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Factors Affecting Reservoir Performance i.

ABSTRACT
Factors affecting reservoir performance are considered stressed. Methods of determining such factors are in-
f r o m a broad viewpoint and in conjunction with a cluded only when it is considered necessary to clarify the
review of general reservoir mechanics. T h e interrelation discussion, and f o r this purpose only.
of these phases of the production problem thereby i s

INTRODUCTION that in the future the industry must provide better


coordination between so-called theoretical and practical
In the early days of the petroleum industry, and production research.
continuing until little more than a decade ago, the I n attempting a t this time to outline concisely the
engineer w a s concerned primarily with those problems factors affecting reservoir performance, and particu-
accompanying the drilling and producing of wells and larly to describe technique capable of determining those
associated equipment. This limitation in scope was due factors, we a r e handicapped by the relatively immature
not to a n y failure to recognize other phases of the state of development in reservoir technology. Im-
~3roductionproblem, but to conditions in the industry. portant basic theoretical facts a r e known, and idealized
The demand called for high rates of production from analyses a r e possible. W h a t is needed a r e the qualifying
the then-known sources of supply. Inasmuch a s the factors obtainable only from experience, which will
wells a r e t h e important mechanical units through which permit the application of theory to practice or, rather,
oil must be withdrawn, the wells and their associated which will provide assurance to all concerned t h a t
equipment were the bottlenecks on the reservoir, and reservoir performance is determined by, and does fol-
hence they-not the reservoir-were the targets for low, definite physical laws, the fundamentals and many
technical effort. details of which already a r e known.
The emphasis on rapid development and production,
We a r e well aware t h a t t h e technologist's apparently
coupled finally with adequate reserve discoveries, led
insatiable appetite f o r more and more detailed informa-
inevitably to a g r e a t surplus of wells and a potential
tion from the field is almost equalled by the operator's
output f a r in excess of current demands. Such a situa- horror a t its cost and time consumption. I t has been
tion resulted, a s always, in economic pressure, which said facetiously, but with some justification, t h a t to
forced a change in viewpoint; and thus emphasis r u n into a well all of the data-procuring "gadgets" now
naturally shifted from t h e function of wells to control available would leave neither time nor funds f o r drilling
of production, thence t o conservation, and finally
and producing. However, a s production engineers have
focused on the reservoir and its performance. been willing gradually to shoulder some of t h e tech-
This rCsumC is presented not f o r its historical color,
nologic stigma, some of these d a t a have been secured
but to indicate why, in a n industry a s old a s this,
and their value proved. A t present almost every con:
and almost 10 years a f t e r the urgent need arose, many
ceivable measurement is specified a s necessary or
engineers a r e still in disagreement regarding funda-
desirable and, because of the dearth of experience, it
mentals. F o r only with t h e advent of a n e r a of slower
is impossible at this time properly t o cull the items
returns did the industry suddenly awaken t o t h e im-
portance of technical studies outside the realm of drill- an& prescribe only t h a t which is pertinent. This condi-
ing and production technique, and practical operators tion will remain until sufficient experience has accumu-
to take a more serious interest in what heretofore had lated to permit specification of the relevant minimum.
been looked upon more or less a s academic pastimes. It is hoped t h a t this rather lengthy introduction may
During t h e past 1 0 years laboratory research has not serve adequately to emphasize t h a t in the discussion
been unduly lax, but the necessary coordination of such which follows we a r e not attempting to write specifica-
tions, but merely t o indicate t h e general type of field
work with actual operating technique requires time and
d a t a needed and t h e possible scope of application.
has not been adequate to provide the maximum r a t e of
advance. Neither laboratory study nor research in the
field is alone sufficient to provide solutions to the prob- I. CLASSIFICATION OF FACTORS AFFECTING
lems which now a r e ~ r e s s i n-p . E x ~ e r i e n c e indicates RESERVOIR PERFORMANCE
It is not exaggeration to say t h a t every detail regard-
* Gnlf Resmrch nnd Derelopment Co. Pittsburgh, Pa.
;lprt.st.~atCd
at ~ \ v e n t ~ - f i rAnnual7
~t JIcctillg, chicogo, 111,. ing a petroleum reservoir and its fluid content, as well
XOV. 19-10. a s the manner i n which i t is handled, is a factor affect-
$ I'ublished br 1~crn1ission
of c s c c ~ t i ~ eofs the Gulf Rcscnrcl~
i ~ n t lDe~e1ol)mcritCO. ing the performance of the reservoir. Moreover, these
factors a r e so interrelated t h a t i t is impossible to con-
sider them one by one and evaluate properly their influ- I n general, reservoirs niay be a n y one o r a coinbina-
ence upon the overall behavior of the reservoir. Under a tion of domal, faulted, lenticular, o r stratigraphic
given set of circunlstances certain factors predominate traps. Insofar a s the dynamic performance of such
and practically control t h e performance, whereas under reservoirs is concerned, t h e particular type nlerely de-
other conditions those factors may play only a minor
termines whether reglonal flow is sylnetrical a s in a
role. It is the complex interdependence which makes it
uniformly developed dolnal o r lenticular type, o r one-
impossible in general t o discuss details of reservoir
sided a s i n many stratigraphic o r faulted traps.
performance, without first stating explicitly t h e exact
However, the importance of such infor~nation in the
circumstances under which t h e various factors a r e
planning of a n efficient development program is too
involved. It is t h e failure to consider t h e whole picture,
obvious to require elaboration.
or the inability to present i t in its entirety due to the
Even more important than the structural type is t h e
lack of essential information, t h a t leads to misinterpre-
amount of closure involved or, in other words, the steep-
tation o r disagreement regarding the behavior of a
ness of the dip within t h e reservoir. For, a s will be
reservoir or its producing wells. Certainly the funda-
discussed later, the efficiency of production is related
mental physical facts a r e now sufficiently known ade-
directly to this structural factor, provided other condi-
quately to cover the essentials of most production prob-
tions permit its use advantageously.
