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A Review of the Concepts and Methodology of

Determining ~TNet Payi;

Richard H. Snyder, Member AIME, Core Laboratories,Inc.

@ Copyright 1971
American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc.

This paper was prepared for the 46th Annual Fall Meeting of the Society of Petroleum Engineers
of AIME, to be held in New Orleans, La., Oct. 3-6, 1971. Permissionto copy is restrictedto an
abstract of not more than 300 words. Illustrationsmay not be copied. The abstract should contain
conspicuousacknowledgmentof where and by whom the paper is presented. Publication elsewhereafter
usually granted upon request to the Editor of the appropriatejournal provi$d agreement to give
proper credit is made.

Discussion of this paper is invited. Three copies of any discussion should be sent to the
Society of Petroleum Engineers office. Such discussion may be presented at the above meeting and,
with the paper, may be consideredfor publicationin one of the two SPE magazines.


A review of the methods of deter- One of the most misunderstood and

mining net pay in hydrocarbon-bearing poorly defined terms used in reservoir
reservoirs is presented with emphasis geology and formation evacuation is
placed on the ultimate use of the net the concept of net pay. The following
pay map; i.e., for determining total discussion is an attempt to more pre-
in-place hydrocarbons, for the deter- cisely define this term, to demonstrate
mination of the total energy balance methods of selecting net pay and show
of the reservoir and evaluating secon- that the intended use of the net pay
dary recovery prospects. The use of often determines how net pay is picked.
various logs, core data and test data Several different systems of determining
are discussed in conjunction with net pay thickness and mapping techniques
calibration of the net pay. The con- for net intervals are illustrated using
cept of petrophysical cut-off values an example reservoir. Methods for cai-
and approaches to their determination culating volumes of net pay from these
are illustrated. An idealized reser- different types of maps are also dis-
voir is mapped using net thickness, cussed and compared.
pore volume and hydrocarbon pore volume
datums and the results compared. The DEFINITION AND USAGE
results indicate that the mapping using
these different datums are essentially To anyone faced with the task of
compatible , dependent only on the in- picking net pay in a reservoir the
tended usage of the maps. Volumetric first problem is concerned with defining
calculations are also made and the the various intervals and thicknesses
results are compared and evaluated. so that some degree of consistency be-
tween wells can be maintained. Refer-
ence to Figure 1 shows these intervals
References and illustrations at end
of paper.

and defines the different stratigraphic development and as a unitization para-

gross and net terms commonly used in meter . The following discussion is con-
the petroleum industry and also used cerned with t-he effect these uses h~%e
within this discussion. ~= the method of picking net PaY.

