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Jiyu Wang

Bakkalaurea Thesis
Saturation and Capillary Pressure in
Reservoir Rocks

Supervised by:
Approval date:

Date: 09/11/2014

Prof. Ruthammer, Gerhard


15th Feb. 2007

Table of Contents
Abstract................................................................................................................................ 4
1 Introduction: Reservoir Rocks........................................................................................ 5
1.1
1.2

Important properties of reservoir rocks......................................................................................5


The types of Reservoir Rocks...................................................................................................6

1.2.1
1.2.2
1.2.3

SANDSTONE RESERVOIR ROCKS...................................................................................................6


CARBONATE RESERVOIR ROCKS...................................................................................................8
Shale..................................................................................................................................................9

Fluids Saturation in Reservoir Rock.........................................................................10


2.1

Methods of Determining Fluid Saturation................................................................................10

2.1.1
2.1.2
2.1.3

Determination of Fluid Saturations from Rock Samples..........................................................................10


Determination of Fluid Saturations by Extraction with a Solvent................................................................13
Determination of Fluid Saturations with Electric Well Logs (Indirect)........................................................14

2.2 The Use of Core-Determined Fluid Saturations............................................................................16

Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rock.......................................................................18


3.1

Definition............................................................................................................................... 18

3.2

Methods of measuring capillary pressure................................................................................20

3.1.1
3.1.2
3.2.1
3.2.2
3.2.3
3.2.4

Capillary Forces Wettability...............................................................................................................19


Drainage and Imbibition.......................................................................................................................19
Desorption Method.............................................................................................................................20
Restored state method........................................................................................................................21
Mercury injection method (Purcell).......................................................................................................22
Conversion of laboratory results...........................................................................................................25

Relationship between capillary pressure and fluids saturation...............................26

Summary............................................................................................................................ 28
References......................................................................................................................... 29
Nomenclature..................................................................................................................... 30

List of Figures
Figure 1: Pores in reservoir rocks............................................................................................ 5
Figure 2: Permeability in Reservoir Rocks...............................................................................6
Figure 3: Sandstone digenesis (zonation from Scott Oilfield, North Sea, UK)............................7
Figure 4: A thin-section photomicrograph of a limestone..........................................................8
Figure 5: The construction of shale in reservoir........................................................................9
Figure 6. Retort distillation apparatus.....................................................................................11
Figure 7. Typical retort calibration curve for water..................................................................11
Figure 8. Typical retort calibration curve for oil.......................................................................12
Figure 9. Laboratory determination of fluid saturation.............................................................13
Figure 10. Modified ASTM extraction apparatus.....................................................................13
Figure 11. Soxhlet extractor.................................................................................................. 14
Figure 12. Limiting values of total core water for oil and gas production..................................17
Figure 13. Wettability of fluids...............................................................................................19
Figure 14. Drainage and imbibition........................................................................................ 20
Figure 15. Semi-permeable diaphragm.................................................................................21
Figure 16. Capillary pressure curve.(restored states method).................................................22
Figure 17. Mercury injection method.....................................................................................23
Figure 18. Capillary pressure by mercury injection: homogeneous matrix medium..................23
Figure 19. Capillary pressure mercury injection: medium v macropores and matrix.................24
Figure 20. Capillary pressure by mercury injection in the case of 2 matrix...............................24
Figure 21. Example for the position of the interface...............................................................26
Figure 22. Drainage and imbibition curve in PC and Snm diagram............................................27

Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

Abstract
The aim of this baccalaureate thesis was to give an overview of reservoir rocks and searching
for determination of fluids saturation and capillary pressure in reservoir rock, in order to find out
the relationship between fluid saturations and capillary pressure.
The focal point in this baccalaureate thesis was how to determine the value of fluids saturation
and capillary pressure in reservoir rocks, what can be concluded to two methods, direct and
indirect method. By the equipment, we can read the value of fluids saturation and capillary
pressure directly. But we also can calculate them through the other properties in reservoir
rocks, e.g. porosity, resistivity from logs, when the condition can not supply the equipment,
which we need. This is indirect method. No matter which method is used in the determination,
we need a result to know about the relation between capillary pressure and fluids saturation in
the end. So that we will know, how will the capillary pressure effect on the fluids saturation.
Further, we will get more information.

Author: Jiyu Wang

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Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

1 Introduction: Reservoir Rocks


A reservoir rock is capable of storing a fluid and producing it into boreholes. Although the term
reservoir rock suggests the function of storage only, the ability to produce fluids into wells is
equally important. For example, a water-saturated shale or clay may contain as much water
per unit volume as an aquifer capable of producing large volumes of water per day. The fluids
produced form reservoir rocks are oil, gas, and water, and in general a reservoir rock capable
of producing one of these fluids is capable of producing the others. Some writers limit the term
reservoir rock to rocks which produce oil or gas, but there seems to be no valid reason for
restricting the term to rocks which contain a particular fluid. In the interest of clearness and
consistency, it seems advisable to define a reservoir rock by its lithologic characteristics, and
not by the type of fluid it contains.

