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Reservoir Modeling for Horizontal-Well Exploitation of a Giant Heavy-Oil Field T.H. Tankersley, SPE, and M.W.

Reservoir Modeling for Horizontal-Well Exploitation of a Giant Heavy-Oil Field

T.H. Tankersley, SPE, and M.W. Waite, SPE, Petrolera Ameriven

Summary The Hamaca field, located in Venezuela’s Orinoco heavy-oil belt, is a giant extra heavy-oil accumulation operated by Ameriven, an operating agent company for PDVSA, ConocoPhillips, and Chev- ronTexaco. Over the 35-year life of the field, more than 1,000 horizontal laterals are planned to deliver 190,000 BOPD to a heavy-oil upgrader facility. Reservoir models are built to support a broad continuum of activities to meet this objective. This paper will review the Hamaca reservoir-modeling process, the challenge of integrating many sources of geologic and geophysical con- straints (including horizontal-well information), the focus on con- tinuous model improvement, and issues unique to Hamaca rock and fluid properties. We will show that efficiently evolving a very large geocellular model in an active project like Hamaca can be accomplished through the use of object-oriented process automa- tion. In addition, the paper will illustrate that careful consideration should be paid to issues related to horizontal-well sampling bias and positional uncertainty before constraining a geocellular model with horizontal-well data. The paper will discuss the multiple so- phisticated modeling techniques that were used to address the ob- jectives of the Hamaca modeling program.

Background The Hamaca field is located in Venezuela’s Orinoco heavy-oil belt, which is reported to contain more than 1.2 trillion barrels of heavy and extra heavy oil in a huge stratigraphic trap on the southern flank of the Oriente basin (Fig. 1). The Hamaca conces- sion area, which covers 160,000 acres, contains 8 to 10°API grav- ity oil trapped in shallow fluvial-deltaic reservoirs of the Oficina formation (Miocene age). Sandstone reservoirs of the Oficina for- mation at Hamaca were generally deposited in a bed-load- dominated, fluvial-deltaic environment. Reservoir properties are excellent, with porosity values of up to 36% and permeability values of up to 30 darcies. Hamaca crude is considered “foamy” and is generally saturated with gas at reservoir conditions. 1 Over the 35-year life of the field, more than 1,000 horizontal laterals are planned to deliver 190,000 BOPD to a heavy-oil up- grader facility, which is currently under construction. 2 To date, more than 110 horizontal wells have been drilled to produce from the Hamaca reservoirs. Oil is being produced under “cold produc- tion” methods (no added heat) using progressing cavity pumps to bring oil to the surface. Cold production is possible because of the extended length of the horizontal wells (5,000 ft), excellent reser- voir properties, and the foamy-oil nature of Hamaca crude. 2 The heavy oil will be mixed with diluent just downstream of the well- heads to facilitate transport to the upgrader facility. The Hamaca crude will be converted to a sweeter crude product of approxi- mately 26°API at the upgrader. The combined use of both well and seismic data is critically important for characterizing the stratigraphic complexity of the Hamaca fluvial-deltaic systems. To assist in targeting sweet spots for horizontal-well placement, a 250-km 2 3D seismic survey was acquired along with the drilling of 91 stratigraphic information wells with an average separation distance of approximately 1.5 km.

Copyright © 2003 Society of Petroleum Engineers

This paper (SPE 87308) was revised for publication from paper SPE 78957, first presented at the 2002 SPE International Thermal Operations and Heavy Oil Symposium and Inter- national Horizontal Well Technology Conference, Calgary, 4–7 November. Original manu- script received for review 18 November 2002. Revised manuscript received 29 August 2003. Paper peer approved 8 September 2003.

Modeling Approach

Hamaca reservoir-modeling activity has been motivated by strate- gic and tactical business drivers that include reservoir sweet-spot identification for development planning, reserves studies for a con- tractual acreage-relinquishment decision, and horizontal wellbore design and steering. The continuous flow of new information from stratigraphic and horizontal-well drilling programs and the analy- sis of original and reprocessed vintages of 3D seismic data have required flexibility in evolving geologic and engineering concepts.