As seen on the illustration, the Volumetric Oil-in-Place

gross interval of the formation spans
the distance between log marker a and The most common use of net pay is as
$2. The gross reservoir interval is the the thickness factor in the oil-in-place
distance between the top of the reser- equation and probably the majority of
voir a=d ~kL~ b~se
~f ~~.e ~e~~rv~ir, net pay work is oriented towards this
This interval contains both reservoir factor. This thickness value is the
and non-reservoir rock; i.e., shale, most critical factor in oil-in-place
salt, anhydrite, gypsum, lignite, and calculations. Certainly mistakes in
possibly dense limestones along with porosity and water saturation can be
the reservoir rock. The next smaller made and these erroneous values substi-
division defines the gross sand or tuted into the equation, but these
limestone interval or gross reservoir, errors are limited by maximum and mini-
the interval in which the shales, salt, mum values inherent in these numbers;
etc. have been removed. The net inter- matrix porosity must be between 1 and 2
val is the part of the reservoir that percent and a maximum of 44 percent and
contatns both hydrocarbons and water water saturation values cannot stray
and is porous and permeable reservoir much below 5 percent or much over 65
rock, Finally the net sand interval percent. Therefore, it is the net pay
containing only hydrocarbons 1S the net thickness that becomes the critical
oil pay or net gas. pay. There are many value in the oii-in-piace equa~ioii as
instances noted in the iiteratiire, i~ 4-L..-.
LIICL- are no~Q=~~r~i~ing l%mits on this
unitization discussions, and in forma- number .
tion evaluation work that define net
pay in any or all of these categories. Usually net pay for this applica-
The only difference between net oil pay tion is selected with the idea that a
and net sand in this example is the recovery factor will be applied to this
fact that an oilfw+,ker contact is oil-in-place value.
---- A in the S~E6
p~eaenL whereas the diff~~-
ences between net sand and gross sand The importance of this net pay
is dependent on non-net reservoir rock. factor should be emphasized. Estimates
Normally, the problem of net pay iden- of available oil and gas in place
tification is not as simple as this throughout the world are most commonly
text-book example, mainly due to based on a volumetric oil-in-place
the variations in stratigraphy, number. Current concern over United
especially lithology. States, Russian and Middle Ease reserves
are based to a significant degree on the
The main reason for determining accuracy of obtaining these net pay
net pay is to obtain a numeric value numbers . One wonders as to the consis-
for the thickness term in the oil-in- tency between picking net for the huge
place formula. Therefore it follows gas and oil fields in Russia, Siberia
that the reason Eor de~~l~pi~g the a~d the Middle East in comparison to
volumetric oil-in-place value deter- the manner in which net sand is selected
mines the methods and parameters used from a deviated hole drilled off a Gulf
in defining net pay thickness. For Coast platform to a salt dome for the
example, the oil-in-place value is purpose of evaluating a lensing faulted
used in many different ways; the prin- Miocene sand for the basis of a MER
cipal use being for determining the hearing.
zm~-urLt~f -41
.* or gas av~ilahle fO~
primary production. Other uses in- Determining Total Energy
clude determining the total amount of
oil and gas in place within a reservoir A second reason for determining
so than an inventory of the total net pay is concerned with defining the
energy of the reservoir can be estab- total amount of hydrocarbons in a reser-
lished. Oil-in-place values also are voir so that the total energy of the
of interest in ascertaining the amount reservoir can be calculated. In this
of hydrocarbons that will be available case both movable and non-movable oil-
for secondary recovery, Net pay values in-place is desired. Net pay values
car. alse be qsed for guides in field for this application can be much higher
..-4-..-. H, SNYDER 3