Important properties of reservoir rocks


A fundamental property of a reservoir rock is its porosity. However, for it to be an effective
reservoir rock, the fundamental property is permeability. Both porosity and permeability are
geometric properties of a rock and both are the result of its lithologic (composition) character.
They determine the rate of production of fluids, the amount that can be stored in the reservoir,
the ultimate production, and the type of secondary methods which should be applied. Variations
in pore size, that are closely related to permeability, determine to a large degree the relative
amounts of hydrocarbons and water in each stratum of the reservoir rocks

Figure 1: Pores in reservoir rocks

A rock with pores is referred to as porous. This means it has tiny holes through which oil may
flow. Reservoir rocks must be porous, because hydrocarbons can occur only in pores. The
definition of porosity is:

VP
VT

Here is porosity, VP is volume of porous in the rock, VT is total volume of rock. The
porosity depends on the location of the rock (heterogeneity), the compressibility of rock and the
pressure.

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Figure 2: Permeability in Reservoir Rocks

A reservoir rock is also permeable. That means its pores are connected. If hydrocarbons are in
the pores of a rock, they must be able to move out of them. Unless hydrocarbons can move
from pore to pore, they remain locked in place, unable to flow into a well. A suitable reservoir
rock must therefore be porous, permeable, and contain enough hydrocarbons to make it
economically feasible for the operating company to drill for and produce them .

The types of Reservoir Rocks


All reservoir rocks are of sedimentary origin; they have been formed by either mechanical
deposition of erosion fragments of older rock (fragmental rocks) or by chemical or organic
precipitation. Sedimentary rocks may be broadly classified as sandstones, carbonates and
shales. Shale is the most abundant of the sedimentary rocks; it makes up roughly 50 per cent
of the worlds sedimentary rock. Sandstone and carbonate rocks constitute about 25 and 20
percent, respectively.

SANDSTONE RESERVOIR ROCKS


Sandstones are fragmental rocks consisting of sand grains. The term sand refers to a particular
grain size (62 m 200 m), not to a particular composition. The performance of the
sandstone as a reservoir rock, its combination of porosity and permeability, depends upon the
degree to which it is a truly sand. Texture should reflect similar sized grains, not a combination
of coarse and fine grained material. The best sandstone reservoirs are those that are
composed primarily of quartz grains of sand size, silica cement, with minimal fragmented
particles. The main mineral constituent of sandstones is quartz. In addition, sandstones may
contain varied amounts of clay minerals, feldspar, calcite and other rock fragments.

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Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

Figure 3: Sandstone digenesis (zonation from Scott Oilfield, North Sea, UK)

The quality of the initial sandstone reservoir is a function of the source area for the materials,
the depositional process, and the environment in which the deposition took place. Sandstone
reservoirs are generally 25 meters thick, are lenticular and linear spatially, and less than 250
km2 in area. They range in age from the oldest being Cambrian (in Algeria) to the youngest
being Pliocene (Caspian region in Ukraine). In the USA, two-thirds of the sandstone reservoirs
are Cenozoic in age. [1]
Reservoir sandstone has individual sand grains that are slightly cemented together. Several
sand grains could fit on the head of a pin, but there are still many pores or spaces between the
grains that can hold oil. These sand grains were originally deposited in river channels and
deltas or as sandbars and beaches in a shallow sea. Limestone reservoir rock may consist of
sand-sized or larger fragments of corals, sponges, snails, clams, and other marine animals.

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CARBONATE RESERVOIR ROCKS


Carbonates are predominantly composed of calcite and dolomite, with clay and quartz as
common secondary minerals. Carbonates can be both fragmental and precipitated rock. If the
main mineral is calcite, carbonate rock is referred to as limestone. Dolomite rock is the term for
carbonates with dolomite as their main constituent. Dolomite rock is almost always a secondary
rock formed from limestone by replacement of part of the calcium in calcite by magnesium, a
process called dolomitization. Carbonate rocks generally form in warm sea water at shallow
depths, ankle deep to about 20 ft. The hard, usually calcareous parts of the organisms pile up
on the seafloor over time, forming beds of lime particles. Algae, simple plants, are one of the
greatest contributors of lime particles, but any shelled animal may contribute whole or
fragmented shells to the pile. Reefs, banks of lime mud, and lime sand bars are commonly
found preserved in rocks.

Figure 4: A thin-section photomicrograph of a limestone

This particular sample comes from an interval that is not a good reservoir rock. Circular grains
composed of calcite (finely crystalline, reddish-stained areas in a grain) and dolomite (clear,
coarse crystals) are completely cemented by medium crystalline calcite. No porosity is visible
The most interesting and perhaps impressive aspects of carbonate reservoir rocks are their
fossil content. Fossils range from the very small single cell to the larger shelled animals. Prior
to the 1920's, carbonate reservoir rocks were relatively rare and prior to 1950 they were all
regarded as essentially organic rocks. But this changed when textural studies of carbonates in
Iraq and the Bahamas showed that carbonates are also the result of inorganic processes. Most
carbonate rocks are deposited at or in very close proximity to the site of creation.
Transportation of material is less common and sorting is essentially non-existent. The "bestsorted" carbonate rocks are Oolites in which the "grains" are the same size and shape. But
Oolites are not "sorted" at all, but were formed with the sizes and shapes that they have in the
carbonate rock and were cemented in place.[1]

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Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

Shale
Shale is a common source rock. The source rock is the place where, millions of years ago, tiny
sea plants and animalscalled phytoplankton and zooplanktonlived, died, and were
preserved. Source rock contains the source of the hydrocarbon.

