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.,

—.

Abstract

What

Reservoir

engineering

involves

more

than applied

reservoir

tnechanics.

Tfw

objective

tion. To obtain optinumt profit jrotn

a field

ing team must identify and define all individual reservoirs and their physi- cal properties, deduce each reservoir’s performance, prevent drilling of utl-

of

the

engineering

engineer

or

is

the

optintiza-

engineer-

necessary wells, initiate operating con- trols at the proper time, and consider all important econontic factors, in- cluding income taxes. Early and ac- curate identification and definition of

the

reservoir

systent

is essential

to

ef-

fective

ettgineering.

Conventional

geo-

logic techniques seldom provide suf- ficient data to identijy and define each individual reservoir; the engineer tnust

suppletnent

the

geologic

study

with

engineering

data

and

tests

to provide

the

necessary

infortnation.

Reservoir

engineering

is

difficult;

The

usually

tensive

ervoir,

facts

most

and

successful

practitioner

is

the engineer

efforts

who, through ex-

the

res-

to

understand

to acquire

needs

fewer

tnanages

thus

a few more

assutnp-

tions.

Introduction

engineering

last

Reservoir

rapidly

industry

spacing,

has advanced

decade.

on

and

The

wider

recov-

during

is

the

drilling

wells

unitizing

earlier,

ering a greater percentage of the oil in place. Techniques are better, tools ‘ are better, and background knowledge of reservoir conditions has been great- ly”improved. In spite of these general advances, many reservoirs are being

Or[ inal manuscript recdved in Society of Petro Yeum Engineers office Aug. 8, 1964, Re. vised mnnusdtM received Nov. 2. Paper re- sented at 39th SPE Annual Fall Meeting k’eld in Houston Oct. 11-14, 1964,

RESERVOIR

ENGINEERING

is Reservoir

Engineering?

P.

L. ESSLEY. JR.

I

SINCLAIR

RESEARCH, INC.

‘iEhtEER

AIME

TULSA, OKIA.

 

I

developed in an inetllcient manner, vital engineering consideratiorm often are neglected or ignored, and individ- ual engineering efforts often are in- ferior to those of a decade ago. Res-

ervoir engineers often disagree in their interpretation of a reservoir’s per- formance, It is not uncommon for two engineers to take exactly opposite positions before a state commission. Such disagreements understandably confuse and bewilder management, lawyers, state commission members and laymen. Can they be blamed if they question the technical compe- tence of a professional group whose members cannot agree among them- selves? There is considerable difference be- tween the reservoir engineering prac-

ticed by different companies,

The dif-

ferences between good engineering and ineffective engineering generally in- volve only minor variations in funda- mental knowledge but involve major differences in emphasis of what is im- portant, Some companies or groups emphasize calculation procedures and reservoir mechanics, but pay little at- tention to reservoir geology. Others emphasize geology and make extensive efforts to identify individual reser- voirs and deduce their performance

period or dur-

ing the early operating period. They use reservoir engineering equations and calculation procedures’ primarily as tools to provide additional insight of a reservoir’s performance, Those utilizing the latter approach generally are the most successful. The. differences in practice observed

during the development

indicate that many individuals, in- cluding managers, field personnel, ed- ucators, scientists and reservoir en- gineers do not understand the full scope of reservoir engineering or how the reservoir engineer can be used

most effectively. A better understand- ing of the ba~c purpose of reservoir engineering and how it can be utilized most effective y should result in im- proved engineering.

Reservoir

The

Purpose

Engineering — A Effort

of Engineering

Group

The

goal of engineering

is optimiz-

ation. The purpose of reservoir en-

in-

formation

to

a

reservoir at the least possible cost. Since a maximum recovery generaliy is not obtained by a minimum expen- diture, the engineer must seek some optimum combination of recovery, cost, and other pertinent factors. How one defines “optimum” will depend

the

maximum possible recovery

gineering is to provide

the

facts,

and

knowledge

to

necessary

obtain

from

control

operations

upon the policies of the various oper- ators and is immaterial to the views presented in this paper.