than for oil-in-place calculations. As is obtained. Certain assumptions are

an example, net pay located in long implied in this method; all the sand
transition zones or below producing is porous, permeable, and is capable
oillwater contacts is counted and in- of contributing hydrocarbon, no tar
cluded in this instance, but would mats, bitumen, disseminated shale par-
~rQh=bIy he excIuded in the previously ticles in pore spaces or any other
discussed volumetric oil-in-place cal- blocking or cementing materials are
culation. It is this movable plus non- present in the sand; consequently, all
~uv=u-e riet pay *h4c-Irma==
..LA-....-w- tusecj in che positive deflections are reservoir,
oil-in-place calculation that should and all negative deflections are non-
check with material balance calcula- reservoir.
This is a valid technique if the
Secondary necovery stratigraphic section is a clean
alternating sandstone - shale sequence
A third major reason for determin- with very porous and permeable clean
ing net pay in a reservoir is to eval- sand. This is the classic manner of
uate the potential hydrocarbon avail- picking net pay and is as valid as the
~~~e for =e~ep.d=ry re~Qvery: This assumptions. Classic areas for use of
application is especially important in this method are the Miocene Gulf Coast
evaluating economics of waterflood sediments, the Woodbine of East Texas,
projects. The method of picking net California Tertiary sandstones and the
pay in this case is slanted toward the Devonian sandstones of Algeria. This
determination of the amount of net pay method is always the first step in any
with favorable relative permeability net determination work as it is in
to the injection fluids, thus the major essence separating non-reservoir from
criteria for determining net pay are reservoir rock. Often this is as
these favorable relative permeability detaiied an aiitZl~SiS Df C=t pay 2s is
characteristics. necessary.

Miscellaneous Uses of Net Pay A more sophisticated method re-

quires the use of porosity determining
Finally, net pay determination may logs in conjunction with the S. P. or
be used as a unitization parameter and Gamma Ray logs. After the reservoir
also net pay isopachous maps are used or gross sandstone reservoir is defined
as a guide for development drilling from these lithology determining logs
programs and installation and design only the porous - and probably permeable
of secondary recovery projects. interval of the porous rock is counted.

From the foregoing discussion, it All types of porosity measuring

is important to realize that the net logs; Sonic, Microlog, Microlaterolog,
pay can vary within a well dependent Density and Caliper may be used depend-
on the ultimate usage of the net pay ing upon their availability. Once
value. The net pay value checked by these porosity indicating tools are
material balance calculations can vary used it becomes necessary to define a
from net pay for use in determining lower limit of porosity below which
oil-in-place available for primary the reservoir will not produce oil or
production, and both of these net pay will not contain hydrocarbons. This
figures may vary significantly from porosity is commonly called the porosity
net sand available for secondary cut-off.
recovery operations.
One effect of cut-off porosity and
METHODS FOR DETERMINING NET PAY logging tool sensitivity should be
mentioned ; if porosity logs are used
The basic or classic method for for making quantative estimates of
selecting net involves the use of.S. P. porous net sand, the lowest value of
logs and/or Gamma Ray logs. Using nor- porosity the log can measure automat-
mal log criteria for determining the ically becomes a cut-off value. For
CQp and base Of the formations - or at example, certain wall resistivity logs
least changes in rock types - each have lower limits of sensitivity; below
gross sand interval is marked on the which the log cannot measure porous
~Qg . These icterval thicknesses are intervals. If these logs are used to
added and a total gross sand interval quantatively evaluate net, only reser-
voir rock with porosity greater than the

iower limits -will ~e -....

-C-llmted as net defining net pay is to inventory the
pay. In other words - if the log shows amount of reservoir available and
porosity the interval is net reservoir. susceptible to waterflooding or gas
If no porosity is shown on the log, injection systems, a different method
then the interval is non-net. and tools must be used to obtain re-
liable net thickness and consequent
This system again is adequate in oil-in-place volumes.
clean porous and permeable reservoirs
with high porosity intervals. Best DETERMINATION OF CUT-OFF VALUES
results for this technique are found
in strongly contrasting porosity types From the previous discussion, itis
within sandstone or limestone reser- apparent that the net pay problem may
voirs. This technique is especially be re-defined into determining porosity
useful in alternating limestone-dolo- and/or permeability cut-off values. As
mite sequences where the porosity in the intended usage of oil-in-place
the dolomite interval is much greater determines the method of picking iist
than the porosity in the interbedded pay, these uses also determine the
limestone. method chosen for delineating the cut-
off value.
The next step in defining net pay
is ~=corp~raring COre analysis and Normally, a permeability and/or
descriptions with the porosity, S. P., porosity value is chosen as a cut-off
and Gamma Ray logs. With this data value based on intuitive judgment.
