You are on page 1of 51

Chapter 1

FUNDAMENTALS OF WELL TESTING
1. Introduction
Well Testing and the Ideal Reservoir Model
A well test, in its simplest form, consists of disturbing the reservoir by producing from or injecting
into a well at a controlled flow rate for a period of time and measuring the pressure response at
the production or injection well, or at some nearby observation well. The pressure response, which
depends on the rock and fluid properties beyond the wellbore, is then used to describe the
unknown reservoir system.
The "Ideal" Reservoir Model
We shall describe the reservoir’s pressure response to flow during a test by considering the very
simplest reservoir model; one with single-phase, radial flow in a homogeneous, isotropic reservoir
with an "outer boundary "that may be considered "infinite," and a constant flow rate at the
wellbore ("inner boundary") ( Figure 1 , Schematic of the ideal reservoir). All flow occurs radially
through a horizontal reservoir between impermeable upper and lower reservoir boundaries.
Figure 1
The well fully penetrates the reservoir vertically and is fully perforated. The reservoir rock and
fluid properties are assumed to be uniform throughout the reservoir and the fluid properties are
assumed to be independent of pressure. In reality no reservoir satisfies all of these assumptions;
however, we can compare the actual reservoir response with the ideal case for equivalency or
divergence. We may refer to this model as the ideal reservoir model and use it to describe the
simplest expected pressure response during well testing.
1-1
Reservoir Pressure Response during a Drawdown Test
With an ideal model, we can show that if the reservoir pressure is initially constant throughout and
equal to pi, and the well is opened to flow at constant rate along its full wellbore thickness, a
pressure transient will move out radially from each point in the wellbore with time. A specific
example, which we shall refer to as the base case, is shown in Figure 1 (The Base Case: The
pressure transients in an ideal transient radial flow from a wellbore during a drawdown test).
Figure 1
Near the wellbore the pressure transient response, through the reservoir moves radially away from
the well. This movement is rapid initially, but as it spreads out further from the wellbore and
contacts progressively larger reservoir volume, it slows in its radial advance. Fluid movement takes
place in those regions of the reservoir where the pressure has fallen below the original reservoir
pressure. Even though the production rate at the well is constant, the flux rate will be different at
each radius because the cross-sectional area exposed to radial flow at each radius differs.
A test that involves opening the well to flow at a constant rate is called a drawdown test. The
pressure response is a form of pressure transient, and our interpretation of it comprises one aspect
of pressure transient analysis. If we solve the equations that describe transient radial flow into the
wellbore for our "ideal" reservoir model, it is then possible to specify the pressure distribution in
our reservoir as a function of time.
ss
Radius of Investigation
1-2
The radius of investigation is the maximum radius at which a significant pressure disturbance has
been propagated. Its approximate position at any given time can be calculated using the expression
(2.1)
For the drawdown test pressure response shown in Figure 1 (The base case), we have plotted the
radius of investigation versus time in Figure 2 (The effect-of-mobility ratio: the radius
investigation versus flow time during a drawdown test).
Figure 2
Now, if we reduce the permeability to the flowing fluid by a factor of five, or increase the viscosity
of the flowing fluid by a factor of five, or make changes in each such that the ratio k/µ (mobility) is
reduced by a factor of five, we will obtain Curve I in Figure 2 . Of course, this assumes that the
porosity and fluid compressibility remain constant.
With this change in magnitude in either of the variables, the rate of movement of the pressure
transient into the reservoir is reduced. Conversely, if the mobility is increased by a factor of five
from the base case, we obtain Curve II and note that the pressure transient moves more rapidly
into the reservoir. As we see from Equation 2.1, reductions in reservoir porosity or rock/fluid
compressibility will also shift the base-case curve upward. Increases in these properties will shift
the curve downward.
There are two important conclusions that can be drawn from this information: first, we note that if
a well test is intended to investigate a certain distance into the reservoir, the required duration of
the test will depend upon the relative values of permeability, fluid viscosity, porosity, and total
compressibility. Equation 2.1 implies that if the mobility of one reservoir is five times less than that
of another, the former must be tested five times longer if the same radius is to be investigated in
1-3
both cases. This assumes, of course, that the porosity and fluid compressibility are the same in
both cases.
The second conclusion we may draw for our ideal reservoir system is that the radius of investigation
does not depend upon the production rate. The pressure transient will move outward to the same
distance in the same period of time whether the production rate is high or low. (The rate affects
only the magnitude of the pressure response.) Considering the conclusion in isolation, then, we
need not conduct flow tests at high rates. However, the production rate should be constant
throughout the test and should be such that we can accurately measure the pressure response with
the tools we have available. We observe, then, that the radius of investigation concept provides a
guide for well-test design.
Variables That Affect the Shape of the Pressure Transient during a Drawdown Test
We should look once again at the shape of the pressure transient as it moves outward in the
reservoir and see what properties will cause it to change. Let us consider the base case ( Figure 1 )
and see what happens as we change one variable at a time. The results are given in Figure 3 (The
effect of mobility on pressure transients during a drawdown test)
Figure 3
and Figure 4 (The effect of production rate on pressure transients during a drawdown test).
1-4
Figure 4
We begin by changing the mobility ratio. In Figure 3 we see that if the permeability is reduced or
the viscosity increased so that the mobility (k/µ) is reduced by a factor of five, the pressure
transient does not move as far into the reservoir as we expected, but has a larger pressure drop
within the radius that it penetrates. The production, then, must come from a smaller radius, and,
because of the lower mobility, the pressure gradients are greater. Consequently, the pressures at
the wellbore during a test will be lower for a low-mobility reservoir system. The converse is also
true.
Let us now consider a change in production rate. In Figure 4 we see that such a change does not
affect the radius of investigation as we might expect, but does change the pressure profile. At
higher flow rates the pressure profile is steeper because higher pressure gradients are needed to
satisfy the production rate. The converse is also true.
Pressure Transients during a Drawdown Test in a Finite Reservoir
It is helpful to see how the pressure profiles change in a reservoir that is not "infinite." To do so we
must modify our theoretical model to show a finite volume reservoir with an impermeable barrier.
Let us use an enclosing no-flow outer boundary with an outer radius of re. No flow takes place
across this outer radius. In Figure 5 (The effect of a finite reservoir outer boundary on pressure
transients)
Figure 5
we see that the presence of a finite outer boundary with an outer radius of re will not affect the
pressure profile until the radius of investigation reaches re, but that thereafter the pressure profile
drops more rapidly. This occurs because, in the finite case, all of the production must come from
the finite reservoir volume. In effect, as we see in Figure 6 (The reflection of a pressure profile at
a sealing fault)
1-5
Figure 6
and Figure 7 (The reflected pressure profile reaches wellbore) the pressure transient, upon
reaching the barrier, is reflected back toward the wellbore.
Figure 7
In Figure 6 the reflection has not reached the wellbore; in Figure 7 it has.
Prior to the pressure transient reaching the finite outer boundary, we have what is referred to as