“One Size Fits All.” An ambitious undertaking began in 2000 to build a single “evergreen” reservoir model that satisfied each of the Hamaca business drivers. The design goals in building such a model were to maintain a high level of consistency across all the operational activities in a resource- and time-efficient manner. Creating a one-size-fits-all model required that the model cover a large enough area (37×33 km) to satisfy strategic activities such as flow simulation for reserves assessments and sweet-spot iden-

tification, and that it be sufficiently detailed to plan and steer the horizontal wellbores. In selecting the appropriate model-cell dimensions, the tradeoff between resolution and computational efficiency was considered. Some of the factors that weighed on the selection of cell dimen- sions were:

• Sufficient sampling of the expected vertical and horizontal heterogeneity as defined by variography.

• Accuracy in the simulation of pressure drawdown and asso- ciated production of gas in the vicinity of wells.

• The ability to update the geologic model with new informa- tion with a 24-hour turnaround time.

• Flow-simulation and history-matching turnaround time.

• Hardware and software memory limitations.

After extensive testing, the optimal cell dimensions of 100× 100 m in the horizontal and .6 m in the vertical were chosen, resulting in approximately 38 million cells distributed among 10 major stratigraphic units. For computational flexibility, major stratigraphic units were built as separate 3D grids (SGrids) and then merged as needed for flow simulation and well-planning and -drilling activities. Efficiently evolving such a large model as new information became available posed unique challenges that re- quired a creative approach to the model-building process.

Process Automation. The continuous inflow of new information from the stratigraphic-well drilling program, horizontal-well drill- ing program, and seismic interpretation required that Ameriven focus effort on building a reservoir-modeling process that is effi- cient, consistent, and repeatable. These goals were achieved by the use of automation. Model-building automation was accomplished by the use of process scripting within an object-oriented modeling system. Scripts are files containing a sequence of commands that modify object properties and control object-to-object interaction. Nested layers of scripts were written to manage the entire model-building process including data loading, well-log processing, framework construction, region definition, reservoir parameter population, generation of numerous quality-control products, and export of the model to the simulator (Fig. 2). With such a large model, many of the model-building functions require hours to complete; the use of scripting allows those pro- cesses to continue running overnight without the need for inter- vention. For example, when information from a recently drilled

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Fig. 1—Location of Hamaca field in the Orinoco heavy-oil belt of Venezuela. well indicates the
Fig. 1—Location of Hamaca field in the Orinoco heavy-oil belt of Venezuela. well indicates the

Fig. 1—Location of Hamaca field in the Orinoco heavy-oil belt of Venezuela.

well indicates the need for revision of a structural surface, the surface can be modified and the entire model updated for use the next day.

Property Modeling One of the greatest challenges in computer-based model building is to parameterize and then incorporate the available geologic in- terpretative data, concepts, and insights. Often, the most difficult challenge is to capture this conceptual information in a form that is compatible with the rigid constructs of computer model build- ing. For the Hamaca modeling effort, regional net sand maps gen- erated from the interpretation of seismic and well data were avail- able. Each map embodies the most current Ameriven concepts regarding source direction, sand fairways, and predominant depo- sitional facies types in the model area. Hence, the model was constructed in a way that would incorporate these maps as key drivers in the horizontal and vertical distribution of the reservoir.

Reservoir Distribution. A technique called sequential Gaussian simulation with block kriging (SGSBK) was chosen as the ideal method for integrating the available net sand information because of its ability to incorporate a 2D interval-type map as a soft con- straint on the 3D interpolation of well-log point data. 3 SGSBK is an SGS technique that treats a 2D map as a soft estimate of the column averages in the 3D model to be populated. A major strength of the technique is that it explicitly addresses the differ- ences in variance caused by differences in volume support between the 2D average constraint map and the well-log-scale point data. With SGSBK, the resulting model contains the vertical variability

SGSBK, the resulting model contains the vertical variability Fig. 3—An image showing a flattened SGrid (bottom)

Fig. 3—An image showing a flattened SGrid (bottom) painted with VSH and the corresponding net sand map used to con- strain the population of VSH (top). Note the correspondence between channel fairways in the net sand map (warmer colors) and the sandier areas of the model.

