Pitfalls of 3D Saturation Modelling in the Middle East

O'Meara, Daniel J. (Geo2Flow)

OnePetro 

Abstract

This paper shows how greater scientific rigor in discussions of modelling 3D saturations in the Middle East can lead to better understanding of the reservoirs. It demonstrates with examples how vocabulary limits ability to solve problems related to saturations, compartmentalization, and permeability. It raises the bar on technical discussions of saturation.

"Saturation-height modelling", "transition zones", and "Thomeer hyperbolas" are examples of terms that repeatedly confuse discussions of modelling 3D saturations in the Middle East. Vocabulary exposes a lack of scientific rigor, impedes progress, and leads to notable failures. Saturation is not merely a function of height. At the very least, it also depends on porosity, permeability, fluid densities, interfacial tension, and contact angle. Limiting it to height requires adding in all of these other functionalities as afterthoughts rather than incorporating them naturally through dimensional analysis. Most glaringly, it obscures the very useful role that saturations have in constraining permeability modelling and identifying reservoir compartments.

"Transition zones" focus on saturation and take emphasis away from relative permeability and fractional flow. Bimodal pore systems (abundant in the Middle East) can have such low relative permeability to water at high saturations that even 70% water saturation can produce dry oil. In such cases, talk of a transition zone is counterproductive as it implies high water production.

"Thomeer hyperbolas" reveal biases in how to fit capillary pressure curves. Force-fitting all data with a single model is inadequate. It takes emphasis away from understanding pore systems of rocks in favor of promoting a single-minded view. These examples and their implications are discussed in detail.

The existing literature is replete with incomplete explanations and misunderstandings that lead to notable failures in modelling Middle Eastern fields. Understandings predicated on simplified descriptions of homogeneous reservoirs are no longer sustainable. A more scientifically rigorous methodology is presented.