transient flow conditions. However, once the radius of investigation reaches the finite outer
boundary we have the onset of what is referred to as pseudosteady-state (quasi-steady state) flow,
and, with it, the beginning of "stabilized" flow. By stabilized or pseudosteady-state flow we mean
that the rate of pressure change with time at any given radius is constant. Between the two flow
1-6
periods is a transitional flow period. We may use the knowledge that stabilized flow has begun to
estimate the limits of the reservoir (reservoir limit test).
Reservoir Pressure Response during a Drawdown-Buildup Test Sequence
Because it is often difficult to maintain a constant production rate during a drawdown test and
because the mathematics involved are easy to interpret, we normally allow a well to produce for a
period of time, then shut it in (production goes to zero) and observe the buildup in pressure at the
wellbore. This constitutes a pressure buildup test, which is the most common type of well test. The
pressure distribution in the reservoir is shown in Figure 1 .
Figure 1
Note that the well is shut in at t = t4 and that the pressure builds up thereafter. In buildup tests,
except for the early influence of decaying well rates on pressure response, the majority of test
data relate to a condition where the rate is zero and thus not changing.
Injectivity and Falloff Tests
Rather than cause a well to be produced at a constant rate as we do for a drawdown test, we may
inject fluid into it at a constant rate. This is especially applicable for wells that are used for fluid
injection. The test is referred to as an injectivity test. The pressure profile for this test, as shown
in Figure 1 , is the mirror image of what occurs during a drawdown test, provided that the only
change is in the direction of flow—from out to in.
1-7
Figure 1
(We assume that fluid property changes with pressure are not significant.)
In a manner parallel to the buildup test, we may stop injection into the well after a period of time
and measure the pressure falloff with time (the falloff test). Again, we will have a series of
pressure profiles that will constitute mirror images to the drawdown-buildup sequence (see
Figure 2 ).
Figure 2
Analysis of results follows procedures similar to drawdown-buildup testing.
Multiple-Rate Tests
It is often difficult or impractical to maintain a constant flow rate long enough to complete a
drawdown test. One alternative is the buildup test; a second is the multiple, or variable, rate test.
A multiple-rate test may consist of
• an uncontrolled variable rate;
• a series of constant flow rates;
• testing at a constant bottom hole pressure and with a varying flow rate.
1-8
Unlike the buildup test, multiple-rate testing provides test data while production continues. The
introduction of more than one rate in a well-test sequence causes additional pressure transients to
be introduced into the reservoir. The pressure transient for a typical two-rate test is shown in
Figure 1 .
Figure 1
Note that the second flow rate superimposes a second pressure transient on the first and both
continue to move outward in the reservoir as production continues.
The conventional "back-pressure" test for a gas well is a classic multiple-rate well test. As we see in
Figure 2 (Flow rate and pressure history of a typical conventional test), the well goes through four
successive flow rates, each lasting until the flowing pressure stabilizes.
Figure 2
This is followed by a shut-in period, which again lasts until the pressure stabilizes. With this
information, the inflow performance of a gas well may be predicted.
Our ability to use multiple-rate tests successfully is founded on the availability of instruments that
measure flow rate and pressures accurately and on our ability to solve the equations that represent
multiple-rate flow conditions.
1-9
Interference Tests
An interference test is one in which we measure the change in pressure that occurs in an offsetting,
shut-in observation well. This change in pressure is caused by changes in flow rates at one or more
active wells ( Figure 1 , Pressure response at active and observation wells during a drawdown
(interference) test).
Figure 1
By measuring the response in the observation well to changes in flow rates at the various active
wells, it is possible to develop an understanding of the reservoir properties that exist between the
wells (Kamal, 1983). It is also possible to run a vertical interference test between two isolated
zones in a single wellbore, thereby defining the degree of pressure communication vertically in the
reservoir near the wellbore (Burns, 1979).
Pulse Tests
A pulse test is a special form of interference test. It is conducted by allowing the flow rate at the
active well to change several times in the form of a series of alternate flow and shut-in periods
rather than producing the well at a single constant rate. (A pulse can also be generated by injecting
into rather than producing from the active well.) This test relies on the fact that it is possible to
measure accurately small pressure changes in the observation well. The pressure vs. time profile
measured at the observation well is shown in Figure 2 for a pulse test in which the active well is
alternately produced and shut in.
1-10
Figure 2
The shape and arrival time of the pulses recorded in the observation well are used to estimate the
properties of the reservoir between the two wells.
1. State briefly the procedures to be followed in each of the following well tests:
A. Drawdown test
B. Buildup test
C. Gaswell backpressure tests
D. Interference test
E. Pulse test
A. A well that was initially shut-in is opened to flow at a constant rate and the
pressure is recorded either at the surface or sandface. Sandface pressures are usually
preferred.
B. A well that is producing at a constant or near-constant rate is shut in at the surface
and the pressure buildup is recorded at sandface.
C. In the conventional test, a gas well, initially shut-in, is allowed to flow at a series
of constant rates. Each flow rate is maintained until the flowing pressure stabilizes. The
next flow rate, usually a higher one, is then initiated. After the well has flowed at four
different rates, it is shut in and the final, stabilized pressure recorded.
D. This is a two-well test, one being an active well, the other an observation well. The
effect of the active well on the observation well is measured so as to provide information
about the reservoir between the two wells.
E. A pulse test is a special type of interference test. One or more pressure pulses
(fluid is injected or produced for a short period of time, and then the well is shut in) are
introduced into the active well and the response is measured in the observation well(s)
with a high-resolution, downhole-pressure gauge.
2.
1-11
A. Sketch the pressure profile in the reservoir at several different times for our ideal reservoir
when it is subjected to a drawdown test. The initial pressure is pi and the reservoir is
considered infinite in extent.
B. How will the profiles change if a no-flow boundary is located 1000 m from the wellbore?
C. Sketch the wellbore pressure versus time for (a) and (b) above.
A. Figure 1
Figure 1
B. Figure 2
Figure 2
D. Figure 3
1-12
Figure 3
3. The radius of investigation during a drawdown test is given the following equation:
Example
Given the data:
Oilfield units SI units
φ = 0.15 0.15
µ = 2.0 cp 2.0
ct = 3.5 10
-6
psi-1 0.51 10
-6
kPa-1
k = 100 md
A. How long should a drawndown test be run if you wish to investigate 200 ft
(61 m) into the reservoir? 400 ft (122 m)?
B. If your estimate of k before the test is wrong and you find that it is really
1/10 its value, how long should the test be run to investigate the same radius?
C. If, rather than oil, the reservoir had been saturated with gas with a
viscosity equal to 1/1000 that of oil, how long should the drawdown test in (a) be run? Assume
that the total compressibility of the gas reservoir is 100 times that of the oil reservoir.
Solution
A. From the equation:
If we wish to solve for time, t, we may rearrange this equation,
r1 = 200 ft
= (9.954 10
-6
)(200)
2
= 0.4 hrs
r2 = 400 ft
t = (9.954 10
-6
)(400)
2
= 1.6 hrs
B. If k had really been equal to 10 md, the constant on the right-hand side is 10 times larger and so
is the required test time.
1-13
t200 = 4 hrs
t400 = 16 hrs
C. If k = 100
but µ = 2.0/1000 = 0.002 cp,
and ct = (100)(3.5 x 10
-6
) = 350 x 10
-6
, then the constant appearing on the right-hand side is 10 times
smaller and so too is the time.
t200 = 0.04 hrs
t400 = 0.16 hrs

