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Permeability Alteration

D.P. Yale, SPE, ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company.

Copyright 2002, Society of Petroleum Engineers Inc.

This paper was prepared for presentation at the SPE/ISRM Rock Mechanics Conference held

in Irving, Texas, 20-23 October 2002.

This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE/ISRM Program Committee following

review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the

paper, as presented, have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers or

International Society of Rock Mechanics and are subject to correction by the author(s). The

material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any position of the Society of Petroleum

Engineers, International Society of Rock Mechanics, its officers, or members. Papers

presented at SPE/ISRM meetings are subject to publication review by Editorial Committees of

the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part

of this paper for commercial purposes without the written consent of the Society of Petroleum

Engineers is prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more

than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous

acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper was presented. Write Librarian, SPE, P.O.

Box 833836, Richardson, TX 75083-3836, U.S.A., fax 01-972-952-9435.

Abstract

Yale et. al.1 showed significant differences between

uncoupled reservoir simulations of a highly compressible

(but elastic) reservoir and the same model run with

deformation and fluid flow coupled together. This paper

utilizes a similar model but investigates the effect of plasticity

of the reservoir rock and alteration of permeability with

deformation on these coupled simulations.

The coupled simulations show that plasticity significantly

increases the compressibility of the rocks and the compaction

drive energy of the reservoir. The initial stress state of the

reservoir is shown to have a large effect on the degree of

plasticity and the degree of depletion for the same amount of

fluid withdrawal and the same rock properties.

Modeling the change in permeability with deformation of

plastic sands shows an extremely large effect on near wellbore

pressure drawdown and deformation over normal reservoir

simulations. The coupld geomechanis-fluid flow simulations

show very strong interaction between pressure drawdown,

plastic strain, and permeability.

Introduction

Numerical simulation of flow in and from petroleum

reservoirs is done to predict production so that optimal

development plans for the reservoir can be developed. The

more accurately the models represent the physics of the

problem, the more useful the prediction made from the models

can be. Most developments in numerical reservoir simulation

have revolved around accurate modeling of fluid properties

transmissibility properties of the porous geologic material.

In many reservoirs, however, the storage and transmissibility

properties of the reservoirs are strongly stress dependent and

therefore there values are coupled with the pressure and

flow of the fluids in the reservoirs. As such, numerical

simulation of these types of stress-sensitive reservoirs requires

the fluid flow equations from standard reservoir simulation to

be solved simultaneously (i.e. coupled with) the equations for

deformation of the porous media.

A number of different models have been developed to try and

couple geomechancial models with fluid-flow simulators1-6 .

One difficulty in doing these types of simulations is that in

addition to having to solve additional sets of non-linear

equations (flow and deformation), a much larger volume of

rock must be simulated (reservoir, overburden, underburden,

sideburden) than in fluid flow only simulations. The increased

computational effort (or decreased model resolution) requires

a good understanding of the geologic conditions under which

geomechanics-fluid flow coupling is required. It also raises

questions as to the degree of coupling (partial coupling of

separate models versus simultaneous solution of flow and

deformation equations) and the degree on non-linearity (linear

elastic versus plastic, constant permeability versus stressdependent permeability, fracture flow, etc.) that needs to be

included to realistically simulate a particular reservoir.

Yale et. al.1 and Gutierez and Hansteen4 have contrasted

coupled and uncoupled simulations to understand when it is

beneficial to apply coupled modeling. In both cases, linear

elastic models of the reservoir were used to simulate the

deformation. Partial coupling (running a geomechanics

simulator every few timesteps of the fluid flow simulator to

feed back porosity/permeability changes to the fluid flow

simulator) has also been used to run large reservoir

simulations with reasonable computational times.

This paper investigates fully coupled simulations (flow and

deformation equations solved simultaneously at each timestep)

of more highly non-linear problems involving plastic yielding

D. YALE

deformation and stress.

Coupled versus Uncoupled Formulations

Biot7 and Terzagi8 are credited with first bringing together

solid-fluid deformations and their interactions to describe

deformation and flow in porous, elastic materials. Biot7

showed the effect of solid and fluid deformations on flow and

pressure in porous media to be:

(k/)2p = (/t) + (1/Q)(p/t)

(1)

volumetric strain of the porous media, p is the fluid pressure,

and and Q are solid-fluid coupling terms.

Gutierrez and Hansteen4 show that Biots solid-fluid coupling

can be generalized and formulated in finite element terms as a

coupled fluid pressure equation:

p = (Cf + t + LTK-1L )1(pnt + Q + LTK-1F)

(2)

reservoir, is the transmissibility matrix, pn, are the pressures

from the previous timestep, t is the timestep, and Q is the

fluid flux matrix, L is the solid-fluid coupling matrix, K is the

global stiffness matrix (i.e. constitutive model for the

deformation of the reservoir and overburden, underburden,

and sideburden), and F is the matrix of applied mechanical

loads to the system.

