Viscous fingering in fractured porous media


The effect of heterogeneities induced by highly permeable fracture networks on viscous miscible fingering in porous media is examined using high-resolution numerical simulations. We consider the planar injection of a less viscous fluid into a two-dimensional fractured porous medium which is saturated with a more viscous fluid. This problem contains two sets of fundamentally different preferential flow regimes; the first is caused by the viscous fingering and the second is due to the permeability contrasts between the fractures and rock matrix. We study the transition from a regime where the flow is dominated by the viscous instabilities, to a regime where the heterogeneities induced by the fractures define the flow paths. We find that fractures greatly affect the viscous fingering, even for small permeability differences between the rock matrix and the fractures. The interaction between the viscosity contrast and permeability contrast causes channeling of the less viscous fluid through the fractures and back to the rock. This channeling stabilizes the displacement front in the rock matrix, and the viscous fingering ceases for the higher permeability contrast. Several different fracture geometries are considered, and we observe a complex interplay between the geometries and unstable flow. While we find that the most important dimensionless number determining the effect of the fracture network is a weighted ratio of the permeability of the fractures and the permeability of the rock matrix, the exact point for the cross-over regime is highly dependent on the geometry of the fracture network.Comment: To reproduce simulations, see "R. L. Berge, I. Berre, E. Keilegavlen, and J. M. Nordbotten. Viscous fingering in fractured porous media. Zenodo. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3249931, June 2019

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