Tight gas is the term commonly used to refer to low permeability reservoirs that produce mainly dry natural gas. Many of the low permeability reservoirs that have been developed in the past are sandstone, but significant quantities of gas are also produced from low permeability carbonates, shales, and coal seams. Production of gas from coal seams is covered in a separate chapter in this handbook. In this chapter, production of gas from tight sandstones is the predominant theme. However, much of the same technology applies to tight carbonate and to gas shale reservoirs. Tight gas reservoirs have one thing in common--a vertical well drilled and completed in the tight gas reservoir must be successfully stimulated to produce at commercial gas flow rates and produce commercial gas volumes. Normally, a large hydraulic fracture treatment is required to produce gas economically.
As defined by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (U.S. FERC), low-permeability ("tight") gas reservoirs have an average in-situ permeability of 0.1 md or less. Others have placed the upper limit at 1 md. Estimates of ultimate recovery from these resources vary widely and depend chiefly on assumptions of wellhead gas price. Methods for estimating gas reserves in moderate- to high-permeability reservoirs are unreliable in very-low-permeability reservoirs. The unreliability can be attributed to the geologic setting in which these reservoirs occur and the completion methods required to make them commercial.
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!
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.
Figure 1 shows the type of production response that is possible when applying a polymer gel treatment to a waterflood injection well to improve sweep efficiency. The figure shows the combined production-response of the four direct offsetting production wells to the gel-treated injection well. The gel treatment was applied for waterflood sweep-improvement purposes to the naturally fractured Embar carbonate formation surrounding Well O-7 of the highly mature SOB field in the Big Horn basin of Wyoming. The wide variations in water/oil ratio (WOR) and oil production rate are quite common in many of the well patterns of this highly fractured reservoir. Sydansk provides more details regarding the 20,000 bbl gel treatment.
Real reservoir fluids contain many more than two, three, or four components; therefore, phase-composition data can no longer be represented with two, three or four coordinates. Instead, phase diagrams that give more limited information are used. Figure 1 shows a pressure-temperature phase diagram for a multicomponent mixture; it gives the region of temperatures and pressures at which the mixture forms two phases. The analog of Figure 1 for a binary system can be obtained by taking a slice at constant mole fraction of Component 1 through the diagram in Figure 1. Also given are contours of liquid-volume fractions, which indicate the fraction of total sample volume occupied by the liquid phase; however, Figure 1 does not give any compositional information.
The number of components present in a system determines the maximum number of phases that can coexist at fixed temperature and pressure. For a single-component system, the maximum number of phases occurs when there are no constraints (Nc 0) and no degrees of freedom (F 0). Thus, the maximum number of possible phases is three. Therefore, if three phases coexist in equilibrium (possible only at the triple point), the pressure and temperature are fixed. If only two phases are present in a pure component system, then either the temperature or the pressure can be chosen.
Although conformance-improvement gel treatments have existed for a number of decades, their widespread use has only begun to emerge. Early oilfield gels tended to be stable and function well during testing and evaluation in the laboratory, but failed to be stable and to function downhole as intended because they lacked robust chemistries. Also, because of a lack of modern technology, many reservoir and flooding conformance problems were not understood, correctly depicted, or properly diagnosed. In addition, numerous individuals and organizations tended to make excessive claims about what early oilfield gel technologies could and would do. The success rate of these gel treatments was low and conducting such treatments was considered high risk. As a result, conformance-improvement gel technologies developed a somewhat bad reputation in the industry. Only recently has this reputation begun to improve. The information presented in this chapter can help petroleum engineers evaluate oilfield conformance gels and their field application on the basis of well-founded-scientific, sound-engineering, and field-performance merits.
In making the petrophysical calculations of lithology, net pay, porosity, water saturation, and permeability at the reservoir level, the development of a complete petrophysical database is the critical first step. This section describes the requirements for creating such a database before making any of these calculations. The topic is divided into four parts: inventory of existing petrophysical data; evaluation of the quality of existing data; conditioning the data for reservoir parameter calculations; and acquisition of additional petrophysical data, where needed. The overall goal of developing the petrophysical database is to use as much valid data as possible to develop the best standard from which to make the calculations of the petrophysical parameters. The second step in working with the petrophysical data is to evaluate the quality of each of these types of data. This step requires that the data inventory and database preparation steps are completed first so that this second step can occur as a systematic and complete process. The evaluation process is a "compare and contrast" exercise. The evaluation of log-data quality has many aspects. This should be noted in the petrophysical database. "Flags" of various types should be stored, for example, to denote intervals where the hole size exceeds some limit, or where there is cycle-skipping on the sonic logs. Logging tools sometimes become temporarily stuck as a log is being run. When the tool is stationary, each detector on it becomes stuck at a different depth, so the interval of "stuck" log will vary for each log curve. For example, the neutron log typically sticks over an interval approximately 10 ft above the stuck interval on a density log. It may be possible to "splice" in a replacement section of log from a repeated log section, or the invalid readings may simply be deleted. Second, each log is formally calibrated before the start of each logging run by various calibration standards. The logs are also checked again after the run. Calibration records may assist in determining the quality of the logs. Perhaps of equal importance are the written comments on the log heading made immediately after the job by the logging engineer. Third, systematic influences on the quality of log readings should be corrected. For example, if some of the wells are drilled with water-based mud (WBM), the effect of WBM-filtrate invasion on various resistivity logs can be quantified. This is done by computations made using the various resistivity logs in the same wellbore; however, where deep invasion of WBM filtrate occurs, offsetting wells drilled with oil-based mud (OBM) give a good comparison. The induction logs in OBM wells can provide accurate true reservoir resistivity values in thick hydrocarbon zones. See the chapter on resistivity and SP logging in this volume of the Handbook for more information on how invasion effects can be handled. Boreholes are not always right cylinders.
These case studies cover some of the complications that occur when making net-pay, porosity, and water saturation (Sw) calculations. Prudhoe Bay is the largest oil and gas field in North America with more than 20 billion bbl of original oil in place (OOIP) and an overlying 30 Tscf gas cap. In the early 1980s, the unit operating agreement required that a final equity determination be undertaken. In the course of this determination, an extensive field coring program was conducted, which resulted in more than 25 oil-based mud (OBM) cores being cut in all areas of the field and some conventional water-based mud (WBM) and bland-mud cores in other wells. Also, several major laboratory programs were run to address various technical issues regarding the correct approach to calculate porosity and water saturation.