This can be compared to an uncoupled fluid pressure

equation in a fluid flow only simulation of:

p = (Cf + t + Cp )1(pnt + Q)

(3)

The main difference in the first term in parentheses is that the

pore or rock compressibilities in the uncoupled formulation

are replaced with term involving the global stiffness matrix

and the solid-fluid coupling parameters in the coupled

formulation. Note that the last term in equation 2 involves not

only the stiffness or compressibility of the reservoir, but also

the interaction between the deformation of the reservoir and

the surrounding rocks. The fully coupled formulation also

differs in the second term in parentheses in that it has an

additional term involving the coupling matrix, stiffness matrix,

and applied loads to the system.

Therefore, we can see that uncoupled models whose only

coupling is to lump fluid and rock compressibilities together

in the total system compressibility term does not account for

the strong interaction that can occur between the fluid and

solid portions of the reservoir system. In addition, the

SPE/ISRM 78202

deformation, that leads to another level of coupling in

equation 2.

Critical State Constitutive Modeling

Although the basic coupled formulation as shown in equation

2 is completely general as to the constitutive model for rock

deformation, many current coupled models more often use

elastic or non-linear hyperelastic models1-5, 9 to allow

simulation in realistic timeframes. Plastic yielding of the

reservoir materials introduces a significant non-linearity and

increases computation times, however, many weak or

unconsolidated reservoir materials can undergo plasticity

during production.

For this study we used a critical state cap plasticity

constitutive model10,11 as implemented in the coupled

geomechanics-fluid flow finite element method (FEM) code

VISAGETM 2,12,13. Figure 1 shows the generalized critical

state model in p:q space (mean stress: differential stress

space) and the parameters utilized in this study. The

parameters represent an unconsolidated sand in a reservoir

approximately 12,000 feet total depth in 2000 feet of water.

Stress conditions are set so that the sand is overconsolidated

(i.e. initial conditions are such that the sand is in the elastic

region of figure 1 but changes in fluid pressure during

production will eventually bring the sand into plastic

yielding). The parameters of the model are similar to the Bsand in Crawford and Yale14.

Figure 1 also shows various initial stress states (see Table 1)

and constitutive model parameters of the reservoir that were

use in this study. In the elastic region the slope of the stress

path of the reservoir is governed only by the Poisson ratio of

the rock. As will be shown later, the slope of the stress path of

the reservoir after plasticity is highly variable and dependent

on the initial stress state of the reservoir. Table 1 and Figure 1

shows that fairly small differences in reservoir pressure

(except SP5) and differences in initial horizontal stress can

lead to very different initial stress states and can have a

dramatic effect on the evolution of plasticity and stress in the

reservoir during production.

Stress

Path

Total

Depth

SP 1

SP2

SP3

SP4

SP5

SP6

(feet)

12000

12000

12000

12000

12000

12000

Initial

Reservoir

Pressure

(psi)

8123

8203

8111

8534

9611

8171

h0/v0

0.61

0.40

0.95

0.75

0.98

0.50

SPE/ISRM 78202

EFFECTS OF PLASTICITY AND PERMEABILITY ALTERATION

stress (Cpp from Zimmermans15 nomenclature) of this sand

for various initial stress states shown in Figure 1 and the

variation in pore compressibility with the different hardening

parameters used in the study. All the data in Figure 1 is

calculated for stress paths with slope K=0.25=h/ v. We

see that different initial stress states affects the timing of the

onset of plasticity and the hardening affects the magnitude of

the pore compressibility after plastic yielding. Note that the

elastic Cpp is only 9 sip (10-6 psi-1) but increases to 20 to 45

sip once the plastic cap has been exceeded. The

compressibilities shown in Figure 2 are calculated with a

model that holds the ratio of horizontal to vertical stress

change constant during deformation. However, in the real

reservoir the evolution of horizontal and vertical stresses (i.e.

the stress path) will be dependent on a number of different

parameters and can not be predicted a priori.

The hardening parameter, H, was the only constitutive

parameter varied in the study. It is defined as:

H = (1 + e0)/ ( )

(4)

plastic portion of the void ratio versus log mean stress plot and

is the slope of the elastic portion of the void ratio versus

mean stress plot. The lower the value of H, the more plastic

strain the material will experience for the same change in

effective stress in the plastic region.

In this study, the compressibilities, even in the plastic range

are more moderate than those used by Yale et. al.1 and

Gutierrez and Hansteen4 and are more indicative of those

found in unconsolidated reservoirs in the Gulf of Mexico,

offshore West Africa and some shallow heavy oil reservoirs.

Reservoir Model Parameters

The model used in this study is similar to the one used by Yale

et. al.1 The model is a 4900 element, 8200 node FEM model

simulating a 120 foot thick, 4000 foot radius reservir with a

single well in the center utilizing the VISAGETM code. The

FEM model includes an underburden layer 480 feet thick, a

sideburden out to 20,000 feet from the well, and 1080 feet of

overburden. A constant vertical stress is applied to the top of

the model to simulate the remaining 8020 feet of overburden

and 2000 feet of water column. A 2-D axisymmetric model

was used due to the symmetry inherent in a single well

model and to reduce computation time in these highly nonlinear problems.