two new and very important parameters Often this method is sufficient,
are available to help in defining what especially when there is a large
is net pay, permeability and oil difference between highest and lowest
saturation data. values. If the reservoir has a mixture
of 100s of millidarcy permeability and
Permeability cut-off values can be 0.1 millidarcy permeability, obviously
established and correlated with poro- the 0.1 millidarcy is considered as the
sity cut-offs. Also the lower depth cut-off value. Intuitively an occasion-
limits of oil saturation can be estab- al 2, 5 or even 10 millidarcy interval
lished which is necessary in describing will be considered below the cut-off.
the total oil trapped in a reservoir. A more difficult decision is required
Although resistivity logs can and are if there are some 50 millidarcy sam-
used to determine these oil satura- ples or intervals. In this case, there
tions, it is core analysis and core has to be something to make the decisior
descriptions that are most useful in as to whether it is net or non-net pay
reservoirs with long transition zones, other than just the 50 millidarcy
or with oil saturations many feet permeability value. There are two facts
below producing oil/water contacts. that can be used to include or exclude
these samples. obviOusiy, if the 50
Finally, in addition to all the millidarcy sample does not have oil or
previously discussed logging tools and gas saturation as reflected through core
core information, the availability and analysis, oil staining, fluorescence,
use of relative permeability data in odor or calculated oil saturation from
ii~fi~ki~t~ net pay ~Q~t he

resistivity logs~ it can be excluded

This type of data is very important in and considered below the cut-off. A
evaluating the amount of reservoir second calibration can be made using
susceptible or compatible to water- D. S. T. andlor production tests. If
flooding or other secondary recovery the 50 millidarcy interval tests dry or
schemes. Permeability to air of a at some minimal or non-commercial rate,
reservoir rock versus permeability to this permeability or porosity can be
water or oil often makes significant judged as at or below cut-off. This
differences in choosing cut-off cut-off is applicable in the case of
permeability. defining net pay available for primary
production. If an oil-in-place value
One of the major factors that was needed for determining total energy
influences the relative permeability of the reservoir then the 50 millidarcy
characteristic of any formation is the interval would have to be included even
presence or absence of swelling clays, though oil andlor gas was not produced,
so again the lithology of the formation but oil saturation was present.
can be a predorni.ii~tiiig f~CtGi in deter-
mination of net pay. If the purpose of

EXAMPLE RESERVOIR interpretations. The greatest disad-

vantage in using net pay maps is not
To see aii the effects of ?ks i~, ~~,e --+- **+-O hut in finding a
usage of net pay and to show some mapp- method for assigning of average pocosity
ing techniques for net pay in a simple and water saturation values to the rock
hypothetical reservoir has been devel- volume.
oped and is used as an illustration.
The remainder of this discussion will In our example reservoir, the rock
be concerned with this example reser- volume calculated from t&iS isopackI is

voir, 7190 acre feet. If we assign an arith-

metic average porosity of 7.7 percent
The hypothetical reservoir contain calculated from the table, we have a
20 wells. Table I is a tabulation of pore volume of 553.6 acre feet, and
the basic data for these wells, includ- using an arithmetic average water satu-
ing well identification, top and base ration of 54.3 percent we find we have
of the reservoir in subsea depth, gross 300.6 acre feet of oil in the reservoir.
thickness, net thickness, average
porosity, average water saturation and A second mapping technique can also
calculated pore volume and hydrocarbon be useful. Using average porosity
pore volume. values at the well locations and multi-
plying the fractional porosity values
Mapping Techniques by the wells net thickness results in
g nnl-a
=--- ~oi~~me datum far each well. This
Using this net thickness data for can be visualized as the feet of pore
each well, an fsopachous map of the net space available for fluid storage at
thickness was drawn as shown by FigiiEe --- ti-~ii
eULh j)C)i~8t.
space Or p.0~~
2. This map was contoured using volume is contoured as shown on Figure
straight interpretive contouring tech- 3. The advantage of this map is that
niques as opposed to equi-distant or the porosity VaiueS fili the ~eS~~VGiZS
mechanical contouring procedures. The are automatically volume weighted; how-
map is interpretive in that the con- ever, as there are two parameters to
touring parallels and honors the known each datum, it becomes necessary to
geologic information available on the contour this map mechanically, and not
reservoir. The reservoir could be a interpretively.
channel sand development with thicker
net sand in the deeper portion of the In the example reservoir, a volume
channel$ or the reservoir could be weighted pore volume of 623.5 acre feet
double-mounded sand bars with two is calculated and by assigning the same
thick or high sand build-ups at the water saturation as was done in the
top of the gross reservoir interval. previous example, 338.6 acre feet of oil
is present in the example reservoir.
