AAPG Middle East Region Geoscience Technology Workshop:
3rd Edition Carbonate Reservoirs of the Middle East

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Digital Rock Technology Accelerates Carbonate Rock Laboratory Analysis – A Case Study from Northern Iraq


This presentation describes an application of combined experimental and digital technology workflow for field appraisal. It includes the description of heterogeneous low permeability “X” oil field located in the southeastern part of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and its field development planning (FDP) challenges. An integrated laboratory study of low permeability carbonate reservoir rocks (dolomitic limestones) included a digital rock (DR) workflow that accelerated the time to complete core analysis program while bringing vital information about the pore-scale flow dynamics. The DR workflow combined high-resolution digital rock imaging, digital fluid models of reservoir brine and live oil samples, detailed wettability model for sample aging and boundary conditions in digital coreflood experiments. DR imaging spanned from micro-CT for meso- and micropores to high-resolution SEM imaging of submicrometer porosity. Direct HydroDynamic flow simulator was used to model multiphase flow in digital experiments by solving equations of the density functional hydrodynamics (DFH). Samples were prepared for DR analysis and their representativeness was verified by obtaining routine properties of original plugs, trims, and mini-plugs selected for high-resolution DR imaging. We established the routine core analysis (RCA) properties of samples using DR and compared them with experimental data. Porous plate digital experiments were performed to obtain air-brine capillary pressure curves on all samples, with DR data verification with laboratory data on selected samples. A set of steady-state (SS) relative permeability digital experiments were then performed with live fluids at reservoir conditions. DR models were first fully saturated with brine and then desaturated to water saturation that matched reservoir water saturation estimated from well logs. The SS cycle was performed after extended aging to establish a mixed-wet condition. SS relative permeability curves were obtained for all studied samples. DR modeling enabled looking at the dynamic changes of phase saturation in pores and significantly accelerated the laboratory program by performing porous plate tests 100-500 times faster and SS tests 20-50 times faster than conventional analysis using live fluids at pressure and temperature conditions surpassing operating ranges of laboratory equipment. The comprehensive combined study (both laboratory tests and DR analysis) results determined the reservoir flow properties within the entire permeability range. It allowed to reduce uncertainties in predicting production levels, improved the forecast quality of the hydrodynamic model and reduced the difference between the minimum and maximum estimates of geological and recoverable reserves.