The model utilizes 8-noded quadrilateral 2-D elements to

allow for higher order shape functions and employs a finer

mesh near the wellbore and near the reservoir-sideburden

interface to better capture the larger stress and strain gradients

in these areas. The outer edge of the model is a no-flow

underburden were given near-zero permeability (10-12 Darcy)

for most of the test cases (the variable permeability cases had

no flow in the side-, under-, and over-burden).

Many runs were done with same mobility (ratio of rock

permeability over fluid viscosity) of 21 mD/cP (500 mD with

24 cP fluid). Most runs were tested at a production of rate of 5

TBD (thousand barrels/day) which lead to a significant

drawdown (wellbore fluid pressure minus farfield fluid

pressure) of over 2000 psi. Other runs were done with larger

mobilities to investigate less severe drawdowns and to get a

better handle on the effect of plasticity on average reservoir

depletion. Models were run at constant production rates (after

a 6 month ramp up in production) for 7 to 10 years.

Parametric Study

Over 60 different models were run and Table 2 shows the

parameters for those discussed in this paper. The parameters

studied mainly revolve around the investigation of the effects

of plasticity and permeability alteration on reservoir

performance. This study specifically looked for the effects of

coupled simulation that would not be seen in an uncoupled,

fluid flow only simulation or even a more loosely coupled or

partially coupled reservoir and geomechanics simulation.

The most critical parameter was found to be the initial stress

state of the reservoir and its influence on the stress path the

reservoir underwent during depletion.

Variations in

overburden/sideburden stiffness, mobility, and hardening were

also investigated.

Table 2 shows the parameters varied in the different model

runs. Model 21 was picked as the base case model to which

other runs could be compared and contrasted. Model 21 had

an initial stress state of SP4, a mobility of 20 mD/cP, a

hardening of 15, and overburden/sideburden/underburden

elastic stiffnesses as 1.7 times the reservoirs elastic stiffness.

The volumetrically averaged depletion (average reservoir

pressure at end of model minus pressure at the start of the run)

in each model at the end of each run was compared to the

depletion for a fluid flow only simulation. The pore

compressibilities for the fluid flow only simulations were set

to the elastic, uniaxial strain pore compressibility of the

reservoir where:

Cpp(uniax) = (1+)/(3(1-)) (Cpc Cr)

(5)

accepted compressibility used in reservoir simulation. As such,

all of the models which underwent some plastic deformation

had average depletions less than the uncoupled case due to the

extra drive energy of plastic deformation of the pore structure.

However, as will be shown, the degree of plasticity varied with

D. YALE

therefore there were significant differences in the average

depletion experienced by different models. This is critical

because in an uncoupled standard reservoir simulator, all the

models would have the same depletion.

Run

#

Flow

Rate

Eover/

Ereser

Eside/

Ereser

7a

9

11

12

13

14

21

25a

26

27a

28

33

38

39

60

61

63

(TBD)

2.5

2.5

2.5

2.5

2.5

2.5

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

5

0.5

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.0

1.0

1.7

1.7

1.0

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

1.7

Mobility

mD/cP

1E+5

750

750

750

750

750

20.8

20.8

20.8

20.8

20.8

20.8

20.8

20.8

20.8

20.8

62.5

Hard.

Parm

Elas

Elas

30

Elas

15

15

15

15

15

15

15

10

15

15

15

15

15

Perm

alter

Y

Y

Y

Y

Initial

stress

state

SP4

SP4

SP4

SP4

SP4

SP4

SP4

SP2

SP3

SP1

SP5

SP4

SP1

SP5

SP6

SP4

SP4

Results

Table 3 shows a summary of the results from the various runs.

The data includes the average depletion for an uncoupled run,

the average depletion for the coupled run, the wellbore

drawdown (initial reservoir pressure minus final wellbore

pressure), and the effective compressibility of the model

between various timesteps.

Run

#

Coupled

Avg

Depletion

Ratio

Coupl/

Uncoup

Depletion

(psi)

7a

9

11

12

13

14

21

25a

26

27a

28

33

38

39

60

61

63

481.1

2052

1768

2075

1579

1595

3036

2604

2940

2806

3486

2809

2086

2922

2737

2475

2480

Coupl

Draw

Down

(psi)

0.999

0.957

0.824

0.968

0.736

0.744

0.708

0.607

0.686

0.654

0.813

0.655

0.641

0.898

0.638

0.816

0.817

481

2080

1796

2104

1607

1623

5056

4624

4960

4826

5504

4828

16006

13422

4757

15890

4048

Eff Avg

Comp

(0 1.5 yrs)

-6

(10

-1

psi )

