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PAPER 2007-144

Heavy Oil Waterflooding: Effects of Flow Rate and Oil Viscosity
University of Calgary, TIPM Laboratory

University of Calgary, TIPM Laboratory
This paper is to be presented at the Petroleum Society’s 8th Canadian International Petroleum Conference (58th Annual Technical Meeting), Calgary, Alberta, Canada, June 12 – 14, 2007. Discussion of this paper is invited and may be presented at the meeting if filed in writing with the technical program chairman prior to the conclusion of the meeting. This paper and any discussion filed will be considered for publication in Petroleum Society journals. Publication rights are reserved. This is a pre-print and subject to correction.

Many countries in the world contain significant heavy oil deposits. In reservoirs with viscosity over several hundred mPa⋅s, waterflooding is not expected to be successful due to the extremely high oil viscosity. In many smaller, thinner reservoirs or reservoirs at the conclusion of cold production, however, thermal enhanced oil recovery methods will not be economic. Waterfloods are relatively inexpensive and easy to control; therefore they will still often be employed even in high viscosity heavy oil fields. This paper presents experimental findings of waterflooding in laboratory sand packs for two high viscosity heavy oils: 4650 mPa⋅s and 11500 mPa⋅s, at varying water injection rates. The results of this work show that capillary forces, which are often neglected due to the high oil viscosity, are in fact important even in heavy oil systems. At low injection rates, water imbibition can be used to stabilize the waterflood and improve oil recovery. Waterflooding can therefore be a viable non-thermal enhanced oil recovery technology even in fields with very high oil viscosity.

The Canadian deposits of heavy oil and bitumen are some of the largest in the world. Our conventional oil reserves are now steadily declining, while the global energy demand continues to increase, along with a higher uncertainty about foreign oil sources. As a result, the Canadian oil sands will help Canada to remain an important energy source for the world in future generations. Heavy oil is a special class of this unconventional oil that has viscosity ranging from 50 – 50000+ mPa⋅s. Heavy oil reservoirs are often found in high porosity, high permeability, unconsolidated sand deposits. At reservoir conditions, the oil may contain dissolved solution gas, thus some oil can be initially recovered using the energy from heavy oil solution gas drive. At the end of primary production, a significant fraction of oil still exists for potential secondary recovery. Many of these reservoirs are small and thin or segmented, making them poor candidates for expensive thermal enhanced oil recovery strategies.


.. In conventional oil. In heavy oil reservoirs.. there is less potential for fingers to grow so in the field....3.... thus only a few fingers can form in the porous medium9-12.... Multiple fingers lead to a higher degree of instability...10.... in many heavy oil fields waterflooding is still commonly applied since it is relatively inexpensive and field operators have years of experience designing and controlling waterfloods. the imbibition forces are strong. in heavy oil systems the mobility ratio is very large. C* has different values for varying rock wettability. When Isr < 13. displacement velocity. There has been some limited experience documented for waterfloods in heavy oil reservoirs4-7... or 13.. thus numerous fingers will form. Water injection can be used to re-pressurize the reservoir and displace oil to producing wells... and reduce the breakthrough oil recovery. This will cause premature breakthrough of the displacing phase.. and how it relates to viscous fingering or instability of the displacing water front9.. Previous investigations have therefore focused on the oil/water mobility ratio. When this happens... and breakthrough recovery decreases rapidly as Isr increases.. In heavy oil applications this is not the case. Peters and Flock9 identified the parameters controlling the stability of the system as: mobility ratio. and how they can be used to properly design a heavy oil waterflood..e. Theory Waterflooding of oil reservoirs is a well-recognized technique for oil recovery after primary production.. (2) k oiw µ w υ = the injection velocity µw = viscosity of water µo = oil viscosity D = diameter of the core σ = interfacial tension kwor = permeability to water at the irreducible oil saturation Sor koiw = permeability to oil at the connate water saturation Swi and C* = wettability constant.... so the front cannot be stabilized by additional flow into smaller pores.. In the transition zone (13. very unstable floods).... water wet porous media. thus the displacement front may become unstable.. In the “pseudo stable” region of Isr > 1000 the recovery tends to become constant again9.. and system permeability and wettability.. due to the adverse mobility ratio between oil and injected water. The inherent assumption in conventional oil waterflooding theory is a similarity in viscosity between oil and water2. Peters and Flock9 stressed the importance of the wettability number....... For oil-wet media.. The instability number (Isr) for a horizontal 1-D system........... the displacement rate determines the finger properties.... They found that in water-wet media.. most of the injected fluid is passing through this finger. In smaller diameter cores.. Where. it is very important to understand the forces that are present in the reservoir. and recovery is low and relatively independent of injection rate.. In this range.. In laboratory core flood experiments.. the wettability number was found to be much lower (5.... water is displacing more viscous oil. Instability theory dictates that before Isr = 1000..56.. This is not the case in heavy oil. thus the wettability number will be large (C* = 306. in order to limit the generation and growth of fingers. displacement is actually so unstable that a single finger dominates flow.. When Isr > 13.....25).... This work presents the results for water injection into laboratory sand packs containing gas-free heavy oil of varying viscosity.. which leads to very high values of Isr (i. At a high injection rate in an unstable system... system geometry and dimensions.. Isr is also directly proportional to the fluid mobility.. Isr = (M − 1) υµ w D 2 C*σk wor ... the finger wavelength will be short.. the effect of instability may be more pronounced than in a linear core system..... indicating that viscous fingers will not grow... At the end of a conventional oil waterflood.. Therefore it is recommended to perform experiments more slowly under unstable conditions...... as defined by Peters and Flock9.... however at a low rate the finger wavelength will be long.Waterflooding is often employed at least initially in these heavy oil reservoirs after primary recovery is finished. His version of instability number is 2 Instability In heavy oil waterflooding. but in general the mechanism of viscous oil recovery by waterflooding has not been explored...... which indicates that the effect of imbibition on the growth of viscous fingers is different in oil wet vs... At the onset of instability......... In these applications.. residual oil is left in place due to reservoir heterogeneities or capillary trapping. (1) The mobility ratio (M) is defined as: M= k wor µ o ..........56 < Isr < 1000) the flood is becoming increasingly unstable.. Waterflood recoveries are known to be low for high viscosity heavy oil... Bentsen10 has also derived a different version of the instability number based upon force potentials rather than velocity potentials.. This number gives an indication