lems, if the knowledge of field conditions were defined
sufficiently to permit analysis. Our most urgent need
a t present is more definite knowledge concerning con- 2. Pay-Zone characteristics
ditions within a n y reservoir, so t h a t the primary factors The pay-zone characteristics a r e evidently ,a primary
may be isolated and the performance analyzed. I n the factor. I n general, pay horizons a r e either sand o r
situation usually presented we a r e reminded of liinestoi~e and, a s f a r a s production performance i s
Buckles's statement in his H i s t o ~ yof Ciuilizc~tionin concerned, a n y formation having porosity of the type
Enylnncl: "We live in t h a t predicament t h a t our facts found in sands will have similar perfornlance charac-
have outstripped our knowledge and now encumber its teristics. Thus, a s regards the production mechanism,
inarch." certain types of porous limestones may be classed with
It i s difficult, in view of this interdependence, properly sands. Likewise, highly fractured linlestones may, on
to classify the various factors in a n attempt to segre- a large scale, simulate.certain characteristics of sand
gate them in the order of their importance, and thus reservoirs. However, in general, fractured or cavernous
simplify discussion. The only segregation t h a t seems pay zones require special consideration, depending on
justified is the very broad division: the size and lateral continuity of such fractures o r
1. actors inherent in the reservoir, and over which cavernous features. Evidently the performance of such
little o r no control is possible. a reservoir will be characterized by very high errati-
2. Factors influenced by the exploitation program, i. e., cally distributed well potentials, rapid equalization of
under partial or complete control. pressures, and, in general, will perform a s a unit with
very low internal resistance to flow. Principles regard-
Thus, merely for convenience, we shall consider first the
ing the internal mechanism characteristic of sand
more o r less fixed reservoir characteristics, and later
pays1" will not apply, and i t is particularly advan-
those factors influenced by operating technique-bear-
tageous t h a t operating technique be designed to take
ing in mind t h a t the latter should be deterinined by the
full advantage of structural configuration whereby
former, and hence in practice the picture must be
g a s cap o r natural water drive inay be utilized
viewed in its entirety. efficiently, f o r these highly permeable reservoirs a r e
inherently amenable to such operation.
TI. RESERVOIR FACTORS AFFECTING PRODUCTION Multiple p a y l z o ~ i z o ~ ~Its :is evident t h a t if several
PERFORMANCE pay horizons exist with sufficient vertical separation,
they should be considered a s separate reservoirs.
Type of Reservoir Multiple pay horizons, a s here considered, refer to a
reservoir in which wide variations in sand charac-
Any reservoir presents certain characteristics with
teristics' occur within a single pay zone. Inasinuch a s
which i t was endowed originally, and over which we each portion of the pay, defined b y certain porosity
have very little o r no control. Each of these h a s some and permeability values, will behave in production in
influence over the reservoir performance, and indeed accordance with these individual properties, uniforiliity
some of these niay so f a r overshadow all others 2s to of the pay zone is a n important factor in reservoir
dictate the technique of production. The type of reser- perforn~ance,requiring special consideration.
voir is, therefore, a matter f o r first consideration; and Moreover, inasmuch a s these variations a s observed
by "type" is meant details concerning: i n individual wells inay represent either sand lenses in
1. Structural characteristics a relatively impermeable shale matrix o r shale lenses
2. Pay-zone characteristics in a sand matrix, i t i s important t o determine which
3. Fluid content
case characterizes the reservoir. F o r evidently, if t h e electrical) r u n i n all wells, through correlation, will
pay con~prisessand lenses, f o r inasiinurn recocei-y the serve to extend the actual physical analyses * from key
well density used must be such a s to provide penetra- wells to adjacent areas.
tion of individual lenses. On the other hand, shale lenses Thus, careful coring and complete core analysis
in a sand m a t r i s will not break u p seriously the con- appear to be essential f o r a n y intelligent development.
tlnuity of the pay zone, and well ciensity becomes of Moreover, i t seems to hold the only hope whereby
secondary importance. In fact, if water is involved, pay-zone characteristics can be determined. And, inci-
such lenses may be advantageous in providing imper- dentally, experience seems to indicate t h a t i t is a
meable barriers a t which plug-back operations may be profitable procedure, even if used only a s a guide in
aimed and water coning in individual wells effectively completing wells, not to mention the value of the data
controlled, e.g., the E a s t Texas Field. a t a later date in planning development and operating
procedure.
3. Fluicl Content of the Reservoir Without going into the question here, the determina-
The intelligent handling of a n y reservoir presupposes tion of reserves is a t once one of t h e most iinportant
a detailed knowledge of the fluids contained therein. and evasive problems confronting the industry-im-
This involves not only information regarding the type portant not only in economic considerations, but in the
of gas and oil, but the degree of gas saturation i n the direct evaluation of the influence of variouk factors here
oil, and data regarding the release of gas from the discussed on the performance of a reservoir. And on
oil a s pressure is reduced. If the oil is saturated with cursory considerat~on i t might seem t h a t the process
gas, a free g a s cap probably is present, and in this of direct sampling of the reservoir by coring and sub-
case the size of the g a s cap and t h e boundaries of the sequent careful analysis in the laboratory provides a n
gas-oil contact should be known. Similarly, if bottom ~mlnediate solution not only to questions regarding
o r edge water is present, a knowledge of the oil-water porosity, permeability, and other physical properties of
boundary and its nlobility ( r a t e of encroachment when the pay, but to questions regarding the fluid content of
reservoir pressure declines) is a s important a s informa- the pay i n sitzs. I n regard to t h e physical properties
tlon regarding the g a s cap, because the ultimate recovery of the pay, t,he information is ascertained indeed
efficiency may depend upon proper utilization of the directly and adecluately. In the case of the fluid content
natural water dvve. of the cores, the data a r e less certain, f o r the salnple
I n recent years a new type of reservoir has become analyzed is not one under reservoir conditions, but one
of major importance. This is the so-called single-phase which has been exposed to modification, both by con-
o r gas-distillate type. Proper handling of such reser- tamination due to infiltrating drilling fluid, and subse-
voirs definitely requires detailed knowledge of the quent reduction in pressure analogous to a production
volumetric and phase behavior of the reservoir gas, and process carried to depletion. Therefore, in practice the
is obtainable only by careful sampling and laboratory original fluid contents a r e z?~fe,wedby suitable statisti-
analysis. cal information, coupled with the knowledge of the
~esidztnl jlztids observed in the core sample. Various
techniques, not describable here, a r e used to convert the
111. THE DETERRILNATION OF RESERVOIR
observed values to those representative when the core
FACTORS AFFECTING PRODUCTION
was undisturbed in the reservoir. Recently special
' PERFORMANCE
core barrels', have been designed with t h e view to
The foregoing outline indicates t h a t every available bring core samples to the surface in pressure-tight
scrap of information 'egarding the reservoir is of value chambers, so t h a t the reservoir pressures and fluids a r e
to the engineer in analyzing reservoir performance a n d retained. However, neither of these yet offers a solu-
planning reservoir exploitation. It is evident also t h a t tion to the problems of contamination by infiltration
the obstacles in the way of realizing such complete of drilling fluid.