1-14
2. Pressure Profiles at the Wellbore
Drawdown Tests, Infinite Reservoirs
Although it helps our understanding of reservoir flow phenomena to discuss pressure distributions
within the reservoir, we are able to record such pressure changes only where wells penetrate the
formation. If pressures are recorded in the well that is being produced and/or shut in (the active
well), we have drawdown/ buildup tests; if they are recorded at a nearby observation well, we
have interference, or pulse, tests.
By limiting our pressure analysis to a single radius (the wellbore radius, rw, is the most obvious one
to use), we can plot the production rate and pressure response at the wellbore versus time. (Note:
time is now the independent variable, not radius.) We see the results for the base-case drawdown
test applied to the "infinite acting" reservoir model in Figure 1 .
Figure 1
This is a classical wellbore pressure transient response. Note that the change in pressure, ∆p, and
elapsed flow time, ∆t, are illustrated graphically. Plots of ∆p versus ∆t are important aspects of
well test interpretation.
Drawdown Tests, Finite Reservoirs
It is possible for a reservoir to be finite-acting rather than infinite-acting in radial extent. For
example, it may have a limited fluid volume caused by an enclosing no-flow outer boundary or,
alternatively, a constant-pressure outer boundary that might be caused by an active water drive or
a regular injection pattern. In these cases, the reservoir is finite in radial extent and, as shown in
Figure 1 , (Observed states of flow during a drawdown test) there will be an early, transient,
pressure-response period that occurs before the outer boundary is "felt" at the wellbore.
1-15
Figure 1
Soon thereafter there will be a pseudosteady-state pressure response that is evidenced by a
constant rate of change in pressure with time at a particular radius—in this case, the wellbore. The
pressure profile during this pseudosteady-state period becomes a straight line on linear coordinate
paper. The region between the transient and pseudosteady-state periods is referred to as the
transitional or late transient period (Odeh and Nabor, 1966).
During pseudosteady-state flow in a radial flow system it can be shown that
(2.2)
This equation allows us to use the slope of the straight line on linear coordinates during
pseudosteady-state flow to estimate the volume of the reservoir with radius, re, that the wellbore
drains. All terms on the right-hand side are known or may be estimated and so we may calculate re,
the average radius of the finite reservoir.
This is an example of reservoir limit testing, a method of estimating reservoir size using wellbore
pressure response during a drawdown test.
Pressure Profiles at the Wellbore
Buildup Tests, Infinite Reservoirs
Because it is often difficult to maintain a constant flow rate on a well during a well test
(drawdown), it is customary to test a well by flowing it for a period of time and then shutting it in
(buildup). The pressure data recorded during buildup is conveniently analyzed using the fact that it
plots as a straight line on a semilog scale, as we see in Figure 1 (A semilog plot of pressure versus
(tp + ∆t)/∆t during buildup test (infinite-acting system)
1-16
Figure 1
and Figure 2 (A semilog plot of wellbore pressure versus (tp + ∆t)/∆t during a buildup test
(infinite-acting system)(horizontal scale reversed from Figure 1).
Figure 2
A plot of the wellbore pressure profile versus time for a drawdown test followed by a buildup test
for our ideal reservoir model appears in Figure 3 .
1-17
Figure 3
Horner (1951) showed that the pressure in the wellbore during the buildup period, pws, when
plotted against log (tp + ∆t)/ ∆ t will yield a straight line as shown in Figures 1 and 2 (Horner plot).
Note that tp is the equivalent producing time and is given by
(2.3)
∆t is the time since shut-in. When ∆t is small, the term (tp + ∆t)/ ∆ t is large. For this reason the
horizontal axis in Figure 1 has a large value on the left where ∆t is small and smaller values to the
right. Sometimes the horizontal scale of Figure 1 is reversed as shown in Figure 2 (large values
running from right to left).
A very long time after shut-in, (tp + ∆t)/ ∆ t will approach a value of 1.0 and the reservoir pressure,
R
p , will build up to its original value of pi as shown in Figure 3 .
Finite Reservoir
For a homogeneous but finite acting radial flow system, the wellbore pressure during buildup will
exhibit the characteristic Horner plot semilog straight line during its early phase. However, because
of the finite extent of the reservoir, some depletion will have occurred during the period of
production and the average reservoir pressure will not build up to a value as high as the original
pressure. A typical example is shown in Figure 1 , (A semilog plot of pressure versus (tp + ∆t)/∆t
during buildup test (finite-acting system).
1-18
Figure 1
The straight line extrapolation would give us p* whereas the reservoir pressure, because of
depletion, would have stabilized at
R
p . The pressure, p*, is often referred to as the false
pressure. Methods have been developed to estimate the average reservoir pressure,
R
p , so that
we do not have to wait the long time that may be needed for the pressure to reach this level.
A means for estimating
R
p , the average reservoir pressure for a finite reservoir, known as the MBH
method, has been developed by Matthews, Brons, and Hazebroek (1954) for many different
reservoir drainage areas. It requires a knowledge of the extrapolated pressure, p*, and the drainage
area and shape, together with the MBH method curves.
1-19
3. Defining the Reservoir Model: Wellbore, Reservoir, and Outer Reservoir
Boundary Conditions
We may divide a reservoir into three key regions. These regions can be referred to in either
physical or mathematical terms, as shown in Table 1.
Physical terminology Mathematical terminology
Region 1 The wellbore and near-
wellbore region
The inner boundary
conditions
Region 2 The reservoir beyond the
wellbore
The basic model

