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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 59 (1975)

Issue: 6. (June)

First Page: 939

Last Page: 956

Title: Capillary Pressures in Stratigraphic Traps

Author(s): Robert R. Berg (2)


Capillary pressures between oil and water in rock pores are responsible for trapping oil, and the height of oil column, zo, in a reservoir may be calculated from the Hobson equation modified as follows:


where ^ggr is the interfacial tension between oil and water, rt is the radius of pore throats in the barrier rock, rp is the radius of pores in the reservoir rock, g is acceleration of gravity, and ^rgrw and ^rgro are the densities of water and oil, respectively, under subsurface conditions. To apply the equation, pore sizes must be estimated from mean effective grain sizes of the reservoir and barrier rocks. Effective grain size, De, in centimeters can be approximated from core analysis data by means of an empirical permeability equation from which


where n is porosity in percent and k is permeability in milli-darcys. Then pore and throat sizes may be estimated as functions of mean effective grain size as based on theoretical packings of grains. The oil-column equation assumes hydrostatic conditions, and additional column, ^Dgrzo, may be trapped if hydrodynamic flow occurs down the dip from barrier to reservoir facies, or


where dh/dx is the potentiometric gradient and xo is the width of the oil accumulation.

Calculations of oil columns in stratigraphic fields show that the equations give values which are in fair to good agreement with observed oil columns; that porous and permeable, very fine-grained sandstones and siltstones are commonly effective barriers to oil migration; and that the recognition of such barriers can be important in exploration for stratigraphic traps.

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