Experimental Study of Foam Flooding in Low Permeability Sandstones: Effects of Rock Permeability and Microscopic Heterogeneity

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Southwest Petroleum University, China

2 Research institute of Petroleum Engineering, Northwest Oilfield Company, Sinopec,China



Foam flooding (or injection of foam) is a common technology to enhance oil recovery. Although the effects of permeability on foam flooding were well studied in many laboratory experiments, little research has been focused on the specificity of low permeability. In this paper, a series of constant-quality nitrogen foam flow experiments were conducted to investigate the effects of permeability on the foam performance and oil displacement efficiency. Moreover, the results indicated that foam can be generated in low permeability porous media. With uniform experimental conditions, the higher permeability core has a bigger recovery amplification and greater decreasing range of water cut decline. Furthermore, the effect of microscopic heterogeneities of low permeability reservoir on foam displacement is considered. Moreover, experimental comparative analysis with different microscopic heterogeneity cores showed that, in low permeability condition, homogeneous porous media has a better prospects of oil-displacement. Finally, in this work, the results of the permeability effects on the foam performance and oil displacement efficiency exemplify a potential to apply the technology to low permeability reservoir.


Yaghoobi H. and Heller J. P., “Effect of Capillary Contact on CO2-Foam Mobility in Heterogeneous Core Samples,” Society of Petroleum Engineers, SPE-35169-MS, 1996.

Thiele M. R. , Batycky R. P. , Blunt M. J., and Orr F. M., “Simulating Flow in Heterogeneous Systems Using Streamtubes and Streamlines,” SPE Reservoir Engineering, 1996, 11, 5-12.

Prud Homme R. K. and Khan S. A., “Foams: Theory, Measurements and Applications,” New York: Marcel Dekker, 1996, 15-16.

Boud Donald C. and Holbrook O. C., “Gas Drive Oil Recovery Process,” US, US2866507, 1956.

Bernard George G. and Holm L. W., “Effect of Foam on Permeability of Porous Media to Gas,” Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal, 1964, 4, 267-274.

Fried Arthur N., “Foam-Drive Process for Increasing the Recovery of Oil,” Technical Report Archive and Image Library, 1960, 71-76.

Bikerman J. J., “General. Foam Films,” Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 1973, 1-32.

Hou Q., Zhu Y., Luo, Y., and Weng R., “Studies On Nitrogen Foam Flooding For Conglomerate Reservoir,” Society of Petroleum Engineers, SPE-152010-MS, 2012.

Veeningen D., Zitha P., and Kruijsdijk C. P. J. W. V., “Understanding Foam Flow Physics: The Role of Permeability,” Society of Petroleum Engineers, 38197-MS, 1997.

Rossen W. R., and Lu. Q., “Effect of Capillary Crossflow on Foam Improved Oil Recovery,” SPE Western Regional Meeting, SPE-38319-MS, 1997.

Kibodeaux K. R., Zeilinger S. C., and Rossen W. R., “Sensitivity Study of Foam Diversion Processes for Matrix Acidization,” SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, SPE-28550-MS, 1994.

Aarra M. G. and Skauge A., “Foams for GOR Control-Improved Stability by Polymer Additives,” EAGE 9th European Symposium on Improved Oil Recovery, SPE-122152-MS, 1997.

Duane H. Smith, “Foams: Fundamentals and applications in the petroleum industry,” Fuel and Energy Abstracts, 1994, 10(1), 266-266.

Vikingstad A. K. and Aarra M. G. “Comparing the Static and Dynamic Foam Properties of a Fluorinated and an Alpha Olefin Sulfonate Surfactant,” Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 2009, 65(1), 105-111.

Mannhardt K., Novosad J. J., and Schramm L. L., “Comparative Evaluation of Foam Stability to Oil,” SPE Reservoir Evaluation and Engineering, 2000, 3(1), 23-34.

Mannhardt K. and Svorstøl I., “Effect of Oil Saturation on Foam Propagation in Snorre Reservoir Core,” Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 1999, 23(3), 189-200.

Overbeek J. Th. G., “Black soap films,” The Journal of Physical Chemistry, 1960, 64(9), 1178-1183.

Khatib Z. I., Hirasaki G. J., and Falls A. H., “Effects of Capillary Pressure on Coalescence and Phase Mobilities in Foams Flowing Through Porous Media,” SPE Reservoir Engineering, 1988, 3(3), 919-926.

Radke C. J. and Ransohoff T. C., “Mechanism of Foam Generation in Glass-Bead Packs,” SPE Reservoir Engineering, 1988, 3(2), 573-585.

Dicksen T., Hirasaki G. J., and Miller C. A., “Mobility of Foam in Heterogeneous Media: Flow Parallel and Perpendicular to Stratification,” SPE Journal, 2002, 7(2), 203-212.

Persoff P., Radke C. J., Pruess K., and Benson S. M., “A laboratory Investigation of Foam Flow in Sandstone at Elevated Pressure,” Society of Petroleum Engineers, 1989, 6(1), 365-372.

Falls A. H., Hirasaki G. J., Patzek T. W., Gauglitz D. and et al., “Development of a Mechanistic Foam Simulator: The Population Balance and Generation by Snap-Off,” SPE Reservoir Engineering, 1988, 3(3), 884-892.

Rossen W. R., “Foam Generation at Layer Boundaries in Porous Media,” SPE Journal, 1999, 4(4), 409-412.

Solbakken J. S., Skauge A., and Aarra M. G., “Foam Performance in Low Permeability Laminated Sandstones,” Energy Fuels, 2014, 28(2), 803-815.

Simjoo M., Nick M. M., and Zitha P. L. J. “Effect of Oil Saturation on Foam for Acid Diversion,” 8th European Formation Damage Conference, SPE-122152-MS, 2009.

Xia J., Li X., Zang J., and Zhou T., “Simulation Study of Foam Displacement at Pore and Reservoir Scale,” International Petroleum Technology Conference, IPTC-18906-MS, 2016.