Carbonate reservoirs often exhibit complex pore networks and various scales of petrophysical heterogeneity associated with stratigraphic cyclicity, facies distribution and diagenesis. In addition, petrophysical variability also exists within distinct rock fabrics at the interwell scale. Data from lateral transects through dolomitized carbonates of the Mississippian Madison Formation in north and central Wyoming exhibit three scales of lateral petrophysical variability. These include a near-random component (nugget effect), short-range variability and a long-range periodic trend (hole effect) that is observed in both dolowackestone (Sheep Canyon) and dolograinstone (Lysite Mountain) facies. The dolowackestone represents outer and middle ramp mud-supported fabrics, while the dolograinstone represents amalgamated skeletal and oolitic shoals.

Detailed 3D petrophysical models of the dolomite facies and 2D multiphase waterflood simulations explore the effects of this heterogeneity on reservoir performance through several model scenarios. Fingering of the injected fluid front, sweep-efficiency, breakthrough time and bottom-hole well pressures are sensitive to lateral reservoir heterogeneity and rock fabric. Models with greater short-scale continuity of petrophysical properties have higher degrees of large-scale fingering, higher sweep efficiency and shorter breakthrough times. The reservoir performance of the dolowackestone differs from the dolograinstone for those models that exhibit a specific range of short-scale heterogeneity. In general, the dolowackestone has a higher degree of both small- and large-scale fingering, lower sweep efficiency and longer breakthrough time compared with the dolograinstone.

Intra-facies scale variability is significant in regard to reservoir performance and is often difficult or impossible to determine from typical subsurface datasets. Information from outcrop analogues is necessary to create conceptual 3D geological models and to begin to quantify interwell heterogeneity within dolomite reservoirs.

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