From

an

operator’s

point

of view

any

procedure

or

course

of

action

that

results

in

an

optimum

profit

to

the

company

is effective

engineering,

and any that doesn’t is not, There

two reasons why a company may not receive effective engineering. Its en- gineers may be poorly ‘trained and fail to perform properly. However, a company can employ competent en- gineers and receive good engineering work from them, but as a company, still do an ineffective job of engineer-

ing. For instance, an engineer might do an excellent. jQb of water. flooding a reservoir, However, if even greater profit could have been received by water flooding five years earlier, then obviously the reservoir was not ef- fectively engineered by the operator. To provide optimum profits, all oper-

are

xticms must be initiated at the proper time. Effective reservoir engineer- ing, therefore, must provide the nec- essary facts sufficiently early to allow most dfective control of a reservoir.

The

Engineering

System

Calhoun’ has described the engi- neering system of concern to the pe- troleum engineer as being composed of three principal subsystems: (1) the

wells;

(2)

fluids;

behavior

first two subsystems are subordinate to the last. The nature of the reser- voir(s) and the reservoir tluids deter- mines how many wells ore neeclcd, where they should be dril[ed, how

they should be completed

duced, and what processing equip- ment is necessary to obtain optimum profits. For effective engineering, the various subsystems cannot be isolated.

They must be considered as interre-

lated portions

Petroleum engineering applies to the entire engineering system whereas reservoir engineering applies only to one part of the system. However, the entire system is controlled so com- pletely hy the reservoir’s perfornl- unce that there is only minor distinc- tion between petroleum engineering and reservoir engineering.

the

creation and operation

of

the

of

and

the

surface

nnd

(3)

within

processing

the

the

fluids

their

The

reservoir.

and pro-

of

a

unified

system.

The reservoir

engineer

is concerned

with reservoir fluids and their behav- ior, and with identifying the geologi-

of

each separate reservoir with which hc must deal. For convenience the indi- vidual reservoirs and their fluids may

he

cal environment

and

character

described

as

composing

a reser-

voir system.

The

Engineering

Process

The reservoir engineer applies a

knowledge of reservoir

ior

to produce u desired result. The re- servoir systems with which the reser- voir engineer must deal are generally complex, involving multiple reservoirs, flow barriers, faults and irregular dis- tribution of physical properties. Ob- taining a desired result from such re- servoir systems may be exceeding y difficult, It seems unnecesssxy to

state that we cannot engineer a par-

general

10

behav-

system

a

particular

reservoir

ticular

rescrvair

system until we have

obtained adequate knowledge of the particular system to iden[ify its parts and otherwise describe it. Yet we are

prone to forget this vital phase of en- gineering, Too often we make broad, general assumptions regarding reser-

~References given at end of sxwer.

20

,–L—”—-

voir uniformity, continuity, thickness

iird other factors. We then apply gen- eral equations and obtain a general

the south fliittk of the structure (by itccident, WCIISon the orth flank were completed in other zones). This

solution pertaining to an idealized

caused

a shift

of

the

initial

gas cap

reservoir, We delude ourselves when

towards

the

south.

Active

water

cn-

we call this engineering. If we are to

truly practice engineering we must obtain particular solutions pertaining to particular reservoir systems.

Ewlmition

of

the

Reservoir

System

The first consideration in reservoir engineering and the principal func-

tion

sys-

tem, To

the areal extent, thickness, inclina- tion, producing limits and the geolo- gical” environment of each separa!e

reservoir witi-dn the reservoir system.