59.4

13.2

13.0

13.0

13.2

13.0

13.3

13.3

13.3

13.3

13.3

13.4

12.4

12.2

13.3

12.2

12.2

Table 3 - Results

Eff Avg

Comp

(4.5 7.5yrs)

-6

(10

-1

psi )

59.4

14.1

17.0

13.9

19.6

19.4

21.9

27.1

23.1

25.1

15.4

24.6

24.8

15.3

26.1

21.9

21.9

Initial

stress

state

SP4

SP4

SP4

SP4

SP4

SP4

SP4

SP2

SP3

SP1

SP5

SP4

SP1

SP5

SP6

SP4

SP4

SPE/ISRM 78202

relative voidage (total production over the time period over

total fluid in the reservoir) by the change in average reservoir

pressure. Since the fluid compressibility was held constant at

3 sips for all the runs, the variation in effective

compressibility is a reflection of the variability of pore

compressibility due to stress path. Run 7a was a uncoupled,

calibration run utilizing an elastic but stiff reservoir with a

very compressible fluid. The value of average depletion was

within 0.1% of the analytic value (uncoupled simulation).

Elastic-Plastic effects

Run pairs 12/14 and 9/13 show the differences between an

elastic run (yield cap is set very high) and a plastic run. The

plastic runs show an average depletions of 74%/73%

respectively of the uncoupled solution and the elastic runs,

97%/96% respectively of the uncoupled. Plasticity lends

significant energy to the system. We also note that the elastic

runs has more energy than expected from the uncoupled

solution. As shown in Yale et. al.1 , this is due to the

effective stress path of part of the reservoir being greater

than the uniaxial path (see Figure 3) as will be discussed later.

We also note that if the sideburden is as stiff as the overburden

(1.7 times the stiffness of the reservoir), then there is a slightly

larger depletion (1%) than if the sideburden is the same

stiffness as the overburden. Yale et. al.1 investigated the

effects of overburden extensively and these results are

comparable to their results.

Run 21 (same stress path as 14) shows that stronger depletion

(higher production rates) leads to a larger difference between

the coupled and uncoupled runs (71% of uncoupled depletion).

Higher depletion leads to more of the reservoir undergoing

plasticity in Run 21 than in Run 14. The average effective

compressibilities across the reservoir in Table 3 show higher

compressibilities in Run 21 as compared to Run 14.

The degree of plasticity also has a strong effect. Run 11 and

Run 33 show the effects of models where the reservoir

material is less plastic and more plastic respectively than Run

14 and 21 respectively. A hardening factor of 30 leads to a

depletion of only 82% of uncoupled whereas a hardening

factor of 10 lead to 66% (as compared to a hardening factor of

15 which leads to 71% depletion).

This points to a need to understand the constitutive properties

of the reservoir rock very well. But if we characterize the

rocks plastic behavior in the laboratory, can we not just use

those properties directly in an uncoupled simulator just

as well?

Stress Path Effects

The next few figures show that the answer to the above

question is NO for many reservoirs which undergo some

plastic deformation during production. Reservoir engineering

in general and reservoir simulation models in specific relate

SPE/ISRM 78202

EFFECTS OF PLASTICITY AND PERMEABILITY ALTERATION

pressure and temperature in the reservoir. However, rock

deformation is related to the stress tensor in the reservoir with

the fluid pressure just part of that equation:

ij = ij + pij

(6)

tension is positive and ij are the effective stresses and ij is

the Kroneker delta since the fluid pressure acts only on the

normal stresses7.

The initial stress state of the reservoir affects the total initial

stress and the properties of reservoir (and over-, side-, underburden) and their deformation affects the evolution of the total

and effective stresses during pressure depletion (or injection).

Figure 3 shows the affect of initial stress state on the evolution

of horizontal and vertical effective stresses in the reservoir

during depletion. We define the factor K as the ratio of the

change in horizontal effective stress over the change in

vertical effective stress. If the reservoir rock behaved

elastically and the reservoirs lateral boundary was fixed (no

sideburden, no lateral strain) and the reservoir depletion was

uniform across the entire reservoir, then the changes in

vertical and horizontal effective stresses would follow the

uniaxial line shown in Figure 3.

However, even in elastic reservoirs, Yale et. al.1 showed that

near the wellbore and near the edge of the reservoir, these

uniaxial strain assumptions are violated and the stress path can

deviate greatly from uniaxial depending on the degree of

arching (stiffness of overburden) and the severity of the near

wellbore drawdown. Yale et. al.1 showed that the effect of

these non-uniaxial conditions was that the effective pore

compressibility of the system was greater than expected (i.e.

the average depletion was less than expected) based solely on

the uncoupled simulation using uniaxial strain compressibility.

Runs 9 and 12 from this study shows this same effect with the

average depletion 3-5% less than predicted from an uncoupled

simulation and deviation from uniaxial strain at the reservoir

edge and near wellbore.

