Foam generation by capillary snap-off in flow across a sharp permeability transition

Swej Shah (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a workshop, seminar, course or other meeting


Foam reduces gas mobility and can improve sweep efficiency in an enhanced-oil-recovery process. Previous studies show that foam can be generated in porous media by exceeding a critical velocity or pressure gradient. Such pressure gradients are typically encountered only near a well and therefore, it is uncertain whether foam can propagate far from wells. Theoretical studies show that foam can be generated independent of pressure gradient during flow across an abrupt increase in permeability. In subsurface flow, such sharp permeability changes occur across different length scales. Laminations and cross-laminations, for example, are commonly found small-scale features, whereas unconformities, including layer boundaries and erosional surfaces, are field-scale features that are associated with sharp permeability contrasts across them. In this study, we validate theoretical predictions of foam generation through a variety of experimental evidence. We perform coreflood experiments involving simultaneous injection of gas and surfactant solution at field-like velocities into a model consolidated porous medium made of sintered glass. The core has a well-characterized, sharp permeability transition achieved by sintering glass of different grain sizes. Pressure gradient is measured across several sections of the core to identify foam-generation events and the subsequent propagation of foam. X-ray computerized tomography (CT) provides dynamic images of the coreflood in the form of phase saturations as they develop through the experiment. We investigate the effects of the magnitude of the permeability change and injected gas fractional flow on foam generation and mobilization.
Period14 Apr 2018
Event titleSPE Improved Oil Recovery Conference 2018
Event typeConference
LocationTulsa, United States, Oklahoma
Degree of RecognitionInternational