Many approaches to estimating permeability exist. Recognizing the importance of rock type, various petrophysical (grain size, surface area, and pore size) models have been developed. This page explores techniques for applying well logs and other data to the problem of predicting permeability [k or log(k)] in uncored wells. If the rock formation of interest has a fairly uniform grain composition and a common diagenetic history, then log(k)-Φ patterns are simple, straightforward statistical prediction techniques can be used, and reservoir zonation is not required. However, if a field encompasses several lithologies, perhaps with varying diagenetic imprints resulting from varying mineral composition and fluid flow histories, then the log(k)-Φ patterns are scattered, and reservoir zonation is required before predictive techniques can be applied.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) flooding is a process whereby carbon dioxide is injected into an oil reservoir in order to increase output when extracting oil. This project has been completed. It was thoroughly waterflooded before starting miscible injection. This sequence allows a straightforward evaluation of increased recovery because of miscible displacement. Figure 1 shows the oil-production rate for the end of the waterflood and the miscible flood.
This field produces from a structure that lies above a deep-seated salt dome (salt has been penetrated at 9,000 ft) and has moderate fault density. A large north/south trending fault divides the field into east and west areas. There is hydraulic communication across the fault. Sands were deposited in aeolian, fluvial, and deltaic environments made up primarily of a meandering, distributary flood plain. Reservoirs are moderate to well sorted; grains are fine to very fine with some interbedded shales. There are 21 mapped producing zones separated by shales within the field but in pressure communication outside the productive limits of the field. The original oil column was 400 ft thick and had an associated gas cap one-third the size of the original oil column. Porosity averages 30%, and permeability varies from 10 to 1500 md.
Permeability values of rocks range over many factors of 10; therefore, permeability is plotted on a logarithmic scale. Values commonly encountered in petroleum reservoirs range from a fraction of a millidarcy to several darcies. This page discusses factors affecting permeability associated with different rock types. The log10(k)-Φ plot of Fig.1 shows four data sets from sands and sandstones, illustrating the reduction in permeability and porosity that occurs as pore dimensions are reduced with compaction and alteration of minerals (diagenesis). Porosity is reduced from a maximum of 52% in newly deposited sandstones to as low as 1% in consolidated sandstones.
Figure 1.2 – Sketch of the impact of primary depositional features (such as quartz content and sorting, in italics) and diagenetic processes (such as compaction and cementation) on permeability/porosity trends in sandstones. Sedimentological scale (phi scale) is logarithmic in powers of two. Grain diameter (d) (crystal size in case of dolostones) is given in micrometers. Limestone and dolostone classes are from Lucia; chalk data are from Mortensen et al.  See Discussion for explanation of vertical bars showing grain and pore throat sizes in a consolidated sandstone. Symbols linked with solid lines denote size ranges; dotted lines distinguish sorting classes.
Case studies can be instructive in the evaluation of other coalbed methane (CBM) development opportunities. The San Juan basin, located in New Mexico and Colorado in the southwestern U.S. (Figure 1), is the most prolific CBM basin in the world. It produces more than 2.5 Bscf/D from coals of the Cretaceous Fruitland formation, which is estimated to contain 43 to 49 Tscf of CBM in place. In the 1970s, after years of encountering gas kicks in these coals, operators recognized that the coal seams themselves were capable of commercial gas rates. CBM development benefited greatly from drilling and log data compiled from previous wells targeting the deeper sandstones and an extensive pipeline infrastructure that was built to transport conventional gas. These components, along with a U.S. federal tax credit and the development of new technologies such as openhole-cavity completions, fueled a drilling boom that resulted in more than 3,000 producing CBM wells by the end of 1992. The thickest Fruitland coals occur in a northwest/southeast trending belt located in the northeastern third of the basin. Total coal thickness in this belt locally exceeds 100 ft and individual coal seams can be more than 30 ft thick. The coals originated in peat swamps located landward (southwest) of northwest/southeast trending shoreline sandstones of the underlying Pictured Cliffs formation. The location of the thickest coals (Figure 1) coincides with the occurrence of overpressuring, high gas content, high coal rank, and high permeabilities in the San Juan fairway ("fairway"). The overpressuring is artesian in origin and is caused by water recharge of the coals through outcrops along the northern margin of the basin. This generates high vertical pressure gradients, ranging from 0.44 to 0.63 psi/ft, which allow a large amount of gas to be sorbed to the coal. Coal gas in the San Juan basin can contain up to 9.4% CO2 and 13.5% C2 . Chemical analyses suggest that thermogenic gases have been augmented by migrated thermogenic and secondary biogenic gas sources, resulting in gas contents ranging up to 700 ft 3 /ton. Coal rank in the fairway ranges from medium- to low-volatile bituminous and roughly coincides with those portions of the basin that were most deeply buried. Southwest of the fairway, Fruitland coals are typically 20 to 40 ft thick and are considerably underpressured with vertical pressure gradients in some areas of less than 0.20 psi/ft. The low gradients are attributable to low permeabilities, low recharge rates along the southern rim of the basin, and hydraulic isolation from the fairway area.
This page provides a reservoir management case study for a sandstone field under strong waterdrive in which crestal gas injection techniques have been implemented. Production from this field is from several Upper Cretaceous sandstone formations. The producing zones are in pressure communication in the gas cap and aquifer but separate in the oil column. The structure is a complexly faulted anticline with a major fault separating the west and east flanks. There is minor communication across the fault.
This page provides several reservoir management case studies that illustrate carbonate reservoirs in which waterflooding and miscible gas injection techniques have been implemented. This field produces primarily from a Jurassic-age limestone-dolomite section that has a simple plunging anticline structure. The updip trap is formed by a combination of facies change from dolomite to dense limestone and a bounding fault. The formation is layered and has been divided into 18 correlative zones. When production began, the reservoir pressure declined rapidly under a fluid-expansion drive.
The Prudhoe Bay field, located on the North Slope of Alaska, is the largest oil and gas field in North America. The main Permo-Triassic reservoir is a thick deltaic high-quality sandstone deposit about 500 ft thick with porosities of 15 to 30% BV and permeabilities ranging from 50 to 3,000 md. The field contains 20 109 bbl of oil overlain by a 35 Tcf gas cap. The oil averages 27.6 API gravity and has an original solution gas-oil ratio (GOR) of about 735 scf/STB. Under much of the oil column area, there is a 20- to 60-ft-thick tar mat located above the oil-water contact (OWC).