.knowledge in actual practice a r e numerous, and some We have indicated the difficulties involved in core
a r e a s yet insurmountable. However, some of these data analysis because of the importance of the method, f o r
a r e obtainable by special devices; others by careful i t seems to offer the only direct solution to t h e problem
analysis of the performance of the reservoir under of determining reserves and depletion in small areas.
actual operation. However, i t will require very excellent technique to
obtain depletion figures with sufficient accuracy to lead
Core Analysis to significant conclusions regarding the influence of
various factors in reservoir perforn~ance,which is now
Although the structural information available during the subject of endless controversy. However, encourag-
the initial stages of development may be meager, ex- ing results have been reported, and improvement with
ploratory development a t a n early stage could provide added experience and apphcation is certain, and should
t h e essential facts. Pay-zone characteristics may be be espedlted.
obtained from the first few wells, provided they a r e
adequately (continuously) cored through the pay zone, * Tlie use of ~ l e c t r i c a llogs alone t o clrtermine t h e fluid enntent
does not appear reliable Althuugh valuable i n a qualitative
and conlplete core analyses a r e made in a reasonable sense, there apgears to be but little hope t h a t i t mill ever pro-
r i d e quantitative ~ n f o r m a t ~ o n a n, d hence will n o t supplant core
~ l u m h e rof key wells. Special logging devices (i. e., analysis.
Bottom-Hole San~plingand Pressure Measure- by reservoir conditions and the pressure maintained
ment s a t t h e well bore, and a r e not affected otherwise by the
well's equipment. Thus t h e bottom-hole pressure in a
I n addition to the determination of the fluid content well is the primary factor, not the well, although its
of t h e reservoir by core sampling, i t is also important equipment is instrumental in the control of pressure.
to analyze bottom-hole fluid samples obtained under
the existing pressure. From such samples inay be
obtained information c o n c e r ~ ~ i nthe
g g a s content of the Location of Wells in the Reservoir
oil and its saturation values under declining pressure, The location of the bore hole in a reservoir is (osten-
which a r e absolutely essential to a proper understanding sibly) under t h e operator's control, and both i t s location
of reservoir performance. Moreover, in a gas-drive on structure and position vertically within the pay zone
field, a comparison of the reservoir gas-oil ratio with a r e important factors. However, the relation of well
the ratio produced provides a direct measure of current location on structure and reservoir performance involves
operating efficiency. I11 passing i t might be mentioned other factors, which will be considered later.
also t h a t a careful analysis of g a s from a n apparently It is evident t h a t in a zone of inultiple pay horizons
single-phase reservoir, coupled with present-day the vertical position of the open bore hole with respect
knowledge of phase equilibria in hydrocarbon mixtures, to the individual pays markedly will affect performance.
may serve to indicate saturation conditions pointing Thus completion below a g a s zone minimizes g a s pro-
to the existence of a n oil zone on t h e flanks of the duction, o r plugging back may eliminate bottom water.
structure. Needless to s a y these structures also re- Such operations nlay be handled most effectively if
quire bottom-hole pressure measurements which, to- conlplete core analyses a r e available; and the principles
gether with bottom-hole samples, should be a routine involved, and which apply to the multitude of similar
procedure in discovery wells; but further consideration problems, need no mention here.
of these factors will be given later.
Diameter of Wells
IV. FACTORS INFLUENCED BY THE EXPLOITATION
PROGRAM The diameter of a well bore a s a factor in reservoir
perfortnance long has been debated. Theory indicates
Due to the complex interrelation already n~entioned,
that, f o r example, increasing the diameter of a 6-in.
i t is impossible to draw a sharp line of demarcation
bore to 12 in. should increase the potential approxi-
between factors rigidly fixed by reservoir conditions
lnately 10 per cent, and we, therefore, conclude t h a t
and those under conlplete o r partial control b y t h e
well diameter f o r all practical purposes is a n unim-
operator. An attempt h a s been made to do so in order
portant factor. And a s concerns the well diameter,
to simplify discussion. Having considered briefly what
per se, there is no room f o r argument. On the other
we have called "reservoir factors," a similar outline
hand, field experience maintains t h a t well diameter h a s
of "controlled factors" will be undertaken. And here
a very substantial influence, although d a t a a r e erratic
the problenl becomes more complex, because the inter-
dependence of all factors pervades the entire picture. and inconclusive. The erraticness of the field d a t a and
the seeming conflict with theory all inay be harmonized
by merely looking for t h e new 'factor. Thus i t will be
The Function of Wells found that, whereas well diameter actually inay have
Certain general statements regarding the wells them- a n appreciable effect, i t is a n indirect one which would
selves nlay be made without much c~ualification. The disappear-1. e., conform with theory-if all wells could
function of wells in a petroleum reservoir has been be completed perfectly. However, the influence of the
defined concisely by Moore a s "the important mechani- size of the hole upon the efficacy with which the me-
cal units through which 011 (or gas) inust be with- chanical colnpletion job may be made is evidently the
drawn, and which provide information necessary f o r real problem, not the diameter itself. A good coinple-
the efficient control of t h e reservoir." I t is a fact t h a t tion, i. e., one in which the sand face or screen liner
two conditions, and these alone, permit the production is left clean and free from obstructions, is clearly im-
of oil from wells: : 1, t h e oil inust be displaced from portant, but the effect of a poor completion is t h a t of
the reservoir by some other fluid, either g a s o r water; a choke, and relates to operating pressure and well
and, 2, a pressure gradient must be set u p between equipment rather than to the reservoir. Thus we return
the portion of the reservoir yielding oil and t h e well t o the original statement t h a t well diameter, per se,
bore from which i t is withdrawn. Hence unless a well is a negligible factor.
i s introducing g a s o r water into the reservoir, a s in
water flooding or repressuring, i t s function only can Discussion of Reservoir Mechanics
be to reduce the pressure a t t h e well bore, and
tlius induce flow into it. Except insofar a s t h e Water Drive
equipment i n the well serves t o affect its bottom-hole T h a t t h e production of oil from a reservoir requires
pressure, this equipment is not a factor in reservoir its replacement in the* rock by either g a s o r water
performance. Moreover, the fluids-gas, oil, and already h a s been mentioned. Neglecting f o r the present
water-produced by t h e well a r e determined completely a n y injected fluids and considering only natural pro-
cesses, i t is clear that, in the case of displacement by criteria," ' whereas the purely technical reservoir prob-
water, this can be accomplished only by the bodily lems now involve mainly careful core analysis, attention
encroachment of water from regions adjacent to the to individual horizons within the pay zone, and control
oil reservoir. To the extent t h a t the mobility of the of operating pressures. Moreover, i t may be timely
water drive may be adequate and i t is intended to use here to point out that, in view of the nature of water
this natural drive, wells should be so located on the drives in most reservoirs due to only partial effective-
structure a s to permit the most efficient utilization of ness of gravitational forces, the prevailing mechanism
this water'drive. When the flanks of a structure have of production will be t h a t outlined by Moore,' and the
relatively steep dips, so t h a t the gravity gradient due recovery efficiency will be governed by these principles
to the difference in density between oil and water may be of water-oil o r even three-phase fluid flow rather than
comparable to o r exceed the regional dynamic pressure the piston-like action of a body of water a s in the ideal
gradients in the reservoir, then a well-defined oil-water case.
