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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.
Although reserves estimates for known accumulations historically have used deterministic calculation procedures, the 1997 SPE/WPC definitions allow either deterministic or probabilistic procedures. 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. Deterministic calculations of oil and/or gas initially in place (O/GIP) and reserves are based on best estimates of the true values of pertinent parameters, although it is recognized that there may be considerable uncertainty in such values.
If you talk to a typical subsurface professional working on unconventionals today (e.g., a reservoir engineer, completion engineer, geologist, petrophysicist, etc.) as I have in person and through media such as LinkedIn, you will find that many lament one key thing: Our sophisticated models have been reduced too much. Of course, I am generalizing and those are not the words they use; the lamentations come in many forms. The dissatisfaction with oversimplification is most easily observed as distaste for the type curve, the simplified model we use to predict upcoming new drills. A simple meme posted on LinkedIn about type curves garnered one of the most engaged conversations I have seen amongst technical staff. The responses varied from something like "Thank God someone finally said this out loud" to comments such as "I don't know anything better than type curves."
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. For a long time, the Fruitland formation coals were recognized only as a source of gas for adjacent sandstones. 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. Coals in the fairway typically have low ash and high vitrinite contents, resulting in large gas storage capacities and excellent permeabilities of 10 md from well-developed cleat systems. 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 process of drilling and completing coalbed methane (CBM) wells is similar to wells in conventional reservoirs. Coring, however, can pose special challenges. The first step in creating a drilling program for a CBM well involves gathering information about existing wells in a given area. After these data are gathered and analyzed, a preliminary drilling and completion prognosis can be drafted with the input of field operations personnel. An important aspect in drilling frontier or appraisal wells is to keep the drilling procedures relatively simple.
Unlike conventional reservoirs, coal seams are the source, trap, and reservoir for coalbed methane (CBM). A comparison of the two reservoir types shows profound differences in reservoir properties, storage mechanisms, flow mechanisms, and production profiles. Understanding the reservoir differences is key to successful evaluation and operation of a CBM project. Coal is a chemically complex, combustible solid consisting of a mixture of altered plant remains. Organic matter constitutes more than 50% of coal by weight and more than 70% by volume. Type refers to the variety of organic constituents.
A useful first step in the characterization of any new coal area is to compare its characteristics with those of successful CBM projects. Table 2 summarizes the characteristics of several successful projects in the US and includes parameters related to reservoir properties, gas production, gas resources, and economics. The table shows that successful projects have many similarities, including high permeabilities and high gas resource concentration; however, the table does not include aspects such as government incentives or high-value markets, which could elevate a marginal project to commercial status.
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. In some naturally fractured tight gas reservoirs, horizontal wells and/or multilateral wells can be used to provide the stimulation required for commerciality.
This chapter discusses the determination of lithology, net pay, porosity, water saturation, and permeability from wellbore core and log data. The chapter deals with "Development Petrophysics" and emphasizes the integration of core data with log data; the adjustment of core data, when required, to reservoir conditions; and the calibration and regression line-fitting of log data to core data. The goal of the calculations is to use all available data, calibrated to the best standard, to arrive at the most accurate quantitative values of the petrophysical parameters (i.e., lithology, net pay, porosity, water saturation, and permeability). Log analysis, cased-hole formation evaluation, and production logging are not covered here. The following topics are covered in this chapter: petrophysical data sources and databases, lithology determination, net-pay (or pay/nonpay) determination, porosity determination, fluid-contacts identification, water-saturation determination, permeability ...
This article presents brief summaries of detailed petrophysical evaluations of several fields that have been described in the SPE and Soc. of Professional Well Log Analysts (SPWLA) technical literature. 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.