Figure 5: The construction of shale in reservoir

Shale consists of compacted beds of clay and other fine-grained minerals. Shales are generally
tight and impervious rocks that do not classify as reservoir rock. Yet shales are very important
in connection with hydrocarbon reservoirs. For one thing, they often provide the sealing streaks
and intercalations are very common in hydrocarbon reservoirs and may have a profound effect
on the flow characteristics of reservoirs.

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1 Fluids Saturation in Reservoir Rock


As a result of the origins of the oil and its formation and migration conditions, the reservoir rocks
contain the following fluids:
(a) Liquid hydrocarbons: oil from the light fraction to asphalts,
(b) Gaseous hydrocarbons.
(c) Water (salt water).
These fluids which are distributed in a certain manner in the porous medium under reservoir
temperature and pressure conditions are, in general, found to have quite different distributions in the
cores brought to the surface.
These modifications are due to the following factors:
(a) Firstly, to causes which are difficult to avoid:
(1). Invasion of drilling mud or filtrate.
(2). Gas expansion due to the fall in pressure during the raising of the core.
(b) Secondly, there are often handling errors such as the washing of the cores in water, or
drying at high temperatures or the lack of preservation.
The quantity of fluid contained in the pores, expressed as a percentage of V p is called fluid
saturation.

Methods of Determining Fluid Saturation


There are two approaches to the problem of determining the original fluid saturations within a
reservoir rock. The direct approach is the selecting of rock samples and measuring the
saturations of these samples as they are recovered from the parent formations. The indirect
approach is to determine the fluid saturation by measuring some other physical property of
direct approach, such as using electric logs or capillary-pressure measurements.

Determination of Fluid Saturations from Rock Samples


In determining fluid saturations directly from a sample removed from a reservoir, it is necessary
to understand first how these values are measure; second, what these measured values
represent; and third, knowing what they represent, how they can be applied.
In order to measure values of original rock saturations there have been essentially three
methods devised. These methods involve either the evaporation of the fluids in the rock or the
leaching out of the fluids in the rock by extraction with a solvent.

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Figure 6. Retort distillation apparatus.

One of the most popular means of measuring the initial saturations is the retort method. This
method takes a small rock sample. By heating the sample and measuring the volumes of water
and oil driven off, it measures the fluid saturations in the sample. The sample is crushed and
weighed before being placed in the apparatus. It is then heated in stages or directly to 1200F
during which the fluids are vaporized, collected, condensed and separated. Plateaus in the rise
of the cumulative water volume with temperature are sometimes analysed to indicate when
free water, surface clay-bound water and interlayer clay-bound water have been driven off. An
electric retort is shown in Figure 6.
The retort method has several disadvantages. In order to remove all the oil, it is necessary to
approach temperatures on the order of 1000 to 1200F. At temperatures of this magnitude the
water of crystallization within the rock is driven off, causing the water-recovery values to be
greater than just the interstitial water.

Figure 7. Typical retort calibration curve for water

An example of such a system is illustrated in Figure 7. Here the water removed in the first 30
min was approximately the interstitial water. As the application of heat was continued, the water
of crystallization was removed, amounting to approximately 2 cc of water out of a total
recovery of 8 cc. Thus, it is seen that an error of 33 per cent is possible if the water of
crystallization is not accounted for.

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Figure 8. Typical retort calibration curve for oil

The second error which occurs from retorting samples is that the oil itself when heated to high
temperatures has a tendency to crack and coke. This change of a hydrocarbon molecule tends
to decrease the liquid volume and also in some cases coats the internal walls of the rock
sample itself. The effect of cracking and coking in a retort is shown in Figure 6, wherein 0.4 cc
of oil actually in the sample yields about 0.25 cc in the receiving vessel. Thus a fluid correction
must be made on all sample data obtained with a retort. Before retorts can be used calibration
curves must be prepared on various gravity fluids to correct for the losses from cracking and
coking with the various applied temperatures. Another correction curve can also be obtained
which correlates recovered.
The retort is a rapid method for the determination of fluid saturations, and utilizing the
corrections yields satisfactory results. It gives both water and oil volumes, so that the oil and
water saturations can be calculated from the following formulas:
Sw

water , cc
pore volume, cc

So

oil , cc
pore volume, cc

S 1 S w So
In order to obtain realistic values of fluid saturation it is necessary to choose the proper drilling
fluid or resort to correlations similar to that reported by Kennedy et al. Figure 9 show the
correlations that correlate hydrocarbon saturations before and after coring. It is noted that for
cores of 5- and 10-millidarcy permeability, the initial and final hydrocarbon saturation yields and
final hydrocarbon saturation yields an approximate straight line for initial saturations greater
than 15 per cent. Data for cores of from 127- to 3040-millidarcy permeability were correlated in
the same manner as the data for the low-permeability samples. These also resulted in a
straight-line correlation for initial hydrocarbon saturations greater than 15 per cent.