of the ability of the porous medium to imbibe the displacing water. which can help to stabilize the flood front.. However. capillary bypassing is the main mechanism responsible for trapping of oil2. water will only move through the largest channels. the high oil viscosity (and hence the poor mobility ratio between displacing and displaced fluids) is the main cause for oil bypassing and residual oil at the end of the waterflood. This is because under drainage. thus even concepts like oil/water relative permeability do not have the same meaning in heavy oil reservoirs.. waterflooding theory has been well documented1.8. Despite the presumed inefficiency of this process.... The responses for different waterfloods are compared in order to understand the mechanisms by which oil can be recovered by water injection. Their work was focused on performing stability analysis in order to identify the conditions under which a frontal perturbation will grow to become a viscous finger... practitioners often still attempt to apply the same theoretical understanding to their fields..45).... capillary and gravitational forces......56.56 the displacement is deemed fully unstable.... is as follows: .. Isr was found to be9 π2. viscous fingers are said to have formed. the displacement is stable...

oil has to be displaced into Experimental Procedure The sand used in all experiments was Lane Mountain 70 sand. however. The sand was wet packed with methanol..... and explains the low recovery expected. The sandpack was then drained and dried overnight with compressed air. Rock permeability is therefore another important parameter for quantifying the effect of imbibition. This theory indicates a dominance of viscous forces during waterflooding. recovery is due to imbibition....... it is commonly expected that as water is injected. The sandpack was left undisturbed for about a day to allow equilibrium to be reached. increasing permeability and increasing oil viscosity. however.. Even in viscous heavy oil reservoirs..17 found that both the imbibition rate and the final recovery by imbibition decreases with initial water saturation. Imbibition In the presence of multiple immiscible fluids in porous media... The sandpack was then flooded with oil until irreducible water saturation is reached.. the oil trapped in the porous medium at the end of the waterflood is due to capillary forces. In summary. The theory of instability is basically a balance of forces. the difference between oil and water viscosity is so great that Isr will always tend to be very large. Upon consideration of conventional knowledge regarding imbibition.... with all else being equal. In unconsolidated oil sands. the pressure at the inlet and outlet of the sandpack was monitored. As oil viscosity increases.2. During this stage. and displacement of viscous oil will tend to occur much more slowly.. it is not expected that this parameter will hold great importance in high permeability oil sands.proportional to the one proposed by Peters and Flock9... If the reverse is true then the displacement will be unstable.... Fischer et al. Once it was established that it was dried. the imbibition rate can be shown to be: dR 1 ∝ . Again. and the degree of instability depends on the rate of injection. with an additional factor to take into consideration the larger size difference of water and oil fingers.. It is for this reason that in strongly water wet porous media the recoveries from waterflooding and from imbibition are essentially the same2. capillary forces compete with viscous forces for determining the pathways through which water will travel... 3 .... pore size. the water is expected to exist in the smallest pores and some of the larger pores.18 have also shown that the imbibition rate is a function of oil viscosity. As mentioned earlier..... This has led to the common assumption that capillary forces and imbibition are insignificant in heavy oil systems... therefore capillary pressure is lower and imbibition will occur more slowly. Zhou et al... The validation of this assumption is one of the main focuses of this research.. Specifically.. then the displacement will be stable. during water injection into a water wet porous medium (imbibition)... oil is continuously produced until breakthrough....... other pores. The sandpack was then scanned again to ensure that it was dry... The strength of wettability will also influence the rate of imbibition. after which brine saturation and brine permeability were determined. The sandpack was then left under vacuum for approximately a day.. (3) dt t This implies that the imbibition rate or oil production rate should be high at first.. In separate studies they also observed that the imbibition rate is higher for lower permeability rocks16. imbibition rate decreases with time. The products of the waterflood was also collected and analyzed for oil and water content with low-field NMR and separation with toluene. water has traveled through the leastresistant pore pathways.... the porous medium is normally water wet14. in relation to the effect of the viscous forces. water is displacing high viscosity heavy oil.. This result is important especially in heavy oil systems. since permeability is related to the average pore size in the rock... Waterfloods were then carried out at the specified flow rates. In other portions of the core. viscosities of the imbibing and displaced fluids. In order for imbibition to occur... After this point very little extra oil is recovered and virtually all the water injected is produced. At the point of water breakthrough. the distribution of the fluids at equilibrium is governed by capillary foces1.. This is based on the theory of capillary pressure...... Bentsen et al.. permeability.. All floods were performed at ambient temperature (23°C) and with applied overburden on the sand. where the oil and water do not have similar mobility. In capillary-driven processes. so the viscous forces are expected to be dominant over capillary forces.. Several researchers19-21 have observed that recovery for fixed volumes of water increases in a manner that is proportional to t . therefore the rate of imbibition will be lower in this case. Results In a gas-free conventional oil sandpack. such as: wettability. In heavy oil systems. and the initial water and oil saturations of the rock13. the inlet and outlet pressures were recorded periodically. if the combined forces of gravity and capillarity are greater than the viscous force...... at increasing water saturation.. Wettability controls which fluid will be spontaneously imbibed into the porous medium.. as evidenced by the contact angle in the YoungLaplace equation1..... Wettability is by far the most important parameter in imbibition. and nitrogen was used to remove any residual methanol. In heavy oil systems.. creating a channel of high water saturation.. permeability tends to be higher than in conventional oil reservoirs.. Li and Horne15 have shown that the capillary pressure is expected to decrease for rocks with higher permeability.. gas expansion was performed on the sandpack to determine its porosity... it was CT (Computerized Tomography) scanned to determine that the pack was uniform.. the oil was by-passed and therefore the condition of oil and irreducible water still exists. imbibition rate decreases. In a displacement. After the sand was packed. Thus.. Imbibition is therefore an important phenomenon during water injection. and then should decrease with time. There are many factors controlling imbibition.12 also developed the theory further to predict the recovery at breakthrough for stable displacement and pseudo-stable (Isr > 1000) displacement only. the capillary pressure is less well defined. At early times during injection into heavy oil.

