Invasion Percolation on Correlated and Elongated Lattices: Implications for the Interpretation of Residual Saturations in Rock Cores

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The invasion percolation model is used to investigate the effect of correlated heterogeneity on capillary dominated displacements in porous media. The breakthrough and residual saturations are shown to be strongly influenced by the correlations. Correlated heterogeneity leads to lower residual saturations than those observed in random systems and the scatter commonly observed in laboratory core measurements of the residual saturations can be attributed to the presence of such heterogeneity at the pore scale. Invasion percolation computations on elongated lattices, those with a geometry of Ld−1 × nL where n denotes the aspect ratio, show that residual saturations for systems with correlated heterogeneity exhibit a strong dependence on aspect ratio. This effect is not considered by experimentalists who advocate the use of long (high aspect ratio) cores in order to overcome “end-effects” in experiments on shorter cores. A new scaling law is proposed for the residual saturations in elongated systems with correlated heterogeneity, and is confirmed by numerical simulations.

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