The amount of tight formations petrophysical work conducted at present in horizontal wells and the examples available in the literature are limited to only those wells that have complete data sets. This is very important. But the reality is that in the vast majority of horizontal wells the data required for detailed analyses are quite scarce.
To try to alleviate this problem, a new method is presented for complete petrophysical evaluation based on information that can be extracted from drill cuttings in the absence of well logs. The cuttings data include porosity and permeability. The gamma ray (GR) and any other logs, if available, can help support the interpretation. However, the methodology is built strictly on data extracted from cuttings and can be used for horizontal, slanted and vertical wells. The method is illustrated with the use of a tight gas formation in the Deep Basin of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB). However, it also has direct application in the case of liquids.
The method is shown to be a powerful petrophysical tool as it allows quantitative evaluation of water saturation, pore throat aperture, capillary pressure, flow units, porosity (or cementation) exponent m, true formation resistivity, distance to a water table (if present), and to distinguish the contributions from viscous and diffusion-like flow in tight gas formations. The method further allows the construction of Pickett plots without previous availability of well logs. The method assumes the existence of intervals at irreducible water saturation, which is the case of many tight formations currently under exploitation.
It is concluded that drill cuttings are a powerful direct source of information that allows complete and practical evaluation of tight reservoirs where well logs are scarce. The uniqueness and practicality of this quantitative procedure is that it starts from only laboratory analysis of drill cuttings, something that has not been done in the past.
Low matrix permeability and significant damage mechanisms are the main signatures of tight gas reservoirs. During drilling and fracturing of tight formations, the wellbore liquid invades the tight formation, increases liquid saturation around wellbore and eventually reduces permeability at near wellbore. The liquid invasion damage is mainly controlled by capillary pressure and relative permeability curves.
Water blocking and phase trapping damage is one of the main concerns in use of water based drilling fluid in tight gas reservoirs, since due to high critical water saturation, relative permeability effects and strong capillary pressure, tight formations are sensitive to water invasion damage. Therefore, use of oil based mud may be preferred in drilling or fracturing of tight formation. However invasion of oil filtrate into tight formations may result in introduction of an immiscible liquid hydrocarbon drilling or completion fluid around wellbore, causing entrapment of an additional third phase in the porous media that would exacerbate formation damage effects.
This study focuses on phase trapping damage caused by liquid invasion using water-based drilling fluid in comparison with use of oil-based drilling fluid in water sensitive tight gas sand reservoirs. Reservoir simulation approach is used to study the effect of relative permeability curves on phase trap damage, and results of laboratory experiments core flooding tests in a West Australian tight gas reservoir are shown in which the effect of water injection and oil injection on the damage of core permeability are studied. The results highlights benefits of using oil-based fluids in drilling and fracturing of tight gas reservoirs in term of reducing skin factor and improving well productivity.
Tight gas reservoirs normally have production problems due to very low matrix permeability and different damage mechanisms during well drilling, completion, stimulation and production (Dusseault, 1993). The low permeability gas reservoirs can be subject to different damage mechanisms such as mechanical damage to formation rock, plugging of natural fractures by invasion of mud solid particles, permeability reduction around wellbore as a result of filtrate invasion, clay swelling, liquid phase trapping, etc (Holditch, 1979).
In general, for tight sand gas reservoirs, average pore throat radius might be very small and therefore it may create tremendous amounts of capillary forces. Capillary forces cause the spontaneous imbibition of a wetting liquid (in this case water) in the porous medium in the absence of external forces such as a hydraulic gradient (Bennion and Brent, 2005). This causes significantly high critical water saturation (Bennion et al., 2006). Two forces drive capillary flow (Adamson and Gast, 1997). The first is the reduction in the surface free energy by the wetting of the hydrophilic surface (wettability). In hydraulic fracturing, water in the fracturing fluid wets the surface of the pores in the rock, resulting in a decrease in the surface free energy of the pores. The other force that drives capillary flow is the capillary pressure.