Along this path. At first glance. in heavy oil waterfloods. is defined as: N ca = υµ w . In order to analyze the results of heavy oil waterfloods. thus further injection should continue to follow these paths of least resistance. this is identified as the break through point. a significant area of the porous medium was unswept due to severe bypassing. If the recovery profile in Figure 1 was simply a reflection of rock wettability.... Various experiments were performed to extrapolate the relative important of viscous and capillary forces. In the first two experiments permeability was measured using a pump and pressure transducers. the sand is always first exposed to brine...... this response is similar to waterflooding of conventional oil in an oil wet porous medium22. and during the process of the experiments.. in which recovery increases as capillary number increases..... At a certain point.. Thus.. water extracts oil and thus improves recovery. the sand used in these experiments is clean quartz. water can enter both large and small pores..The behavior of heavy oil waterfloods is distinctively different. water will invade smaller pores preferentially due to imbibition. while all other parameters remain the same.. Generally.. so the permeability of the remaining experiments was measured using a constant head pressure. Capillary number..s.. For heavy oil breakthrough of injected water occurs early.. Two oils of different viscosity were used in the experiments.. viscous fingering must be quantified. the floods were performed horizontally and the diameter of the sandpack is too small (3. these elements should ensure that the sand is water wet9. leading to a more efficient displacement. thus it can be assumed that permeability in all experiments was in the range of 2. In a strongly water wet medium. If injection rates are sufficiently high. Nca. The possible forces acting on the porous medium fluids are viscous..98 g/cm3 and a viscosity of 4650 mPa. instability at the flood front would develop into viscous fingers with higher injection rates leading to less efficient displacement9-12.. higher injection rate should be employed.. a large portion of the remaining oil is still continuous. It can therefore then be concluded that this characteristic is due to some different mechanism rather than the porous medium being oil wet. It is extremely important to determine the mechanisms contributing to oil production after water has broken through... except for the permeability. Table 2 above also includes the instability number associated with each experiment... namely oil viscosity and injection rate. The recovery profile for a heavy oil waterflood is shown in Figure 1. thus they can be neglected.. The properties of the sandpacks are shown in Table 1. the pressure profile does not match that of a waterflood in an oil-wet core (i. breakthrough is identified as the point when water was first produced.... These properties were measured at 23°C. However.. Common knowledge of waterflooding of conventional oil often dictates that to improve oil recovery.. They also show that recovery at breakthrough is better for the less viscous oil. Due to the fact that heavy oil is considerably more viscous than the water. For the experiments performed in this study. As a result oil is produced with extremely high water cut.. After breakthrough water has found continuous pathways from inlet to outlet.7 D.. Thus.... recovery at breakthrough decreases. The first four experiments used heavy oil 1 (HO1) with a density of 0.... capillary. The remaining four experiments used heavy oil 2 (HO2) with a .. a drainage process)... These results show that as injection rate increases.. From these experiments it was seen that as water was injected. gravitational and inertial. This ensures that the remaining oil in the porous medium is lower than the case of smaller injection rate.. The pressure values are not very accurate for measuring this range of high permeability..23.. The two competing mechanisms are then viscous and capillary forces... as evidenced by the rapidly rising water cut at early times in Figure 2. water will finger through and the pressure will decline. water is produced very early on in the experiment. inertial (shear) forces are also negligible. Literature has shown that there is a distinct relationship between instability number and breakthrough recovery9. The brine used in all these experiments has a density of 1. This demonstrates the main difference between conventional oil and heavy oil waterfloods: at water breakthrough residual heavy oil was bypassed due to adverse mobility ratio rather than from capillary trapping...... and after breakthrough pressure decreases down to very low values24. At early times pressure builds up upon constant rate water injection... the injection front advances almost as a piston. This results in early water breakthrough and reduces the efficiency of the waterflood. For each oil various injection rates were employed.. This means that in general a large fraction of the porous medium was swept with the residual oil exists in a microscopic form as isolated ganglia.9815 g/cm3 and a viscosity of 11500 mPa. density of 0.4 to 2..2. However.. The breakthrough recoveries along with their capillary numbers.. injection of a less viscous fluid with high mobility to recover heavy oil with limited mobility leads to viscous fingering. After breakthrough oil is still being produced along with high water-cut. According to instability theory.e. Their values are more accurate..s. except for the cases of 1 mL/hr.. thus the pressure in the porous medium consistently built up... heavy oil with limited mobility could not be produced