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Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 1958463, 10 pages
Research Article

Effect of Flow Direction on Relative Permeability Curves in Water/Gas Reservoir System: Implications in Geological CO2 Sequestration

1Center for Integrative Petroleum Research, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran 31261, Saudi Arabia
2Petroleum Engineering Department, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran 31261, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence should be addressed to Abdulrauf Rasheed Adebayo; as.ude.mpufk@fuarludba

Received 29 March 2017; Revised 24 May 2017; Accepted 12 June 2017; Published 26 July 2017

Academic Editor: Weon Shik Han

Copyright © 2017 Abdulrauf Rasheed Adebayo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The effect of gravity on vertical flow and fluids saturation, especially when flow is against gravity, is not often a subject of interest to researchers. This is because of the notion that flow in subsurface formations is usually in horizontal direction and that vertical flow is impossible or marginal because of the impermeable shales or silts overlying them. The density difference between two fluids (usually oil and water) flowing in the porous media is also normally negligible; hence gravity influence is neglected. Capillarity is also often avoided in relative permeability measurements in order to satisfy some flow equations. These notions have guided most laboratory core flooding experiments to be conducted in horizontal flow orientation, and the data obtained are as good as what the experiments tend to mimic. However, gravity effect plays a major role in gas liquid systems such as CO2 sequestration and some types of enhanced oil recovery techniques, particularly those involving gases, where large density difference exists between the fluid pair. In such cases, laboratory experiments conducted to derive relative permeability curves should take into consideration gravity effects and capillarity. Previous studies attribute directional dependence of relative permeability and residual saturations to rock anisotropy. It is shown in this study that rock permeability, residual saturation, and relative permeability depend on the interplay between gravity, capillarity, and viscous forces and also the direction of fluid flow even when the rock is isotropic. Rock samples representing different lithology and wide range of permeabilities were investigated through unsteady-state experiments covering drainage and imbibition in both vertical and horizontal flow directions. The experiments were performed at very low flow rates to capture capillarity. The results obtained showed that, for each homogeneous rock and for the same flow path along the core length, the relative permeability and residual saturation are dependent on flow direction. The results were reproducible in all experiments conducted on the samples. This directional dependence, when accounted for in numerical simulation, can significantly improve simulation accuracy in the flow processes described.