sand map (warmer colors) and the sandier areas of the model. Fig. 2—A diagram illustrating the

Fig. 2—A diagram illustrating the use of scripting for efficient and repeatable model updating. With automation, the 38- million-cell model can be updated within the design goal of less than 24 hours.

driven by the well-log data and the vertical variogram and the horizontal variability driven by the 2D average map and hori- zontal variogram. To use the net sand maps to drive model reservoir distribution, the net sand maps must first be transformed into average volume- of-shale (VSH) maps. This is accomplished by computing net-to- gross maps from the net sand and interval isopach maps. The net-to-gross maps are then scaled to pseudoaverage shale-volume maps using a linear transform developed from well-log analysis. SGSBK is used to populate the model with shale volume using the pseudoaverage VSH maps as a soft constraint. Fig. 3 illustrates the high degree of correlation between the constraining net sand map and the resulting model VSH distribution. Effective porosity was modeled as a function of rock type, well-log data, and model VSH. First, three petrophysical facies are created by applying cutoffs to the model VSH property. The cut-

offs are selected to differentiate the predominately channel, splay, and nonreservoir depositional rock types found in Hamaca. Each of these facies regions is then populated with porosity indepen- dently using SGS with a locally varying mean (SGSLVM). In this technique, a porosity-trend model is created by linearly scaling model VSH to porosity using a transform generated from well-log analysis. The residuals (differences) between the model porosity trend and the well-log porosities are distributed using SGS and the residual porosity variogram. The distributed residuals are added to the trend to produce a porosity field that is softly constrained by VSH. The advantages of running separate region-based passes of SGSLVM are:

The distinctly different probability density functions (PDFs) and bivariate relationships in each region are honored more closely.

The normal-score forward and reverse transforms that are

performed with SGS are more robust because we avoid transform- ing the skewed, bimodal property distribution associated with a single region.

Each facies region can be assigned a model of spatial conti-

nuity (variogram model) that is appropriate for its rock type. The Hamaca reservoirs are very permeable owing to their well- sorted, loosely consolidated nature. Measurements from continu- ous cores have shown that air permeabilities range up to 30 dar- cies. These elevated permeabilities play a critical role in allowing high rates of cold production from the reservoirs. Analysis of core measurements indicates that permeability can be modeled with satisfactory accuracy as a function of grain size (VSH) and poros- ity. Fig. 4 shows the porosity/permeability crossplot color coded with well-log-matched VSH. Permeability was populated into the

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Fig. 4 — Porosity-to-permeability relationship based on cores. Separate transforms were used for VSH <=
Fig. 4 — Porosity-to-permeability relationship based on cores. Separate transforms were used for VSH <=

Fig. 4Porosity-to-permeability relationship based on cores. Separate transforms were used for VSH <= 0.20 and for VSH >= 0.30, with interpolation for values between 0.20 and 0.30.

model as a function of model porosity and VSH using the rela- tionship shown in Fig. 4.

Fluid Distribution. A thorough understanding of water distribu- tion in a heavy-oil project like Hamaca is imperative to avoid earlier-than-expected water encroachment and the operational costs associated with remediation (water shutoff). Because the specific gravities of Hamaca oil and water are very similar (.965 vs. 1.01 g/cm 3 ), the small difference in buoyancy results in pon- cheros,or perched pockets of water above the oil/water contacts.

or perched pockets of water above the oil/water contacts. Fig. 6 — (a) Crossplot of measured

Fig. 6(a) Crossplot of measured temperatures vs. depth and line fits used to calculate gradients; (b) map of temperature gradients; (c) temperature volume.

(b) map of temperature gradients; (c) temperature volume. Fig. 5 — (a) Illustration showing an example

Fig. 5(a) Illustration showing an example oil/water contact surface and the oil regionand water region; (b) structural cross section from the model showing S w property and oil/water contact.

