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Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 7205260, 8 pages
Research Article

Mechanistic Studies of Gravity-Assisted Water Flooding in a Thick Heavy Oil Reservoir through Horizontal Injectors Using Three-Dimensional Physical Model

1Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute, China University of Petroleum, No. 18 Fuxue Road, Beijing 102249, China
2PetroChina Tarim Oilfield Company, Korla 841000, China
3Exploration & Development Research Institute, Liaohe Oilfield Ltd. Co., Panjin, Liaoning 124010, China

Received 29 April 2016; Revised 14 July 2016; Accepted 18 August 2016

Academic Editor: Gerardo Severino

Copyright © 2016 Debin Kong 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.


Laboratory experiments were conducted to investigate the mechanism(s) of water flood with horizontal injection wells. The experiment was performed using a three-dimensional (3D) physical model made by artificial sandstone of the dimension of 60 cm × 30 cm × 5 cm. The saturation profile of oil and water phases was monitored by measuring the electrical resistivity using microelectrodes. It is difficult to model a field-scale gravity-assisted water flood process in the laboratory as the gravity force is very small in the physical model. In this paper, similarity criteria, dimensional analysis, and π principle were used to design the model parameters. We found that the ratios of gravity force to production pressure differential, capillary force, and viscous force are the three most important similarity criteria. Based on dimensional analysis, both capillary and viscous forces were designed in the physical model to represent the capillary and bond number in the reservoir conditions. Hence, in physical model, rock permeability of 6 darcies was selected to reduce the capillary force and the fluid viscosity of 583 cp was selected to reduce the viscous force based on calculation. The use of horizontal injection well can improve the sweep efficiency by 17.2%, compared with the case of vertical injection well. To determine the optimal driving force, the ratio of gravity force and production pressure differential was varied from 1 : 1 to 1 : 16. The experiment has shown that the ratio of 1 : 8 yields the highest heavy oil recovery (44.04%).