Tar mats at the oil-water contact (OWC tar mats) in oilfield reservoirs can have enormous, pernicious effects on production due to possibly preventing of any natural water drive and precluding any effectiveness of water injectors into aquifers. In spite of this potentially huge impact, tar mat formation is only now being resolved and integrated within advanced asphaltene science. Herein, we describe a very different type of tar mat which we refer to as a "rapid-destabilization tar mat??; it is the asphaltenes that undergo rapid destabilization. To our knowledge, this is the first paper to describe such rapid-destabilization tar mats at least in this context. Rapid-destabilization tar mats can be formed at the crest of the reservoir, generally not at the OWC and can introduce their own set of problems in production. Most importantly, rapid-destabilization tar mats can be porous and permeable, unlike the OWC tar mats. The rapid-destabilization tar mat can undergo plastic flow under standard production conditions rather unlike the OWC tar mat. As its name implies, the rapid-destabilization tar mat can form in very young reservoirs in which thermodynamic disequilibrium in the oil column prevails, while the OWC tar mats generally take longer (geologic) time to form and are often associated with thermodynamically equilibrated oil columns. Here, we describe extensive data sets on rapid-destabilization tar mats in two adjacent reservoirs. The surprising properties of these rapid-destabilization tar mats are redundantly confirmed in many different ways. All components of the processes forming rapid-destabilization tar mats are shown to be consistent with powerful new developments in asphaltene science, specifically with the development of the first equation of state for asphaltene gradients, the Flory-Huggins-Zuo Equation, which has been enabled by the resolution of asphaltene nanostructures in crude oil codified in the Yen-Mullins Model. Rapid-destabilization tar mats represent one extreme while the OWC tar mats represent the polar opposite extreme. In the future, occurrences of tar in reservoirs can be better understood within the context of these two end members tar mats. In addition, two reservoirs in the same minibasin show the same behavior. This important observation allows fluid analysis in wells in one reservoir to indicate likely issues in other reservoirs in the same basin.
A Jurassic oil field in Saudi Arabia is characterized by black oil in the crest, with heavy oil underneath and all underlain by a tar mat at the oil-water contact (OWC). The viscosities in the black oil section of the column are similar throughout the field and are quite manageable from a production standpoint. In contrast, the mobile heavy oil section of the column contains a large, continuous increase in asphaltene content with increasing depth extending to the tar mat. Both the excessive viscosity of the heavy oil and the existence of the tar mat represent major, distinct challenges in oil production. A simple new formalism, the Flory-Huggins-Zuo (FHZ) Equation of State (EoS) incorporating the Yen-Mullins model of asphaltene nanoscience, is shown to account for the asphaltene content variation in the mobile heavy oil section. Detailed analysis of the tar mat shows significant nonmonotonic content of asphaltenes with depth, differing from that of the heavy oil. While the general concept of asphaltene gravitational accumulation to form the tar mat does apply, other complexities preclude simple monotonic behavior. Indeed, within small vertical distances (5 ft) the asphaltene content can decrease by 20% absolute with depth. These complexities likely involve a phase transition when the asphaltene concentration exceeds 35%. Traditional thermodynamic models of heavy oils and asphaltene gradients are known to fail dramatically. Many have ascribed this failure to some sort of chemical variation of asphaltenes with depth; the idea being that if the models fail it must be due to the asphaltenes. Our new simple formalism shows that thermodynamic modeling of heavy oil and asphaltene gradients can be successful. Our simple model demands that the asphaltenes are the same, top to bottom. The analysis of the sulfur chemistry of these asphaltenes by X-ray spectroscopy at the synchrotron at the Argonne National Laboratory shows that there is almost no variation of the sulfur through the hydrocarbon column. Sulfur is one of the most sensitive elements in asphaltenes to demark variation. Likewise, saturates, araomatics, resins and asphaltenes (SARA); measurements also support the application of this new asphaltene formalism. Consequently, the asphaltenes are very similar, and our new FHZ EoS with the Yen-Mullins formalism properly accounts for heavy oil and asphaltene gradients.