To

the

physical properties of each separate

to

define and evaluate

of

the

reservoir

the

means

engineer

is

re”ervoir

“define”

to determine

“evaluate”

means to determine

its fluids,

of

in-

etc.,

that

of each separate

reservoir are determined adequately will an engineer have sufficient know-

accu-

rately

ledge

the

the

homogeneities,

affect flow. Only

limits and properties

barriers,

reservoir

and

the

variation

throughout

of

location

fractures,

system

when

to

performance.

the physical

system,

may

of

and

properties

the

a reservoir

deduce

its future

Most

engineers

will

agree

to

the

necessity of defining

the

few

it. Genersslly they rely on a structural

map

isopachous

prove

oil

for unitizing a reservoir, but it offers little help in understanding reservoir

performance

voir is involved, Unfortunately, in the sand-shale series which comprise many

or

supply,

with rmdtiple reservoirs, Fig, 1 shows

a

log from

burg

field

fluid contacts and individual perform-

ance.

highest

had an active water drive. The D-4

a

portion

a solution-gas drive, After five years

of,

was 800 psi less than in the underlying zone and. 500 psi less than. in the .over- Iying zones. The D-2 and D-3 sand zones were connected through corn- rnon completions and thus had simi- lar pressures. Both reservoirs had

initial

wells on

and

Yet

effort

evaluating

surprisingly

to d>ing

maps,

An

reservoir

devote

system.

adequate

and a few isopachous

map of total

valuable

in

place,

net pay may

original

political

tool

than

one reser-

for estimating

or

as

a

if more

our so-called common sources of

we more

often

than not deal

typical

1st

a field

Dakota,

in

the

basin.

Each

is separate,

sand

with

“D”

sand

Denver-Jules-

zone

unique

in

this

initial

The

D-5

initial

sand

water-oil

zone

had

contact

the

and

covers

only

by

reservoir is lenticular,

production

of the tield, and produces

the

D-4

zone pressure,

gas

were

caps,

being

active

drained

water

by

drives,

and

crorichment displaced most of the oil on the north flank of the reservoirs

into the initial gas cap area,

It

is un-

necessary

to

carry

this

story

much

further.

A

large

portion

of

the

re-

coverable

oil from

the

D-2

and

D-3

zones was lost, The operator assumed

that

and was being efficiently drained,

When considered

as

five reservoirs, it obviously wx not. if the nature of the multiple reser- voirs had been determined sufficiently early, the procedures necessary to pre- vent loss of recoverable oil would htivc been clear.

appeared to be: wheri considered

as one reservoir, it

this field was fully developed

Not far

from this field an operator released approximately 1,000 acres of even- tually productive, highly profitable

leases, located

from three

producing wells. In this case, the en-

gineers interpreted water production

from

the

in

to define the reservoir

This

case

is not

atypical.

downdip

a lower sand zone as indicating

position

of

the

water-oil

the

productive

sand

zone.

contact

Failure

was costly.

In

both

of

these

cases

numerous

clues

pretation.

do not exist, a competent engineer or superintendent interested in defining

inter-

were

available

Even

when

for

early

obvious

clLtcs

and ewd uat ing thc reservoir system should be capable of obtainirig the

necessary data. Modern

techniques provide the engineer with

and

Used

to

with geologic

wisely in conjunction

engineering

test

procedures

system,

numerous

study

tools

the

reservoir

SP LN

E

D-!

D-3

D-4

D-5

-360

-380

-400

-420

-440

%

ELECTRICAL

LOG

Fig. I—Electrical

IOK,

-460

JO I: RNALOF

l“I-;’t’R~l.EIJsf

TE~i[WJ.W~

.“

data and production data these tools

worthwhile

into

can

impart

insight

reservoir condhions.

The

Coordinated

Re~ervoh’

lhlunt

ion

Program

When

the

production

superinten-

dent, geologist, and engineer cooper- ate during development of a field to evaluate the reservoir system, it is of- ten possible to deduce reservoir per- formance quite early, A coordinated reservoir evaluation program not only provides information for better en-

gineering, it generally

costs less than

a haphazard program. A few drill stem tests, judiciously placed to test

individual zones at selected depths. often can give more reservoir inform-

of

ation

than

more

numerous

tests

multiple

placed. An extra log, or an additional

may

provide,

than can be obtained

more

yses.