Region 3 The pressure/flow
conditions at the outer
extent of the well-drainage
area
The outer boundary
conditions
Table 1: Principal regions of a reservoir.
Each region is identified schematically in Figure 1 .
Figure 1
For our purposes we shall use the mathematical terminology because it is normally used in the
literature, but you should keep in mind the physical definitions of each region as we proceed.
The Inner Boundary Conditions (The Wellbore and Near-Wellbore Regions)
The inner boundary conditions are those that exist at or near the wellbore. There are three that
are most commonly found in practice:
• Wellbore storage
• Skin effect
• Induced fractures
We should spend a little time developing an understanding of each of these.
1-20
Wellbore Storage
When a wellbore is opened to flow, it is opened at the surface ( Figure 1 ).
Figure 1
The early production comes from the decompression of fluids in the wellbore and other wellbore
effects, and not from fluids in the reservoir. This effect is referred to as unloading, a form of
wellbore storage. Figure 2 shows the difference that exists in the flow rate at the surface and the
flow rate at the sandface, or perforations.
Figure 2
There is a time delay before the flow rate from the reservoir equals the flow rate at the surface.
Essentially, this wellbore storage effect causes the reservoir flow rate to gradually, rather than
instantaneously, reach the surface flow rate. It is important that we incorporate or account for the
wellbore unloading when we interpret the pressure/flow data collected during a well test.
Just as there is a delay in flow-rate response during the opening of a well for a drawdown test,
there is also a delay when a well is shut in at the surface to begin a buildup test ( Figure 3 ).
1-21
Figure 3
In this case the surface flow stops instantaneously, while the sandface flow gradually drops to zero.
This condition is a second wellbore storage effect that is often referred to as afterflow. After-flow
must also be incorporated into the interpretation of buildup test data.
Skin Effect
It is well known that the properties of the reservoir near the wellbore are usually altered during
drilling, completion, and stimulation procedures. The invasion of drilling fluids, the presence of
mudcakes and cement, partial penetration of the formation, and insufficient perforation density
are some of the factors that cause "damage" to the formation, and, more important, cause an
additional, localized pressure drop during flow (see Figure 4 ,
Figure 4
The near-wellbore skin effect and Figure 5 , The positive and negative skin effects).
1-22
Figure 5
On the other hand, well-stimulation techniques, such as hydraulically induced fracturing or
acidizing, will usually enhance the properties of the formation and increase the flow capacity
around the wellbore. This means that a decrease in pressure drop is observed over that which is
otherwise expected for a given flow rate (see Figure 5).
Skin is the term used to refer to the alteration of permeability that exists near the wellbore. The
skin factor, s, is used to quantify the skin. If the well has been damaged, there is an additional
pressure drop at the wellbore for a given flow rate and the skin factor is positive. If the well has
been stimulated and the pressure drop at the wellbore has been decreased, the skin factor is
negative.
We should point out that, unlike well-bore storage, which has an effect only on the early data, the
skin effect is constant throughout a well test (unless the skin is a function of flow rate). A
supplemental positive or negative pressure drop caused by the skin remains throughout the test. Its
magnitude will change as the flow rate changes.
Induced Fractures
The flow patterns around a well will be different for a well that has undergone an induced fracture
treatment compared to one that has not been so stimulated. For an induced fracture, it is often
assumed that the fracture consists of a vertical plane passing through the wellbore. Within the
general vicinity of the fracture the flow behavior is considered to be bilinear; linear into the
fracture and linear within the fracture (see Figure 6 , Schematic of bilinear flow both into and
within an induced fracture).
Figure 6
1-23
Soon after a well is opened to flow, then, the pressure transient takes on the shape of an ellipse
(plan view) around the fracture (bilinear flow period). In time, as the pressure transient moves
outward, the fracture length has less influence on the shape of the transient and, assuming the
reservoir boundaries do not influence the pressure behavior, the flow begins to converge to radial
flow. The ellipses, expanding outward, become circles (pseudoradial flow period). The
characteristics of these fracture flow periods are dependent upon the fracture length and fracture
conductivity.
Outer Boundary Conditions (Pressure and Flow at the Outer Extent of the Well-Drainage Area)
A reservoir may be considered to be infinite- or finite-acting. The infinite-acting reservoir is one
that is very large and in which fluid communication is extensive compared to the drainage area of
the well. In the finite-acting reservoir, the reservoir fluid volume communicating with a well is
limited because of an enclosing no-flow outer boundary. A second type of finite reservoir condition
and a third outer boundary condition is one in which a constant pressure is maintained at the
boundary. A regularly spaced injection pattern or an oilfield in contact with a large, active aquifer
are examples where a constant pressure is maintained at the outer boundary. This condition is
referred to as a constant pressure boundary.
Characteristic Pressure Response to the Various Elements of the Reservoir Model
Each of the elements in a reservoir model--those relating to the inner boundary conditions, the
basic model and the outer boundary conditions-- will cause a different pressure response during a
well test. The differences will be reflected in the magnitude of recorded pressure level, the time
when it is measured, or both. We need to understand what effect will be observed at what time
