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Introduction lecture course 2004

May 21st and May 24th 2004

Benedikt Steingrímsson
Some basic task of reservoir engineers are:

• conducting temperature and pressure surveys in wells and

evaluate the distribution of these parameters in the reservoir.
• to conduct and interpret pressure transient tests to evaluate
matrix. and fracture characteristics.
• to evaluate flow rates and enthalpy of producing wells.
• evaluate performance of injection wells.
• to incorporate the knowledge and different information about
the reservoir into a conceptual reservoir model
• to predict reservoir response to exploitation, management plan.
• To estimate the energy response of the reservoir
Basic questions addressed in reservoir
exploitation studies:

• How many wells should be drilled.

• What spacing should be used for production wells
• How fast will production rates of wells decline
• How will re-injection affect reservoir performance.
• Where should re-injection wells be located and what well
• What is the generating capacity of the reservoir
Items discussed during the following lectures
on Reservoir Engineering
• Conceptual models for geothermal
• Rock properties
• Fluid properties (water and steam)
• Physical processes in geothermal systems
• Reservoir assessment
Geothermal systems

• Rock type…………………………….…...Usually volcanic

• Permeability………………….Usually fracture dominated
• Reservoir size…………………….……...Very large (km3)
• Reservoir temperature………….……………….40-400°C
• Reservoir fluid…….Water with dissolved solids and gas
• Thermal energy………...Mainly stored in the rock matrix

Basic problem: To mine the heat from the rock

Classification of geothermal systems

• Classification based on reservoir temperatures

– Low - temperature fields: If temperature is lower

than 150°C at 1 km depth
– High - temperature fields: If temperature is above
200°C at 1 km depth.
Classification of geothermal systems, cont

• Classification based on reservoir fluid state

– Liquid dominated system: Hydrostatic pressure

gradients. Reservoir temperature generally less than
– Vapour dominated systems: Vapour-static
pressure gradients. Reservoir temperatures
generally around 240°C
– Boiling system. Pressure gradients generally close
to hydrostatic. Reservoir temperatures as high as
Classification of geothermal systems, cont
(from Geothermal Reservoir Engineering by Grant et. al.)

• Conductive systems
– The thermal regime of the Earth.
– Warm groundwater basins.
– Warm spring associated with fracture systems.
– Geo-pressured systems.
– Hot dry rock systems.
Classification of geothermal systems, cont
(from Geothermal Reservoir Engineering by Grant et. al.)

• Convective systems
– Liquid dominated convection systems.
– Vertical up-flow and BHD systems.
– Systems with lateral outflow.
– Vapour dominated convective systems.
Conceptual models of Geothermal Systems

“A conceptual model is a
descriptive or qualitative
model of a geothermal
system that incorporates
the essential physical
features of the system and
is capable of matching the reservoir
salient behaviour or
characteristics of interest to
the modeller” From Grant et
Conceptual Reservoir Models
are focused on temperature and pressure data and fluid flow
towards, within and out of the system

These models:
• give an estimate on the size of the reservoir
• explain the heat source for the reservoir
• show the location of recharge zones
• describe the flow pattern in the reservoir
• estimate the location up-flow zones
• show location of boiling zones
• show location of barriers and/or main flow paths
• show division of the reservoir into subsystems if such exist
Conceptual Reservoir Models

• The conceptual model should incorporate all

relevant information on the system and explain its

• These reservoir models form the basis for

numerical (quantitative) models of geothermal

The following pages show several examples of

conceptual models of geothermal systems starting
with the Theis model.
The Theis model of a confined reservoir

•Horizontal, constant thickness

Production well Observation well
•Confined between impermeable
formations Initial water level
•Infinite in horizontal extent
•Homogeneous and isotropic
•Flow according to Darcy’s law Impermeable caprock

V = -k/µ dP/dr
Impermeable basement
Various types of Theis-
models used to
interpret pressure
transient tests
The Heat Pipe
A simple model for a boiling geothermal reservoir
Conceptual model of fluid flow in the natural state
of vapor dominated reservoir (White et al. 1971)
Model by White (1967) of the large scale circulation of fluid in
the natural state of a geothermal system
Model of the heat-source mechanism of the more
powerful low-temperature systems in Iceland
(Bodvarsson 1983)
Conceptual Reservoir Models.
Examples from UNU-students
and others.