Occasional y an early reservoir eval- uation program will present reason-

anal-

a drill

hour’s time

zones

on

more

indiscriminately

stem test,

information

from

core

much

usable

and

costly

coring

,abie

proof

or

reservoir

communica-

tion

and’ drainage

over

wide

areas.

This information may be the evidence necessarY to obtain wide spacing-

Such use of engineering

costs is becoming more common. A few companies devote considerable effort to this phase cif reservoir en-

gineering. In a recent case early proof of reservoir drairudge by wide spacing

allowed an operator 000 in unnecessary

drilling costs dur-

ing development of a relatively small reservoir. Early evaluation also pro- vides data for early unitization and optimum timing of pressure mainte- nance operations.

to

reduce

to save

$1,600,-

of

the

quirement

The engineer must be allowed to ob- tain the data necessaly to evaluate the reservoir system and should par-

ticipate in operating decisions with

be

regard to the reservoir.

re-

Early

definition

and

evaluation

is the, basic

reservoir

for

system

effective

engineering.

It

should

the engineer’s job to obtain, as well as interpret, the facts necessary to evaluate the reservoir system. It is his

are

to ob-

tain

required

responsibility

to know~what

to devise

a plan

minimum

data

cost.

and

them

at the

The

Geological

Study

To deftne and- evaluate the reser. voir system, the engineer must con-

sider the depositiona! environment, continuity, Mhology and limits of the

en-

reservoir

vironment

both the larger geological units, which

rock,

The

depositional

clues

Provides

concerning

.- J,\ NI!,itlY,.19siS

‘-”

:.

may cause different sand zones to behave as separate reservoirs, and the smaller nommiformities present with-

in the larger units, which may signi- ficantly affect flow and reservoir per- formance. Hutchinson has discussed

nonuniformities

present

in

reservoir

systems.zs Such

reservoir

inhomo-

geneities may provide the key to inter-

preting

reservoir

performance

or

the

success

of an injection

project.

Shale

or

silt streaks,

or

laminations,

which

restrict

may

area. Such n’onuniformities are often

too

but

may be observed

often described in the geologist’s de- scription of the cores.

se!dom noted

a wide

fluid flow, may or

or prevent

not

thin

be continuous

to

appear

in

on

core

over

logs

and we

analyses

in outcrops

and are

Elkins

has

commented

on

the ef-

fect

of

such

inhomogeneities

on

re-

ducing vertical permeability in ap-

de-

scribed calculations indicating that these minute barriers may cause the ratio of horizontal to vertical perme-

ability

effectively prevent water

Such barriers

10,000:1.

parently

clean

to

be

sands.’

as

high

He

as

has

and

gas

coning

and

may

prevent

gravity

drainage

or

gravity

under-

runningl

However,

identification

of

inhomogeneities in cores, or deducing

their effect from well tests, does not

con-

tinuous. Several reservoirs are known where thin impermeable streaks, ran- domly located within a large sand body, prevent coning but have little effect in preventing vertical segrega- tion of reservoir fluids.

Knowledge of the extent and kind

help

indicate

that

such

barriers

are

of

nonuniformities

present

may

the engineer interpret reservoir data or design special reservoir tests to evaluate reservoir performance. Yet the effect of nonuniformities on the performance of a reservoir system is usually ignored by engineers.

In reservoir engineering the geolo- gic study must precede the engineer- ing study. However, conventional geo- logical techniques rarely provide suf- ficient data to define the reservoir sys- tem, The engineer must supplement the geology with engineering data and tests to provide the necessary inform- ation, Production ddta, formation pressure, pressure gradients, interfer- ence tests, and build-up tests nlaY bC used to prove communication be- tween wells or. zones, prove the .uis-

tence of faults or other barriers,

and

otherwise define the reservoir.

In

practice, this interrelationship

geology and engineering

tained.

tensive geologic study of a reservoir,

between

is seldom ob- we find an ex-

Only rarely

do

.

