Project Description

Project Title: Relative Permeability for Offshore Enhanced Oil Recovery
Prime Performer: National Energy Technology Laboratory
Project Duration: 2019-2022


Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is becoming a key technique in offshore oil production that helps to maximize the oil reserves recovered. It is an important tool for oil production firms who want to maintain production and increase the returns on older investments. Accurately modeling the movement of multiple fluids in an EOR project is vital to understanding the ability to increase the natural resource production from these reservoirs.

In order to model EOR (and many other subsurface activities), accurate descriptions of how fluids migrate in the subsurface is required. Relative permeability (kr) curves are the standard mathematical description of multi-phase fluid transport in geologic formations for reservoir modeling. However, while generic relative permeability curves can be applied to reservoir scale EOR simulations to develop models, these curves result in a higher level of uncertainty in the model due to the uncustomized nature of the curves. Specifically, how the migration of multiple fluids through these formations varies, due to depositional environments, fluids, and flow rates, which results in model uncertainty. By focusing efforts on development of kr curves of gas/oil and water/oil through various key offshore environments, and providing this data to modelers, this effort will reduce uncertainty in offshore EOR applications. Reducing uncertainty can lead to increased production efficiency and lower operational costs.


Year 1 of this project will focus on developing capabilities and examining parameter space, building on the Fossil Energy (FE) Coal kr tool for CO2 storage parameter determination by calculating kr of water/oil and gas/oil in relevant offshore formations. Year 2 of this project will focus on examining range of flow rates, injection fluids, and formation types, with the goal of creating a useful tool for a range of offshore EOR applications. The end of year 2 should result in a beta version of this tool for industry review. Year 3 will focus on completing testing of flow/fluid/formation conditions, populating the tool with data, and releasing the tool on EDX.

Expected Outcome

This project will result in a set of kr curves and the understanding of how they vary with different depositional environments, fluids, and flow rates. These curves will allow for the development of a modeling tool to assist with EOR, ultimately reducing uncertainty in real world offshore EOR applications. In addition, all data used to obtain these parameters will be freely available for reinterpretation by industry.

Research Products

Research products are being developed and will be posted here when publicly available.

Explore research products that are related to this project.

Medical CT Scanner

*Image Source: NETL

NETL’s Medical CT scanner with carbon-fiber wrapped Hassler style core holder used to perform the relative permeability measures in this task.

*Image Source: NETL

Core from the offshore well COST
GE-1, characterized using computed tomography in 2019.


Dustin Crandall Principal Investigator Research & Innovation Center National Energy Technology Laboratory

Kelly Rose Offshore Portfolio Lead

Roy Long Offshore Portfolio Technical Manager Effective Resource Development

Grant Bromhal Senior Fellow Geological & Environmental Systems

Philip Reppert Associate Director Geological & Environmental Systems

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