contact and ideal conditions a r e indicated. Wells then
should be positioned a t strategic upflank locations in Gas Drive
sufficient numbers to provide the proper production r a t e
with a smooth regional pressure distribution. When the oil produced from a reservoir is replaced
However, this ideal well-defined oil-water contact by gas, the mechanism commonly is termed a "gas
with uniform encroachment requires unusual condi- drive." This displacement may be accomplished through
tions. Inasmuch a s the density difference between the expansion of the g a s cap incident to the decline in
oil and water is not likely to exceed 0.2, the gravity reservoir pressure, a s well a s by gas which always
gradient tending to maintain a uniform contact amounts comes out of solution in the oil zone when the reservoir
to about 0.1-lb-per-ft elevation between the two fluids, pressure drops below the saturation value. Although
and on a structural slope of 200 f t per mile the maxi- a complete discussion of this is out of place here, a s
mum available gravity gradient amounts to only 20 lb was the case with water drive, it is necessary to include
per mile. This means that, under the assumed condi- some details in order properly to define the problem.
tions, water might advance upstructure through a For, because of expected differences in efficiencies, we
highly permeable horizon one mile ahead of the main must distinguish between two types of gas drive, which
body before gravitational force could balance the f o r identification purposes will be termed:
dynamic gradient and suppress the fingering. Obviously 1. Internal gas drive; or, in secondary recovery,
the effectiveness of gravitational
- forces in maintaining- recycling.
a uniform level of encroachment throughout a n oil zone 2. Gas-cap expansion; or, in secondary recovery,
having horizons of variable permeability is very minor, repressuring.
unless the regional dynamic pressure gradients im-
posed on t h e reservoir a r e correspondingly small.
However. some limestone reservoirs do conform to these 1. Internal Gas Drive
conditions, and for all practical purposes behave like An internal gas-driven reservoir in the sense used
a tank in which bottom water replaces oil withdrawn ' here may be idealized a s a horizontal pay zone of very
from the top, and wells showing water soon reach the limited vertical dimensions, so t h a t g a s segregation or
abandonment stage. gas-cap formation is not involved, and the drive derives
Evidently, then, the normal performance of a water- primarily from the displacement of oil by gas coming
drive reservoir partakes more of the behavior of a out of solution. Production from such a reservoir fol-
horizontal pay zone with edge water advancing through lows the mechanism which has been delineated by
the various s t r a t a a t rates determined by their relative laboratory studies,' and is characterized by relatively
permeability, i. e., rates of oil withdrawal through these low recoveries in comparison with water drives. This
horizons. Yet this situation does not alter the picture is due primarily to the very low viscosity of g a s com-
a s f a r a s proper well locations are concerned, f o r there pared to oil, and the resultant exceedingly high gas-oil
appears to be no particular merit in distributing wells ratios, even a t relatively low values of oil displacement.
uniformly over the entire areal extent of the flanks of If these laboratory studies of "mixture" flow have
the reservoir, except a s economic considerations and contributed nothing else, they definitely have shown the
expediency may dictate. A more pertinent factor t h a n futility of attempting to obtain really high recovery
the well location in such cases is a thorough knowledge efficiency by internal g a s drive alone. This by no means
of the pay section, so t h a t any well-defined horizons implies t h a t in many cases in which reservoir condi-
of high permeability might be shut off when excessive tions-particularly structural conditions-permit of no
water production via these channels reaches the well. alternative, this method of natural recovery, perhaps
I n fact, in considering factors of importance in any followed o r accompanied by recycling, is not proper.
water-driven field, it may be worthwhile to consider But the mere f a c t t h a t subsequent recycling of gas
seriously the modern trends in water-flooding opera- (i. e., internal g a s drive) i s economically feasible indi-
tions, for in principle there is no difference. I n such cates the relatively low efficiency of the primary recov-
secondary-recovery. programs
- - the one-time important e r y phase, and the large volumes of gas involved in
questions concerning flooding patterns and well-spacing effective recycling may be anticipated from the charac-
problems have been relegated to their proper economic teristics of multi-phase flow.
2. G m - C n p E x p c t n s i o ~ ~ quently prejudicial to a n orderly esploitation~program,
even under non-competitive circumstances. 111 a n y
By gas-cap expansion is meant t h a t type of mechan-
practical case i t usually is necessary to consider a
isni in which, in its idealized form (analogous to the
~ n u l t i p l i c ~ tof
y unalterable circumstances which govern
ideal water drive), the reservoir behaves like a tank
the mode of operation. And therein lies the difficulty
in which expanding o r injected gas in the top replaces
oil withdrawn from the bottom. ' However, whereas in attempting to outline physical factors which alone
determine reservoir performance. I n other words,
in the case of water drive a density difference of only
although the normal influence of such factors follows
0.2 is available to maintain a d ~ s t i n c twater horizon,
in t h e case of g a s and 011 a density difference of approxi- definite physical laws, t h e extent to which they may be
permitted to operate governs their actual effect.
mately 0.8 is available to permit more effective func-
With this qualification and the brief outline of reser-
tioning of gravitational force. Thus the tendency for
voir n~echanismsalready glven, the physical factors
gas and oil to segregate into distinct bodies IS some
involved nlay be discussed.
four times greater than in the case of oil and water,
and, for a given steepness of structure ,and regional
dynamic gradient,' there is t h a t much less tendency f o r Factors Involved in Water, Gas, or Combination
the "gas piston" to degenerate into a n internal gas Drive
drive. T h a t such operation is actually possible and has I t is of primary importance, both in planning o r
been achieved in many cases, esllecially in reservoirs currently controlling the operation of a reservoir, to
having pronounced structure or high permeability pay, know the energy source responsible f o r its operation.
