Proof-of-concept for a probe to measure pore water pressure in oil-water saturated porous rock

Anastasia Capotosto, Bruna De Carvalho Faria Lima Lopes, Alessandro Tarantino

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The identification of the Oil/Water Contact (OWC) in a hydrocarbon reservoir is crucial for the determination of its volume and it is also important for detailed petrophysical calculations. Estimation of the OWC requires the determination of the Free Water Level (FWL). Routine practice in the oil and gas industry involves drilling multiple discovery wells since the undulation of the rock layers confining the hydrocarbon reservoir does not generally enable a single discovery well to intercept the water phase. Well drilling is expensive and industry looks forward to approaches to reduce the number of wells required for estimation of the OWC. In this context, this paper presents the proof-of-concept for a probe to measure pore water pressure in oil-water saturated porous rock. This would allow predicting the depth of the FWL in hydrocarbon reservoirs even if the single discovery well does not go through the OWC. This probe could significantly improve the appraisal process and guide the drilling campaigns, saving time, money and reducing the environmental impact of hydrocarbon search. The probe prototype was validated at laboratory scale via measurements of water pressure in core plugs saturated with water and oil. Mock-up tests on sandstone core plugs have shown that the probe can successfully measure water pressure in samples saturated with water and oil as long as the water phase is continuous in the pore space. The paper has therefore provided a proof-of-concept for a technology that can now be moved to the next readiness level.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108183
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Petroleum Science and Engineering
Early online date29 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2021


  • hydrophilic probe
  • pore-water pressure
  • hydrocarbon reservoir
  • porous rock


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