A series of waterflood simulations were performed to investigate the effect of basinal position and facies permeability within a turbidite sheet system on oil recovery efficiency. Simulations used three-dimensional outcrop models of the Peïra Cava system, comprising gravel, sandstone, thin-bedded heterolithic and mudstone facies.

Recovery efficiency declines with increasing permeability heterogeneity and is influenced by the interaction of vertical bed-permeability trends and flood-front gravity slumping. The occurrence of gravels with permeabilities lower than overlying sandstones produces optimum recoveries. High permeability gravels act as thief zones, enhanced by downward gravity slumping, reducing normalized recovery by up to 34 %. The effect of thief zones on recovery is related to their permeability contrast, abundance, thickness, lateral continuity, vertical position within permeable units and the permeability of underlying facies.

Proximal to distal stratigraphic variations produce relatively small differences in normalized recovery of up to 13 % in models with the highest permeability heterogeneity. Differences in recovery are interpreted to reflect spatial trends in facies architecture, which determine the effectiveness of high permeability gravel thief zones. The poorest recovery is recorded from the medial model where recovery is lower than distal areas because of higher gravel abundance and thicknesses and lower compared to proximal areas because of the higher lateral continuity of gravels and underlying low-permeability mudstones.

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