This type of map is normally This is 11 percent higher than was pre-
drawn in making the various net pay viously found, the difference dependent
analyses. The advantages of such a on the different contouring method;
map is that contouring can be guided mechanical versus the previously inter-
by known geological principles and pretive type and the volume weighting
facts. For example, if the reservoir of pore space in contrast to the arith-
is a channel sand and this formation metically averaged value assigned in
was known to be V shaped in cross the first case.
section rather than U shaped, the
appropriate geometry of the sand body The advantage of this technique is
could be incorporated into the contour- that the porosity values are weighted
ing. Sand bars, reefs, biostromes or and the contouring can be done mechan-
any of the myriad geometric shapes of ically. Again if consistency and repro-
sedimentary bodies, all of which are ducibility are needed, as Eor use iii
well known, can be readily incorporated unitization work, this approach may be
into the interpretive contouring of net desirable.
pay isopachous maps. Structural fac-
tors, such as roll-overs along fault The next technique would be to
planes, suspected secondary mineraliza- reduce this pore volume by the amount
tion or fracture planes and effects of of irreducible water saturation present
unconformity surfaces can also guide in the pore space and use this number
contouring and lead to more reasonable as a mapping datum. This calculation

results in values of hydrocarbon pore data concerning geometry of the reser-

volume at each well location. This map voir are incorporated in the contouring
is presented as Figure 4. This map can of the structure maps. Secondly, the
be visualized as tank or container ease in which average porosity data and
filled with oil. Advantages of this especially representative water satura-
map are that both porosity and the tions can be assigned to the reservoir
water saturation value are volume on the basis of incremental net rock
~~~ghted, volume above the oil/water contact. If
capillary pressure data converted to
From this map a total hydrocarbon height are available, the assigning and
in place value of 342.7 acre feet has weighting of water saturation is proba-
been calculated, or only 1.2 percent bly the best and most representative
higher than the value calculated from method. Figure 7 is a summary and
the pore volume map but 12 percent comparison of the results of these four
higher than from the net isopachous techniques.
map .
It appears from the foregoing
The following technique will cir- discussion that there is little percent-
cumvent all of these problems by show- age difference in the results of these
ing that through the use of structure different gr=Phic=~ te~hnique~ for
maps of the top and base of the reser- determining oil-in-place volumetrically.
voir and a net-to-gross ratio, reliable It also seems apparent that the techniqu
oil-in-place values can be calculated. to use is one that best depicts the
poorest defined or most critical
A structure map for the top and variable.
base of the gross reservoir interval
are drawn and areas bet~ee~ ezcb. gtrluc- If r~~ervoir geometry is the most
tural contour line are determined. uncertain variable for example, then
For our example reservoir, a structure the gross and net pay isopachs should
map on the top of the reservoir is be used with interpretive contouring
shown as Figure 5. The structure map rather than pore volume mapping and
on the base of the formation is simi- mechanical mapping. Another example
lar . would be in the case of thin reservoirs
completely underlaid by a water level.
The addition of a few dry holes Then possibly the area versus height
along the perimeter of the field and approach using structure maps would be
the problem of the sand body being most appropriate as water saturation
skewed off center from the structural data could then be assigned in a more
apex complicates the example reservoir representative manner so that the
but demonstrates the advantages of saturation data would be weighted by
this method. reservoir volume in increments above
the water level.
The areas between the structure
contours for the top and base of the Determination of Reservoir Volumes
reservoir are plotted versus height
above the oillwater contact, Figure Finally, after all the maps and
-..- -
6. Next th= aiea betwee~. +k- -. .--
e~lrw~s area versus height curves have been
is planimetered and converted to a drawn it then becomes necessary to
gross reservoir volume. An average determine a numeric rock volume or
net-to-gross ratio for the entire oil-in-place. There are many techniques
reservoir is calculated from the basic for doing thisl, but normally either
data in Table I and applied to the gridding or planimetry is used to calcu-
gross column. Using the same porositie late volumes. Within each of these
and fluid saturation data as in the methods there are several ways of doing
isopach map example, a volumetric oil- this phase of the work.
in-place value of 349.9 acre feet is
calculated. This is only 10 percent The problems and techniques in-
higher than the lowest value calculated herent in this, a most important facet
using net pay isopach maps. of the entire problem, of volumetric
oil-in-place, could be the subject of
Two advantages of this method are an entire paper, but will only be dis-
readily apparent; no isopach map is cussed very briefly here.
needed , however, all the geological
.. ------ H. SNYDER 7
&u 4..4.