.

.

.

Even less often do we find a system- atic engineering effort to prove geolog- ical interpretation and further de- fine the reservoir system. Yet such

studies

provide

the

base

upon

which

we

must

build

our

engineering,

The

ability to communicate and work

closely with geologists, or to per-

geologist,

form

is vital to reservoir engineering.

the

functions

of

the

Application

of

Reservoir

Mechunim

Reservoir mechanics generally re- ceives the most retention from reser- voir engineers. In fact, many engi- neers specialize in this apparently worthy endeavor and limit their prac-

tice (either by their own decision or

by that of others) to evaluating reser-

voir performance curves and predict- ing future performance. Superficially, such practice appears to be a valid en- gineering specialty. Actually, it is not. Given sufficient time the nature of a reservoir’s performance will generally become apparent, Hindsight is won-

to

opt imize. Those who specialize in res-

ervoir mechanics may be competent reservoir theorists and may provide many valuable services. yet their work rarely produces the maximum possi- ble profit from a reservoir. A simple case history will illustrate why.

derfully

accurate

but

is

dificult

a

small reservoir, which produces from

a tvpicsd Pennsylvanian sand-shale

series. Two offset wells were produc-

An

operator

owns

most

of

ing from Zone A. The operator

met

these

offset

wells by completing

two

wells

series, Detailed mapping indicated

that Zone B was Ienticular and existed only under the operator’s lease. Zone

A was continuous throughout the en-

tire field. A reservoir specialist may someday note that Zones A and B have different pressures’ and will con- clude that the operator’s lease is being drained in Zone A without benefit of compensating drainage in Zone B, Hc will be doing a good job, but the com- pany has not received good engi- neering. All facts necessary to deduce performance were available at the

time the wells were completed, Max- imum prafits were possible only by completing the wells properly in the first place.

be-

distinct

in

Zone

B

of

the

sand-shale

a tween reservoir engineering and the application of reservoir mechanics. The determination of a-reservoir’s pro- ducing mechanism and prediction ‘of its future performance is not in -itself engineering. Effective e~gineering re-

a reservoir’s probable

all possible meth-

ods of operation turd then controlling

quires deducing

performance

There

is

difference

under

its performance to obtain optimum profits. This usually requires operating decisions before the behavior of the reservoir is apparent. Engineers, geol- ogists, and superintendents are not infallible. They will make mistakes. However, if operating decisions are preceded by a systematic attempt to define and evaluate the reservoir sys- tem, the chances of successfully de- ducing a reservoir’s future perform-

ance and controlling

tain an optimum

improved. Calhoun has pointed to the analogy between effective engineering and preventive medicine.’ It is not sufficient for the engineer to deter- mine the state of a reservoir’s health and then attempt to improve it. To be most effective, the engineer must maintain the reservoir’s health from the start.

operations

to ob-

profit will be greatly

The

Importnncc

of

Timing

Optimization

requires

consideration

of

im-

portant a consideration as whaf to do, Most engineers are becoming in- creasingly aware that proper timing is a vital consideration in engineering. Generalizations as to the proper time to initiate a particular oil field oper-

ation are not possible, However, one generalization concerning engineer- ing is valid: the best time to apply reservoir engineering principles and study a reservoir system is as early as possible.

to

do

the

time

element,

may

be

Often,

nearly

when

as

something

Economic

Considerations

Optimization

requires

comparison.