as fast as the injected rate. It is obvious that the waterflooding response is very different for conventional and heavy oil. thus improving recovery... at which point the recovery is still very small. Macroscopically..0487 g/cm3. Thus a new definition of breakthrough must be established in order to provide reasonable production. Additionally..... (4) σ cos θ For heavy oil waterfloods it is not simple to identify the occurrence of breakthrough. the recoveries in conventional oil are significantly higher than the values in Table 21. as shown in Figure 2.. Due to similar viscosities between the displacing and the displaced phase. At this range of capillary numbers. At the point where pressure begins to decline... These numbers show that the sandpacks have fairly similar characteristics. then the injection pressure would have to remain high in order to access progressively smaller pores.. the lowest injection rate should be the most stable.2. thus it should have the highest 4 Effect of viscous forces To investigate the effect of viscous forces two parameters were varied. The analysis of waterflooding results for conventional oils often involved the prediction of breakthrough recoveries as a function of capillary number1. in a heavy oil waterflood...81 cm) to render any gravitational effects. as defined by equation (4) are shown in the Table 2. However.. At the low velocity flow rates utilized in this work.10.

as shown in Figure 3 and Figure 4. The change in slope after this point shows the improvement in recovery. the recovery after 5 PVs decreased. The simple answer is if imbibition occurs during shut-in period. However. total recovery decreases.breakthrough recovery. in the case of injecting at 1 mL/hr. in the absence of flow. Effect of capillary forces The effect of capillary forces was first identified when the system of experiment #4 was shut in after 5 PVs of brine had been injected. It was also seen that after breakthrough. These expectations are verified by this data. the opposite happens. this is a reflection of HO2’s higher viscosity. the efficiency of the waterflood is significantly better than the other cases. recovery is less for the more viscous oil. another competing process is responsible for the flood front being less stable. At higher injection rates. Since viscous force is proportional to the rate of injection. it should occur as well during the injection period. severe viscous fingering occurs and this is reflected in lower flood efficiency. therefore although viscous fingers still exist after breakthrough their effect cannot be readily quantified.021 m/d) for both oils. provided that no wettability alteration has occurred. After the shut-in period water was injected again at the same rate. Thus proving it is the most efficient. For each specific oil. This is shown further in Figure 6. In the case of the heavy oil waterfloods. All the numbers in Table 3 are calculated at the later portions of the flood after breakthrough (between 4 and 5 PVs injected). The results at different flow rates were therefore analyzed in order to determine the significance of these forces during water injection. which implies that the waterflood become less efficient. in the cases of Qinj = 1 mL/hr (0. as shown in Figure 7. then as the injection rate increases. oil is continuously produced. immediately the oil fraction in the produced stream increased. the growth of viscous fingers leads to instabilities and early water breakthrough. If this is the mechanism responsible for the lower breakthrough recovery. Figure 5. The results in Table 2 show that most of the experiments follow this trend.e. several observations do merit further discussion. thus the differences observed for varying injection rates are a reflection of a physical difference in the waterflood responses. in order to analyze the results due to its optimistic continuous oil production. They also show that after breakthrough the water cuts are very high. The second important issue that must be addressed is the mechanism responsible for oil recovery after breakthrough. One noteworthy observation is the response of the very slow injection rate (1 mL/hr). Upon careful inspection of the waterflooding response it was seen that even though the breakthrough recovery of the low injection rate is low at the beginning. For other cases of higher injection rate. with more oil recovered per pore volume injected. due to its smallest slope of amount of oil recovered per pore volume injected. it implies that at ultra-low injection rates. fluid redistribution must have occurred. as more water is injected the improvement in recovery plateaus. it may appear that the recovery profiles in Figure 3 are very similar at different injection rates. as the injection rate is increased. The results from the experiments of different injection rates and oil viscosity values are perhaps not altogether surprising. the pressure gradient still existing in the core) then with more pressure (higher injection rate) more oil should be produced. which indicates that another mechanism aside from viscous forces is primary responsible for oil production after water breakthrough. This figure shows that at . At this lower flow rate. If viscous force is the dominant recovery mechanism. imbibition rate is a function of time. It is not yet known why the recovery of the lowest injection rate was low. in which water imbibed into the small pores and displaced oil into the larger pores that had previously been flooded with water. which plots the waterflooding recoveries after 5 PVs of brine have been injected against the injection rate. The results also show that viscous forces are detrimental to recovery not