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Figure 9. Laboratory determination of fluid saturation.

Correlations such as presented in Figure 9 can be used to correct saturations measured from
cores to original conditions. Additional data are required before universal correlations can be
established.
Attempts have been made to use tracers in the drilling fluid to determine the amount of water in
the core which is due to mud filtrate invasion. The theory was that mud filtrate displaced only
oil. Thus, when the core is recovered to the surface, the salt concentration of the core water
can be determined. Knowing the salt concentration in the reservoir water and the tracer
concentration in the drilling fluid, it was thought possible to calculate the volume of filtrate and
reservoir water in the core. A large fraction of the initial reservoir water may have been
displaced by the invading filtrate, so the tracer method would give low values of reservoir water
saturation.

Determination of Fluid Saturations by Extraction with a


Solvent

Figure 10. Modified ASTM extraction apparatus

Extraction can be accomplished by a modified ASTM method or a centrifuge method. In the


standard distillation test the core is placed so that a vapor of toluene, gasoline, or naphtha rises
through the core and is condensed to reflux back over the core. This process leaches out the oil
and water in the core. The water and extracting fluid are condensed and are collected in a
graduated receiving tube. The water settles to the bottom of the receiving tube because of its
greater density, and the extracting fluid refluxes back into the main heating vessel. The process
is continued until no more water is collected in the receiving tube. The distillation apparatus is
shown in Figure 10. The water saturation can be determined directly.
Sw

water , cc
pore volume, cc

The oil saturation is an indirect determination. It is necessary to note the weight of the core
sample prior to extraction. Then, after the core has been cleaned and dried, the sample is
again weighed. The oil saturation as a fraction of pore volume is given by

So

( wt of wet core, gm wt of dry core, gm - wt of water, gm)


( porevolume , cc)(densityofoil , gm / cc)

The core can be completely cleaned in the ASTM extraction apparatus, or once all water is
removed, the remainder of the cleaning can be done in a soxhlet extractor (Figure 11). The
mechanics of the soxhlet extractor are essentially the same as the ASTM extraction apparatus

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Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

except that no receiving vessel is supplied for trapping water. The cleaning solution is
continually vaporized and condensed on the core. This action leaches out the oil and water
from the core. The ASTM extraction method does less damage to a core sample and results in
perhaps the cleanest core of any of the saturation determinations. The core sample is ready for
porosity or permeability determinations after this extraction process.
Before permeability and porosity can be measured, it is necessary to clean the core sample in
a device similar to the soxhlet extractor or one which uses centrifugal force. Thus, using the
core sample in a device is similar to the soxhlet extractor or one which uses centrifugal force.
Thus, using the ASTM distillation only one additional step is required to obtain information from
which to calculate fluid saturations in the core.

Figure 11. Soxhlet extractor

Determination of Fluid Saturations with Electric Well Logs


(Indirect)
Well logs are technique used in the oil and gas industry for recording rock and fluid properties
to find hydrocarbon zones in the geological formations. At first, the symbols which appear in
this section will be shortly described:
1.

Sw = water saturation: the percentage of the pore space filled with water (as opposed to
hydrocarbons or air).

2.

R = resistivity: the resistance to electrical current flow presented by a unit volume of rock.

3.

Rw = water resistivity: the electrical resistance of the water filling the pore space in the
rock. This value varies with water salinity and temperature.

4.

= porosity: the void space between grains that is generally filled with liquids or gases.

5.

FF: Formation Factor. The ratio between R0 of 100% saturated rock and Rw, and depends
upon the lithological characteristics of the rock and the effective porosity.

The matrix of a rock which does not contain clay is an insulator. The electrical conductivity of
this rock is due solely to the conducting network formed by the interstitial water contained in the
pores. For a given rock sample, there is a constant ratio between the resistivity R 0 of rock
100% saturated with conducting brine and the resistivity R w of this brine. This constant which
was first introduced is called Formation Factor. We have the equation of FF:

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Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

FF

Ro
Rw

(Ro resistivity of sample 100% saturated with brine whose own resistivity is Rw)
We have the Formation Factor is linked to porosity by an equation of the form:

FF

a
m

Where a and m are constants characterizing the rock (m varying from 1.3 to 2.2 and more,
depending upon the state of cementation of the reservoir).
Since oil is an electrical insulator, it can be seen the fact, that a certain quantity of water is
replaced by oil in the rock means an increase in resistivity.
Archie has shown experimentally that between the true resistivity (Rt) of the rock partially
saturated with oil, the value S of the water saturation corresponding to this resistivity and the
resistivity Ro of the rock 100% saturated with oil there is the following equation:

Sn

Ro
RR (Resistivity Ratio)
Rt

This can be written:

Sn
n

( FF ) Rw
Rt

2, if the rock is water wet,

2<n<4, if the rock is oil wet.