The largest effects, however, come not from elastic cases but

from cases where part of the reservoir undergoes plastic

yielding. Figures 3 and 4 show that initial stress state has a

huge effect on the stress path the reservoir follows after

exceeding the yield cap and on the ratio of horizontal to

vertical effective stress the reservoir undergoes during

depletion. We see that the larger the value of q (differential

stress) when the reservoir intersects the yield cap, the larger

the ratio of horizontal to vertical effective stress change

(Figure 3). This is represented in Figure 4 (p:q diagram) as a

bending over of the stress path in the plastic region for the

high q stress paths. Note however, that the slope of all the

stress paths in the elastic zone is the same, as it is controlled

by the elastic Poisson ratio of the material. (As shown by Yale

stress path in elastic reservoirs, but in our case the overburden

stiffness is the same for all runs in Figure 4).

Only SP3, which intersects the yield cap in the lowest

differential stress position has a post-yield stress path near the

uniaxial stress path ratio of K=0.25. It also appears that given

large enough depletions, that all the stress paths would

converge to a single line.

The most significant effect of this variability in post-yield

stress path and ratio of effective horizontal to vertical effective

stress change is seen in the differences in reservoir depletion

and effective compressibility for these various stress path runs.

This is shown in Table 3 and in Figures 5 and 6. Figure 5

shows that varying the initial stress state of the reservoir can

vary the pressure depletion in the reservoir significantly. This

is important because all the reservoir, fluid, and rock

properties are the same in these runs and any uncoupled run

(even if it accounted for a pressure dependent plastic

compressibility of the rock) would show the same depletion

along all these stress paths.

All the stress paths show the same pressure depletion (Figure

5) early in their production history where the rock is elastic.

They deviate from each other as plasticity occurs. We can see

that paths 2 and 3 go plastic before paths 4 which goes plastic

before path 5. But the differences in depletion are not just due

to the timing of the onset of plasticity.

Figure 6 shows the effective average compressibility of the

reservoir as a function of time for the various stress paths. The

elastic uniaxial strain pore compressibility is 10 sips, which

added to the fluid compressibility of 3 sips gives us the total

effective compressibility in the elastic range of 13 sips. Like

Figure 2 the compressibility increases as the stresses in the

reservoir exceed the yield cap. The maximum value of the

compressibility is lower than in Figure 2 since the stress path

in the reservoir is variable and only part of the reservoir

exceeds the yield cap.

We see that paths SP1 and SP5 go plastic at different times but

both reach similar maximum plastic effective compressibilities

of near 24. However, paths SP1, SP2, and SP3 all go plastic at

similar times but reach different total compressibility values.

This seems at odds with Figure 2 which showed that the

constitutive model predicted similar peak plastic

compressibilties for the different stress paths. The explanation

lies in Figure 3 which shows the changes in stress path ratio

(horizontal to vertical effective stress) for the different initial

stress states.

Path SP2 has the highest K factor, SP6 the next highest, then

SP1, SP4, and SP5, with SP3 the lowest. This is the same

order as the q value of their respective intersections with the

yield cap as shown in Figure 4. This is also the same order as

Figure 6. We are measuring effective compressibility as the

ratio of relative voidage to fluid pressure change. Neglecting

arching effects, the change in vertical effective stress is nearly

the same as the change in fluid pressure. However, the change

in horizontal effective stress is highly dependent on the plastic

yielding of the material. The stress paths with higher

differential stress at the initial yield cap lead to larger

horizontal effective stresses in the reservoir than those with

lower differential stresses at the yield cap.

D. YALE

SPE/ISRM 78202

strain. We therefore model little permeability change (10%)

up to this point and then more dramatic change in the plastic

region as observed by Crawford and Yale14. We allow the

function to flatten out above 0.015 axial strain to avoid more

than an order of magnitude change in permeability.

Permeability function

only simulation is deficient in modeling flow in plastically

deforming materials. Uncoupled, fluid flow simulations are

only functions of the scalar reservoir pressure. However, it is

the full stress tensor that controls the deformation of the rock

and therefore the drive energy from the compaction of the

rock. The evolution of the stress tensor is dependent on a

variety of factors including the initial stress state of the

reservoir and its relationship to the initial yield cap of the

reservoir material.

The effect of initial stress state and subsequent stress path has

profound effects on total recovery. Figure 5 shows that if the

reservoir was limited to a maximum depletion of 2500 psi (or

if the bubble point of the reservoir was 2500 psi below initial

pressure), a reservoir starting at SP5 would reach that point

more than 3 years earlier than a reservoir starting at SP2 even

though both reservoirs have the same rock and fluid properties

and are being produced at the same rate.

Permeability Alteration

Crawford et. al.14,16,17 and others have shown dramatic effects

of deformation and plasticity on permeability. The effects of

decreases in permeability, especially near wellbore in high

drawdown wells, is well known but they are not often modeled

in standard reservoir simulation. Even when permeability

change is modeled, it is only modeled as a function of fluid

pressure rather than a function of tensor stress or tensor strain.

