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Viscous Fingering in Hydrocarbon Recovery Processes,

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In this paper, the literature on viscous fingering instabilities is surveyed and an attempt is made to describe the current understanding of the related causes and effects. Both miscible and immiscible flow regimes are discussed and compared. Simplified models of the process, such as the Hele-Shaw cell, are considered and the results are interpreted via linear and weakly nonlinear perturbation methods and dimensional analysis. Avenues for incorporating more nonlinear effects to describe the finger growth are presented. The process of pushing a heavy, viscous oil through a porous medium with a lighter, less viscous fluid can be a very unstable one. If the flow rate is sufficiently high, the interface between the resident petroleum and the invading fluid becomes unstable and tends to form long fingers which grow in length toward the production wells, bypassing much of the hydrocarbons. Once a path consisting of the injected fluid has extended from an injection well to a production well, that production well will henceforth produce primarily the injection fluid which flows more easily due to its lower viscosity and higher mobility. The production of petroleum from that well is then greatly reduced if not essentially stopped. This phenomenon is termed viscous fingering. Originator-supplied keywords include Stability analysis, Perturbation techniques, Viscous fingering, Numerical simulation, Enhanced oil recovery, Porous media flow.

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  • Mining Engineering
  • Fluid Mechanics

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