during the test.
To characterize these changes graphically, we need to plot the recorded pressure versus time in
some form. Because we may have pressures decreasing (drawdown) or increasing (buildup) during a
test, we may characterize both tests by plotting the change in sandface pressure ∆p that occurs
between the beginning of the test and the time of measurement versus the elapsed test time ∆t.
To avoid distortion of scale, we plot these variables on a log-log scale. The appropriate axes are
shown in Figure 1 .
Figure 1
1-24
Intuitively, we know that the earliest recorded pressure information during our well test will be in
response to wellbore storage. We shall refer to this time period as Period 1.
Next in time will be the pressure response at the wellbore shortly after production begins to flow
from the reservoir. The pressure response characteristics during this period, Period 2, will depend
upon the presence of induced fractures, partial penetration, and the presence of fissures and/or
multilayers. After some period of transitory flow behavior, the pressure response will begin to
exhibit the properties of infinite-acting radial homogeneous flow (Period 3), which will continue if
the reservoir is infinite-acting, or begin to change again for a finite reservoir (Period 4). The latter
pressure response will occur once the pressure response to the outer boundary reaches the
wellbore. The four periods characterizing the reservoir model are shown in Figure 2 .
Figure 2
We should now take a closer look at the characteristics of each period.
Period 1: Characteristic Pressure Response to Wellbore Storage
In most practical cases the effect of inner and outer boundary conditions on the pressure behavior
of a reservoir model is independent of the nature of the basic model (homogeneous or
heterogeneous). This is so because each condition dominates at different times and each exhibits a
specific behavior. This behavior has a characteristic shape when ∆p is plotted versus ∆t on log-log
scale.
Wellbore storage has been found to exhibit its own characteristic shape ( Figure 3 ). It yields a log-
log straight line of unit slope at early times.
Figure 3
1-25
This means that if the pressure data recorded during a well test has a unit slope log-log straight
line passing through early time data it is indicative of wellbore storage. However, it should be kept
in mind that the appearance of a straight line is not proof of wellbore storage; it may not be the
straight line that is desired for the reservoir system being tested.
Because ∆p is proportional to ∆t, the same data points will plot as a straight line on Cartesian
coordinates ( Figure 4 ). This is often referred to as a specialized plot.
Figure 4
Period 2: Characteristic Pressure Response to an Induced Fracture
The pressure response to a hydraulically induced fracture occurs during Period 2 and has two
characteristic shapes; one is for a high-conductivity fracture, the other for a low-conductivity
fracture. A high-conductivity fracture communicating with the wellbore yields a log-log straight
line with half-unit slope ( Figure 5 ).
Figure 5
Because this means that ∆p is proportional to , a specialized plot of ∆p versus yields a
straight line through the same points ( Figure 6 ).
1-26
Figure 6
The characteristic plot of a low-conductivity fracture communicating with the wellbore will yield a
log-log straight line with aslope less than 0.5 ( Figure 7 ).
Figure 7
It is important to recognize that during a well test the pressure response to an induced fracture will
come later in time than that of wellbore storage. Thus, the characteristic plot may initially have a
unit slope (wellbore storage) followed by a transition to half-slope (high-conductivity factor).
The above comments may imply that the period following wellbore storage is always linear flow
and should be analyzed as such. The inexperienced interpreter may analyze transition as half slope
and draw incorrect conclusions. Beware of this pitfall! The data must go from Period 1 to Period 3
pressure response and the transition need not yield a log-log straight line.
Period 3: Characteristic Pressure Response to Infinite-Acting Radial Flow
There is a point in time during a well test when the early pressure response to wellbore storage,
fractures, and other near-wellbore effects gives way to infinite-acting radial flow. This means that
the leading edge of the pressure transient at the radius of investigation moves outward radially and
1-27
as though the reservoir were infinite in extent. This period and other periods are shown graphically
in Figure 8 .
Figure 8
We note that the well is fractured and that a sealing fault exists some distance from the well. At
the onset of a drawdown test, wellbore storage takes place and there is no pressure change in the
reservoir. Once flow from the reservoir begins, the presence of an induced fracture causes flow to
be linear and normal to the fracture. As production continues and the area of drainage expands,
the an isotropy caused by the fracture disappears and infinite-acting radial flow is established.
The outer edge of the pressure transient is, in effect, a circle that has the wellbore as its center.
During infinite-acting radial flow, the specialized plot is one where ∆p is a linear function of log ∆t
( Figure 9 ) (semi-log straight line).
Figure 9
This, in turn, yields characteristic log-log behaviors for the homogeneous ( Figure 10 )
1-28
Figure 10
and heterogeneous ( Figure 11 ) basic models.
Figure 11
There are various methods for approximating the time when infinite-acting radial flow or, in terms
of the specialized plot, the semilog straight line begins. The "one and one-half cycle" rule is
reasonably good for damaged wells. That rule states that radial flow begins, on a log-log plot, one
and one-half cycles after the end of the unit slope straight line characteristic of wellbore storage
(Gringarten et al., 1979).
Period 4: Characteristic Pressure Response to Finite Reservoir Outer Boundary Conditions
In the event that the reservoir is finite with either no-flow or constant pressure outer boundary