For

logical comparison,

things

which

are distinctly different

must

be

re-

duced to a common

basis. Thus,

the

engineer

must

become

acquainted

with certain

mist

economic calculations

to

cussed here,

techniques

banker.

of the econo-

The

are

details

important

of

will

not

be

dis-

and

the

the

engineer

but

In

such

economic

calculations

all

be consid~

ered, It is somewhat ironic that in- come tax, which may represent the

largest single cost item in an evalna, tion, is often ignored, The rate of return calculated after income taxes

are

when , calculated before taxes, Eco-

nomic comparisons may not be valid

important

cost items must

considered

may

be

higher

than

Oklahoma water flood the increased

tax liability amounted

a few

flood,

practice

cases

development drilling in stages resulted in 10SS of depletion allowance for several years. In both cases alternate plans could have been devised to re- duce the tax liability. Several years ago a well-known water flood engineer outlined a stage development pro- gram for living with prorated water

proximately

small

Illinois

by ap-

to

more

than

million.

water

In

a

relatively

the

operating

increased

tax liability

Irr both

$500,000,

floods.

The

program

he

outlined

could

result in w loss in depletion

al-

lowance and increased taxes.

The

reservoir

engineer

should

con-

accept technicai advice with regard

to

tech-

.nicai personnei, with extensive train- ing and background knowiedge in cer- tain disciplines, are so obsessed with their calculation procedures and bal-

tem.

the sys-

individual

On

the

components

other

hand,

of

many

ances that they often forget they dre deaiing with a particular system which cannot be engineered untii it is de- fined.

Reservoir

An Art,

or

Engineerhrg -

a

Practice

.%ienw?

Individual

Reservoir engineering is more of an art than an exact science, aithough it has a broad scientific base, Most ob-

sult

with

a

tax

attorney

on

any

de-

served reservoir facts, phenomena,

velopment

program

involving large

or “symptoms” are subject to more

expenditures

for development

drilling,

than one iogical interpretation. Wyl-

or

other materials. The engineer cannot justify ignoring an item that may have such serious economic consequences.

or

for injection

of propane,

butane

Responsibility

of

the Group

Effort

From

a

company

point

of

view

successful

engineering

requires

op-

timizing an entire system. This gener- aiiy requires a group effort. A com-

pany’s engineering

due

most totai dependence of the group effort upon accurately defining and evacuating the reservoir system and correctiy deducing future perform- ance.

Reservoir engineering does not start

the ai-

may be ineffective

to recognize

to its faiiure

at

oped.

must start simultaneously with dis- covery, Weii iocations, driii stem tests, seiection of iogging toois, and deter- mination of completion intervais are ali reservoir engineering probiems. A 11

development and operating decisions should be tnade by an individual who reco~nizes the dependence of the en-

some

For

time

after

a

fieid

is devei-

it

maximum

effectiveness

tire

havior

systetn

of

upon

the

the

nature

It

and

be-

nec-

essary that such an individual be a “reservoir engineer”. Any manager, superintendent or foreman who con- siders the entire reservoir system dur-

ing operations, and not just the indi.

and

vidual weli, and who deveiops

operates the tleid as a system in a manner which can obtain the maxi-

mum amount of reservoir

reflervoir.

is not

informa-

Iie discussed this peculiarity of reser- voir engineering with regard to inter- preting piiot fieid tests, but extended his remarks to cover aii of reservoir engineering.’ It is anaiogous to the mathematical condition of having more unknowns than equations and obtaining multipie solutions. Eikins has aiso emphasized the necessity of investigating aii possibie interpreta- tions of reservoir performance.’ When the complexities of reservoir geometry, muitiphase fluid flow, potentiai grad- ients and reservoir mechanics arc

considered,

shouid

start Iing to any res-

ervoir engineer. Yet too often we are prone to accept the first interpretation that appears to fit most of the data. That some pieces of information don’t

fit

us

into piace never seem to bother

muitipie

interpretations

not prove

or cause

us

to

question

our

interpre-

tation.

The

most obvious

interpretation

of

data

often

is

incorrect,

An

exampie

of

this

is illustrated

by the

reservoir

performance curves shown as Fig, 2, Generaiiy an increase in reservoir pressure foiiowing a reduction in the reservoir withdrawal rate suggests wa- ter encroachment. However, no water

was

reser-

the

voir was apparently

graVity,

water-oii

tar-iike oii. The data were questioned but were proven to be reiiabie. The engineering committee conciuded that

the pressure increase couid not reflect

was

a true

being

produced

contact

by

and

the

at

seaied

a

iow

reservoir

condition

and

unleis

income

taxes

are

considered.

tion, is practicing

one

of

the

most

caused by the method used to obtain

Tax

consequences

may

occasionally

important phases of reservoir engi-

a weighted average field

pressure.

