3D pore-scale imaging and analysis provides an understanding of microscopic displacement processes and potentially a new set of predictive modeling tools for estimating multiphase flow properties of core material. Reconciliation and integration of the data derived from these models requires accurate characterization of the pore-scale distribution of fluids and a more detailed understanding of the role of wettability in oil recovery. The current study reports experimental imaging progress in these endeavors for a preserved-state carbonate core from a Middle Eastern waterflooded reservoir. Micro-CT methods were used in combination with novel fluid X-ray contrasting techniques and image registration to visualize the 3D pore-scale distribution of residual oil in mini-plugs. Segmentation of the registered tomograms and their differences facilitated estimation of the residual oil saturation. These predictions from digital analysis agreed reasonably well with laboratory measurements of oil saturation from extraction of sister mini-plugs and spectrophotometry. The tomogram segmentations provide additional information beyond this average value, such as the fractions of oil associated with macroporosity and microporosity. After the tomogram acquisitions, one of the dried mini-plugs was cut and SEM imaged at this exposed face to provide 2D images of fine features below the micro-CT resolution limit, such as the characteristic dimpled texture of asphaltene films on calcite surfaces due to their local wettability alteration in the reservoir. A new registration procedure was developed to embed the SEM images from the cut plug into the tomogram of the original uncut plug at their correct locations, so that this high-resolution wettability information could be integrated into the 3D pore network description and correlated to the local distribution of residual oil.


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