This equation makes it possible to obtain the in situ rock interstitial water saturation on the
basis of resistivity measurements.
If the formation is homogeneous and is visibly oil-bearing at the top and water-bearing at the
base electrical logs make it possible to determine Ro and Rt immediately

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2.2 The Use of Core-Determined Fluid Saturations


The saturation values obtained directly from rock samples are usually not reliable for
determining the quantity of each fluid in the rock. Other uses exist for fluid-saturation
determinations from core samples. Water saturations obtained from core samples cut with oilbase mud are essentially reliable. The saturations of cores cut with water-base mud are used to
determine the original oil-gas contact, original oil-water contact, and whether a sand is
productive of oil or gas.
The two tables below show these invasions in the cases of two different types of mud:
water base mud and oil base mud.
a) Variation in fluid saturation for a core between the reservoir and the surface in the case of
water base mud:

Saturation
At surface

In core barrel

In reservoir

Oil
12%
shrink
15%
flush
70%

Gas
40%
expand
0%

0%

Water
48%
expulse
85%
invade
30%

b) Variation in fluid saturation of a core between reservoir and surface in the case of oil base
mud:

Saturation
At surface
In core barrel

In reservoir

Oil
40%
shrink and expulse
70%
invade
70%

Gas
30%

0%

0%

Water
30%

30%

30%

The determination of contacts is made by carefully studying the residual oil saturations of the
cores as a function of depth. In the oil-saturated regions the samples will have essentially a
constant value for residual oil saturations, probably 15 per cent or greater. In the gas region the
oil saturation is small or vanishes. Thus the depth of the gas-oil contact is defined by a sharp
increase in oil saturation. In the water zone, the oil saturation gradually disappears with depth.
By observing these changes in oil saturation, it is possible to choose the depth of the water-oil
contact.
It is possible to establish a correlation of the water content of cores and permeability from
which it can be determined whether a formation will be productive of hydrocarbons. Such a
correlation is shown in Figure 12, wherein it can be noted that low-permeability formations with
core water saturations as high as 55 percent may be considered productive. For higher
permeability formations the upper limits of water saturations may be slightly less than 50 per
cent. Thus, from the investigation of saturation values of cores one can gather that a formation
would be productive if the water saturation in the surface samples were less than 50 per cent.

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Figure 12. Limiting values of total core water for oil and gas production

Another reason for measuring fluid saturations of surface samples is to obtain other
correlations such than direct or in direct measurements of other physical properties may also
give indications of initial fluid distributions. The measurement of electrical resistivity of the core
samples, prior to cleaning, permits correlations of electrical resistivities with other physical
properties to aid in electrical log interpretation.
Thus, in summary it is seen that although fluid-saturation determinations made on core
samples at the surface may not give a direct indication of the saturations within the reservoir,
they are of value and do yield very useful and necessary information.

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2 Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rock


Definition
In dealing with multiphase systems, it is necessary to consider the effect of the forces acting at
the interface when two immiscible fluids are in contact. When these two fluids are liquid and
gas, the interface is normally referred to as the liquid surface. All molecules are attracted one to
the other in proportion to the product of their masses and inversely as the square of the
distance between them. Considering water and oil, fluids commonly found in petroleum
reservoirs, it is found that an interfacial tension always exists between the fluids. A water
molecule which is remote from the interface is surrounded by other water molecules, thus
having a resulting net attractive force on the molecule of zero. However, a molecule at the inter
face has a force acting upon it from the oil lying immediately above the interface and water
molecules lying below the interface.
The resulting forces are unbalanced and give rise to interfacial tension. The unbalanced
attractive force between the molecules creates a membranelike surface. A certain amount of
work is required to move a water molecule from within the body of the liquid through the
interface. This work I frequently referred to as the free surface energy of the liquid. Free
surface energy, in ergs per square centimetre, may be defined as the work necessary to create
a unit area of new surface. The interfacial tension is the force per unit length required to create
a new surface. Interfacial tension and surface tension are commonly expressed in dynes per
centimetre, which is numerically equal to the surface energy in ergs per square centimetre.
Surface tension is measured in the laboratory by standard means such as a tensiometer, the
drop method.
Due to the interfacial tensions, a pressure difference exists across the interface. This pressure
is called Capillary Pressure. It is related to:

The fluid/fluid interfacial tension

The relative wettability of the fluids

The size of the capillaries

We will define local saturation (or, more briefly, saturation) for each fluid at every point in the
medium. Note that the volume element necessary to define saturation is undoubtedly greater
than that required to define porosity.
Experience shows that, in a rather large range of values for saturation of fluids 1 and 2, each
phase is continuous in the porous medium. Let us assume then that the porous block is in
equilibrium in the gravity field at a given temperature. Then, according to hydrostatic laws, the
pressure in each of the fluids depends only upon the quantity z, and we have:

dp1
1 g
dp 2

(4.1)

dp 2
2 g
dz

(4.2)

These relationships can be integrated immediately since, at a fixed temperature,

1 and 2

are known functions, respectively, of p1 and p 2 (g is the algebraic value of the acceleration
of gravity).

