Experimental Investigation of the Effect of Oil on Steady-State Foam Flow in Porous Media

Jinyu Tang, Sebastien Vincent-Bonnieu, William R. Rossen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Foam flow in porous media without oil shows two regimes depending on foam quality (gas fractional flow). Complexity and limited data on foam/oil interactions in porous media greatly restrict understanding of foam in contact with oil. Distinguishing which regimes are affected by oil is key to modeling the effect of oil on foam. We report steady-state corefloods to investigate the effect of oil on foam through its effect on the two flow regimes. We fit the parameters of a widely used local-equilibrium (LE) foam model to data for concurrent foam/oil flow. This research provides a practical approach and initial data for simulating foam enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in the presence of oil. To ensure steady state, oil is coinjected with foam at a fixed ratio of oil (U o ) to water (U w ) superficial velocities in a Bentheimer Sandstone core. Model oils used here consist of a composition of hexadecane, which is benign to foam stability, and oleic acid (OA), which can destroy foam. Varying the concentration of OA in the model oil allows one to examine the effect of oil composition on steady-state foam flow. Experimental results show that oil affects both high- and low-quality regimes, with the high-quality regime being more sensitive to oil. In particular, oil increases the limiting water saturation (S w ) in the high-quality regime and also reduces gas-mobility reduction in the low-quality regime. Unevenly spaced !p contours in the high-quality regime suggest either strongly shear-thinning behavior or an increasingly destabilizing effect of oil. In some cases, the pressure gradient (!p) in the low-quality regime decreases with increasing U w at fixed gas superficial velocity (U g ), either with or without oil. This might reflect either an effect of oil, if oil is present, or easier flow of bubbles under wetter conditions. Increasing the OA concentration extends the high-quality regime to lower foam qualities, indicating more difficulty in stabilizing foam. Thus, oil composition plays as significant a role as oil saturation (S o ). A model fit assuming a fixed S w and including shear thinning in the low-quality regime does not represent the two regimes when the oil effect is strong enough. In such cases, fitting S w to each !p contour and excluding shear thinning in the low-quality regime yield a better match to these data. The dependency of S w on S o is not yet clear because of the absence of oil-saturation data in this study. Furthermore, none of the current foam-simulation models captures the upward-tilting !p contours in the low-quality regime.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberSPE-194015-PA
Pages (from-to)140-157
Number of pages18
JournalSPE Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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