Thin oil columns overlain by free gas and underlain by water pose difficult problems in well spacing and completion method, production policy, and reserves estimation. Whether an oil column is considered thin depends on costs to drill and produce the accumulation. For example, in the Bream field (Australia Bass Strait, 230 ft water depth), 44 ft was considered thin, whereas in the Troll field (offshore Norway, 980 ft water depth), 79 ft was considered thin. Onshore U.S.A., 20 ft is considered thin. Irrgang takes a pragmatic approach, defining thin oil columns as those that "will cone both water and gas when produced at commercial rates." The overall reserve estimate of oil from such accumulations can be influenced by well spacing and completion method and by gas-cap management policy.
Topside payloads range from 5 to 50,000 tons, producing oil, gas, or both. A vast array of production systems is available today (see Figure 1). The concepts range from fixed platforms to subsea compliant and floating systems. In 1859, Col. Edwin Drake drilled and completed the first known oil well near a small town in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. This well, which was drilled with cable tools, started the modern petroleum industry.
The majority of offshore fields have been developed with conventional fixed steel platforms. One common feature of fixed steel structures is that it is essentially "fixed" (i.e., it acts as a cantilever fixed at the seabed). This forces the natural period to be less than that of the damaging significant wave energy, which lies in the 8- to 20-second band. As the water depth increases, these structures begin to become more flexible, and the natural period increases and approaches that of the waves. The consequence of this is the structure becomes dynamically responsive, and fatigue becomes a paramount consideration.
Below is a list of basins and fields; however this is a short list since there are more than 65,000 oil and gas basins and fields of all sizes in the world. However, 94% of known oil fields is concentrated in fewer than 1500 giant and major fields. Most of the world's largest oilfields are located in the Middle East, but there are also supergiant ( 10 billion bbls) oilfields in India, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Kazakhstan, and Russia. Add any basins or fields that are missing from this list!
This article discusses estimation of stresses encountered during drilling that could cause fracturing or formation damage in the near wellbore area. Ballooning is a process that occurs when wells are drilled with equivalent static mud weights close to the leakoff pressure. It occurs because during drilling, the dynamic mud weight exceeds the leakoff pressure, leading to near-wellbore fracturing and seepage loss of small volumes of drilling fluid while the pumps are on. When the pumps are turned off, the pressure drops below the leakoff pressure, and the fluid is returned to the well as the fractures close. This process has been called "breathing" or "ballooning" because it looks like the well is expanding while circulating, and contracting once the pumps are turned off.
Assuming that the amplitudes are accurately rendered, a host of additional features can be derived and used in interpretation. Collectively, these features are referred to as seismic attributes. The simplest attribute, and the one most widely used, is seismic amplitude, and it is usually reported as the maximum (positive or negative) amplitude value at each sample along a horizon picked from a 3D volume. It is fortunate that, in many cases, the amplitude of reflection corresponds directly to the porosity or to the saturation of the underlying formation. Attributes can be obtained from typical post-stack seismic data volumes, and these are the most common types.
The accurate calculation of porosity at the wellbore is essential for an accurate calculation of original oil in place (OOIP) or original gas in place (OGIP) throughout the reservoir. The porosity and its distribution also need to be calculated as accurately as possible because they are almost always directly used in the water saturation (Sw) and permeability calculations and, possibly, in the net pay calculations. In most OOIP and OGIP studies, only the gross-rock-volume uncertainties have a greater influence on the result than porosity does. Occasionally, where porosity estimates are difficult, porosity is the leading uncertainty. Fractured and clay-mineral-rich reservoirs remain a challenge. For this discussion, it is assumed that the core data have been properly adjusted to reservoir conditions, that the data from various logs have been reviewed and validated as needed, and that all of the required depth-alignment work has been completed.
Figure 1.6--The Baldpate Compliant Tower is one of the tallest free-standing structures in the world – Empire State Building (right) for comparison (Web Photograph, Amerada Hess Corp., New York City). Figure 1.9a--Worldwide fleet of installed and sanctioned semisubmersible FPS (courtesy of BP). Figure 1.9c--Worldwide fleet of installed and sanctioned spars (courtesy of BP). Figure 1.10--Semisubmersible FPS planned for the Thunder Horse field (courtesy of BP). Figure 1.11--Alternative proven technology field development options (courtesy of BP). Figure 1.12--Subsea production trees used in conjunction with a fixed jacket structure (Intec Engineering, Houston).
Each of these is discussed briefly in the next two sections. Thereafter--except for another section on probabilistic procedures near the end--the chapter will focus on deterministic procedures because they still are more widely used. Both procedures need the same basic data and equations. Reserves calculated using such procedures are classified subjectively on the basis of professional judgments of the uncertainty in each reserve estimate and/or of pertinent regulatory and/or corporate guidelines. Probabilistic procedures recognize that uncertainties in input data and equations to calculate reserves may be significant.
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.