.Ac-

represent the major “consideration-in

neering. It heips if the individual has

tuaiiy, pressure increases were ob-

an operating decision. An apparently

a

background knowiedge of reservoir

served in individual weiis in aii parts

sound secondary recovery plan may

mechanics and geoiogy. However,

of

the reservoir and in Jater pressure

result in several million dollars’ greater tax liability than would an equally attractive alternate plan. In one large

many nontechnical personnei deveiop an intuitive feei for the reservoir system and know when to seek and

surveys, confirming a field-wide pres- sure increase. The present interpreta- tion, and the oniy one that satisfies”

.?2.

Jo URKt\L

-.

OF PETROLJXM,

TECHNOLOGY.

.

all

ently anomalous pressure increase was due to a redistribution of fluids within the reservoir, resulting from gravity segregation. The anomalous

pressure effect is simi!ar to the one

discussed by Matthews

meier,” At high producing

in

the reservoir was”produced at nearby wells, Following the drastic allowable ~llt, gas-oi[ ratios decreased, and the high-pressure downdip gas migrated upstructure to the low-pressure gas cap, Theoretical circulations were made to determine the effect of the fluid redistribution on the tleld pres- sure and inr.iiuated a good agreement with actual field performance. The results are shown on Fig, 2.

of

known

facts,

is

that

the

appar-

agnosis of our system we generally

rely on: (1) a

few

physical

facts;

(2) production

statistics

(often

of

doubtful reliability); (3) samples re- presenting approximately one bil” Iionth of the reservoir; (4) statistical averaging techniques (often misap-

plied); and (5) stylized mathemat- ical equations derived from assump- tions which may only remoteiy rep- resent reservoir conditions.

the

Is

it

any

wonder,

then,

that

reservoir

as “an individual who takes a limited number of facts, adds numerous as- sumptions and arrives at an uniimit-

a statement may have been made in jest; nevertheless, it provides an in- trinsic description of reservoir engi- neering as it is often practiced. Un- fortunately, due to the complexity of the reservoir system, reservoir engi- neering wiil aiways remain this way.

ed number of conclusions”?

engineer

has been described

Such

The

fact

that

we must

rely

on in-

sufficient

facts,

data

of

poor

quality,

matical expressions, Reservoir engi-

neering

is no exception,

even though

due to

the

complexity

of reservoir

systems it is iii-suited for exact math- emat ical soi utions. As a consequence

we

schooled

mathematical

ently beiieve that engineering invoives no more than obtaining soiutions with

equations

engineers

fanaticism

fect which a calculated solution OC-’

casionaliy has on ali engineers. This siren’s cali has iured many an engineer to a rocky concision in the past and

have

a

in

generation

the

and

are

of

engineers

of

the

mechanics

solution.

balances.

a small

A

few appar-

While

such

their

ef-

minority,

the

hypnotic

illustrates

no doubt wili continue future.

to do

so in the

A

ciassic

example

was

given

re-

centiy by an engineering committee

report

and

iater

testimony

of

the

chairman

of

the

committee

before

a

state commission.

Pressure

data

in

the reservoir in question were sparse but ciearly indicated a severai-thou- sand psi gradient towards the center of the reservoir, The committee ex- trapolated the pressure gradient

across

a

distance

of approxinlatelY

1 mile

to

obtain

the

pressure

at

the

water-oii contact, The extrapolated

pressure

times

to

highest

a van Everdingen and Hurst type

water

influx.’ They determined from their calculations tg-,at a stable influx rate

equation

committee

the

at

the

contact

at

different

hundred

than

The

in

varied

from

several

greater

pressurei.

nearly

1,000 psi

measured

used this information

to

directiy

caiculate

of

i ,500

B/D

would

eventually

bc

obtained.