conditions, infinite-acting radial flow conditions will come to an end when the effect of the outer
boundary is "felt" at the wellbore. Thus, in Figure 8 , we note that the pressure transient is
eventually reflected back from the sealing fault, causing an additional pressure drop at the
wellbore. For a no-flow boundary (closed system) we see in the characteristic plot that p begins to
increase ( Figure 12 )
1-29
Figure 12
and becomes asymptotic to a unit-slope straight line at later times; its specialized plot of ∆p versus
∆t ( Figure 13 ) approaches a straight line.
Figure 13
For a constant pressure outer boundary condition, the reservoir pressure ultimately stabilizes at the
pressure of the outer boundary ( Figure 14 ).
1-30
Figure 14
Examples of Characteristic Curves for Various Reservoir Systems
We have synthesized in Figure 15 (The characteristic shape of the pressure response of a total
reservoir system during a well test) what we learned about the reservoir system.
Figure 15
Note that each region has its own characteristic shape. In effect, the log-log behavior of a
complete model is simply obtained as the superposition of the log-log behavior of each individual
component of the model.
In Figures 16, 17 and 18 we see three characteristic curves obtained from drawdown test data on
different reservoirs. In Figure 16
1-31
Figure 16
we see the characteristic curve for a well with wellbore storage in a closed homogeneous system;
in Figure 17 ,
Figure 17
a fracture is added to the system; and in Figure 18 we see a well with wellbore storage producing
from an infinite-acting heterogenous reservoir.
Figure 18
Exercise
1-32
1. A. Describe the three regions of a reservoir model both physically and mathematically.
B. Specify the information that is to be gained from each of the four periods into which a
well test may be divided.
A. The three regions of a reservoir are:
Region 1: The wellbore and near-wellbore region referred to mathematically as the
inner-boundary conditions.
Region 2: The reservoir system beyond the wellbore (reservoir structure);
mathematically, the basic model.
Region 3: The pressure/flow conditions at the outer extent of the well-drainage
area; mathematically, the outer-boundary conditions.
B. The following information can be obtained during the four periods that a well test may
be divided:
Period 1: (earliest): the wellbore storage conditions
Period 2: skin factor, fractures, partial penetration, fissures, and/or multilayer
conditions
Period 3: radial, homogeneous flow
Period 4: finite outer-boundary conditions
2. Describe the characteristic and specialized plots for
A. wellbore storage
B. a closed system
C. infinite-acting radial flow
D. a fracture communicating with the reservoir
The following relationships exist for the characteristic and specialized plots:
A. wellbore storage (Period 1):
• the characteristic plot is a straight line of unit slope on log-log scales
• the specialized plot is a straight line on Cartesian coordinates
B. a closed system (Period 4):
• the characteristic plot shows ∆p increasing and then approaching a straight
line with unit slope
• the specialized plot of ∆p versus ∆t approaches a straight line
C. infinite-acting radial flow (Period 3):
• the characteristic plot shows a slight increase of ∆p with time
• the specialized plot of ∆p versus log ∆t is a linear function
D. a fracture communicating with the reservoir
• the characteristic plot for a high-conductivity fracture has a log-log straight
line with half-unit slope; the low-conductivity fracture has a quarter-unit slope
1-33
• the specialized plot of a high-conductivity fracture gives a straight line
when ∆p is plotted versus the square root of ∆t; for a low-conductivity fracture,
the straight line is given when ∆p is plotted versus the fourth root of ∆t
3.
Figure 1
Can you describe the reservoir characteristics of the well having the test data shown in Figure 1
(The characteristic shape of the pressure response of a total reservoir system during a well test)?
Figure 1
Figure 1 appears to be the characteristic shape for a well with wellbore storage and radial
homogeneous flow in a closed system.
1-34
4. Quantitative Well Test Interpretation
Conventional Well-Test Interpretation Methods
Conventional methods are based upon the original Horner pressure buildup analysis (Horner 1951)
and the work of Miller, Dyes, and Hutchinson (MDH) (1950). The assumed reservoir system model is
shown in Table 1.
Inner Boundary
Conditions
Basic Model Outer Boundary Conditions
Homogeneous
Wellbore storage Infinite or finiteateral
extent
Infinite
Skin Impermeable upper and
lower boundaries
Finite no flow
Uniform initial pressure constant pressure
Table 1: Conventional wellbore reservoir system model.
We see that this model (a) is limited to a homogeneous reservoir structure, (b) may have wellbore
storage and skin, and (c) may be of infinite or finite lateral extent. We also note that the model
will not allow us to analyze heterogeneous reservoirs, quantify wellbore storage, or distinguish the
near-wellbore conditions; that is, whether partial penetration, an induced fracture, natural
fissures, or multilayers exist. The latter information is available from the modern methods.
Using this rather simplified model for our wellbore-reservoir system, we may solve the appropriate
radial flow equations directly for a reservoir under a buildup test. Their solution in graphical form
is what Horner and others have given us to quantify the results of well tests. For oil wells, a plot of
the bottomhole pressure, pws, versus (tp + ∆t)/ ∆t during a buildup test should yield a straight line
on semilog paper ( Figure 1 , A Horner plot of data).
Figure 1
1-35
Notice that tp is equal to the pseudoproduction time prior to shut-in and ∆t is the time since the
well has been shut in. For gas wells, the vertical axis is usually pws
2
. In both examples we see that a
straight line normally does not exist during early times, This results from the wellbore and near-
wellbore effects of skin, wellbore storage, turbulent flow, multi-phase flow, partial penetration,