Oil/water contact depths are highly variable because of the small difference between the net oil/water buoyancy pressure and the capillary displacement pressure across semipermeable and perme- able faults. 4 If not avoided in drilling, water will be produced preferentially because of the large difference in viscosity between the heavy oil and water. Therefore, accurate modeling of water distribution is critical to the operational success of the project. Water is distributed in the Hamaca model as a function of well-log data, model facies, model VSH, and structural position relative to the interpreted oil/water contacts. Ten oil/water contact maps, which represent the base of the oil/water transition zone in each stratigraphic interval, are used to create regions above and below the contacts (Fig. 5). For the water region,or the area below the oil/water contact, water saturation (S w ) is set to 1. For the oil region,S w is populated from well-log data using SGSLVM. As with porosity, S w is populated into each petrophysi- cal-facies region separately, using VSH as a soft constraint to better control the distribution. By populating oil and water regions with S w separately, low S w values from wells in the oil region are not interpolated into cells below the oil/water contact and, conversely, high S w values from wet wells are not carried updip into cells above the oil/water contact.

Heat Distribution. In many reservoir-modeling projects, tem- perature variation for a constant depth is small and can be ne- glected in flow simulation without significantly impacting perfor- mance. In Hamaca, however, large variations in vertical tempera- ture gradient do exist. Gradients calculated from formation temperature logs measured in stratigraphic wells (at static condi- tions) range from .12 to .18 °F/ft (Fig. 6a). At a constant reservoir depth of 2,500 ft below surface, this variation in gradient corre- sponds to an approximately 15°F change in temperature. Lab mea- surements of Hamaca oil samples indicate that a 10°F increase in reservoir temperature can result in a 50% reduction in viscosity, underscoring the impact of temperature on viscosity and, ulti- mately, recovery. Therefore, it is important to model these ob- served temperature variations accurately. The Hamaca model was populated with temperature by first mapping the spatial variation in gradient measured from tempera- ture logs (Fig. 6b). Each cell column of the model was then as- signed a temperature gradient from the map. The depth of over- burden was calculated for each model cell using remote-sensing image data to account for topography above datum (mean sea level, or MSL). The temperature of each model cell was estimated from the associated depth of overburden and gradient properties. The resulting 3D model of temperature (Fig. 6c) is input to the fluid-flow simulation to more accurately model variations in oil viscosity.

Multiple Scales of Heterogeneity. Multiple scales of heteroge- neity generally exist to a degree in most depositional settings. In Hamacas fluvial-deltaic depositional environment, dual scales of variability are clearly evident in variograms of reservoir properties. Long correlation ranges in these variograms are related to large-

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Fig. 7 — Illustration showing dual scales of continuity evident in Hamaca variograms. scale variations
Fig. 7 — Illustration showing dual scales of continuity evident in Hamaca variograms. scale variations

Fig. 7Illustration showing dual scales of continuity evident in Hamaca variograms.

scale variations in the form of channel complexes that are devel- oped in some areas of the field but are absent in others. Within these overall channel complexes, individual channels anastomose and downcut into previously existing channels, with the resulting stratigraphy showing discontinuous channel features (bars) with shorter scale variability (Fig. 7). Short correlation ranges in Hamaca variograms are related to these individual channel fea- tures. The different scales of variability were modeled using nested (linearly combined) variograms. The relating of structures ob- served in experimental variograms with scale-dependent geologic processes resulted in a more geologic interpretation and modeling of reservoir spatial continuity.

Variable Azimuth. A unique aspect of the Hamaca modeling approach is the extensive use of the variable-azimuth (VA) tech- nique for populating model properties. 5 In most modeling projects, reservoir properties are usually distributed into a geocellular framework using a variogram model describing a single direction of maximum anisotropic correlation. For the Hamaca model, the azimuth of greatest continuity was allowed to vary geographically so that the trend of the reservoir properties would be oriented similarly to the overall channel-complex trends that have been interpreted. The result is greater model pore-space connectivity and a more realistic representation of the geology (Fig. 8).