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Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

It is therefore easy to extend the definition of pressures p1 and p 2 to the whole space
(although only a part of the space is occupied by each of the fluids). In the case of a porous
medium in equilibrium, it is permissible, for the pressures, to consider the medium as
continuous.
Capillary pressure will then be defined at every point in the porous medium by

Pc P2 P1

(4.3)

From 4.1 and 4.2, the capillary pressure Pc is a well-defined function of the quantity z:
z

p c ( z ) p c ( z 0 ) g ( 2 1 )dz

(4.4)

z0

Capillary Forces Wettability


The fluid distribution in porous media is affected by the forces at fluid/fluid interfaces, and also
by forces at fluid/solid interfaces. Wettability is the tendency of one fluid to adhere to a solid
surface in the presence of another fluid. When two immiscible fluids are in contact with a solid
surface, one fluid is usually attracted more strongly than the other fluid. The more strongly
attracted phase is called the wetting phase.
Wettability can be determined when checking for the contact angle:

Figure 13. Wettability of fluids

The solid is considered water-wet, if the contact angle is smaller than 90. At contact angles
larger than 90, the fluid is referred to as oil-wet. Intermediate wettability occurs, when the
contact angle is close to 90 (Figure 13). By convention, contact angles are measured
through the water phase. Water-wet is that the entire rock surface of both large and small pores
is coated with water. Oil-wet is that the oil completely coats the rock surface. Intermediate
wettability tends for both oil and water to wet the rock surface.
In case of wetting fluid, the contact angle is smaller than 90. At contact angles larger than 90 ,
the fluid is referred to as non-wetting. In oil/water phase, water is wetting fluid, and oil is nonwetting fluid.

Drainage and Imbibition


When we talk about capillary pressure, drainage and imbibition will not avoid to be talked.
Depending on the wetting properties of the fluids there are essentially two different types of
displacement in two-phase flow in porous media. Drainage is the displacement of the wetting
fluid by a non-wetting fluid. In the contrary, Imbibition is the displacement of non-wetting fluid
by a wetting fluid. E.g. in water-oil displacement processes, mostly water will be the wetting
fluid.

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Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

Figure 14. Drainage and imbibition

Figure 14 shows a typical capillary pressure curve for a water-oil system in a porous rock. The
capillary pressure curve consists of two branches: a main drainage, a main imbibition.
At Sw=1, the start of the drainage, an "entrance" pressure needs to be exceeded before oil can
enter the sample. Then a plateau is reached. At decreasing water saturations, the capillary
pressure rises to very high values. This means that when oil is injected into this system, an
ever higher injection pressure is required to force the next bit of water out. The capillary
pressure goes to infinity at the connate water saturation Swr.
When the oil pressure is slowly decreased, water will spontaneously imbibe and the saturation
will increase. The capillary pressure decreases, and is in general smaller than the drainage
capillary pressure for the same saturation, an effect called capillary hysteresis. When the oil
pressure is equal to the water pressure (p c=0), the saturation reaches the spontaneous water
imbibition saturation Sor. Increasing the saturation from this point can only be accomplished by
forcing the water in. An ever higher water pressure is required to force the next bit of oil out,
until the residual oil saturation Sor has been reached. Note that pc goes to minus infinity at water
saturations near Sw=1-Sor.

Methods of measuring capillary pressure


These measurements are difficult because the progress to ward equilibrium, at which capillary
pressure is to be determined, is generally very slow. Therefore, measurements take a very long
time, and we can never be quite sure that equilibrium has been effectively established.

Desorption Method
The sample under study rests on a semi-permeable diaphragm (Figure 10) which allows the
wetting phase to flow through, but not the nonwetting phase. The wetting phase of the sample
communicates through this diaphragm with the atmosphere. The nonwetting phase bathing the
sample is maintained at constant pressure. Equilibrium is reached when the flow of the wetting
phase through the semi-permeable diaphragm stops. The pressure is then changed on the
nonwetting phase in order to determine the following equilibrium.

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Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

Figure 15. Semi-permeable diaphragm

Restored state method


If we suppose a rock sample from a field located at height h above the zero capillary level, the
pair of fluids present in the field is characterized by:

0 Specific gravity of oil


w Specific gravity of water
T = Interfacial tension of pair of fluids.
We have the capillary pressure:

PC h( w 0 ) g Const.
A meniscus radius r corresponds to this capillary pressure and this pair of fluids such that:

Pc

2T cos T
g (S w )
r
r

Group (T cos ) characterizes the pair of fluids (T) and the solid (). In order to make the
nonwetting fluid penetrate into pores with radius r with system (T, ), a pressure Pc is

Pc
Pc'

T cos T cos
necessary, while with system ( T , ) a pressure Pc is necessary. Pressures Pc and Pc
are linked by the equation:
This makes it possible to choose one pair of fluids or another in order to study pore morphology
or saturation states corresponding to various values for capillary pressure.
The relation between r and water saturation Sw is not rigorously constant if we go from one pair
to another, but it will be supposed that there is an invariable relation between Sw and r. Hence
the relation which is experimentally obtained in the laboratory between Pc and Sw can
therefore be validly transformed for the real pair by the equation:

Pc

Author: Jiyu Wang

T cos
Pc h( w 0 ) g Const.
T cos

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Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

If Pc , T ,

are known for one pair,

T , for the other pair and also w , 0 , the

following curves can be plotted:


(a) Capillary pressure in terms of water saturation (Figure 16)
(b) Or water saturation in terms of the distance h above the zero capillary level
The height h is given by the equation:

Pc Pc ( z o )
( w o )g

Figure 16. Capillary pressure curve.(restored states method).