only until breakthrough but even after that when 5 water channels through the porous medium. The water-cut profiles show that the water-cut increases drastically as soon as water was injected. The fact that this did not happen gives an indication that the recovery mechanism after breakthrough is not solely proportional to viscous forces. Thus in order to observe the presence of imbibition. indicating that before breakthrough. The oil recovery behavior of the case where the injection rate is 1 mL/hr is quite interesting. At any particular injection rate. capillary forces are significant even in high viscosity oil systems. this flood showed a lower breakthrough efficiency than the other experiments. Theories of viscous fingering were constructed to explain the recovery efficiency up to breakthrough9-12. The repeatability of these experiments is very high. Again. capillary forces once again become important. this smallest injection rate did not yield the largest breakthrough recovery as predicted by instability theory. Figure 6 has shown that as the viscous force increases. the oil production rate should also increase accordingly. where it has been shown that after water breakthrough any injected water will simply flow through the continuous water channels. These figures show the waterflood response (recovery and water cut) after 5 PVs of brine injected at various rates for HO1. recovery of oil is better in the slow injection case. Also. and any differences are merely a reflection of repeatability between experiments. There can only be one possible mechanism that leads to this improved recovery: during the shut-in period. with the higher injection rate having the larger water cut. Contrary to instability theory. This increase in oil production was seen in all instances when the sandpack was shut-in24. If oil is still being produced due to viscous flow (i. these numbers indicate that the experiments performed with HO1 generally were more efficient than for HO2. as more water is injected. At first glance. In fact. the oil production rate was plotted against time for the experiments performed with HO1 in Figure 8. However. and thus lowering the breakthrough recovery. The results in Table 3 shows that the largest injection rate is the least efficient. even for high viscosity oil. As mentioned before. One possibility is that water imbibes ahead of the front to cause early breakthrough. An interesting analogy for this work is in layered rock systems25. The question remains is whether imbibition occurs when water is injected continuously. as seen from Table 3. therefore. It is therefore established that if imbibition occurred while the sandpack was shut-in. It is commonly accepted that in situations of poor mobility ratio. and overall recovery is low. The line in this figure signifies where the shut-in period occurred. However. shows that this is in fact not the case. However. oil is still recovered continuously. which plots the recovery profile for a repeat experiment. despite the high water cut in the produced liquids. as expected from Darcy’s Law. the effect of instability and viscous fingering dominates the recovery process.

. it would be beneficial to obtain a general correlation to predict the efficiency of the waterflood. the oil production rate is only doubled. the normalized oil production rates in all cases are fairly similar.. the injection rate was then reduced back to 1 mL/hr.. such as the length or the permeability of the system... However. For the experiments in which HO1 is used. At faster injection rates. Even with a reduced effect of capillary forces. Also. Imbibition is a slow process. Thus the recoveries of the waterflood are plotted against instability number in Figure 12.000 s or 28 hrs) the oil production rate decreased accordingly with time.. The slow reduction in oil production rate at late times indicates the presence of imbibition aiding in the recovery process. a significant amount of scattering is present in this relationship.. It is important to clarify at this point that imbibition is still occurring even at higher injection rates.. these values were approximated. It was also observed here that the recovery appears to be somewhat constant when the instability number is less than 13. which is proportional to time. The same plot was obtained for HO2 (Figure 10)...12. implying the dominant nature of viscous forces at early time.. This could be caused by a combination of many factors....... it allows more time for imbibition to contribute to the recovery of oil after breakthrough..79 D to 95. Also... the oil production rate was normalized and plotted against the pore volume of brine injected in Figure 9. therefore.. There are other aspects that the instability number did not take into consideration. In experiment #12. but the results did not show the trend observed by Abrams. It must be noted that some of these references did not provide the recovery after 5 PVs of brine injection.10. To further explore this relationship results from literature were gathered and plotted along these results on Figure 13. it was seen that this correlation does not apply to heavy oil due to the severe viscous fingering. injected fluid now takes ten times as long to traverse the core.. the amount of water produced must be taken into consideration as well. After about 41 PVs of brine were injected at 10 mL/hr.. The fact that normalized oil rate is constant in all four cases show that while pressure in the system is high.. The trend seen in Figure 13 is similar to the one observed with the smaller data set in Figure 12. different dimensions and geometry of the sandpacks.... However. Thus when evaluating the efficiency of