Incorporating Horizontal-Well Data Three-dimensional geocellular models are routinely used in many development projects to justify and plan horizontal wells. How-

projects to justify and plan horizontal wells. How- Fig. 9 — VSH histograms from one stratigraphic

Fig. 9VSH histograms from one stratigraphic interval includ- ing (lower left) and excluding (upper left) horizontal-well samples. Inclusion of the biased and overrepresented horizon- tal-well samples skews the VSH property distribution toward cleaner rock. On the right is a net sand map showing the loca- tion of wells used in the histograms.

map showing the loca- tion of wells used in the histograms. Fig. 8 — Net sand

Fig. 8Net sand map (left) used as a constraint for VSH popu- lation and resulting VSH property for a single layer of the model using the variable-azimuth technique (middle) and using a con- stant variogram azimuth (right). Note the higher degree of sand continuity and better consistency with the net sand map that results from using the variable-azimuth technique.

ever, it is far less common to use the results of horizontal-well drilling to update a geocellular model. The Hamaca project is unique in this respectas the project progresses, a very large number of horizontal wells will be available to inform the evolving geocellular model. These horizontal-well data provide important information about short-scale lateral heterogeneity that is not ob- tainable from other sources of information. However, careful con- sideration should be paid to several important issues that are unique to the incorporation of horizontal-well data.

Sample Debiasing of Horizontal-Well Data. One of the design goals of stochastic simulation techniques such as SGS is to gen- erate property realizations that are consistent with an a priori global probability density function (PDF). It is common practice to assume that the harddata PDF from well logs is representative of the global model PDF (stationarity assumption). Often, this assumption is not satisfied to a sufficient degree because of biases in well sampling. For example, preferential drilling of reservoir sweet spots can skew the estimated global PDF, resulting in prop- erty simulations with overestimated reservoir volumes and conti- nuity. The geostatistical modeler must decide whether the station- arity assumption is satisfied to a sufficient degree and, if it is not, take measures to calculate a debiased estimate of the global prop- erty PDF for stochastic simulation. Before using horizontal-well data as input to stochastic simu- lation, the effects of horizontal sampling on the global property PDF should be considered. A horizontal well provides a much denser sampling of rock heterogeneity than a vertical well because of horizontal stratification (i.e., layered rock strata are more con- tinuous laterally than they are vertically). Because the intention of drilling a horizontal well is to drill as much high-quality reservoir rock as possible, the dense sampling from horizontal-well logging is generally biased toward better reservoir rock properties. When these samples are combined with samples from vertical wells to estimate the global PDF, the biased and overrepresented horizon- tal-well data will optimistically skew the property PDF. In the case of Hamaca modeling, the inclusion of horizontal-well data in the estimate of the PDF for VSH results in 10% overestimation of model reservoir volume, even though the horizontal-well drilling to date has been limited to only a small fraction of the model area (Fig. 9). Several approaches were tested to address the horizontal sam- pling bias. They all have in common the goal of reducing the influence of the overabundant and biased horizontal-well-log samples in the calculation of the global property PDF. These in- cluded assigning declustering weights based on the closenessof samples, 6 resampling the horizontal-log data to a coarser sampling interval based on variography, and ignoring the horizontal-log data altogether (for purposes of global PDF estimation only). Each of these approaches was found to address the problem effectively. For purposes of implementation convenience related to the modeling software being used, we chose to resample the horizontal-well-log data. This reduced sample rate was selected to sample lateral rock

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heterogeneity (as measured by the horizontal variogram range) at roughly the same rate as a

heterogeneity (as measured by the horizontal variogram range) at roughly the same rate as a vertical well samples vertical rock heterogeneity (as measured by the average vertical variogram). In our case, this required a 200 to 1 reduction in horizontal sample rate.

Variogram Analysis Using Horizontal-Well Data. Careful con- sideration is also required to use horizontal-well data in variogram analysis. As with the calculation of the global property PDF, sample bias can skew the results of variography. If the goal of horizontal wells is to drill continuous reservoir rock, then the horizontal variogram range will be overestimated, and the resulting geocellular model could be overly continuous. Conversely, the horizontal variogram range can be underesti- mated because of wellbore and model positional uncertainty. This occurs because horizontal variogram analysis is generally per- formed in a stratigraphic spacedefined by the model framework. Relative structural misalignment between the wellbore and the model framework will result in the horizontal variography con- fusingvertical heterogeneity for horizontal heterogeneity (Fig. 10). Because it is difficult to tie model structural surfaces to hori- zontal-well-log data, a large amount of relative positional uncer- tainty can exist. Because of this uncertainty, variogram analysis for the Hamaca model was restricted to using only the build sectionsof the horizontal wells, which are located with a greater degree of certainty. A large number of build sections (51) were available for variogam analysis and were key to defining short-scale reservoir variability and recognizing multiple scales of heterogeneity (as discussed earlier in this paper).