Crawford and Yale14 show that for an unconsolidated reservoir

sand, the permeability is strongly related to differential stress

and plasticity. They show there is only about a 10% change in

permeability for their B-sand in the elastic region increasing to

nearly a 75% decrease during plastic deformation before

showing some signs of flattening out. We have taken this

permeability response and input a similar function into our

fully coupled model. We have taken axial strain as the best

proxy for differential stress and input the function shown in

Figure 7. We find that for several of the stress paths (1, 2, 3, 4,

300

paths with higher q due to differences in the mean effective

stress along the different stress paths. Stress paths SP2 and

SP6 go through stress paths that have larger changes in mean

effective stress for a given change in fluid pressure than paths

SP4 and SP3 due to their higher horizontal stresses.

250

200

150

100

50

0

0

-0.005

-0.01

-0.015

-0.02

Vertical Strain

Figure 7

Horizontal permeability function (reservoir layer only) used in

model runs with permeability alteration.

We have input this function into the FEM model used in the

rest of this study. We found that the permeability decrease

leads to exceptionally high near wellbore drawdowns due to

the near wellbore permeability drop and the constant

production rate.

Figure 8 shows drawdown in the near wellbore region and

Figure 9 the permeability change for various stress paths and

different periods of production. We note that for the strongly

elastic stress path 5, very little permeability change occurs

after 5 years. The figure also shows the drawdown (near

wellbore pressure minus the far-field reservoir pressure for

this figure) for the perm change case and a similar model with

no permeability change. Note the mild permeability change of

stress path 5 has only a small effect on the near wellbore

drawdown. However, for stress path 4, which goes plastic

earlier but otherwise is similar to stress path 5, there is a larger

permeability change as some of the near wellbore region has

gone plastic after 5 years. Path 1 shows an even larger near

wellbore drawdown associated with the larger permeability

changes due to more plasticity.

The drawdowns become unrealistically large when production

is taken to 7.5 years (greater than the reservoir pressure). In

reality, the production rate would have to have been

SPE/ISRM 78202

EFFECTS OF PLASTICITY AND PERMEABILITY ALTERATION

permeability that can occur with large near wellbore plasticity

caused by large near wellbore pressure changes.

We also tested the effect of varying mobility by increasing the

mobility of the reservoir fluid by a factor of 3 in run 61. We

note that the drawdown profile of run 61 (perm change but

initial mobility of 60) is similar to run 21 (no perm change but

mobility of 20).

Many reservoir engineers have recognized the death spiral

effect of the double coupling of permeability and stress in

the near wellbore region of high rate wellbores in

unconsolidated sand reservoirs. High production rates lead to

large near wellbore drawdowns. This in turn leads to stress

changes which can cause plastic strains in the reservoir rock

which decreases permeability. Trying to produce the reservoir

at the same rate with a zone of lower permeability material

around the wellbore leads to an increase in the drawdown

which leads to larger strains and further permeability

decreases. Accurate constitutive models of both deformation

and permeability are needed in a fully coupled model to

realistically predict the production rates that can be tolerated

by these types of formations without degrading the

permeability to the point of losing a significant portion of the

well productivity. In addition, as Crawford and Yale14 have

shown, much of the very large changes in permeability are

associated with non-recoverable, plastic deformation.

Blowing a well down quickly and then shutting it may allow

the near wellbore fluid pressures to recover but the near

wellbore plastic permeability decrease is irreversible.

Large near wellbore drawdowns can lead to wellbore or casing

failures due to high near wellbore rock strains. Near wellbore

vertical strains are 25% higher after 5 years of depletion for

run 38 (path 1, perm change) than for run 27a (path 1, no perm

change) due to higher near wellbore drawdown yet the average

reservoir depletion in run 38 is only 5% greater than run 27a

after 5 years.

Reservoir engineers have favored horizontal wells when

possible not only for their larger contact with the reservoir but

for their lower drawdowns. Lower drawdowns help allieviate

coning problems, relperm problems and other complications

arising from large pressure differentials across the reservoir.

However, we see that coupled modeling can show

where deformation due to large pressure differentials will be

a problem.

These problems are most severe and expensive in deep,

offshore wells where well cost and facility costs force fewer

wells and higher well rates than in other fields. However, the

cost of well failures and/or lower production rates due to

unforseen and often unpredictable deformation-fluid flow

coupling should drive us to take better advantage of coupled

costs.

Conclusions

This study has shown that in reservoirs which might undergo

plastic deformation, the very strong coupling between fluid

flow-fluid pressure-reservoir stress-rock deformation requires

models which realistically account for these relationships to

accurately predict reservoir response to production. We find

that the initial stress state of a reservoir and the stress path the

reservoir undergoes during depletion has a dramatic effect on

the degree to which plasticity affects the reservoir pressure

and permeability in the reservoir. We find that the reservoir

stress path post-yield is strongly affected by the position in

p:q space where the stress path intersects the yield cap. Also,

that this post-yield stress path has a strong influence on the

effective pore compressibility of the rock and overall reservoir

depletion and that these effects can not be predicted from just

the constitutive properties of the rock.