is evidenced by direct observation of the formation o r I n regard to the two types of ava~labledrives, a funda-
growth of gas caps. mental difference affecting their performance charac-
The relative recovery efficiency of a gas-cap drive teristics may be mentioned:
has not been determined, and is one of the problems 1. I n a natural g a s drive t h e only available energy
t h a t needs field study. However, i t seems reasonable is t h a t stored in the beginning, and is represented by
t h a t i t might equal t h a t of a water drive, and most the pressure a t which t h e total gas content of the reser-
certainly does exceed t h a t of a n internal g a s drive. voir esisted originally. The dissipation of this energy
What has been said about the g a s cap, presumed to follows well-known laws; and, inasnluch a s no new
occupy the highest structural position in the reservoir, energy is added, i t follows t h a t :
also applies-but obviously to a lesser extent-in flat-
lying pays ]laving sufficient thickness to permit segre- The pressure-vs.-production characteristic will be
gation. If t h e point of withdrawal is from the bottom consistent throughout t h e life of t h e field; i. e., t h e
of the pay with the upper portion sealed off, then, to total pressure decline a t a n y time d ~ r e c t l yIS related
the extent t h a t downward g a s coning into the well is to the acculnulated production (gas and oil), a s
controllable, the more efficient gas-cap nlechanisln is is also the r a t e of decline vs. production rate.
operating. Here agaln field d a t a a r e not now available 2. I n a water drive new energy is being supplied
co~lclusivelyto determine the actual recovery efficiency. continuously a t a r a t e determined by the characteris-
~ e c o ~ ~ . d c i . r ~ - r e cy co~~sv ixjection:
e~ I n regard to tics of t.he adjacent water reservoir and the pressure
secondary-recovery methods using g a s injection a s the gradients induced In it. I n fact, the performance of the
ilnpelling fluid i t is evident t h a t the aforementioned 011 reservoir reflects the characteristics of t h e water
two types apply. I n the one case, when the g a s is reservoir, and p r i m a r ~ l yis determined by t h e latter-
injected in such manner a s to obtain only the effect except insofar a s the operating pressures a r e concerned.
of "sweeping out" the oil by virtue of increased g a s The result i s t h a t :
flow through the partly saturated oil zone, the term I n a water-driven field the reservoir pressure i s
recycling seems appropriate, leaving ~ e p r e s s l c r i . ) ~ogr not related directly to culnulative production, but
presszi:re w~ailrtelzanceto describe the methods i n which involves production ~ a t e s ;and, in the case of a n
the primary aim is the displacenlent process involving "elastic" drive, their past history. I n general,
the segregation of large bodies of g a s in the reservoir. therefore, a water-driven reservoir is characterized
It is recognized, of course, t h a t in practice both effects by a direct relation behveen pressure drop and
a r e produced; but certainly there will be one which p ~ o c l u c t i or~a t~e , not culnulative production.
dominates. And again it should be mentioned t h a t the
laboratory studies already referred to indicate con- The use of these fundamental characteristics in the
clusively t h a t the aim should be the utilization of determination of the type of drive on which to predicate
segregated bodies 0%g a s as t h e dominant drive. proper handling may be clarified by a brief discussion.
A t the same time certain difficult problems in this
I n view of these simple principles governing reservoir
connection mill be emphasized.
mechanics-and they a r e not new-it seems incredible
t h a t there could exist a n y lack of agreement regarding
operating plans or the factors involved. Undoubtedly Gas Drive
a n y apparent lack of agreement arises not from purely I n a n y type of g a s drive the reservoir pressure must
technical questions, but is the result of conflicting exhibit a declining characteristic, f o r only then can
interests dictated by economic, stat~ltory, a n d other a n y energy be extracted from e i t h e ~f r e e or dissolved
factors quite outslde the technologic realm and fre- gas. It is evident also t h a t i n a purely g a s n ~ e c h a n i s ~ n
there can be no recovery of reservoir pressure due to of t h e reservoir oil. This is especially true when a
shutdown o r curtailment of the output. Thus the coy- combination gas-and-water drive exists and i t is desired
bination of these two criteria provicles ample evidence to ascertain tlie relative in~portanceof the two types;
of the reservoir nlechanisn~,and failure of a reservoir f o r a t best this is a very difficult problem, the solution
to gain in pressure during a shutdowll is conclusive of which may remain ambiguous because of the absence
evidence of inappreciable water encroach~ne~lt. of a single clue.
Here, however, i t is pertinent to emphasize t h a t Some may question the importance of such deter-
pressure data must be ailalyzed completely and care- minations regarding the reservoir mechanism. It hardly
fully; f o r otherwise, a s a n example, purely local equali- seems necessary, however, to point out t h a t upon such
zations of pressure may be interpreted a s a rise in knowledge the entire exploitation and operating pro-
average reservoir pressure, and false conclusions g r a m depends. Insofar a s extraneous factors perinit
derived. of any intelligent planning, then i t is the obvious aim
so to develop and operate a field t h a t a inasimum
Water Drive recovery a t a ininimum cost is obtained, and t h a t there
shall be no secondary-recovery phase involving new
In a complete water drive the fluids withdrawn a r e expenditures t h a t might have been eliininated had the
replaced by a n equal volume of water encroaching the proper perspective been possible a t a n earlier stage.
reservoir. Also, it h a s been inentioned t h a t the per- Thus if i t is possible early in the development to realize
forn~anceof t h e oil reservoir reflects primarily t h a t of t h a t a con~pletenatural water clrive is available, a n
the water reservoir. If t h e latter can be considered a t t e n q ~ tproperly might be made to make full use of
a s a simple steady-state artesian drive, such t h a t the it, both in the location of proclucing wells and in their
flow into the oil zone is directly proportioilal to the operations. Likewise, a knowledge of the type of gas
pressure difference between the oil and water zones, drive or combinatioil gas-and-water drive will determine
then the pressure in the oil reservoir a t a n y time will ill practically every detail the engineering problems
be proportional to the production rate, maintaining a incident to development and production. Moreover, even
constant value a s long a s the withdrawal rate is con- though circumstances do not permit development based
stant. And i t will be clear t h a t pressure-vs.-production- upon consideration of the reservoir a s a whole, there
rate data provide adequate evidence of this mechanism. remain many of those incidental problems-individual
However, t h a t this siinplicity does always not charac- well o r lease problems if you like-the solutioil of which
terize the performance of a water reservoir was amply depends upon a thorough knowledge of the reservoir
demonstrated by a r a t h e r unique combination of cir- mechanism.
