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Natural Drive Mechanisms

The production of oil and gas is possible only because of potential energy stored in the compressed fluids and rock of the reservoir or because of energy added to the reservoir. Reservoir energy is released when a pressure difference is imposed between the wellbore and the reservoir, and a well is produced. While this pressure differential is maintained, fluids will flow from high- to low-pressure. If the pressure at the wellbore is sufficient to lift the column of fluid, the well will flow; if not, it must be artificially lifted. Energy sources in a reservoir vary and this largely determines the efficiency of oil and gas recovery. The sources of energy for oil production are listed in Table 1(below) . The dominant type of energy determines the type of "drive" mechanism attributed to a given reservoir. These mechanisms are listed in Table 2 (below). Reservoir energy sources: Gas dissolved in oil Free gas under pressure

gas reservoir oil reservoir w/free gas cap Fluid pressure

hydrostatic-hydrodynamic compressed water, gas, oil Elastically compressed rock Gravity Combinations of the above Table 1 (above) Reservoir drive mechanisms: Solution-gas drive gas dissolved in oil Cas-cap drive free gap cap under pressure Water drive hydrostatic/hydrodynamic pressure and compressed water Gravity drainage density differences of fluids Table 2 (above)

A reservoirs overall means of production is usually a result of some combination of two or more of the drive mechanisms shown in Table 2. In general, water drive reservoirs have the highest primary oil recoveries, while solution has drive reservoirs have the lowest. Typical recovery ranges are 12 to 37 percent for solution gas drive (median 20 percent), 15 to 60 percent for has cap drive (median 33 percent), and 28-84 percent for water drive (median 51 percent).

1. Solution Gas Drive Reservoirs


Production Mechanism A solution gas drive reservoir is one in which the principal drive mechanism is the expansion of the oil, the expansion of the gas dissolved in the oil, and the expansion of the rock with its associated water. Two phases of production may occur in such reservoirs. The first phase is that in which the pressure is above the bubble-point value. During this period, no free gas phase exists and the reservoir oil is undersaturated. The second phase occurs when the pres sure falls below bubble-point and a free gas phase exists.

2. Gas Cap Drive Reservoirs


Production Mechanism The same theoretical methods for computing recovery from solution gas drive reservoirs may be applied to gas cap drive reservoirs. The assumptions are (1) that no gravity segregation of the gas liberated from the oil occurs, and (2) that the gas cap gas diffuses through the oil to supply additional expansion energy, while the location of the gas-oil contact remains at its original position. In reality, the gas-oil contact moves downward, although en gineers attempt to maintain the gas cap movement at a uniform level for optimum recovery. If the gas cap shows definite ex pansion as indicated by a high level of reservoir pressure, and the producing wells remain at low gas-oil ratio, gravity is maintaining a uniform movement of the gas cap. The low produced gas-oil ratio continues until the gas cap reaches the wells, at which point a sizeable increase in the produced gas-oil ratio occurs. Recovery in such cases is greatly dependent on the completion intervals and well locations.

3. Water Drive Reservoirs


Production Mechanism
When speaking of a water drive reservoir, we mean natural water drive as opposed to artificial water injection. Water moves into the reservoir from the aquifer in response to a pressure drop that causes the water and the rock in the aquifer to expand. If the aquifer is small, one may assume that the pressure drop is instantaneously trans mitted throughout the reservoir.

Gravity Drainage Mechanism

Conditions Needed for Segregation Gravity drainage is one of the most efficient recovery mechanisms when conditions are favorable. Under the influence of gravity, water, oil, and gas separate according to their densities. Gravity drainage is a slow process. The rate of recovery from a reservoir influ enced solely by this mechanism is time-dependent, similar to the case of the water drive mechanism. Gravity drainage is most effective in thick reservoirs with high vertical fluid communication and continuity. It is also effective in thin reservoirs with an appreciable angle of dip (at least 10 to 15) and a favorable permeability to flow in the vertical direction. Reservoirs with shale stringers or laminations are not good candidates for gravity drainage. Conditions and parameters needed for effective gravity drainage are indicated by considering the following equation. The rate of segregation of gas in an oil reservoir is

(52) where: qs = rate of gravity segregation in RB/D A = cross-sectional area of the linear bed in ft2 = oil-specific gravity minus gas-specific gravity = angle of dip in degrees = gas viscosity in cp kg = gas, effective vertical permeability evaluated at So = 1 - Swc - Sgr , in md o = oil viscosity in cp ko = oil, effective vertical permeability evaluated at So = 1 - Swc - Sgr , in md Equation 52 shows that the factors favorable to gravity segregation are , the difference in specific gravity between the oil and the gas. The higher it is, the faster the segregation. high vertical ko and kg low o

a high dip angle a large cross-sectional area available to segregation. Recovery Factor As we stated, gravity drainage is the most efficient drive mechanism. When complete segregation (i.e, full gravity drainage) occurs, recovery may approach

If the initial oil saturation is 80% and Sor = 25%, recovery is 68% of the initial oil in place. In many reef reservoirs where vertical communication is good and the oil viscosity is low it is not uncommon to obtain recovery by gravity segregation in the range of 60%. The main disadvantage of gravity drainage is that it is a slow process. Therefore, one hardly ever takes full advantage of gravity drainage because the oil production rate is normally much higher than the segregation rate.

Improved Oil Recovery


The use of reservoir energy to produce oil and gas generally results in a recovery of less than 50% of the original oil in place. The primary recovery mechanisms of solution gas drive, gas cap drive and water drive, or a combination of one or more of these and gravity drainage, account for most of the world's oil production. Secondary recovery techniques, in which external energy is added to a reservoir to improve the efficiency of the primary recovery mechanisms, have been in use for many years. The injection of water to supplement natural water influx has become an economical and predictable recovery method and is applied worldwide. Less commonly, gas injection has been used to displace oil downdip in "attic" oil recovery projects or to maintain gas cap pressure. Still, both primary and secondary recovery techniques have only been effective in producing roughly one third of the oil discovered. The remaining two thirds, more than 300 billion barrels (4.7696 1010 m3) in the United States alone, is a target for more sophisticated processes. Such processes, developed to increase recovery from reservoirs considered depleted by primary mechanisms and secondary methods of water or gas injection, were historically termed tertiary recovery techniques. However, because some of these processes may be applied earlier in the life of a reservoir, perhaps even in the first day of production, the "tertiary" term is no longer appropriate here, and as a result, the term enhanced oil recovery methods has been introduced as the term to be used for all processes that attempt to alter the physical forces that control the movement of oil within the reservoir. Both conventional water and gas injection, and the more unconventional enhanced oil recovery methods can collectively be termed improved oil recovery methods.