An important issue in petroleum engineering is the prediction of gas production during reservoir depletion--either following conventional waterflooding operations or in the early stages of hydrocarbon production. The estimation of critical gas saturation for use in corresponding simulation studies is clearly a primary concern. To this end, a 3D, three-phase numerical pore-scale simulator has been developed that can be used to estimate critical gas saturations over a range of different length scales and for a wide range of fluid and rock properties. The model incorporates a great deal of the known physics observed in associated laboratory micromodel experiments, including embryonic nucleation, supersaturation effects, multiphase diffusion, bubble growth/migration/fragmentation, oil shrinkage, and three-phase spreading coefficients. The precise pore-scale mechanisms governing gas evolution have been found to be far more subtle than earlier models would suggest because of the large variation of gas/oil interfacial tension (IFT) with pressure. This has a profound effect upon the migration of gas structures during depletion. In models pertaining to reservoir rock, the process of gas migration is consequently much slower than predictions from more simplistic models would imply. This is the first time that bubble fragmentation and IFT variations have been included in a model of gas evolution at the pore-scale and the implications for production forecasting are expected to be significant. In addition, novel scaling groups have been derived for a number of different facies under both virgin and waterflooded conditions. One future application of these groups would be to scale S gc values obtained from high rate depressurization experiments to the low rate conditions more characteristic of field operations.

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