to a universal curve .
The J function is expressed as
Pc k
J(Sw) = — (—)1/2
σ Φ

Some authors have proposed to include the wettability factor also in the above equation by
replacing σ with σcosθ where θ is the contact angle.

Water saturation height from Capillary pressure data:

In oil-field terms, the capillary pressure may be stated as

Pc = h/144 ( ρ1 - ρ2 )
where h is in feet, ρ1 & ρ2 are the densities in lbs/cft of the two immiscible fluids involved in the
system at the conditions of the capillary pressure.
sidewall core A formation sample obtained with a wireline tool from which a
hollow cylindrical bullet is fired into the formation and retrieved by
cables attached to the bullet. See sidewall coring tool.

sidewall coring A percussion-type device (i.e., gun) which can be attached to the
tool well-logging cable, provided with a means of accurately depth-
positioning the tool (SP or gamma-ray curve), which is used to
obtain formation samples. Hollow. cylindrical core barrels (i.e.,
bullets) can be shot in sequence, from the gun into the formation.
After each core barrel has been fired into the formation wall, it is
pulled free and retrieved by wires connecting the barrel to the gun.
Core barrels are available for penetrating formations of different
hardness. The type of barrel and size of charge are varied to
optimize recovery in different formations.