Conclusions 1. Efficiently evolving a very large geocellular model in an active project like Hamaca can be accomplished through the use of object-oriented process automation. 2. Heat is an important element in understanding flow behavior in the Hamaca field because of its control of oil viscosity. There- fore, accurately modeling temperature variations in 3D geocel- lular space is critical.

variations in 3D geocel- lular space is critical. Fig. 10 — (a) Schematic cross section with

Fig. 10(a) Schematic cross section with the horizontal well- bore positioned correctly relative to model framework, resulting in correct variogram analysis; (b) schematic cross section with the horizontal wellbore not positioned correctly relative to model framework, resulting in an incorrect model of variability.

3. The relating of structures observed in experimental variograms with scale-dependent geologic processes resulted in a more geo- logic interpretation and modeling of reservoir spatial continuity. 4. Careful consideration should be paid to issues related to hori- zontal-well sampling bias and positional uncertainty before in- cluding horizontal-well data in a geocellular model. 5. Multiple sophisticated modeling techniques were used to ad- dress the objectives of the Hamaca modeling program.

Acknowledgments The authors would like to thank PDVSA, ConocoPhillips, Chev- ronTexaco, and Petrolera Ameriven for permission to publish the material in this paper.

References

1. Maini, B.B.: Foamy-Oil Flow,JPT (October 2001) 54.

2. Gipson, L.J., Owen, R., and Robertson, C.R.: Hamaca Heavy Oil ProjectLessons Learned and an Evolving Development Strategy,paper SPE 78990 presented at the 2002 SPE International Thermal Operations and Heavy Oil Symposium and International Horizontal Well Technology Conference, Calgary, 47 November.

3. Behrens, R.A. et al.: Incorporating Seismic Attribute Maps in 3D Reservoir Models,paper SPE 36499 presented at the 1996 SPE An- nual Technical Conference and Exhibition, Denver, 69 October.

4. Watts, N.L.: Theoretical Aspects of cap-rock and fault seals for single- and two-phase hydrocarbon columns,Marine and Petroleum Geology (November 1987) 4, 274.

5. Xu, W.: Conditional Curvilinear Stochastic Simulation Using Pixel- Based Algorithms,Mathematical Geology (1996) 28, No. 7, 937.

6. Deutsch, C.V.: DECLUS: A Fortran 77 program for determining op- timum spatial declustering weights,Computers & Geosciences (1989) 15, No. 3, 325.

SI Metric Conversion Factors

acre ×

4.046 873

E + 03 m 2

bbl ×

1.589 873

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(°F32)/1.8

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ft ×

3.048 *

E 01 m

in. 3 ×

1.638 706

E + 01 cm 3

mile ×

1.609 344*

E + 00 km

sq mile × 2.589 988

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*Conversion factor is exact.

Terrell H. Tankersley is a senior development geologist special- izing in reservoir modeling for the Hamaca Project in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. e-mail: tankersley@chevrontexaco.com. Since 1981, he has held various positions with ChevronTexaco, focused primarily on reservoir modeling and development ge- ology. He has worked in numerous basins in Indonesia, Ven- ezuela, and the Gulf of Mexico. Tankersley holds a BS degree in geology from the U. of Georgia. Michael W. Waite currently manages reservoir-modeling and flow-simulation activities for the Hamaca Project in Venezuela. e-mail: waitemw@ chevrontexaco.com. Since 1982, he has held positions with ChevronTexaco involving seismic acquisition and processing, development and application of subsurface imaging tech- niques, prospect evaluation, reservoir characterization using 3D/4D seismic data, and geostatistical model building. He holds a BS degree in physics from the U. of New Orleans. Waite served as a 1997–98 SPE Distinguished Lecturer on the topic of time-lapse seismic monitoring.

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