Naturally occurring hydrocarbon systems found in petroleum reservoirs are mixtures of organic compounds which exhibit multiphase behavior over wide ranges of pressures and temperatures. These hydrocarbon accumulations may occur in the gaseous state, the liquid state, the solid state, or in various combinations of gas, liquid, and solid.
These differences in phase behavior, coupled with the physical properties of reservoir rock that determine the relative ease with which gas and liquid are transmitted or retained, result in many diverse types of hydrocarbon reservoirs with complex behaviors. Frequently, petroleum engineers have the task to study the behavior and characteristics of a petroleum reservoir and to determine the course of future development and production that would maximize the profit. The objective of this chapter is to review the basic principles of reservoir fluid phase behavior and illustrate the use of phase diagrams in classifying types of reservoirs and the native hydrocarbon systems.