culnstances, which permitted a clear-cut analysis of the
mechanism of the estensive Woodbine water reservoir
Wells as Factors in Reservoir. Perforliia~lce
adjacent to the E a s t Texas Field. Here a complete
water drive is associated with a slow, but continuously The function of wells and soine details regarding
declining, pressure characteristic. Diagnosis of the their coinpletion have been mentioned earlier. I n regard
true perforinance of this field involved several factors, to tlie influence of the areal clistribut~onof wells i n
and of prime importance was the known undersatura- a reservoir, Moore1 ably h a s stated: "I11 every field
tion of the oil learned from careful analysis of the there is a zone into which oil naturally migrates under
reservoir fluid. Knowing t h a t no g a s could coine out the force of a n efficient g a s o r water drive, and i t is
of solution a t the then-existing reservoir pressures, the within this zone that wells assume their greatest im-
presence of a complete water clrive w a s a necessary portance. I n locating and completing \\yells, the most
conclusioi~. Ancl froin the production-vs.-pressure- important considerat~on should be the control of the
decline cl~aracte~istics, a s well a s t h e reaction to shut- displacement of the oil by gas or water. The nunlber
down of the fielcl, the now well-known elastic-fluid theory of wells is of minor importance, except insofar a s a
of the Woodbine water zone w a s derived. sufficient nuinber must be drilled t o provide for adequate
This case has been reviewed in some detail a s illus- ~olltrol."
trative of the.fact t h a t pressure-decline data alone may This summary of principles requires no further elab-
not be diagnostic. It clearly indicates the ambiguity oration, for their application is but a matter of detail
which nlay arise in attempting to distinguish between involving the specific conditions present in incliviclual
a water-driven reservoir and one which is a combination reservoirs. Their aim is not only conservation of t h e
water and g a s drive. I n fact, in the absence of other driving energy but, if possible, to produce from the
essential criteria, the elastic behavior of the water drive oil zone without displacing i t bodily within t h e reservoir
of the IVoodbine type-which actually simulates a g a s fro111 its iiorinal environment into new areas where in-
clrive-might be mistaken f o r the latter alone, and t h e termisture, particularly in a dry-gas zone, will result in
estent of the oil and gas reserves in the resel-voir irrecoverable absorption.
grossly overestimated. Thus is illustrated the necessity However, the statement t h a t "the number of wells
of having not only pressure-clecline clata and especially is of minor importance .... except t h a t they provide
accurate infol.mation regarding the reservoir's reaction f o r adequate control" is deserving of further considera-
to changes in production r a t e o r shutdown, but also tion, a s i t is one of the most controversial questions
accurate knowledge of the gas-saturation characteristics in t h e industry. And I will not hesitate t o say here
that opponents of the above thesis contend that i t is below which it, is ilnpractical to operate a well. Then,
based upon wishful thinking-an expedient theory- together with other data-including pressure decline
rather than one based on facts. and essentially the overall pay-zone permeability (de-
rived from productive indices of wells if preferred)-
Well Spacing an opti.rt1.u.n~figure for well spacing may be derived.
This optimun~merely means that, under the econolnic
If well density is a n important factor in reservoir conditions prevailing, a well density either greater or
performance beyond its influence in providing adequate less than the optimuin will result in a decreased eco-
control, i t must involve an effect upon ultimate recovery. llonlic recovery; and, in the last analysis, in any prac-
This predicates a physical limit to the radius of drain- tical operating system i t lnust be found that economic
age around a well. And yet, 10 years of intensive efficiency is synonymous with efficiency in any terms
search for some physical phenomena in the production i t may be desirecl to clothe it.
mechanisnl leading to a limited radius of drainage has
Although, on the basis of the known physical produc-
failed to disclose its existence. And this refers not to
tion phenomena already referred to, the spacing prob-
water or gas-cap drives, but to the type which con- lein is so elusive a s actually to appear non-existent-and
ceivably might exhiblt such a characteristic, viz., a n
certainly inlpossible to evaluate-the economic factor
internal gas drive. This is laboratory experience, yet
provides a real criterion and a direct solution. Optinluin
i t is substantiated by direct observations in the field, well-density figures derived on this basis provide spac-
where regional migration over very large areas within
ings sufficiently close to qualify adequately the term
a reservoir is an established fact, derived froin careful "reasonable," and to eliminate any physical questions
study of reservoir-pressure data available in recent regarding the ability of the wells to recover the oil.
years. I t is on such data that the concept of an "un- Thus an econoinically derived well spacing provides
limited" drainage radius of a well is based. However, a solution to the problem and adequately encompasses
the term "unlimited" requires qualification; for even the ideas of conservation, which adinittedly must be a
the most academically-minded "theorist" has no inten- primary consideration.
tion that i t be carried to impractical extremes, a s a Finally, it is of interest to note that already in
literal interpretation would imply. Even he has stated secondary-recovery water-flooding operations the well-
that "within recc.sonctble. limits the spacing of wells is spacing problem, once an outstanding physical question,
an immaterial factor in the recovery of oil." We shall has been relegated to the economic phase. For appar-
be lnore specific here and define what is meant by ently i t has been found that an econon~ically sound
"reasonable," in an attempt to bring the contending spacing program provides a density of wells sufficient
schools of thought onto coinnlon ground for discussion. to eliminate any serious questions regarding efficiency
If this can be done, i t is likely that the argmnent a t in recovery.
least will be inore fruitful, and even may result in For purposes of coinpleteness it seems necessary to
some semblance of agreement. make the trite qualification that if from adequate data
Considering only the pertinent type of mechanism,
regarding reservoir factors i t is known that the reser-
the internal gas drive, first i t is important to distin-
voir con~prisesdiscrete non-connected lenses, then evi-
guish between purely physical phenomena and prac-
dently the number of wells should be sufficient to
ticable attainments. The controversial theory is based
provide penetration of each lens. However, i t appears
on the necessary assumption that a well be operated
from the reliable data obtained from numerous reser-
until the last dribble of oil has been talcen from it,
i. e., i t presupposes that the reservoir pressure every- voirs in recent years that alteration of an economically
where has attained a n irreducible minimum. This is, derived spacing program seldom would be necessary.
of course, a practical impossibility; for long before
that stage could be reached, abandonment would have SUMMARY
been forced by cost considerations. Thus economic Any consideration of factors affecting reservoir per-
considerations set a time limit on the operation of a formance requires first a definite conlinitment concern-
well, thereby determining the pressure distribution, ing the basic principles underlying the performance
and hence the depletion of the reservoir in the area without which elaboration upon details is meaningless.
around a well a t the time of abandonment. For this Thus the foregoing discussion dwells a t some length
reason we must consider not purely physical limits of upon this phase of the question. The concepts of reser-
depletion, but economically determined depletion. Thus voir mechanisms which have been outlined represent,
indeed we may assume that, in this sense ( a non- in the writer's opinion, the accepted nlodern views. On
uniform distribution of depletion) a limited radius of this foundation the more important factors involved,
drainage does exist, but i t is one determined b y eco?zomic together with some related details, have been reviewed.
co?~sideratio?zsa lo~ze. Other factors not considered here, and their role in
Let us then consider the well-spacing problem a s a the performance, will be evident in the light of the
purely econon~icone, and for the nlonlent forget the fundamentals a s outlined. I n view of the general scope
controversial physical aspects on the basis of which the of the discussion, no attempt has been made to outline
problein seems to evaporate. Froin economic considera- techniques for determining factors other than in those
tions i t is possible to set a nlinimunl production rate instances when proper emphasis has required it.