(a) If h is counted from the zero capillary level Pc ( z o ) 0


(b) And if h is counted from the water/oil interface (water level) previously defined as

Pc ( z o ) 0

Mercury injection method (Purcell)


In this method, the non-wetting fluid used is mercury and the wetting fluid, in a manner of
speaking, is a vacuum. The sample is placed in a cell which is evacuated (Figure 17). By
means of a positive displacement pump, mercury is then injected under a predetermined
constant pressure until the mercury no longer enters the sample.
The value corresponding to the saturation in mercury is noted and the experiment is made
again with a slightly higher pressure.

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Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

Figure 17. Mercury injection method

In the case of the water/air pair where the wetting phase is displaced, there is always a path
through which circulation is possible leading to the creation of irreducible saturation in the pores
which do not participate in this circulation.
In the case of the mercury/air pair, this condition does not exist and the curves. Obtained do
not show the characteristic asymptote for irreducible saturation. The latter can perhaps be
defined by the saturation corresponding to the beginning of the rectilinear part of the curve (if
this point is marked) or, if not, to the saturation corresponding to a pressure of, for example, 10
to 15 or 20 bars depending upon the samples.
The shape of the curves obtained by plotting the equation for capillary pressure as a function of
mercury saturation expressed as a percentage of pore volume is very variable from one
sample to another (pore volume is carefully determined by an appropriate method such as
immersion in a solvent).
Figure 18 concerns a homogeneous matrix medium. The beginning of the curve corresponds
to a surface effect, i.e. the mercury has not yet definitely entered the pores. By means of a
surface correction it is clearly possible to eliminate this part. The part represented by a broken
line is then obtained.

Figure 18. Capillary pressure by mercury injection: homogeneous matrix medium

In certain cases where the pore radii are small, the P S1 threshold can be high: up to 30 bars
abs., and even more.
Figure 19 makes it possible to distinguish:

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Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

Figure 19. Capillary pressure mercury injection: medium v macropores and matrix

(a) The macropores, the part O a which are invaded under very low pressures.
(b) The pores constituting the matrix (as above) which are relatively regularly distributed. The
part ab corresponds to channels which can be used for circulation while the part bd
corresponds to the windings of the channels.
Figure 20 corresponds to the case of two homogeneous matrix media separated by an
intermediate medium, for example calcite, coating the pores. The tangential departures of the
curve from the abscissa should also be noted. This shape can be interpreted by observing that
the macropores have later been filled by another medium

Figure 20. Capillary pressure by mercury injection in the case of 2 matrix.

The speed and accuracy of this method account for the fact that it is very widely used. It is
however not suggested for very clayey samples since for a given pressure the saturation is too
high because the pores are invaded by clay.

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Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

Conversion of laboratory results


Capillary pressure measurements make in the laboratory with mercury/air or water/air pairs
must be converted for the water/oil pair which exists in the field(reservoir condition).
If we suppose that the average curvature of an interface in a rock is solely a function of fluid
saturation, the ratio of capillary pressures in the case of the mercury/air and water air pairs is:

Pc ( Hg / air )
480

6.57
Pc ( water / air ) 70
Experience has shown that we have:
(a) For limestones: a ratio of the order of 5.8
(b) For sandstones: a ratio of the order of 7.5
There is no common factor for all rocks.
In order to use the laboratory results for capillary pressures, it is necessary to convert them to
reservoir conditions. The laboratory results are obtained with a gas/water system which should
have the same physical properties as the water, oil or gas of the reservoir. Two techniques
differing only by their initial hypothesis are used for converting the laboratory capillary pressure
results for reservoir conditions:

( Pc ) reservoir

Twater / oil cos water / oil


( P 'c ) laboratory
T ' water / gas cos water / gas

or :

( Pc ) reservoir

Author: Jiyu Wang

Tres .
( P 'c ) laboratory
T 'lab.

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Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

3 Relationship between capillary pressure


and fluids saturation
Let us examine the microscopic significance of capillary pressure. At equilibrium, a difference
in pressure proportional to the curvature c of the interface exists between the two sides of the
interface separating two immiscible fluids, the stronger pressure being on the concave side:

P2 P1 cT

(4.5)

T is the interfacial tension. It is characteristic of the pair of fluids under consideration. Equation
4.5 is a special case for a fluid velocity everywhere zero.
The capillary pressure therefore depends on the curvature of the interface separating the two
fluids and on the interfacial tension. From hydrostatic equilibrium condition 7.4, the curvature of
the interface is a function of the quantity z.
In a block of porous medium sufficiently small, the influence of gravity may, on that scale, be
neglected, and the interface, in all the pores, has a constant curvature related to the value of
the capillary pressure by Equation 4.5.
This interface should, according to capillary laws, join the solid surface of the porous medium
under a definite angle , the wetting angle. If the capillary pressure is given, the interface
between the two fluids is subject to certain conditions. Its curvature is given by Equation 4.5,
and the contact angle at the points where it joins the solid surface is also given.