A Jurrasic oilfield in Saudi Arabia is characterized by black oil in the crest and with mobile heavy oil underneath and all underlain by a tar mat at the oil-water contact. The viscosities in the black oil section of the column are fairly similar and are quite manageable from a production standpoint. In contrast, the mobile heavy oil section of the column contains a large continuous increase in asphaltene content with increasing depth extending to the tar mat. The tar shows very high asphaltene content but not monotonically increasing with depth. Because viscosity depends exponentially on asphaltene content in these oils, the observed viscosity varies from several to ~ 1000 centipoise in the mobile heavy oil and increases to far greater viscosities in the tar mat. Both the excessive viscosity of the heavy oil and the existence of the tar mat represent major, distinct challenges in oil production. Conventional PVT modeling of this oil column grossly fails to account for these observations. Indeed, the very large height in this oil column represents a stringent challenge for any corresponding fluid model. A simple new formalism to characterize the asphaltene nanoscience in crude oils, the Yen-Mullins model, has enabled the industry's first predictive equation of state (EoS) for asphaltene gradients, the Flory-Huggins-Zuo (FHZ) EoS. For low GOR oils such as those in this field, the FHZ EoS reduces to the simple gravity term. Robust application of the FHZ EoS employing the Yen-Mullins model accounts for the major property variations in the oil column and by extension the tar mat as well. Moreover, as these crude oils are largely equilibrated throughout the field, reservoir connectivity is indicated in this field. This novel asphaltene science is dramatically improving understanding of important constraints on oil production in oil reservoirs.
The tremendous efforts have been made by the industry in tapping the recoverable resources from the unconventional reservoirs in the past ten years. Shale (tight) gas and shale (tight) oil are the two typical ones. Some research studies focused on the effect of porous media on the dew point of gas condensates in terms of experimental and theoretical work. The contradictory conclusions were reached. On the other hand, some conclusions were made for crude oil as well on the basis of the measurements of the bubble point pressure of crude oil in porous media. Therefore, it is of great importance to develop an effective method to predict the phase behavior of shale gas and shale oil in porous media and investigate the effects of some factors on the saturation pressures of gas condensate and crude oil in tight reservoirs.
In this paper, a general framework of theoretical models has been developed to predict the saturation pressures of shale gas and shale oil in tight reservoirs. The Laplace equation is used to relate to the pressures in vapor and liquid phases from the curved interface. The Parachor model is applied to determine the interfacial tensions of crude oil and gas condensate. By taking into account of porous media in the proposed models, the calculations have been performed in some case studies. The effect tendency of some properties of porous media such as permeability and porosity on the dew or bubble point of reservoir fluid is discussed in this paper.
Dong, Chengli (Shell International E&P (Rijswijk)) | Petro, David Robert (Marathon Oil) | Hayden, Ron S. (Schlumberger) | Zuo, Julian Youxiang (Schlumberger) | Pomerantz, Andrew (Schlumberger) | Mullins, Oliver C. (Schlumberger)
Characterization of complicated reservoir architecture with multiple compartments, baffles and tortuous connectivity is critical; additionally, reservoir fluids undergo dynamic processes (multiple charging, biodegradation and water/gas washes) that lead to complex fluid columns with significant property variation. Accurate understanding of both reservoir and fluids is critical for reserve assessment, field management and production planning. In this paper, a methodology is presented for reservoir connectivity analysis, which integrates reservoir fluid property distributions with an asphaltene Equation of State (EoS) model developed recently. The implications of reservoir fluid equilibrium are treated within laboratory experimentation and equation of state modeling. In addition to cubic EoS modeling for light end gradients, the industry's first asphaltene EoS the Flory-Huggins-Zuo EoS is successfully utilized for asphaltene gradients. This new EoS has been enabled by the resolution of asphaltene nanoscience embodied in the Yen-Mullins model. Specific reservoir fluid gradients, such as gas-oil ratio (GOR), composition and asphaltene content, can be measured in real time and under downhole conditions with downhole fluid analysis (DFA) conveyed by formation tester tools. Integration of the DFA methods with the asphaltene EoS model provides an effective method to analyze connectivity at the field scale, for both volatile oil/condensate gas reservoirs with large GOR variation, and black oil/mobile heavy oil fields with asphaltene variation in dominant.