the waterflood.. The fact that the normalized rates from the higher injection floods are lower than the actual 1 mL/hr rate simply point to the efficiency of the flood.. The gaps in the figure show the shut-in periods with higher oil production after shut-in.e. as water continues to be injected the data from the higher injection rates results in lower normalized oil production rate.. At slower injection rates. which shows that as capillary number increases. increasing the pressure gradient can generate more oil flow.. As mentioned before.. thus this contributed some errors.. for a ten-fold increase in the injection rate. the oil production rate obtained at 15 mL/hr was divided by 15. Generally. This figure shows that when PV injected is less than 2.. which was also found by numerous other researchers9... normalized to a low injection rate... this figure indicates that the recovery after breakthrough is somewhat affected by the same factors that control the stability of the flood front. as more brine is injected into the porous medium at the slow rate. An attempt to quantify the effect of viscous and capillary forces is performed. thus a simple correction to capillary number cannot account for severe viscous fingering. Figure 11 also plots the oil production rates for the fast injection regime. thus they were extrapolated to obtain the recovery at 5 PVs. the flood efficiency can be considerably improved. The data from Table 4 shows that the range of permeability is from 0.. It must also be noted that the water-cut of the products obtained at 10 mL/hr is greater than the case of 1 mL/hr. and higher overall recoveries can be obtained. and that capillary forces can aid in recovery.. is responsible for oil production after water breakthrough. in which the oil production rate was normalized with respect to the lowest injection rate of 1 mL/hr. Prediction of heavy oil waterflooding recovery It has been shown throughout this study that the waterflooding recovery is a function of various parameters. recovery increases as well. recovery should be related to the instability number. viscous flow occurs.. By reducing the flow rate by a factor of ten.... Even though instability theory was only constructed to predict the behavior until breakthrough.relatively early time (<100.4 to 37 mPa. thus the mobility ratio calculated is not accurate... due to the lack of information some of the data had to be approximated.s. as well as different packing techniques. Table 4 summarizes the literature sources and the properties along with the results of the current floods (labeled as A – F in Table 4). Capillary forces are 6 . Figure 11 shows that increasing the rate of injection improved the oil production rate... the reduction in oil production rate became quite small. it must be kept in mind that these results were gathered from many different researchers. after approximately 7 PVs of brine was injected at 1 mL/hr. which means that viscous forces also cannot be neglected...56. From Table 2. as the instability number increases. oil production is to a large extent due to water imbibition. The analysis of these experimental findings indicates that at later times (after water breakthrough)..4 . As mentioned previously.5 D. This figure further shows that it would be more efficient to inject at a slower rate. Any of these parameters could have change the value of C* in equation (1). the effect of the viscous component is taken out... who have used different types of sand.. Thus. especially with heavy oil.. i. and it shows the same pattern. the performance could be predicted through the capillary number1. Correspondingly.. These results consistently show that when injecting water at a slow rate. This correlation was applied to the data set used in this study. there is less time for imbibition to occur per pore volume injected... recovery decreases. However. By normalizing all the oil production rates to a single injection rate. (5) The range of viscosity of oils used in his data set varied from 0. For waterflooding of conventional oil. since most of these sources did not report krw at Sor or kro at Swi. One possible reason for the scatter is that the range of viscosity is much larger than that studied by Abrams. or the relative influence of the capillary forces... However. the injection rate was increased to 10 mL/hr... the normalized oil rate is one order of magnitude higher. This is direct evidence that imbibition. Abrams26 tried to take into account the influence of oil viscosity by empirically introducing an extra term in the capillary number: υµ w  µ w  σ cos θ  µ o  N ca =     0.

oil production was dominated by viscous forces..... of course. at varying water injection rates.. Overall. in contrast to instability theory. R = 105 .79 – 95. Canadian Natural. and BP for providing the oil used in these experiments. Moreover. NOMENCLATURE C* CT D HO1 HO2 Isr kwor koiw L M Nca PV Qinj R Rbt 7 = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = Conclusions A set of ambient temperature laboratory core floods was performed in order to identify the mechanisms responsible for wettability constant computerized tomography diameter of the core [cm] heavy oil 1 heavy oil 2 Instability number permeability to water at the irreducible oil saturation Sor [D] permeability to oil at the connate water saturation Swi [D] length of sandpack [cm] mobility ratio capillary number pore volume [mL] injection rate [mL/hr] recovery (%OOIP) breakthrough recovery (%OOIP) . The oil production rates were normalized to the lowest injection rate. which was indicative of the low efficiency of injecting at high rates. It was then observed that at low injection rates. the ratio