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The material balance method finds wide application in order to estimate the original hydrocarbon
in place of a reservoir by history matching the past production performance. It can also be used
to predict the future performance of the reservoir and to understand the dynamics of the reservoir
under various mechanisms of production, including solution gas drive and water influx. In most
studies, the data requirement is limited to average reservoir pressure, cumulative production, and
fluid PVT properties over various time intervals during production. A reasonable description of
the aquifer may also be needed where applicable. A number of software tools are available in the
industry to perform the necessary analyses in a relatively straight forward manner within a short
period of time.
The classical material balance method is based upon the law of conservation of mass, which
simply means that mass is conserved, i.e., it is neither created nor destroyed. The basic
assumptions made in this technique consist of the following:
The reservoir is viewed as a homogeneous tank, i.e., rock and fluid properties are the
same throughout the reservoir.
Fluid production and injection occur at single production and single injection points.
The analysis is independent of the direction of fluid flow in the reservoir.
However, in reality, the reservoirs are not homogeneous, and production and injection wells are
distributed areally. Furthermore, the wells are activated at different times. In addition, reservoir
fluids flow in definite directions. Nevertheless, the material balance method became very popular
with reservoir engineers due to its simple yet robust foundation. It has been found to be a
valuable tool for analyzing reservoir performance with reasonably acceptable results. As
discussed later, material balance studies may aid in reservoir characterization when the results
are compared against others, such as those obtained from volumetric analysis and reservoir
The material balance method is more fundamental than the decline curve technique for analyzing
reservoir production performance. The advantage of the material balance method is that reservoir
heterogeneities need not be known in detail in order to perform a meaningful analysis. Moreover, material
balance studies are not as resource intensive as multidimensional, multiphase numerical simulation.
Material balance techniques are used to estimate the following:
Original oil and original gas in place (OOIP, OGIP)
Ultimate primary recovery
The influence of natural production mechanisms in the reservoir, such as gascap, solution gas, or
water drives.
Furthermore, the results of material balance analysis can be used as verification of the hydrocarbon in
place and recovery estimates obtained by other methods.
This chapter is devoted to learning the following:
The principle of material balance as applied to petroleum reservoirs involving production,
injection, and influx of various fluids.
Application of the material balance method in different types of reservoirs producing under
various drive mechanisms

Mathematical equations and graphical techniques used for oil and gas reservoir performance
Prediction of reservoir performance
Role of material balance analysis in reservoir characterization
Material balance analysis based on flowing bottomhole pressure
Working example problems and class exercises

The various capabilities of the material balance method are illustrated by the following analyses in the
later part of the chapter:
Estimation of recovery factor in a newly discovered reservoir with limited data
Assessment of original oil and gas in place of an oil reservoir with a gas cap
Investigation of water influx characteristics affecting oil reservoir performance
Analysis of an abnormally pressured gas reservoir under depletion drive
Aquifer modeling for a reservoir under a strong water drive
Gas reservoir simulation with various aquifer models
Estimation of original gas in place of a reservoir with a small radial aquifer, and comparison of
the result with
Analysis of 3-D plots as opposed to conventional 2-D plots utilized in material balance studies
Performance review of a wet gas reservoir
Material balance of a gas well based on flowing bottomhole pressure
a numerical reservoir simulation
Most of the analyses have been performed with the aid of various software tools available in the

Material Balance of Oil Reservoirs

A producing reservoir can be considered in which the underground withdrawal of petroleum fluids and
water is determined by any or all of the following:
Changes in volume of in-situ oil, gas, and water due to a pressure decline in the reservoir
Water influx from the surrounding aquifer
Pore volume compressibility
External water or gas injection for reservoir pressure maintenance, in certain instances

In this case, the general material balance equation for oil reservoir performance can be expressed as
Underground withdrawal = Expansion of oil + Original dissolved gas + Expansion of gas caps

+ Reduction in hydrocarbon pore volume due to connate water expansion and decrease in the pore
volume + Natural water influx from an adjacent aquifer.
Havlena and Odeh showed that the material balance components in the equation above can be arranged as
an equation of a straight line. The equation is solved for original hydrocarbon in place and other
parameters by using relatively simple graphical techniques. The general material balance is given as
F = N(Eo + mEg + Efw) + We
F = underground withdrawal, rb
= N,[B, + (R, - R,)Bg] + WpBw - WiBw - GiBg

= Np[Bt + (R, - RSi)Bg]+ WpBw - WiBw - GiBg

N, = cumulative oil production, stb,
B, = oil formation volume factor, rb/stb,
R, = gas in solution in oil, scf/stbo,
B, = gas formation volume factor, rb/scf,
W, = cumulative water production, stb,
Wi = cumulative water injection, stb,
G, = cumulative gas injection, scf,
R, = cumulative gas/oil ratio (cumulative gas production over cumulative oil production, scf/stb),
N = original oil in place, stb,
E, = expansion of oil and original gas in solution, rb/stb
= Bt - Bti ,
= (B, - Boil + (Rsi - Rs)Bg 2
Bt = Two phase formation volume factor defined in chapter 3
=B, + (RSi - R,)Bg, rb/stb
m = initial gas cap volume fraction
Eg = expansion of gascap gas, rb/stb