The Origins of Inter-Facial Tension and Implication on the Wettability of Carbonate Oil Reservoirs
Jan J. Buiting
The distribution of water saturation within an oil reservoir is of paramount importance for hydrocarbon volume, reserves and production assessment. Inter-facial interactions between oil, brine and rock determine the fluid saturations and distributions within the pore system. Only two fundamental electrostatic forces, acting between neutral molecules, are responsible for all of these interactions, i.e. the dispersive and the polar forces. It will be demonstrated that the latter interaction is the dominant force field for all the interactions at the interfaces with water and control the capillarity of an oil reservoir. These molecular forces determine the inter-facial tension between crudes and brines (σ) and the contact angle (ө) between the liquids’ interface and the surface of the rock. The resulting quantity σ.cos(ө) is the effective capillary stress resisting the buoyancy of the penetrating oil and strongly determines the ultimate amount of oil in the pores. Experimental work on these quantities has not progressed greatly over the last decennia, in particular for those related to carbonate reservoirs. In this presentation the physics related to intra-molecular attraction and the resulting inter-facial interaction is analysed. For example it will be shown that the gases dissolved in the crudes greatly affect the electrostatic properties of the crudes, effectively reducing the interactions with the brines and reservoir rocks. Moreover, it will be demonstrated that, owing to the properties of the carbonate rocks, the σ.cos(ө) values for carbonate oil reservoirs could be substantially lower than for clastic reservoirs. All these conclusions affect the apparent wettability of the reservoirs, with possible far-reaching consequences for reserves and production.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90077©2008 GEO 2008 Middle East Conference and Exhibition, Manama, Bahrain