In gridding, area times thickness this amounts to a tolerance of ~ 5

can be estimated and integrated by eye percent. Are core analysis porosity
or through analog gridding counters, and permeability or water saturation
..- ....-----~Q~nLins Of random dots reproducible to ~ 5 percent? Finally,
within a grid, all at an amazing degree the ratio of the scale to the map to
of accuracy. In using planimetry, the thickness of, or more astronomi-
automatic and computerized digitizers cally, the percent of the reservoir
or hand planimeters can be used. Even sampled by a 9-518 hole versus the
within the planimetry method there are volume of sediments in 640 acres,
differing te~Flr~iq-UeS;CG?.ti~dCUS er ~=ke~ a + 5 percent
tolerance accept-
summation of discrete areas planimetry, able.
and finally several differing calculat-
ing techniques can be uaed2. Se e%-e= w.. . .. .. .

in this phase of net sand determination,

multiple techniques are available, none In summary, it is hoped that a
of which are standard or accepted as more precise definition of net pay has
the way to do the work. Experience been presented, and that an awareness
f~ors and time limitations, reproduc- of the importance of the intended use
ibility of values, grid sizes and of net pay guides the manner of count-
efficiency all effect the choice of ing net pay, determining cut-off values
methods for determining volumes. and mapping techniques. Through the
use of an example reservoir it has been
What is the best way? In this demonstrated that despite what datums,
example we have calculated volumes averaging techniques or graphical
using standard planimetry techniques representation of the reservoir are
and have used these figures in all the made, results of oil-in-place calcula-
volumetric calculations. Also the maps tions are similar with maximum varia-
were gridded by eye-ball using tions of 10 percent.
relatively small grid areas; i.e. ,
approximately 150 grids over the total REFERENCES
mapped area. The results indicate
that there is little difference between 1. Campbell, J. M.: Oil Property
planimetry volumes using the summation Evaluation, Prentice-Hall,
of areas and gridding. The maximum Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
difference is 5 percent, but normally (1959) 135-137.
is 1 to 2 percent, certainly within
the tolerance levels of the original 2. Craft, B. C. and Hawkins, M. F.:
interpretation of the data. Can a Applied Petroleum Reservoir
gross or net sand thickness be picked Engineeriitg, P~eiltiC~- Hall,
on a Gamma Ray log less than one-half Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
a foot? In a reservoir 10 feet thick, (1959) 27, 106.


-------- Hcpv

1 1672 1712 40 4 5.0 0.20 70 0.06

2 1665 1703 38 15 5.5 0.83 40 0.50

3 1679 1716 37 7 6.0 0.42 70 0.13

4 1652 1694 42 10 5.0 0.50 60 6.23

5 1652 1697 45 22 6.5 1.40 25 1.11

6 1672 1721 49 9 7.9 0.71 60 0.28

7 1636 1688 52 10 6.0 0.60 70 0.18

8 1638 1698 60 10 7.4 0.74 65 0.26

9 1642 1689 47 15 8.0 1.20 40 0.72

10 1650 1688 38 19 7.9 1.50 35 0.98

11 i665 17D0 35 5 ~~.z n K7

.<* gg 0.10

12 1679 1726 47 18 11.0 1.98 45 1.09

13 1678 1721 43 9 11.5 1.03 55 0.46

14 1691 1731 40 20 9.5 1.90 40 1.14

15 1701 1751 50 4 9.1 0.36 80 0.07

16 1700 1752 52 11 9.0 0.99 45 0.54

17 1710 1767 57 3 8.3 0.25 70 0.08

18 1704 1760 56 13 8.8 0.11 45 0.06

19 1700 1757 57 4 iO.i 0.40 70

20 1698 1750 52 22 9.0 1.98 25 1.49

A 1673 1733 60 0

B 1665 1735 70 0

c 1715 1763 58 0

D 1690 1743 53 0

E 1710 1772 62 0

NET/GROSS = 18.5%
AVERAGE g = 8.09%
AVERAGE Sw = 54.5.%



m I



m,, ~,

Fig. 1 - Definition of reservoir intervals.

D 0


Fig. 2 - Net pay isopachous map (Cl. = loft).


Fig. 3 - Iso-pore volume map (C.i. = O.s $~j.


V.L u

Fig. 4 - Iso-hydrocarbon pore volume map (C.I.=0.5 HCPV).


Fig. 5 . st~u~ture Map top of reservoir (Cl. 10 t).


,650V A

+ I660
:-1670 v//,///~

1690 -
-.-F Ar e-rntlm-rll
A w> >F>FL/////// /h\

I i 1800
()/w-1710 800 I000 I200 I400 1600
0 200 400 600
Fig. 6 - Height vs area for determination of 9roSS
reservoir volume (from structure maps) .



7190 (N/G = 18.5%)
Ft.) \


o 7.7

. 342,7-
so 54.3
54.3 54.3
(1 -SJ

H.C.P.V. 332.6
300.6 338.6

Comparison of r,~sults of mapping.

Fig. 7 -