SERVOIR PERFORMANCE 113

ACKNOWLEDGMENT spacing, equitable allocation of pool allowables, and the


determ,ination of equities in a unitized-operation pro-
The author wishes to express his appreciation to grain depends upon a more universal appreciation of
D r . P. D. Foote, of the Gulf Research and Developlnent the principles which Dr. \Vyckoff so ably has presented
Company, f o r permission to publish this paper; and in his excellent paper.
a l s o to en~phasize t h a t the material presented here
represents his opinions, and is not intended to reflect
E. A. Wahlstrom (Goldsmith Pool Engineering Com-
the views of the above organization.
mittee, Midland, Texas) (written) :j' Mr. Wyckoff
should be complimented f o r writing his paper in such
BIBLIOGRAPHY a manner t h a t i t can be understood easily by men in all
branches of the oil industry. With a general under-
1 T. T' RIoore. "A Review of Oil-Reservoir Performance," A P I standing of the factors affecting reservoir performance,
T e n t h IIid-Year Meeting. F o r t Worth, T e s a s , hIay 3,1940 (Drill-
21rg cc~r(lP r o c l u c t ~ o ~ t , ~ v n c t19',0)
~(~c i t is hoped t h a t the industry will be able to justify the
"en W Sewell. Tlre ~ a i t e rPressure Core Barrel," Drilling
n,rtl P r o ~ l ~ r c t r o ?Practice,
, lj!J l10:<'3) small additional percentage of drilling and operating
3 1) B. Tnlinferro and R E I-Ieitllecker, " B ~ l r e a u of Mines-
Anlerlcnil Petroleum I n s t l t u t e Pressure Core Barrel," Drilling expense to obtain the data needed intelligently to de-
a n d lJroc/rrctzo)z Practice. 5 3 Il:I:39). velo]) and produce the various types of reservoirs. Too
4 'l'.V Moore "Behavior of lFlul(1s in Oil Reservoirs," Brcll. Ar)i
S s s o c ~ c t r o l c u ffeol
; ~ ~ 22 [ 9 ] l.':;i (1'33s) much emphasis h a s been placed on t h e necessity for
5nTycl;otY. Botset, a n d hlusknt. Trfrns. As1 I n s t . ilfz~zingH c t cheaper drilling costs and the reduction in lifting costs,
Eltors. (Petroleef~z Developnlejtt a ~ r d Technology) 103, "10
(1g3:;) to the end t h a t essential data have not been obtained
6 hlnskat "Flow of Honlogeneous Fluids." Tm?zs. AIIL I n s t
iUi11t11g ,Ifit. E ~ r g r s . (Petrolezc~~zU~.oelo,l~~re?&t a n d TecIt?lolog~) to evaluate the producing possibilities of properties and
103, G O G (1033).
fields, o r to take ilmnediate advantage of the per-
formance of various types of reservoirs.
DISCUSSION Mr. Wyckoff did not elaborate, on one of the most
important factors affect~ngthe performance of reser-
H. H. Kaveler (Phillips Petroleum Company, Bartles- voirs: the daily allowed rate of oil withdrawals and
ville, Okla.) (written) :* The industry is fortunate in gas-production liinits set by the various government
having Dr. Wyckoff's sound and logical presentation of agencies f o r each field and well. However, inasmuch a s
the principles of the modern a r t of reservoir engineer- this is a factor primarily governed by.market demand,
ing, which is tempered by a n appreciation of the practi- he cannot be blamed f o r not d~scusslngthis factor.
cal difficulties often encountered in reducing sc~entific If i t is realized bv those interested in the oil indus-
principles to actual practice. H e has called attention
t r y t h a t the maximum recovery of 011 from a field is not
to the fact that, i n t h e debate over details, some of the dependent on the drainage a r e a of the individual wells,
firmly established principles of reservoir performance but on the fieldwide utilization of the g a s o r water
nyay have been overlooked and excluded in attempts to displacing the oil in the field, i t follows t h a t a n attempt
solve certain economic problems facing the industry. to produce each well in each field a t a n arbitrary daily
Certainly modern researches and reliable field d a t a
rate will not allow the lnaximunl utilization of reser-
have est,ablished the f a c t t h a t t h e function of t h e bore voir energy In many instances.
hole, the location of wells, and the diameter of well
bores a r e not important reservoir factors. The impor-
Gerald L. Hassler (Shell Developnlent Company,
t a n t facts a r e whether a pool is managed with due re- Emeryville, Calif.) (written) :f I have read this
g a r d to energy sources, the nature of the reservoir rock, paper-with a pencil to check those p a r t s t h a t might
and the characteristics of the reservoir fluids contained j u s t ~ f ycriticism-and have finished with little to talk
therein.
about. Mr. Wyckoff has outlined, a s he planned, the
There is a science of reservoir performance, the basic "accepted modern view"; and i t is quite definitely
laws of which a r e no longer subject to debate; and
acceptable a s a summary of our present body of
Dr. Wyckoff forcefully h a s pointed out t h a t conflict' knowledge.
arises only when statutory, economic, or competitive in- The paper is diluted somewhat by qualifying phrases.
fluences a r e prejudicial to orderly and conservation Thus, in d~sposingof our ignorance of the mixture flow
explo~tation. characterlst~csof limestone, i t is said t h a t a n y forma-
It costs money to measure in each field those factors tion having porosity of the type found in sands will
which influence reservoir performance. A n investment have similar flow properties. This is not helpful to those
in cores, electric logs, sub-surface-pressure data, and who do not know how to guess which ,limestones a r e like
the like must be made. Those who object to such es- that. We a r e told first that, in a purely g a s mechanism,
penditures must not appreciate t h e returns t h a t may there can be no recovery of reservoir pressure due to
be expected when the established principles of reser- shutdown o r curtailment; then we a r e warned t h a t the
voir behavior, through such investments, a r e brought pressure d a t a require careful analysls in order t h a t
to bear upon the many problenls associated with petro- purely local equalizations may be distinguished from a
leum production. recovery of reservoir pressure. These things mean,
The solution even to those elusive problems of well
* F'r~spntetl bg D. R ICnon'lton, Pllillips Petroleunl Co . .