and so forth. A plot of log ∆p versus log ∆t can be used to determine which portion of the Horner
plot is appropriate for analysis and which portion is dominated by these wellbore effects. Once the
pressure buildup Horner plot has been made, and if the response fits an ideal model, the following
pressure and reservoir data may be calculated:
• initial reservoir pressure
• transmissibility
• flow capacity
• effective permeability
• skin factor
• damage ratio
• potential production rate without skin
• productivity index
• radius of investigation
Initial reservoir pressure: For a reservoir of infinite radial extent, the straight line of the Horner
plot may be extrapolated to give a value of the initial reservoir pressure, pi. This will be the
pressure at (tp + ∆t)/∆t = 1.0. (For gas wells the vertical axis should be pi2.) In the event that the
reservoir is of finite extent, the extrapolated pressure is referred to as p* (see Figure 2 ). Once p* is
known, methods exist for estimating the average reservoir pressure
R
p .
Figure 2
Transmissibility (koh/µo): Transmissibility is a measure of the ability of the reservoir to produce
fluids. It is a function of reservoir rock and fluid properties. In U.S. oilfield units, it has the
following numerical form for an oil well:
1-36
(4.1)
where m is the absolute value of the slope of the semilog straight line of the appropriate Horner
plot.
Flow capacity (koh): The flow capacity of the test zone may be calculated by multiplying the
transmissibility by the viscosity of the produced fluid. That is (for oil):
(4.2)
Effective permeability (ko): The average effective permeability of the reservoir to the flowing
fluid, in this case oil, may be calculated by dividing the flow capacity by the estimated thickness of
the test zone. For example, if oil flows during the test:
(4.3)
Skin factor (s): The skin factor is a quantitative measure of the damage or enhancement to the
formation that exists in the immediate vicinity of the well-bore. A positive value of s indicates
damage (e.g., mud invasion, partial penetration, turbulence), a negative value indicates
stimulation (e.g., acidizing, enlarged wellbore, linear flow). The skin factor for a well test of
reasonably long duration in an ideal model setting, as suggested by van Everdingen (1953), is
calculated using the following relationships (for oil production):
(4.4)
p1hr is the theoretical reservoir pressure (read from the extrapolated straight line of the Horner
plot) after the well has been shut in for one hour, and pwf(∆t = 0) is the flowing wellbore pressure
just prior to shut-in.
Productivity index (pi): The pi of a well is the ratio of its actual flow rate to the drawdown at that
flowrate. Drawdown is equal to the average reservoir pressure,
R
p , minus the wellbore pressure
during flow, pwf.
(4.5)
The specific pi is the pi divided by net pay thickness.
The pi provides a means for comparing a well with other wells; it is also a way of predicting flow
rate at other drawdowns for single-phase liquid flow.
Flow efficiency (E): Flow efficiency is defined as the ratio of actual or observed pi of a tested well
to its ideal pi (i.e., the pi it would have if the permeability was constant from the sandface outward
into the reservoir.)
1-37
(4.6)
For a quick analysis, this equation can be written as:
(4.7)
p* is found more easily than
R
p .
R
p - pwf is only constant after a well reaches pseudosteady state
flow. Prior to that point, E is time dependent.
Flow efficiency is less than one for a damaged well, and greater than one for a stimulated well. Its
value is unity if neither damage or stimulation exists.
Pressure drop due to skin (∆ps): The pressure drop across the altered zone near the wellbore is
defined in terms of the skin factor as:
(4.8)
This can also be expressed in terms of the slope of the Horner plot as:
∆ps = 0.869 m(s) (4.9)
Using this relationship, flow efficiency can be calculated from the Horner plot data.
Potential production rate without skin: The theoretical production rate of the well with damage
removed, qt, may be obtained by dividing the measured flow rate by the respective flow efficiency.
Of course, if the well is fractured and has a value of E greater than 1.0, this calculation will give an
indication of the flow rate without stimulation.
Radius of investigation (ri): The radius of investigation is the radial distance from the well where
the pressure has been significantly affected by the active well. Provided the reservoir is not finite
or barriers to flow do not exist within the radius so computed, the following relationship is normally
used to make an approximate estimate of the radius of investigation:
(4.10)
The radius of investigation depends on the time of flow and rock-fluid properties, and not on flow
rate. In Equation 4.10, t has units of hours.
The above discussion applies only when the actual variation in flow rate is not substantial. Strictly
speaking, the methods of analysis we have discussed apply only for a constant production rate
preceding the buildup test. If production rate variation is significant, one of several variable rate
analyses should be utilized.
1-38
Example of a Conventional Analysis of a Buildup Test
The ∆p versus ∆t plot of buildup test data for an oil well is shown in Figure 1 (Bourdet et al.
Figure 1
1983). Reservoir rock and fluid properties, and flow data prior to shut-in are given in the figure.
The Horner plot for these data is given in Figure 2 .
Figure 2
From this graph we have measured the following:
1-39
• the slope of the straight line portion of the data is equal to 65.62 psi/cycle
• the pressure at (tp + ∆t)/∆t = 1.0 is equal to 3878 psi. This is usually referred to as
p* and is equal to
R
p for an infinite reservoir.
The pressure at ∆t = 1hr, measured along the extrapolated straight line, is equal to 3797 psi.
This example of the interpretation of well-test data was based upon conventional methods. We now
turn to a discussion of modern interpretation methods.
Initial reservoir
pressure
Assuming an infinite reservoir
R
p = 3878 psi
Transmissibility(Eq. 4.1)

