Liquid permeability determination from vacuum imbibition in tight/shale core plugs
Energy & Fuels
Centre for Sustainable Energy and Resources / School of Engineering
NSERC Alliance Grant / CNPC Innovation Fund / China Postdoctoral Science Foundation / National Natural Science Foundation of China / Open Research Foundation
Liquid permeability is a key petrophysical parameter that quantifies the ability of a liquid to flow through porous rock/soil and can be used in determining the efficiency of many subsurface processes, including enhanced hydrocarbon recovery, groundwater transport, carbon dioxide geostorage, underground hydrogen storage, etc. However, it is time-consuming (usually > 16-240 h) and challenging to measure the liquid permeability for tight/shale rocks, particularly when the permeability is 100 nD or lower. The objective of this study is to develop a rapid and simple approach to determine liquid (brine or oil) permeability in tight siltstones/shales. Specifically, the developed method is based on the combination of one-dimensional (1D) vacuum imbibition experiments in tight/shale core plugs and a modified Lucas-Washburn model. For our proof-of-concept study, the results have demonstrated that (1) only 44-116 h are required to determine the liquid permeability (98-608 nD) for the analyzed samples from the Montney and Yanchang Formations; and (2) the acquired brine permeability was 28.3-28.5% lower than the slip-corrected nitrogen (N2) permeability derived from the pulse-decay permeability tests. This is the first attempt to determine the absolute permeability of a liquid according to a 1D vacuum imbibition experiment and theory. This study provides a promising technique for the fast characterization of ultratight formation permeability of around 100 nD.