Drainage and imbibition relative permeabilities at near miscible conditions

Y. M. Al-Wahaibi*, C. A. Grattoni, A. H. Muggeridge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


The changes in gas and oil relative permeabilities as miscibility is approached are of particular importance in multi-contact miscible displacements. These changes are a function of the detailed phase behaviour of the fluids and their physical properties as well as the properties of the porous medium itself. In this work, we investigate the behaviour of two-phase drainage and imbibition relative permeability curves of four, different, equilibrated fluid pairs from a three component, two-phase system (cyclohexene, isopropyl alcohol and water) that exhibits a critical point at ambient conditions. The tie-lines of these fluid pairs are at varying distances from the system's critical point. Equilibrium phase compositions and interfacial tensions (IFT) were determined for each of the four fluid pairs. Dynamic displacements were then performed in a linear two dimensional, bead-pack. Unsteady state, drainage and imbibition relative permeabilities were determined for the various pre-equilibrated mixtures. The experimental results show a clear change in relative permeability as the fluid pairs approach the critical point. As the interfacial tension decreases the non-wetting phase relative permeability increases more rapidly than the wetting phase relative permeability and hysteresis becomes less important. Two correlations [Coats, K.H., 1980. An equation of state compositional model: SPE J, 20 (5): 363-376.; Whitson, C.H., and Fevang, Ø., 1997. Generalized pseudo pressure well treatment in reservoir simulation. In Proc., IBC Conference on Optimization of Gas Condensate Fields.], commonly used to model the changes in relative permeability with interfacial tension, and the development of miscibility, were compared with the experimental data. The Coats correlation, which uses a single adjustable parameter to model the changes in both relative permeabilities and residual oil saturation as a direct function of the IFT, yielded an unacceptable match to the experimentally determined fractional flow. However the Whitson-Fevang correlation, which relates the changes in relative permeability to the capillary number using two adjustable weighting functions, presents a satisfactory match.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-253
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Petroleum Science and Engineering
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006


  • Drainage
  • Imbibition
  • Interfacial tension
  • Miscibility
  • Relative permeability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fuel Technology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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