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Abstract: Hydrocarbon-Water-Rock Interaction: Redox Reaction as a Mechanism for Sandstone Reservoir Porosity Enhancement

Mamdouh A. Shebl, Ronald C. Surdam

Experiments evaluated the potential for and extent of oil-water-rock reactions in hydrocarbon reservoirs. Results indicate not only that significant potential exists for redox reactions between oxidized mineral phases and crude oil, but that such reactions can significantly alter porosity and permeability characteristics of a clastic hydrocarbon reservoir.

The red (oxidized) sandstones used in the redox experiments initially contained 10 to 25% carbonate, anhydrite, and intergranular clay cements. Porosity ranged from 6 to 15%. The sandstones were gray or white after experimentation, and porosity increased 12 to 20% over original values, primarily due to carbonate dissolution.

It is suggested that during the redox experiments, the iron oxides (± sulphate) were reduced and hydrocarbon was oxidized to produce oxygenated organic compounds (e.g., organic acid anions, CO2). These redox reaction products destabilized the carbonate cements and enhanced sandstone porosity. It is concluded that redox reactions involving crude oil and the mineral matrix of these reservoir rocks in the presence of H2O do occur and may result in significantly enhanced porosity.

Hydrocarbon emplacement and the resultant redox reactions can cause bleaching and changes in porosity and permeability. This relationship is well documented in the Wingate, White Rim, and Tensleep sandstones. The hydrocarbon reservoir units are white to gray and have good porosity and permeability. The adjacent non-reservoir units are red (due to hematite staining), and have good carbonate cementation and poor porosity and permeability, confining hydrocarbon flow to the nearby reservoir units or associated fractures.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90959©1995 AAPG Rocky Mountain Section Meeting, Reno, Nevada