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1 Reservoir Geology

reservoir structures, faults, folds, depositional

environments, diagenesis,
geological controls, porosity, permeability
Introduction and Commercial Application: The objective of
reservoir geology is the
description and quantification of geologically controlled
reservoir parameters and the
prediction of their lateral variation. Three parameters
broadly define the reservoir geology
of a field:

_9 depositional environment
_9 structure
_9 diagenesis

To a large extent the reservoir geology controls the

producibility of a formation, i.e. to
what degree transmissibility to fluid flow and pressure
communication exists. Knowledge
of the reservoir geological processes has to be based on
extrapolation of the very
limited data available to the geologist, yet the geological
model is the base on which the
field development plan will be built.
In the following section we will examine the relevance of
depositional environments,
structures and diagenesis for field development purposes.
5.1.1 Depositional Environment

With a few exceptions reservoir rocks are sediments. The

two main categories are
siliciclastic rocks, usually referred to as 'c/astics' or
'sandstones', and carbonate rocks.

Most reservoirs in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea

are contained in a clastic
depositional environment; many of the giant fields of the
Middle East are contained in
carbonate rocks. Before looking at the significance of
depositional environments for the
production process let us investigate some of the main
characteristics of both categories.

The deposition of a clastic rock is preceded by the

weathering and transport of material.
Mechanical weathering will be induced if a rock is exposed
to severe temperature
changes or freezing of water in pores and cracks (e.g. in
some desert environments).
The action of plant roots forcing their way into bedrock is
another example of mechanical
weathering. Substances (e.g. acid waters) contained in
surface waters can cause
chemical weathering. During this process minerals are
dissolved and the less stable
ones, like feldspars are leached. Chemical weathering is
particularly severe in tropical
Weathering results in the breaking up of rock into smaller
components which then can
be transported by agents such as water (rivers, sea
currents), wind (deserts) and ice
(glaciers). There is an important relationship between the
mode of transport and the

energy available for the movement of components.

Transport energy determines the
size, shape and degree of sorting of sediment grains.
Sorting is an important parameter
controlling properties such as porosity. Figure 5.1 shows
the impact of sorting on reservoir
poorly moderately well very well
5% Porosity % 35% .~ wSaturation %
Content of clay / fines
Figure 5.1 Impact of sorting on reservoir quality.
Poorly sorted sediments comprise very different particle
sizes, resulting in a dense rock
fabric with low porosity. As a result the connate water
saturation is high, leaving little
space for the storage of hydrocarbons. Conversely, a very
well sorted sediment will
have a large volume of 'space' between the evenly sized
components, a lower connate
water saturation and hence a larger capacity to store
hydrocarbons. Connate water is
the water which remains in the pore space after the entry
of hydrocarbons.
Quartz (SiO2) is one of the most stable minerals and is
therefore the main constituent of
sandstones which have undergone the most severe
weathering and transportation over
considerable distance. These sediments are called
'mature' and provide 'clean' high

quality reservoir sands. In theory, porosity is not affected

by the size of the grains but is
purely a percentage of the bulk rock volume. In nature
however, sands with large well
sorted components may have higher porosities than the
equivalent sand comprising
small components. This is simply the result of the higher
transport energy required to
move large components, hence a low probability of fine
(light) particles such as clay
being deposited.
Very clean sands are rare and normally variable amounts
of clay will be contained in
the reservoir pore system, the clays being the weathering
products of rock constituents
such as feldspars. The quantity of clay and its distribution
within the reservoir exerts a
major control on permeability and porosity. Figure 5.2
shows several types of clay

clay drapes
laminated clay
clean sand
dispersed clay
"shaly sand"
clay pellets and clasts
biogenetically introduced clay
Figure 5.2 Types of clay distribution

of clay and clay drapes act as vertical or

horizontal baffles or barriers to fluid
flow and pressure communication. Dispersed clays
occupy pore space which in a clean
sand would be available for hydrocarbons. They may
also obstruct pore throats, thus
impeding fluid flow. Reservoir evaluation, is often
complicated by the presence of clays.
This is particularly true for the estimation of
hydrocarbon saturation.
Bioturbation, due to the burrowing action of organisms,
may connect sand layers
otherwise separated by clay laminae, thus
enhancing vertical permeability. On the other
hand, bioturbation may homogenise a layered
reservoir resulting in an unproducible
sandy shale.

Carbonate rocks

Carbonate rocks are not normally transported over

long distances, and we find carbonate
reservoir rocks mostly at the location of origin, 'in
situ'. They are usually the product of
marine organisms. However, carbonates are often
severely affected by diagenetic
processes. A more detailed description of altered
carbonates and their reservoir
properties is given below in the description of

Depositional environment

Weathering and transportation is followed by the

sedimentation of material. The
depositional environment can be defined as an area with
a typical set of physical,
chemical and biological processes which result in a
specific type of rock. The
characteristics of the resulting sediment package are
dependent on the intensity and
duration of these processes. The physical, chemical,
biological and geomorphic variables
show considerable differences between and within
particular environments. As a result,
we have to expect very different behaviour of such
reservoirs during hydrocarbon
production. Depositional processes control porosity,
permeability, net to gross ratio,
extent and lateral variability of reservoir properties. Hence
the production profile and
ultimate recovery of individual wells and accumulations
are heavily influenced by the
environment of deposition.
For example, the many deepwater fields located in the
Gulf of Mexico are of Tertiary age
and are comprised of complex sand bodies which were
deposited in a deepwater turbidite
sequence. The BP Prudhoe Bay sandstone reservoir in
Alaska is of Triassic/Cretaceous

age and was deposited by a large shallow water fluvialalluvial fan delta system. The
Saudi Arabian Ghawar limestone reservoir is of Jurassic
age and was deposited in a
warm, shallow marine sea. Although these reservoirs were
deposited in very different
depositional environments they all contain producible
accumulations of hydrocarbons,
though the fraction of recoverable oil varies. In fact,
Prudhoe Bay and Ghawar are amongst
the largest in the world, each containing over 20 billion
barrels of oil.
There exists an important relationship between the
depositional environment, reservoir
distribution and the production characteristics of a field
(Figure 5.3).
Depositional Reservoir Production
Environment Distribution Characteristic
(distributary channel)
Isolated or stacked channels
usually with fine grained
sands. May or may not
be in communication
Good producers; permeabilities
of 500-5000mD.f about 28.