of oil/water flow rates can be improved by as much as one order of magnitude. In order to take these parameters into proper consideration an empirical correlation was derived to predict the recovery of heavy oil waterflood after 5 PVs of brine injected. the relationship can be explained. Jun Gao. The effect of permeability and oil viscosity are not unexpected. This indicates that capillary forces are significant even during flow of viscous heavy oil. The parameters that were investigated were the influence of viscous and capillary forces on oil recovery... Likewise. It was shown in Figure 9 that in the first two pore volumes injected. Viscous forces are observed to be important at early times (under 2 PV of water injected). the following equation was obtained: υ0.. This expression was designed to be very simple.. and a simple empirical model was developed to predict waterflood recovery based on only the injection rate. when the fluid injection rate was increased from 1 – 10 mL/hr. By properly controlling a heavy oil waterflood... The same results were obtained for both oils and in repeat measurements... (6) Equation 6 shows that oil recovery is inversely proportional to absolute permeability (D) and oil viscosity (mPa⋅s).. The exponent of the velocity term is much smaller than those of permeability and oil viscosity..... recovery has been shown to decreases.... ISEEE and the Canada Research Chair in Energy and Imaging and its Industrial Affiliates (Shell. Paramount). As permeability decreases (while. and directly proportional to injection velocity (m/s).directly related to permeability.10 o heavy oil recovery under waterflooding.. capillary forces. the oil flow rates did in fact increase accordingly as well.. which are proportional to fluid velocity. Nexen... The significance of capillary pressure was investigated. We also wish to thank Nexen Inc. absolute permeability (0.. This correlation.010 k 0. Suncor... It was only after two PV of water had been injected that the recovery became higher than the values at higher injection rates.. appears to be able to predict the recovery from waterflooding under unstable conditions. At very low injection rates (1 mL/hr) the breakthrough recovery actually decreased. imbibition and viscous flow are actually in competition.. PetroCanada. John Schnitzler and Jon Bryan of TIPM Laboratory for their contributions. the normalized oil rate was proportionally higher than the oil flow rates at higher water injection rates.. given the results of Figure 5. developed over a wide range of oils and sand permeability... however.. thus the data obtained from high vs low permeability systems will have very different responses from water imbibition. since water must displace oil in order to imbibe into rock pores. A correlation was observed between recovery and instability number.. Finally...... Financial support of this project was provided by NSERC. breakthrough efficiency actually decreased. The data used in generating this correlation cover a wide range of injection rates (10-4 – 10-7 m/s)...... which removes the effect of viscous flow.. thus this is a physical occurrence.. Acknowledgements The authors would like to thank Xiao Dong Ji.. which had leveled out... COURSE. The effect of velocity is somewhat unexpected... when fluid was injected at only 1 mL/hr. which reflects the uncertainty in how this parameter affects final recovery. still remaining high enough for heavy oil to flow)... however. it should be noted that in Figure 10. and to require only information that is commonly obtained during waterflooding. Devon. upon closer analysis of the response from viscous vs..... Laricina. A secondary goal of this work was to be able to predict the recovery from a heavy oil waterflood. in order to explain the reason for improved oil recovery at low rates.. Using data gathered in this work and the compilation of experimental data from the literature. This significant variability would definitely contribute to the scattering seen in Figure 13. which shows recovery decreasing with increasing injection rate. The fact that the velocity term is in the numerator in Equation 6 is due to the complex nature of the velocity relationship to oil recovery.... and explain the mechanisms for oil recovery after water breakthrough.13µ 0. as oil viscosity increases. The increase was much smaller than that of the injection rate.. This very simple empirical correlation therefore appears to be valid for estimating oil recovery in homogeneous water wet systems of widely varying permeability and oil viscosity... which contradicts instability theory. oil viscosity and sand permeability..5 D) and oil viscosity (12 – 11500 mPa⋅s).. However.. the effect of imbibition becomes more significant and oil recovery is expected to increase. This is a contribution of both increased instability and also a slower imbibition rate. Schlumberger. oil recovery was observed to decrease with increasing oil viscosity or injection rate. The predicted values are plotted against the actual recoveries in Figure 14. This is an indication of the unstable nature of heavy oil waterfloods.... Tests were performed for two different heavy oils.. ET Energy. In terms of velocity..