A field case study is presented that involves multiple stacked sands in five wells in a complicated offshore field. Formation pressure analysis is inconclusive in determining formation connectivity due to measurement uncertainties; furthermore, conventional PVT laboratory analysis does not indicate significant fluid property variation. In this highly under-saturated black oil field, measurement of asphaltene content using DFA shows significant variation and is critical for understanding the reservoir fluid distribution. When integrated with the asphaltene EoS model, connectivity across multiple sands and wells is determined with high confidence, and the results are confirmed by actual production data. Advanced laboratory fluid analysis, such as two-dimensional gas chromatography, is also conducted on fluid samples, which further confirms the result of the DFA and asphaltene EoS model.
In recent years, there has been a growing recognition that complex reservoir architectures and complex fluid distributions are often the norm. Reservoir fluids undergo many dynamic processes over time, which may lead to highly complex oil columns. Factors that give rise to fluid complexities include current/multiple reservoir charging, biodegradation, water/gas washes, and leaky seals. Reservoir architecture is often complex with multiple compartments, baffles and tortuous connectivity. Because the reservoir fluids often exhibit large variations, reservoir compartmentalization can appear as stair-step discontinuous fluid properties. In contrast, well connected reservoirs exhibit smooth distributions of reservoir fluid properties. Analysis of reservoir fluid property distribution often functions as a proxy for reservoir connectivity in field scale, which has been supported by many field case studies.
Mishra, Vinay Kumar (Schlumberger) | Skinner, Carla (Husky Energy Inc.) | MacDonald, Dennis (Husky Energy Inc.) | Hammou, Nasreddine (Saudi Aramco Shell Ref Co) | Lehne, Eric (Schlumberger) | Wu, Jiehui (Schlumberger) | Zuo, Julian Youxiang (Schlumberger) | Dong, Chengli (Shell International E&P (Rijswijk)) | Mullins, Oliver C. (Schlumberger)
It has long been recognized that condensates can exhibit large compositional gradients. It is increasingly recognized that black oil columns can also exhibit substantial gradients. Moreover, significant advances in asphaltene science have provided the framework for modeling these gradients. For effective field development planning, it is important to understand possible variations in the oil column. These developments in petroleum science are being coupled with the new technology of downhole fluid analysis (DFA) to mitigate risk in oil production.
In this case study, DFA measurements revealed a large (10×) gradient of asphaltenes in a 100-m black oil column, with a corresponding large viscosity gradient. This asphaltene gradient was traced to the colloidal description of the asphaltenes, which yielded two conclusions: the asphaltenes are vertically equilibrated, consequently vertical connectivity is indicated, and the asphaltenes are partially destabilized. Vertical interference testing (VIT) was performed at several depths and confirmed the vertical connectivity of the oil column, with four of the five tests showing unambiguous vertical connectivity consistent with the overall connectivity implied by DFA. Geochemical analysis indicates that the instability was due to some late gas and condensate entry into the reservoir. For mitigation of production risk, flow assurance studies were performed and showed that while the asphaltenes are indeed partially destabilized, there is no significant associated problem. Moreover, thin sections of core were analyzed to detect possible bitumen. A very small quantity of bitumen was found, again confirming the asphaltene analysis; however, geochemical studies and flow assurance studies confirmed that this small amount of bitumen is not expected to create any reservoir issues.
Using new science and new technology to identify and minimize risk in oil production in combination with pressure transients addressed reservoir connectivity and provided a robust, positive assessment.