Tendaho Geothermal Field

This temperature cross section
indicates fluid flow directions
in the reservoir
Conceptual Reservoir Models.
Examples from UNU-students
and others.


A two dimensional model

similar to the Theis model
Conceptual Reservoir Models. Examples from UNU-students and
others. Miravalles Costa Rica. N-S Temperature cross section
Conceptual Reservoir Models. Examples from UNU-students and
others. Miravalles Costa Rica. E-W Temperature cross section
Conceptual Reservoir Models. Examples from UNU-students and
Conceptual Reservoir Models. Examples from UNU-students and

Ahuachapan, El Salvador:
Temperature distribution at
200 m a.s.l. (600-700 m depth)
Conceptual Reservoir Models. Examples from UNU-students and

Ahuachapan, El Salvador:
Temperature distribution at
sea level elevation.
Conceptual model of Ahuachapan.
Plan view of the conceptualized fluid flow in the
Ahuachapan-Chipilapa area.
Geothermal Reservoirs

• Rock properties Geothermal

• Fluid Properties reservoir

• Main Reservoir Processes

Rock Properties

• Matrix porosity - Effective porosity

• Fracture porosity
• Rock density (Matrix and bulk density)
• Permeability (Matrix, fracture and relative)
• Heat capacity
• Thermal conductivity
 = void volume/total volume

Matrix Porosity:
• controls reserves
• is 10 - 30% in sedimentary rocks (e.g. Cerro Prieto)
• is 5 - 15% in volcanic rocks (Los Azufres, Nesjavellir)
• is 1 - 2% in granitic rocks (Palinpinon)

Fracture Porosity:
• is 0.1 - 3% (Weber and Bakker, 1981)
Darcy’s law v = -k/µ (P - g)

Matrix Permeability:
• controls flow rate declines (and enthalpies)
• of the order of mdarcy (10-15 m2 ) for sedimentary rocks
• of the order of µdarcy (10-18 m2 ) for volcanic rocks
• < µdarcy (10-18 m2 ) for granitic rocks
Fracture Permeability:
• controls initial flow rates
• is 1 - 10 Dm for two - phase liquid dominated systems
• is 10 - 50 Dm for “hot” single phase system
• > 30 Dm for “warm” liquid system
Example: Nesjavellir, Iceland
Measurements on three cores

• Porosity: 8 - 15%, tot = eff

• Permeability: 1-10 µD
• Pore size: 80% in the range 0.01 - 0.05 µm
• Fluid recovery: Centrifugal test showed 25%
recovery for P of 50 bars at T = 25°C. Correcting
for temperature effects of surface tension yields
approximate 75% recovery
Thermal Parameters

• Heat capacity (Cr):

Typical value for rock is 1000 J/kg°C
• Thermal conductivity:
Typical value for rock is 2-2.5 W/m°K
• Rock density:
Typical values for rock 2000-3000 kg/m3
Energy Content
Stored Heat Calculation

E = Erock + Efluid

Assuming reservoir temperature of 250°C:

Liquid in voids:
Fluid: 10%
Rock: 90%
Vapor only in voids:
Fluid: 1%
Rock: 99%
Fluid Properties (steam and water)

• Density
• Viscosity
• Enthalpy
• Heat capacity
• Compressibility
• Expansivity

Two-phase mixtures
Main Processes
Occurring in the Reservoir

• Mass Flow (liquid, steam, dissolved solids, non-

condensible gases)
• Heat flow (conduction/convection)
• Phase changes (boiling/condensation)
• Stress changes
• Mixing of fluids
• Fluid/fluid and rock/fluid interaction
A schematic of different processes occurring in
geothermal systems (after Bodvarsson and Witherspoon, 1989)
The end