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Abstract

A percolation model of foam mobilization in porous media is developed. This model indicates that there is a minimum pressure gradient or, equivalently, a minimum gas velocity required to initiate mobilization of foam. As a result, for most foam enhanced oil recovery processes, where the surface tension is not low, deep foam penetration depends on propagation of foam formed at a high pressure gradient near the well. Low surface tension makes mobilization of CO2 foams feasible, however, at pressure gradients found throughout much of the formation in a typical field application. The theory further predicts, and data confirm, that the minimum velocity for foam mobilization during steady flow of liquid and gas decreases as injected liquid volume fraction increases. The theory suggests a better strategy for foam generation: alternate injection of small slugs of liquid and gas.