We often look at reservoir management from a perspective of

pressure/saturation/ production rate management but rarely

from the perspective of stress-strain management. For many

reservoirs, reservoir development and production plans should

include consideration for how stress management could

improve overall production from the reservoir while

minimizing workover/redrill costs. Reservoirs which may

undergo some plastic deformation during production are

critical to evaluate from a stress-management perspective

early in the development cycle since the effects of plasticity

are irreversible.

This study has focused on plasticity which could occur in

many unconsolidated/ friable/ or chalk reservoirs at moderate

depths but the general ideas translate to other stress-sensitive

reservoirs such as fractured reservoirs, shallow heavy oil

reservoirs and some HPHT reservoirs. As we drill deeper and

into higher pressure regimes, we run the risk that

classically hard rock reservoirs could undergo significant

deformation due to extremely high drawdown and depletion.

Coupled geomechanics-fluid flow models and modeling

concepts abound but are not yet in the mainstream of

reservoir engineering.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank the management of ExxonMobil

Upstream Research Company for permission to publish this

work and Brian Crawford and Denis Schmitt for many helpful

discussions during this study.

Metric Conversion Factors

cP [centipoise] x 1.000000 E-03 = Pa sec

mD [millidarcy] x 9.869233 E-16 = m^2

psi [lbf/in^2] x 6.894757 E+03 = Pa

ft [feet] x 3.2808 = m

Nomenclature

= 1 (Cr/Cbc) = Biot alpha parameter

Cr = compressibility of rock matrix or grains

Cbc = compressibility of rock skeleton (bulk compressibility)

Cf = compressibiliy of reservoir fluid

Cf = the matrix of fluid compressibilities of the reservoir

Cpc = pore compressibility (under confining pressure change)

Cpp = pore compressibility (under pore pressure change)

Cpp(unix) = pore compressibility (uniaxial strain conditions)

= volumetric solid strain

e = void ratio = /(1)

e0 = initial void ratio

= porosity

F = matrix of applied mechanical loads to the system

H = cap plasticity hardening parameter

K = global stiffness matrix

K = h/ v = (yy +xx )/2zz

k = permeability

= slope of elastic portion of e:ln mcurve

= slope of plastic portion of e:ln mcurve

L = solid-fluid coupling matrix

= fluid viscosity

sip = microsip = 10-6 psi-1

= Poisson ratio

p = fluid pressure

p = mean effective stress = m

pn = fluid pressures from the previous timestep

Pco= pre-consolidation pressure (yield cap parameter)

1/Q = ( - )Cr + Cf = Biot coupling term

Q = fluid flux matrix

q = differential stress = zz - (yy +xx )/2

ij = ij component of total stress tensor

ij= ij component effective stress tensor

m = mean effective stress = (xx +yy +zz )/3

t = FEM timestep

t = time

=transmissibility matrix

References

1. Yale, D.P., Lyons, S.L. and Qin, G.: "Coupled GeomechanicsFluid Flow Modeling in Petroleum Reservoirs: Coupled versus

Uncoupled Response," presented at the 2000 4th North

American Rock Mechanics Symposium, Seattle, 31 July-3 Aug.

2. Koutsabeloulis, N.C. and Hope, S.A.: "Coupled" Stress/ Fluid/

Thermal/

Multi-phase

Reservoir

Simulation

Studies

Incorporating Rock Mechanics," presented at the 1998

SPE/ISRM Eurock '98: Rock Mechanics in Petroleum

Engineering, Trondheim, July 1998, SPE 47394.

3. Settari, A. and Walters, D.A.: "Advances in Coupled

Geomechanical and Reservoir Modeling With Applications to

Reservoir Compaction," SPE Journal (Sept. 2001) 334.

4. Gutierrez, M. and Hansteen, H. Fully-coupled analysis of

reservoir compaction and subsidence, presented at EUROPEC

94, London, July 1994, SPE 28900.

5. Stone, T., Gowen, G., Papanastasiou, P., and Fuller, J. Fully

coupled geomechanics in a commercial reservoir simulator,

D. YALE

SPE/ISRM 78202

France, October 2000, SPE 65107.

6. Gutierrez, M., Lewis, R.W. and Masters, I.: "Petroleum Reservoir

Simulation Coupling Fluid Flow and Geomechanics," SPE

Reservoir Evaluation and Engineering (June 2001) 164.

7. Biot, M.A.: "General Theory of Three-dimensional

Consolidation," J. Appl. Phys. (1941) 12, 155.

8. Terzaghi, K. Die berechnung der durchlassigkeitsziffer des tones

aus

dem

verlauf

der

hydrodynamischen

spannungsercheinungen Akademi der Wissenchaften in Wien,

Sitzungsberichte, Mathematisch-naturwissenschaftliche Klasse,

Part Iia. 132, 124-138.

