A review of reservoir oil-water transition zone characterization and potential recovery methods

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Petroleum Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines), Sardar Patel Nagar, Dhanbad, JH- 826004, India

2 University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071, USA

3 Department of Applied Geophysics, Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines), Sardar Patel Nagar, Dhanbad, JH- 826004, India

4 University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Bidholi, Uttarakhand 248007, India

5 President & CEO at Omak Technologies LLC, Plano, TX, USA


The transition zone (TZ) in an oil reservoir has traditionally been a volume of lesser interest compared to oil-saturated zone. Researchers have suggested that it can contain commercial hydrocarbon volumes. Therefore, this paper seeks to summarize the characterization methods of TZs for the assessment of oil production opportunities. Another goal is to summarize the potential methods of oil production from TZs. It is conceivable that TZs will produce both water and oil together. However, some surprising instances of dry oil (i.e., 100% oil, with no associated connate water) production, due to the formation of water clusters, have also been observed earlier. Also, oil can possibly be found below the current FWL. Characterizing TZs is more complicated compared to oil-saturated zone. TZs can show variable wettability and permeability characteristics due to several complex phenomena related to buoyancy, capillarity, diagenesis, cementation, and reservoir tilting. Careful TZ core characterization followed by reservoir simulation and oil production can increase the overall reserves. Methods for TZ characterization include petrophysical logs, geophysical analysis, and reservoir modeling. Analysis of core obtained from TZs using the centrifuge method can reveal the residual oil saturation and relative permeabilities, which can aid the prediction of future oil production. More complicated analyses include structure and stratigraphic geological models and basin modeling for hydrocarbon migration history. Possible oil production methods from TZs include CO2 injection, surfactant flooding, combined carbonated water and surfactant flooding, and smart well placement. We recommend including TZs that span several meters in depth as part of reserves calculation.


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Article Title [Persian]


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