Data-Driven Analysis of Natural Gas EOR in Unconventional Shale Oils

Temizel, Cenk (Aera Energy) | Balaji, Karthik (University of North Dakota) | Canbaz, Celal Hakan (Ege University) | Palabiyik, Yildiray (Istanbul Technical University) | Moreno, Raul (Smart Recovery) | Rabiei, Minou (University of North Dakota) | Zhou, Zifu (University of North Dakota) | Ranjith, Rahul (Far Technologies)



Due to complex characteristics of shale reservoirs, data-driven techniques offer fast and practical solutions in optimization and better management of shale assets. Developments in data-driven techniques enable robust analysis of not only the primary depletion mechanisms, but also the enhanced oil recovery in unconventionals such as natural gas injection. This study provides a comprehensive background on application of data-driven methods in oil and gas industry, the process, methodology and learnings along with examples of data-driven analysis of natural gas injection in shale oil reservoirs through the use of publicly-available data.

Data is obtained and organized. Patterns in production data are analyzed using data-driven methods to understand key parameters in the recovery process as well as the optimum operational strategies to improve recovery. The complete process is illustrated step-by-step for clarity and to serve as a practical guide for readers. This study also provides information on what other alternative physics-based evaluation methods will be able to offer in the current conditions of data availability and the understanding of physics of recovery in shale oil assets together with the comparison of outcomes of those methods with respect to the data-driven methods. Thereby, a thorough comparison of physics-based and data-driven methods, their advantages, drawbacks and challenges are provided.

It has been observed that data organization and filtering takes significant time before application of the actual data-driven method, yet data-driven methods serve as a practical solution in fields that are mature enough to bear data for analysis as long as the methodology is carefully applied. The advantages, challenges and associated risks of using data-driven methods are also included. The results of comparison between physics-based methods and data-driven methods illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of each method while providing the differences in evaluation and outcome along with a guideline for when to use what kind of strategy and evaluation in an asset.

A comprehensive understanding of the interactions between key components of the formation and the way various elements of an EOR process impact these interactions, is of paramount importance. Among the few existing studies on natural gas injection in shale oil with the use of data-driven methods in oil and gas industry include a comparative approach including the physics-based methods but lack the interrelationship between physics-based and data-driven methods as a complementary and a competitor within the era of rise of unconventionals. This study closes the gap and serves as an up-to-date reference for industry professionals.