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Oil-Water Systems

Consider displacement of oil by water in an inclined layer, consisting of a

homogeneous porous media, as shown below, where gravity plays an important role:

In this system, where the oil-water interface per definition is strongly influenced by

gravity, we may identify two limiting cases; one where the injection rate is so low that

the interface is horizontal (a), and one where the injection rate is so high that the

interface is becoming parallel to the layer (b).

For the low rate, the displacement is completely gravity stable, while the displacement

in the high-rate case clearly is unstable, since the water is advancing along the bottom

of the layer, bypassing the oil. In a paper in 1955, Dietz1 proposed a method for

analyzing the stability of this particular system. He made the following simplifying

assumptions:

2.

3.

4.

5.

piston displacement of oil by water

oil-water capillary pressure may be neglected

compressibility effects of rock and fluids may be neglected

The next step is to make a pressure balance on the interface between oil and water.

Enlarging a portion of the interface, and drawing a parallelogram with corners labeled

A, B, C and D, we have the following schematic representation of the system:

Edge Water, Akad. van Wetenschappen, Amsterdam, Proc. V.56-B:83, 1953

Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Department of Petroleum Engineering and Applied Geophysics

18.9.14

Hand-out note 5: Dietz Stability Analysis

z

x

x

B

Here, the oil-water interface is represented by a straight line, having an angle with the

layer, and an angle with the horizontal plane. Next, Dietz made a pressure balance at

the interface:

pressures may be written:

PB = PA + (AB) w gcos = PA + z w gcos

PC = PD + (CD) o gcos = PD + z o gcos

Along the direction of flow, Darcys equation may be applied, assuming only

water flowing behind the oil-water interface, and only oil flowing ahead of the

interface:

kk ro A dP

(

+ o gsin )

o dx

kk A dP

q = rw (

+ w gsin )

w dx

q=

or

(only water flowing)

kk ro A PD PA

(

+ o gsin )

o

x

kk A P PB

q = rw ( C

+ o gsin )

w

x

q=

Department of Petroleum Engineering and Applied Geophysics

18.9.14

Hand-out note 5: Dietz Stability Analysis

Since tan =

z

, we may combine these 4 equations, so that:

x

tan =

1 M e

+ tan ,

M e N ge cos

Here, the end point gravity number for an oil-water system is defined as

N ge =

kro Ak( w o )g

o

qinj

k k

M e = rw ro

w o

The Dietz stability equation relates the angle of the oil-water interface to the angle of

the layer. Clearly, if the interface is horizontal, the displacement is stable, and in fact, as

long as the interface remains at an angle greater than zero with the layer, one may claim

that the displacement is stable. The Dietz stability criterion is therefore defined as:

>0

Applying this criterion to the equation above, we get the following requirement for

stability:

1 M e

+ tan > 0

M e N ge cos

As may be seen, if M e < 1, the stability requirement is always fulfilled. However, if

M e > 1, the stability is conditional, ie. the displacement is stable for only a range of the

displacement velocity. Rewriting the expression, we get:

tan >

M e 1

.

M e N ge cos

Substituting and rearranging, we obtain the following expression for the maximum fluid

velocity allowed for stable displacement when M e > 1:

uwinj <

/ w ) ow gsin

k( k rw

M e 1

Thus, if the velocity exceeds the critical velocity, the oil-water interface becomes

parallel to the layer.

Department of Petroleum Engineering and Applied Geophysics

18.9.14

Hand-out note 5: Dietz Stability Analysis

Gas-Oil Systems

In displacement of oil by gas injection at the top, we may make a similar discussion.

The gas-oil interface will be strongly influenced by gravity, and we may again identify

the two limiting cases, with very low and very high injection rates:

rate

For the low rate, gas-oil contact remains horizontal, and for the high rate case gas will

advance along the top of the reservoir. The assumptions are similar to the oil-water

case:

1)

2)

3)

4)

piston displacement of oil by gas

gas-oil capillary pressure may be neglected

compressibility effects of rock and fluids may be neglected

z

x

B

Department of Petroleum Engineering and Applied Geophysics

18.9.14

Hand-out note 5: Dietz Stability Analysis

Vertically:

PC = PD + (CD) g gcos = PD + z g gcos

kk ro A dP

(

o gsin )

o dx

kk A dP

q = rg (

g gsin )

g dx

q=

or

q=

kk rg A PA PD

(

g gsin )

g

x

q=

kk ro A PB PC

(

o gsin )

o

x

(only gas flowing)

Combining the 4 equations, the Dietz stability equation for gas displacement of oil

becomes:

tan =

1 M e

+ tan ,

M e N ge cos

which is identical to the one for the oil-water system. However, the parameters involved

have different definitions.

End-point gravity number for oil-gas is defined as

N ge =

kro Ak( o g )g

o

q

k k

M e = rg ro

g o

Again applying the Dietz stability criterion, > 0 , to the equation above, we get the

requirement for stability:

1 M e

+ tan > 0

M e N ge cos

Department of Petroleum Engineering and Applied Geophysics

18.9.14

Hand-out note 5: Dietz Stability Analysis

However, in the case of a gas-oil system, the mobility ratio is never less than 1. Thus,

the stability of the gas-oil interface is always only conditionally stable; the stability

requirement is always fulfilled. For M e > 1:

tan >

M e 1

,

M e N ge cos

uginj <

k( k rg / g ) og gsin

M e 1

Clearly, since the gas mobility is much higher than the water mobilty, the maximum

displacement velocity of gas injection by the Dietz formula is less than the maximum

displacement velocity of water:

uginj <

k( k rg / g ) og gsin

M eog 1

uwinj <

/ w ) ow gsin

k( k rw

M eow 1

Taking the ratio of the two maximum velocities (for M eow > 1):

uginj og M eog ( M eow 1)

=

uwinj ow M eow ( M eog 1)

For a typical North Sea field, the parameters involved may be:

o = 0.7

o = 1

kro = 0.8

= 0.5

w = 1 w = 0.5 krw

g = 0.2 g = 0.02 krg = 0.8

= 7o

k =1

Thus,

og

= 1.67

ow

M eog = 50

M eow = 1.25

and the critical velocities are:

Department of Petroleum Engineering and Applied Geophysics

18.9.14

Hand-out note 5: Dietz Stability Analysis

uwinj 12.4 cm /day

uginj

= 0.34

uwinj

Based on this calculation, water injection is a better alternative than gas injection, since it

is stable for higher velocities. However, experience from gas injection projects in the

North Sea indicates that gas injection projects are successful at injection velocities higher

than the calculated maximum Dietz velocity. Probably, one reason for this is that there are

miscibility effects at the oil-gas interface that make the displacement front more stable.

Another reason may be that the assumptions behind the Dietz analysis are not valid for the

fields in question.

Department of Petroleum Engineering and Applied Geophysics

18.9.14

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