Figure 21. Example for the position of the interface

In some simple cases, this is sufficient to establish completely the position of the interface.
Consider, for example, the case of a conic capillary tube with an angle of 2 at the apex
(Figure 21). The interface in this tube will be spherical. If its curvature c and its angle of contact
are prescribed, its position follows immediately. The proportion of, for instance, fluid 1
contained in this pore will thus be directly related to the capillary pressure. This type of
reasoning has led to the belief that for a given porous medium there is a relationship between
capillary pressure and saturation:

p c p c ( S1 )
Examination of this simple model also shows that the pressure must be higher in the
nonwetting fluid.

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Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

Unfortunately, the preceding reasoning based upon a conic capillary tube does not immediately
apply to a porous medium with complex geometry. We can easily see that complicating the
geometry of the system even slightly (for example, by considering capillaries in the form of
truncated cones placed end to end) will reveal several different positions of interfaces, giving
different saturation values for the same capillary pressure value. We may expect, then, that the
observed experimental relationship between capillary pressure and saturation depends on how
the experiment is carried out.
This is indeed what is observed. Assume that we begin initially with a sample completely
saturated with a wetting fluid which is then very slowly replaced by a nonwetting fluid. This
experiment produces a succession of equilibrium states for increasing values of saturation in
nonwetting fluids which are very close to each other. Curve 1 (figure 22) represents the
capillary pressure/saturation in nonwetting fluid S NM relationship for the process usually called
drainage.

Figure 22. Drainage and imbibition curve in P C and Snm diagram

It will be seen that there is a certain amount of wetting fluid remaining in the sample, even
under the highest pressure; this is the irreducible saturation in a wetting fluid.
If now, beginning with the sample at irreducible saturation in a wetting fluid, we slowly displace
the nonwetting fluid with a wetting fluid, we obtain curve 2 of Figure 22. This process is called
imbibition. Note that, for a zero capillary pressure, some saturation remains in a nonwetting
fluid. This is the residual saturation in this fluid.
Imbibitions can also be conducted beginning with a state represented by an point on the
drainage curve (dotted curves in figure 22), or drainages beginning at points on the imbibition
curve (broken curves). Thus any point in the area lying between the drainage and imbibition
curves may represent an equilibrium state. Note, however, that for slight saturations in a
nonwetting fluid, the drainage curve may represent a state where the fluid is not uniformly
distributed in the sample, i.e., only the surface of the sample may be reached by the nonwetting fluid because the saturation in this fluid is insufficient to allow it to create a path to the
center.
In practice, we assume that phenomenon studied leads to either a drainage or an imbibition,
and that, as a result, the relationship between capillary pressure and saturation is well
established.

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Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

Summary
On the basis of this bakk. Thesis, The following conclusion is offered:
1. Laboratory technique has been developed to measure the capillary pressure and
fluid saturation from rock sample or rock logs under different equipment. But it is
a little difference between the value on the stand condition and the reservoir
condition. So the correction factor is searched and given to convert the
laboratory condition to field condition.
2. Drainage and imbibition curve show that the direct relation between wetting fluid
saturation and capillary pressure: with the increasing of capillary pressure, the
fluid saturation decreases that following drainage curve. In the country, with the
decreasing of capillary pressure, the fluid saturation increases that following
imbibition curve.
3. The results of microscopic significance indicate that the interfacial area between
fluid phases per volume of porous medium becomes a well-defined macroscopic
property at an averaging volume similar to that of saturation. Simulated
immiscible displacement experiments were performed to explore how the
interfacial area between fluid phases changes during imbibition and drainage in
two-fluid system.

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Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

References
2

[1]........ reference from http://leeric.isu.edu/bgbb/4/rocus.html

E. Niesner u. F. Weber: Geophysikalishe Bohrlochmessungen(Deutsch),OEH


Leoben,1997

Robert P. Monicard: Properties of reservoir rocks: Core analysis, 1980 Editions


Technip, Paris

Charles M. Marle: Multiphase flow in porous media, 1981 editions Technip, Paris

James W. Amyx: Petroleum reservoir engineering - Physical Properties, McGrawHill,1960

John C. Calhoun,JR: Fundamentals of reservoir engineering, Revised edition


copyright 1953

William D. McCain: The properties of Petroleum fluids second edition, Pennwalt


books, Oklahoma,1990

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Saturation and Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rocks

Nomenclature
.....Porosity

VP ...Total volume of rock [m]


VT ...Porous volume of rock [m]

Sw ...Water saturation
So ...Oil saturation
S wr ..Residual water saturation

R .....Resistivity
Rw ....Water resistivity

FF ...Formation Factor
Pc ......Capillary pressure [psi]

0 .....Density of oil [kg/m]

w .....Density of water [kg/m]

T .......Interfacial tension of pair of fluids

c ........Constant for curvature

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