;Presented hp hl. G Cllaney. Anzac Oil Corp CO~I:III:LII.
. Texas
i: Presented by A. G. Loomis, Shell n a r e l o l , n ~ c n t Co I3111cry-
Bartlesrllle, Okln. \ ille. Calif
PRACTICE

from a practical point of view, that often little pre- study will espand a list of such "threshold" pressure-
dicting can be done. B u t i t would be wrong to object gradlent effects. These effects a r e large in proportion
to this because, in thus carefully writing the paper, the to the tightness of the rock and the vagueness of the 1

t r u e state of t h e subject better is revealed. As h e h a s wetting properties of the oil and rock.
written reports in both exploration and production I wish to repeat t h a t this criticism of the paper does
engineering f o r many years, Mr. IVyckoff keeps chaps not mean t h a t I think i t h a s been proved t h a t there is
on his shins when busting through the chaparral- a physical reason f o r limiting well spacing anywhere.
and he does not mean more than he says. I agree substantially with the paper when i t is applied
The moral of the paper-like the recent paper pre- to oil layers having reasonably high permeability, a n d
sented by T. V. Moore a t t h e Institute's mid-year meet- disagree only i n \vishing to leave t h e question open i n
ing in F o r t Worth, May 1940, to which Mr. Wyckoff other cases.
refers-is t h a t only economic considerations limit the
breadth of well spacing. I n general, I agree. The most Mr. Wyckoff: Dr. Hassler h a s made some pertinent
wasteful aspect of the oil industry is competitive drill- comlnents concerning which I believe a few additional
ing on spacings t h a t a r e too close, and i t is important remarks a r e warranted.
t h a t engineers who wish t o disagree on nunor points I11 regard to our ignorance of the inisture-flow char-
with the broad thesis should be careful not to make acterlstics, o r in the f a c t of homogeneous-fluid flow i n
it appear t h a t there is any real d~fferenceon t h a t p o ~ n t . limestone, I do not feel t h a t we ever will be in a posi-
Most oil is produced from sandstones and limestones of tion to dispose of the matter, except a s already h a s
wide-open poros~ty,where the engineering understand- been done by saying t h a t "any formation having
ing is a s complete a s Mr. Wyckoff implies when he says porosity of the type found in sands will have similar
t h a t i t is incredible t h a t there now could exist a n y lack flow properties." I n the type of limestone pay con-
of agreement regarding operating plans or the factors cerning which qualifications always must be made, a
involved. prolific well may be offset by mediocre producers, o r
Nevertheless, the Ilmpid clarity of the pool of knowl- even dry holes. rI1l such a reservoir i t is evident t h a t
edge sketched out in this paper seems strangely unlike only on a gross scale do flo~vphenomena have any mean-
the subject I know. A more lifelike mud possibly can Ing, and a "microscopic" consideration of the reservoir
be stirred up by a short discussion of what is possibly is unwarranted. I n fact, the erratic "porosity" indi-
the only controversial statement Mr. Wyckoff h a s per- cated by such perforn~anceprecludes anything but a
mitted himself, viz., t h a t "10 years of intensive search study of averages or of the reservoir a s a \vhole. How-
f o r some physical phenomena in the production mecha- ever, insofar a s such erratic porosity permits a n y defi-
nism leading to a limited radlus of drainage h a s failed nition of the reservoir configuration, I believe i t will
to disclose its esistence." be conceded t h a t the orthodox principles of yeswvotr
When a non-wett~ngphase, such a s g a s in oil or oil performance will apply.
in water, is caused to move through porous rock by Concerning the purely physical aspects of well spac-
reason of the movement of the \vetting fluid, some of ing, Dr. Hassler has questioned the statement t h a t no
the non-wetting f l u ~ d1s trapped. Mr. Wyckoff's pioneer- physical phenomena in the production mechanisn~lead-
ing paper [Physzcs 7, 325 (1936)l showed that, f o r ing to a limited radlus of drainage h a r e yet been dis-
packed sands, this non-wetting fluid 1s limited in closed. T h a t this cjuestion is not by a n y means a closed
amount, being only a few per cent (viz., in excess of book is the reason f o r the particular phraseology in the
the "critical saturation"). However, later experiments statement; and yet, in the face of Hassler's references,
with reservoir materials in flooding tests--e.g., W. S. t h e statement still stands. For, although phenomena
IITalls, "The Use of Laboratory Flooding Tests," Proc. such a s those cited have been observed-and others-
,4PI 20M [IV] (Prodtictiot~ Bt~lletin No. 223) 94 indicating t h a t mixture flow is governed to some estent
(1939)-show t h a t a g r e a t deal more oil may be by pressure gradient (velocity of flow), i t is very
trapped in watered-out reservoir rock, and t h a t the pertinent to point out that, unless these nlodifying
amount of this remaining oil substantially can be re- effects a r e appreciable a t the e s ~ r e m e l ylow velocities
duced by increasing the pressure gradient. Because of flow prevailing in the major volume of the reservoir,
the prosiinity of wells is one of the variables attached then they have no practical bearing on the well-spacing
to the pressure gradient, i t follows t h a t here is a factor problem. I t must be re~nelnberedt h a t the well system
known to a great many people (although seldonl pub- is a ,rc~dialone, a n d the recovery performance in the
lished) which may limit the effective radius of drainage. immediate vicinity of the well (say even a 50-ft radius)
What Mr. Wyckoff probably h a s in mind is t h a t no has theoretical-but no practical-significance, a s i t is
factor h a s been found which will keep one well from swamped by the vastly greater volume of the remainder
lowering t h e reservoir pressure everywhere, which is of the reservoir.
true. I t is not true, however, that the pressure alone I do not wish to be misunderstood: I hold no par-
determines reservoir performance. Slugs of oil of size ticular brief for the "unlimited drainage radius" view-
and frequency limited by t h e pressure gradient will point except that, in my opinion, t h e facts disclosed t o
occur in water-wet rock, and i t is probable t h a t further date lead to t h a t conclusion.