Since

this

was

less

than

1/10

of

the

rate

of

reservoir

with-

drawals,

they

ccmciuded

that

the

iimited water

influx

would

not

ma-

terially

alter

the

soiotion

gas

drive

performance,

The

water

influx

cal-

culation was the crux of their analy- sis, A1i of their conclusions and rec-

ommendations

were

dependent

on

it.

Yet

they

made

no

effort

to confirm

their answer

by

other

methods, The

fact

that

water

had

invaded

an

ap-

preciable portion

of

the

reservoir,

and Stege-

rates

most

solution

the

gas released

from

Gas injection was started in this res-

ervoir

shortly

after

the

pressure

peaked

(67

million

bbl

cumulative

production), For several years prior to gas injection considerable fluids

were

being

withdrawn

from

the

res-

ervoir; yet the reservoir pressure was

and an imperfect knowledge of the

increasing.

For

several

years

after

reservoir does not mean that we can-

the start

of

gas

injection

reservoir

not

do

a good

job of engineering.

It

withdrawals

were

replaced,

but

the

does mean that we cannot expect per- ~~

average

extensive geological and engineering study revealed that the field consisted

of

reservoirs,

zones and extensive faulting. The ai% parently anomalous pressure decline

was due

were producing

field

large

pressure

‘declined.

of

from

that

An

a

number

resulting

to

the

individual

Ienticular

many from ,reservoirs other

fact

wells

we ually strive to obtain better data and iearn more about the reservoir. Occa- sional faiiures are inevitable. What we must strive for is the highest pos-

sible

suc-

fection

and

that

should

contin-

batting

average.

The

most

cessful

usually the engineer who, through extensive studies to define and evalu-

practitioner

of

the

art

is

than

the

ones

receiving

the

injected

ate

the

reservoir

system,

manages

to

gas.

obtain

more

facts

and

thus

requires

This example illustrates the diffi-

fewer assumptions,

Additional facts

cult y of interpreting field perform-

can

be

obtained

only

by

hard

work

ance

curves

and

the

complexity

of

some

reservoir

engineering

problems.

Theoretical calculations in this field have little meaning except as clues to aid interpretation of observed phe- nomena. Due to the complexity of the field, large volumes of oil could easily be trapped and not be drained. Reservoir engineering in this field consists almost entirely of identify- ing and defining the numerous reser- voirs. Engineering tests are being

conducted

the

com- municating zones. It will not be an easy task. Nature hides her ,secrets ‘

well.

Irr theory, reservoir engineering is based on broad scientitlc principles. In practice, however, it is not rigor- ously scientific. To start with, . we deal with’ a system which may be un- believable complex and impossible to define completely. To arrive at a di-

cate flow barriers

to

confirm

or

disprove

lo-

geological

interpretation,

to

and determine

and imaginative thinking. Assump- tions are easiiy conceived. This no doubt explains our innate tendency

facts

when the facts are not readiiy ob-

to substitute assumptions

for

tainable.

The

Csdculated

Hypnotic

Effect

Solution

of the

As a profession grows it iogically

mathe-

tries

to

reduce

concepts

to

i

“b ~~

s. -

~,

‘.

,CWW16D

‘i,,“’”

+.\

q

:;,

Pf?awculoRATE\>

FaEww

~~

.-;-R,

‘%,,

‘I

i!

.1

‘:I

that

had

stead

w

that

out,

numerous

and

that

wells

actual

had

water

watered

produc-

tion exceeded

to bother

1,500 B/D

volume

the

didn’t seem

were so hypno-

go

f’‘“

$,~,

them, They

into

questioning

tized by their calculations

chairman

oniy

of

later

a

testitied

minor

that

the

oath

water

In:

re-

under

of

reservoir.

their

own

MO