Shale gas is becoming increasingly important globally. The nature of these reservoirs pose special considerations in reserves estimation. What follows was written in 2001 and needs to be updated based on current experience. Nonetheless, some of the considerations mentioned remain appropriate. As reported in mid-2000, natural gas produced from shale in the US has grown to be approximately 1.6% (0.3 Tcf annually) of total gas production.
Discovered resources of heavy and extraheavy crude oil are estimated to be approximately 4,600 billion bbl, two-thirds of which are in Canada and Venezuela. Bitumen and tar sands are excluded from this estimate. Published data on reserves estimates (RE) from this resource by primary drive mechanisms are sparse. Meyer and Mitchell estimated worldwide ultimate recovery from heavy and extraheavy crude oils to be 476 billion bbl, which is 10% of the Briggs et al. estimate of the discovered resource initially in place. Estimated primary reserves estimates (RE) ranges from 8 to 12% oil-in-place (OIP) for the Orinoco area of Venezuela, where stock-tank gravities range from 8 to 13 American Petroleum Institute (API).
Heavy oil is defined as liquid petroleum of less than 20 API gravity or more than 200 cp viscosity at reservoir conditions. No explicit differentiation is made between heavy oil and oil sands (tar sands), although the criteria of less than 12 API gravity and greater than 10,000 cp are sometimes used to define oil sands. Unconsolidated sandstones (UCSS) are sandstones (or sands) that possess no true tensile strength arising from grain-to-grain mineral cementation.
In-situ combustion processes are largely a function of oil composition and rock mineralogy. The extent and nature of the chemical reactions between crude oil and injected air, as well as the heat generated, depend on the oil-matrix system. Laboratory studies, using crude and matrix from a prospective in-situ combustion project, should be performed before designing any field operation. The chemical reactions associated with in-situ combustion are complex and numerous. They occur over a broad temperature range.
At the present time, more than 9,000 offshore platforms are in service worldwide, operating in water depths ranging from 10 ft to greater than 5,000 ft. 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.
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.
In some reservoir applications, seismic data are acquired with downhole sources and receivers. If the receiver is stationed at various depth levels in a well and the source remains on the surface, the measurement is called vertical seismic profiling (VSP). This technique produces a high-resolution, 2D image that begins at the receiver well and extends a short distance (a few tens of meters or a few hundred meters, depending on the source offset distance) toward the source station. This image, a 2D profile restricted to the vertical plane passing through the source and receiver coordinates, is useful in tying seismic responses to subsurface geologic and engineering control. If the source is deployed at various depth levels in one well and the receiver is placed at several depth stations in a second well, the measurement is called crosswell seismic profiling (CSP). Images made from CSP data have the best spatial resolution of any seismic measurement used in reservoir characterization because a wide range of frequencies is recorded.
Transmitting electrical current to the subsurface can create special considerations. Successful application of electromagnetic heating often requires a multi-disciplinary approach combining electric engineering and petroleum engineering. To assist petroleum engineers considering this approach, this article identifies some of the issues that an electrical engineer might normally anticipate and address. In most practical situations, we are concerned with fields that vary periodically in time (the sinusoidal steady state generally). In these cases the electrical phenomena are properly described by Maxwell equations in terms of complex vector field intensities of electric and magnetic fields (E and H); complex vector field electric, magnetic, and current densities (D,B,J); complex charge concentrations (ρc); and complex material parameters: conductivity, permittivity, and permeability (σ, ε, μM).
Several approaches that use the activity coefficient model assume the oil and asphaltene as two pseudocomponents: one component representing the deasphalted oil and the other the asphaltenes. Andersen and Speight provided a review of activity models in this category. Other approaches represent the precipitate as a multicomponent solid. Chung, Yarranton and Masliyah, and Zhou et al. gave detailed descriptions of these models. The solubility model used most in the literature is the Flory-Huggins solubility model introduced by Hirschberg et al. Vapor/liquid equilibrium calculations with the Soave-Redlich-Kwong EOS are performed to split the petroleum mixture into a liquid phase and a vapor phase.
In-situ combustion is the oldest thermal recovery technique. It has been used for more than nine decades with many economically successful projects. In-situ combustion is regarded as a high-risk process by many, primarily because of the many failures of early field tests. Most of those failures came from the application of a good process to the wrong reservoirs or the poorest prospects. The objective of this page is to describe the potential of in-situ combustion as an economically viable oil recovery technique for a variety of reservoirs.