9. Settari, A. et. al. Geotechnical Aspects of Recovery Processes in

Oil Sands, Canadian Geotechnical J. (1993) 30, 22.

10. Schofield, A.N. and Wroth, C.P.: Critical State Soil Mechanics

McGraw-Hill, London (1968).

11. Muir Wood, D.: Soil Behavior and Critical State Soil Mechanics,

third edition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1994)

12. VISAGE Technical Manual, VIPS, Ltd., 2001

13. Koutsabeloulis, N.C.: "Numerical Modeling of Soft Reservoir

Behavior During Fluid Production," Geotechnical Engineering

in Hard Soils-Soft Rocks, Balkema, Rotterdam (1993).

14. Crawford, B. R. and Yale, D. P. Constitutive Modeling of

Deformation and Permeability: Relationship between Critical

State and Micromechanics, presented at SPE/ISRM Rock

Mechanics Conference, Irving, Texas, October 2002, SPE 78189

15. Zimmerman, R. Compressibility of Sandstones, Elsevier,

Amsterdam (1991)

16. Crawford, B.R., Hutcheon, R., Smart, B.G.D. and Yale, D.P.:

"Coupled Mechanical Deformation and Fluid Flow in

Experimentally Yielded Granular Reservoir Materials," paper

presented at the 1999 IXth International Congress on Rock

Mechanics, Paris, Aug. 25-28.

17. Yale, D.P. and Crawford, B.R.: "Plasticity and Permeability in

Carbonates: Dependence on Stress Path and Porosity," paper

SPE 47582 presented at the 1998 SPE/ISRM Eurock '98: Rock

Mechanics In Petroleum Engineering, Trondheim, July 8-10.

EFFECTS OF PLASTICITY AND PERMEABILITY ALTERATION

SPE/ISRM 78202

55

E=3.0E+05 psi

= 0.2

0 = 0.3

H = 10, 15, or 30

M = 1.42

Pco=3500 psi

4000

3000

Properties

(same as reservoir except)

E = 1.7 or 1.0 X Eres

0 = 0.1

Pco = 35000 ps i

Yield Cap

SP2

2000

SP6

Plastic

Region

SP1

1000

SP4

Elastic

Region

5000

0

500

1000

35

Path SP2

Path SP3 Hard=15

Path SP4

25

15

SP3

SP5

45

1500

2000

2500

3000

3500

5

1500

4000

2500

3500

4500

Mean stress (psi)

5500

Figure 1

Constitutive model parameters for the overconsolidated

reservoir sand and initial stress states used in FEM modeling

Figure 2

Constitutive model pore compressibility (Cpp) as a function of

mean stress for the various initial stress states and hardening

factors used in this study

0.6

4000

K factor

SP6

0.4

SP1

SP4

0.3

SP5

SP3

ElasticUniaxial Strain

SP2

0.5

3000

SP2

2000

SP6

SP1

SP4

0.2

0

1000

2000

3000

SP3

SP5

Elastic

Region

4000

Plastic

Region

1000

0

0

500

1000

1500

2000

2500

3000

3500

4000

4500

5000

Figure 3

Effect of initial stress state and stress path on K factor at the end

of the run (K=ratio of horizontal to vertical effective stress change

from depletion) as a function of distance from the wellbore

Figure 4

Stress paths in the reservoir sand during depletion for various

initial stress states. Note the change in slope of the stress paths

once the yield cap is exceeded.

10

D. YALE

Reservoir Energy

Tim e (yrs)

10

27

-500

Run25

SP2

-1000

Run27

SP1

-1500

-2000

Run28

SP5

-2500

Run26

SP3

-3000

(10-6 psi-1)

Reservoir Depletion

0

SPE/ISRM 78202

25

Run25

SP2

23

Run27

SP1

21

19

Run28

SP5

17

15

Run26

SP3

13

11

0

-3500

10

Time (yrs)

Figure 5

Figure 6

measured 250 feet from wellbore) versus time for various stress

paths

path 5

4yrs

Permeability Change

compressibility (fluid + pore) as a function of stress path and time

250

200

path 4

4 yrs

path 1

4 yrs

150

100

13530 vs. 2085

50

path 4

low

mob

7.5 yrs

path 4

7.5 yrs

5000

Permeability (mD)

path 1

4 yrs

4000

3000

path 4

no perm

change

2000

path 4

7.5 yrs

1000

0

0

500

1000

1500

2000

path 1

7.5 yrs

Figure 8

Permeability change as a function of distance from the wellbore

for various stress paths and various times. Number near curves

represents drawdown (in psi) for model with permeability

variation vs. model with constant permeability

path 5

4 yrs

50

100

150

200

path 4

low mob

7.5 yrs

Figure 9

Near wellbore drawdown as a function of distance from wellbore

for various stress paths and mobilities

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