Capillary Pressure: Is It Critical for Investment Decisions? Case Study of Gas Condensate Reservoir Underlain with Water

Fayzullin, Maksim F. (Novatek NTC) | Nasibullin, Artur (Novatek Inc.) | Yazkov, Alexey V. (Novatek Inc) | Kolbikov, Sergey Valentine


The paper highlights the importance of adequate characterization of capillary pressure effects when preparing a development plan for a greenfield gas condensate reservoir with a large transition zone (TZ).

Capillary pressure data from centrifuge or porous plate (semi-permeable membrane) are used to characterise the transition zone. It is essential that a representative set of sample measurements is obtained. Core laboratories are not capable to keep initial pressure-temperature conditions during capillary pressure measurements. Hence, the conversion from surface to reservoir becomes uncertain. Conversion utilizes interfacial tension and wettability angle which are quite unknown and can be predicted using different P-T charts. Finally saturation model depends on the way of: characterization - discrete Rock Types (RT) or tuned-up Continuous Functions (Leverett, Amaefule etc.); matching log saturation profile with the one observed in the model; welltest playback in terms of mobile water and drained volumes.

In this study, the authors present a systematic workflow on how capillary pressure should be incorporated in a dynamic simulation model pointing out example pitfalls and giving validation tips. The illustrated case shows that if one of the steps is missed or wrong assumptions are made, then the TZ and the production potential will be incorrect. In our example, the discretization of connate water saturation and capillary pressure curves on early stages resulted to 8% underestimation of GIIP. Moreover, results indicated that uncertainty in conversion of capillary curves (from surface to reservoir) gives 15-20% differences in outcomes (depending on development scenario). Also it demonstrates a strong impact on the length of production plateau, rate of wellhead pressure decline, compression start-up which are vital aspects for the development concept, especially during front-end-loading stage of the project plan. We feel that the procedures presented here (both for engineers and management) can serve as a guide for QC and possible failures when they are not applied.