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Calculation of Oil Displacement by Countercurrent Water Imbibition. Tech. SPE Res. LI. 10. 27 – 33. December 2005. MAI.. M. M. GOODARZI. April 22 – 26. SARMA.K. DONG.G. Oklahoma USA. CIM/SPE 90-66.. Trans..P. 10. Can. 2006. CHUOKE.L. Insights Into Non-Thermal Recovery of Heavy Oil.. Interfacial Tension. D.. Pet.. 116 – 120. December 5-6 2005.A. Tech. McGEE. SPE Textbook Series Vol. J. Magnitude and Detailed Structure of Residual Oil Saturation. No. Viscous Liquid-Liquid Displacements in Permeable Media.. J. 24. 216. MILLER.. COSKUNER. I.L. Pet.. C. and JHA. R. J.A.. 195 – 202. and KANTZAS.N. MORROW. 1959.A. SPE Annual Technical and Exhibition. 115 – 123. SPE International Improved Oil Recovery Conference..L.. Prod. 1982 SPE/DOE 3rd Joint Symposium on Enhanced Oil Recovery. 45. 1955.. LI. June 2006.O. Can. High Mobility Ratio Waterflood Performance Prediction: Challenges and New Insights. 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31 9 .6 3.M.3 9.02E-05 1.40E-05 1..94 1.350 0.6 3.75 0.5 95.16E-05 1. 44 – 49.00 0.40 0.25 61.79 10. E.64 5.6 46.7 9.348 0.59 48. Can.6 6. T.64 5.21 12 3.59 Exp # 1 2 3 4 7 8 9 12 Table 1.06E-06 7.55 16.11E-07 8.27 46.38 55.79 12.4 43. Recovery per pore volume injected Experiment Recovery per PV inj 1 1.344 0.6 1.42 8.95 68.122E-8 905 2 15 11.12E-04 1.32E-04 1.5 69.64 5.7 43.344 0.5 7. 33 – 41.1 21. Tech.08E-05 R (%OOIP) 24 26 20 27 27 21 71. FAROUQ ALI.67 16.7 2..122E-9 299 12 1 and 10 9. and OKAZAWA.6 46.2 9.G.79 56.54 5. J. S.47E-07 1.3x1 Ref 30 Ref 31 Ref 32 Ref 33 Ref 34 5.8 21.39E-06 3.33 64.061E-8 529 4 1 10.89 3.56E-06 9.689 5.2 71.08 5 5.34 19.7 43.356 0.348 0.52 54 50.88 8 1.1 95.122E-8 2988 9 1 9.6 68.344 0.02 69. R.390 0.42 17. Summary of results from literature φ Source D (cm) L (cm) (fraction) k (D) µ (mPa⋅s) A B C D E F Ref 27 8.361 1..99 0.34 63. J.04E-05 1.8 44. Pet.359 2.5 95.358 2.390 0.86 9.5x4. FIGUEROA.61 61.2 1. January – February 1991.64 5.. S.7 43.70 0.348 0.09E-06 1.122E-9 118 7 20 10.5 50.35E-07 4. THOMAS.A.95 69. Pet.88E-06 1.88 35 35 48 35 53.348 0. 34..72 4.41 17. A laboratory study of caustic flooding for two Alberta crude oils.11 17.6 14.236 0.372 1. Can.86 12.01E-05 9. J..344 0.79 10. Tech..34 16.338 0.92E-05 6.55 71.450 0.87E-06 7. 35. SCOULAR.16 0.08 5.7 30 30. May – June 1987.79 10 10 3.6 46.48 30.387 0.3x1 *20.350 0.1 53.54 2. and VERKOCZY.64 5.218E-7 1234 3 5 15.25 4.355 2.82 8. acid and emulsion floods.807 1. AZUAJE.25 114.97 8.9 60 50.63 3.366 2.348 0. Table 4.65 61.71 61. FAROUQ ALI.23E-07 2.32.3 3.21 43. 33.7 69.7 43.5 50.358 0.6 3.6 19 112 110 95 430 1450 717 717 717 450 12 2140 1649 1600 2045 408.26E-05 1.391 0. S.8 11.57 1. S.89E-07 4.2 50.W.64 5. Can. Pet.64 5. March 2001.68 21.398 0..77 62.04E-06 2.31 16. 53 – 59.6 46.21 υ (m/s) 1.5 46.31 4 3.04 5.76 10.M. Tech.10 17. S.03 8.394 0.450 0. R.27 54.64 5 5. SYMONDS.M.4 10.P. Tech.58 11. 56 – 61.04 Ref 25 *4.44E-07 4.344 3. Properties of sandpacks PV OOIP L (cm) (cm3) f (fraction) k (D) Swi (%) (mL) 16..348 0. Effects of temperature on heavy oil-water relative permeability of sand.17 61.3x1 *20.7 46.96E-06 2.6 46.364 2.2 14.66 8. Recovery and dimensionless numbers Experiment Qinj Rbt Nca Isr (mL/hr) (%OOIP) 1 10 13.52 9 3.44 Ref 29 *20.13 54.63 2.64 Table 2.08E-04 2.348 0.64 5.7 0. J.6 3.62 60. J. and FARQUHARSON.2 1190 116 19. J.039 3 3 3 3 3 11500 11500 11500 11500 11500 11500 10. Chemical Methods for Heavy Oil Recovery.410 0.1 26. Pet.5 3.71 7 0.460 0.64 5..6 2.05 0.32E-04 1.8 9.43 11.63 51. and THOMAS.390 0.6 3. JanuaryMarch 1979.88E-06 5.64 Ref 28 4. Can.356 2.5 Ref 35 5.06E-06 9.624E-7 5976 8 10 12.54E-05 5.457 0.374 0.74E-07 5.122E-9 299 Table 3.11E-06 1.61 2 1.64 5.27 3 1.R.6 3..99 61..3 18 51.B.4 71.4 5.48 61 100 60 30 43.M.01 0. B. Recovery of Lloydminster and Morichal crudes by caustic. FAROUQ ALI.71 0. MAINI.

5 1 1. Recovery as a function of injection rate – two oils Figure 3. Repeatability of heavy oil waterflooding Figure 2. Produced water-cuts in heavy oil waterflood 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 0 5 10 15 20 Qinj (mL/hr) Recovery (%OOIP) 50 Oil recovery (%OOIP) 40 30 10 mL/hr 20 10 0 0 1 2 3 PV injected 15 mL/hr 5 mL/hr 1 mL/hr 4 5 HO1 HO2 25 Figure 6. Water-cuts as a function of rate for HO1 Figure 1. Waterflooding recoveries at different rates for HO1 10 .100 Oil recovery (%OOIP) Water cut (%) 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 0 2 4 PV injected 6 8 95 90 85 80 75 70 0 1 2 3 4 5 PV injected 10 mL/hr 15 mL/hr 5 mL/hr 1 mL/hr Figure 4. Heavy oil waterflooding recovery profile 40 100 90 Water cut (%) 80 70 60 50 40 0 2 PV injected 4 6 Recovery (%OOIP) 30 20 10 0 0 0.5 2 Pore volume injected Figure 5.

E-04 1.E-07 1.E-06 1.E-03 20 mL/hr 10 mL/hr 1 mL/hr 12.70 Oil recovery (%OOIP) 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 0 5 PV injected 10 15 Qo normalized (mL/s) 1.E+07 0 10 20 30 PV injected 40 50 60 Figure 11. Effect of increased viscous forces on oil rates Figure 8.E-04 1. 1 mL/hr 1.E-06 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 PV injected Figure 7.E-03 Qo (mL/s) 1.E-05 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 1 10 100 1000 Instability number Recovery (% OOIP) HO1 HO2 10000 1.E-05 1.E-06 0 5 PV injected 10 15 Figure 12.E+06 10 mL/hr 1 mL/hr 12.E-05 1.E-03 Qo normalized (mL/s) 1.E-06 1.E+03 1.E-05 1. Oil production rates for different water injection rates 10 mL/hr 15 mL/hr 5 mL/hr 1. Recovery as a function of instability number Figure 9.E+05 Time (s) 1.E-02 1.E-03 Qo normalized (mL/s) 1.E+04 1.E-04 1 mL/hr 1.E-04 1. Normalized oil production rates for HO2 20 mL/hr 1. unnormalized 12 normalized 15 mL/hr 5 mL/hr 1 mL/hr 1. Recovery profile before and after fluid redistribution 10 mL/hr Figure 10. Normalized oil production rates for HO1 11 .

Empirical correlation prediction of oil recovery after 5 PV injected 12 . Core floods from different researchers – correlation between instability number and recovery Actual Recovery (%OOIP) 80 60 40 20 0 0 20 40 60 80 Predicted Recovery (%OOIP) Figure 14.1 10 1000 100000 Instability number Figure 13.70 Recovery (% OOIP) 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 0.