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How Does the Pore-Throat Size Control the Reservoir Quality and Oiliness of Tight Sandstones?


Pore-throat size is a very crucial factor controlling the reservoir quality and oiliness of tight sandstones, which primarily affects rock-properties such as permeability and drainage capillary pressure. However, the wide range of size makes it difficult to understand their distribution characteristics as well as the specific controls on reservoir quality and oiliness. In order to better understand about pore-throat size distribution, petrographic, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), pressure-controlled mercury injection (PMI), rate-controlled mercury injection (RMI), quantitative grain fluorescence (QGF) and environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) investigations under laboratory pressure conditions were performed on a suite of tight reservoir from the fourth member of the Lower Cretaceous Quantou Formation in the southern Songliao Basin, China. The pore-throat sizes vary from nano- to micro-scale. The PMI technique views the pore-throat size ranging from 0.001 μm to 63 μm and revealed that the pore-throats with radius larger than 1.0 μm are rare and the pore-throat size distribution curves show evident fluctuations. RMI measurements indicated that the pore size distribution characteristics of the samples with different porosity and permeability values look similar. The throat size and pore throat radius ratio distribution curves had however significant differences. The permeability is mainly contributed by a small part of larger pore-throats (less than 30%) and the ratio of the smaller pore-throats in the samples increases with decreasing permeability. Although smaller pore-throats have negligible contribution on reservoir flow potential, they are very significant for the reservoir storage capacity. The pore-throats with average radius larger than 1.0 μm mainly exist in reservoirs with permeability higher than 0.1mD. When the permeability is lower than 0.1mD, the sandstones are mainly dominated by pore-throats with average radius from 0.1 μm to 1.0 μm. We suggest that splitting or organizing key parameters defining permeability systematically into different classes or functions can enhance the ability of formulating predictive models about permeability in tight sandstone reservoirs. The PMI combined with QGF analyses indicate that oil emplacement mainly occurred in the pore-throats with radius larger than about 0.25–0.3 μm. This result is supported by the remnant oil micro-occurrence evidence observed by SEM and ESEM.