Tight gas reservoirs might be different in term of initial water saturation (Swi) compared with critical water saturation (Swc), depending on the geological time of gas migration to the reservoir. Initial water saturation might be normal, or in some cases sub-normal (Swi less than Swc) due to water phase vaporization into the gas phase (Bennion and Thomas, 1996). The initial water saturation might also be more than Swc if the hydrocarbon trap is created during or after the gas migration time. A sub-normal initial water saturation in tight gas reservoirs can provide higher relative permeability for the gas phase (effective permeability close to absolute permeability), and therefore relatively higher well productivity (Bennion and Brent, 2005).
The Stybarrow Field is a moderately sized biodegraded 22° API oil accumulation reservoired in Early Cretaceous sandstones of the Macedon Formation in the Exmouth Sub-Basin, offshore Western Australia. The reservoir is comprised of excellent quality, poorly consolidated turbidite sandstones up to 20m thick. The field lies in approximately 800m of water and has been developed with five near-horizontal producers and three water injection wells. The Stybarrow development came online at an initial rate of 80,000BOPD in November 2007.
Due to the lack of significant aquifer support, water injection was planned from start-up for pressure maintenance. Acquisition of a variety of data types have enabled key subsurface challenges to be addressed both before and during production. Structural and stratigraphic complexities influence connectivity and therefore must be fully evaluated in order to achieve optimal sweep. A feasibility study concluded that Stybarrow would be a good candidate for 4D seismic monitoring. Two monitor surveys were acquired and, along with other reservoir surveillance techniques, have been used to refine the geological model.
The first monitor survey at Stybarrow was recorded in November 2008. The results of this survey were in agreement with prior 4D modelling and supported the drilling of a successful development well in the north of the field. A second monitor survey was recorded in May 2011, three and a half years after first oil and at 70% of expected ultimate recovery. This survey is currently being analysed to determine if sweep patterns have changed.
The 4D surveys have proven to be an important tool for understanding subsurface architecture and dynamic fluid-flow behaviour. The results of both 4D seismic surveys have provided significant contributions to understanding the dynamic behaviour within the reservoir to facilitate optimal reservoir management.
Collett, Timothy S. (US Geological Survey) | Boswell, Ray (US Department of Energy) | Lee, Myung W. (US Geological Survey) | Anderson, Brian J. (West Virginia University) | Rose, Kelly (US Department of Energy) | Lewis, Kristen A. (US Geological Survey)
The results of short-duration formation tests in northern Alaska and Canada have further documented the energy-resource potential of gas hydrates and have justified the need for long-term gas-hydrate-production testing. Additional data acquisition and long-term production testing could improve the understanding of the response of naturally occurring gas hydrate to depressurization-induced or thermal-, chemical-, or mechanical-stimulated dissociation of gas hydrate into producible gas. The Eileen gashydrate accumulation located in the Greater Prudhoe Bay area in northern Alaska has become a focal point for gas-hydrate geologic and production studies. BP Exploration (Alaska) Incorporated and ConocoPhillips have each established research partnerships with the US Department of Energy to assess the production potential of gas hydrates in northern Alaska. A critical goal of these efforts is to identify the most suitable site for production testing. A total of seven potential locations in the Prudhoe Bay, Kuparuk River, and Milne Point production units were identified and assessed relative to their suitability as a long-term gas-hydrate-production test sites. The test-site-assessment criteria included the analysis of the geologic risk associated with encountering reservoirs for gas-hydrate testing. The site-selection process also dealt with the assessment of the operational/logistical risk associated with each of the potential test sites. From this review, a site in the Prudhoe Bay production unit was determined to be the best location for extended gas-hydrate-production testing. The work presented in this report identifies the key features of the potential test site in the Greater Prudhoe Bay area and provides new information on the nature of gas-hydrate occurrence and the potential impact of production testing on existing infrastructure at the most favorable sites. These data were obtained from well-log analysis, geological correlation and mapping, and numerical simulation.