Characterizing Disproportionate Permeability Reduction Using Synchrotron X-Ray Computed Microtomography

R. S. Seright, J. Liang, W. Brent Lindquist, John H. Dunsmuir

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

6 Scopus citations


X-ray computed microtomography was used to investigate why gels reduce permeability to water more than that to oil in strongly water-wet Berea sandstone and in an oil-wet porous polyethylene core. Although the two porous media had very different porosities (22% versus 40%), the distributions of pore sizes and aspect ratios were similar. A Cr(III)-acetate-HPAM gel caused comparable oil and water permeability reductions in both porous media. In both cores, the gel reduced permeability to water by a factor 80 to 90 times more than that to oil. However, the distributions of water and oil saturations (versus pore size) were substantially different before, during, and after gel placement. The disproportionate permeability reduction appeared to occur by different mechanisms in the two porous media. In Berea, gel caused disproportionate permeability reduction by trapping substantial volumes of oil that remained immobile during water flooding. With this high trapped oil saturation, water was forced to flow through narrow films, through the smallest pores, and through the gel itself. In contrast, during oil flooding, oil pathways remained relatively free from constriction by the gel. In the polyethylene core, oil trapping did not contribute significantly to the disproportionate permeability reduction. Instead, oil films and a relatively small number of pore pathways provided conduits for the oil. For reasons yet to be understood, the small pore pathways appeared largely unavailable for water flow.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2001
EventProceedings of the 2001 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition - New Orleans, LA, United States
Duration: Sep 30 2001Oct 3 2001


ConferenceProceedings of the 2001 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew Orleans, LA


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