Flow coupling during three-phase gravity drainage
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We measure the three-phase oil relative permeability k(ro) by conducting unsteady-state drainage experiments in a 0.8 m water-wet sand pack. We find that when starting from capillary-trapped oil, k(ro) shows a strong dependence on both the flow of water and the water saturation and a weak dependence on oil saturation, contrary to most models. The observed flow coupling between water and oil is stronger in three-phase flow than two-phase flow, and cannot be observed in steady-state measurements. The results suggest that the oil is transported through moving gas-oil-water interfaces (form drag) or momentum transport across stationary interfaces (friction drag). We present a simple model of friction drag which compares favorably to the experimental data.