Flow capacity(Eq. 4.2)
= (457)(2.5) = 1142 md ft

Effective
permeability(Eq. 4.3)
= (1142)/107 = 10.68 md

Skin factor(Eq. 4.4) The flowing wellbore pressure prior to shut-in, pwf, was 3086 psi.

4 . 7 23 . 3
) 29 . 0 )( 10 2 . 4 )( 5 . 2 )( 25 . 0 (
68 . 10
log
62 . 65
) 3086 3797 (
151 . 1
2 6
·
1
]
1

¸

+

,
_

¸
¸


·

x
S
(this represents damage!)

Flow efficiency(Eq. 4.7;
4.9)

Potential production
rate without skin
The potential flow rate is equal to the actual flow rate, 174 BOPD, divided by
the damage ratio
qt = (174)÷(0.467) = 372.4 BOPD

Productivity index(Eq.
4.5):
PI = 174/(3878-3086) = 0 22 BOPD/psi
1-40
Radius of
investigation(Eq. 4.10)
The approximate radius into the reservoir that was investigated during the flow
period prior to shut-in is
ft
x
r
i
256
) 10 2 . 4 )( 5 . 2 )( 25 . 0 )( 948 (
) 33 . 15 )( 68 . 10 (
5 . 0
6
·

,
_

¸
¸
·

Our analysis, then, is derived from data obtained for an average radius of 256 ft into the reservoir
Table 1: Calculations for interpretation of well-test data shown in Figure 2 .
Modern Well-Test Interpretation Methods
Whereas the conventional interpretation methods depend on the direct solution of appropriate
equations, modern well lest interpretation is treated as a special pattern-recognition problem. In
pattern recognition, a known signal, I (the constant withdrawal of reservoir fluid), is applied to an
unknown system, S (the reservoir system), and the response, O (change in reservoir pressure), is
measured ( Figure 1 ).
Figure 1
This type of problem is referred to as an inverse problem and its solution involves finding a system
whose response to the same input signal is as close as possible to that of the actual system. The
purpose of well-test interpretation is to identify the reservoir system knowing only the input (flow
rate) and output (pressure response) signals and possibly some other reservoir characteristics.
Interpretation thus relies on models whose characteristics are assumed to represent the
characteristics of the actual reservoir. If the wrong model is selected, the parameters calculated
for the actual reservoir will not be correct. On the other hand, the solution of the inverse problem
is usually not unique: it is possible to find several reservoir configurations that would yield similar
responses to a given input signal. However, as the number and range of output signal
measurements increase, the number of alternative solutions is greatly reduced (Gringarten et al.,
1979).
Type Curves
The individual components of a reservoir model each may be characterized with the pressure-time
data collected during a well test. In order to develop a method of analyzing pressure-time data for
well tests that would be independent of the nature of the specific well or reservoir being tested,
the industry developed a series of type curves. Type curves are generally log-log plots of
dimensionless pressure, pD, versus dimensionless time, tD, terms. A dimensionless term has no
units, and, in this case, includes pressure or time as a variable. Also, the resulting correlation has
1-41
broad rather than specific application. Investigators have proposed various forms for the
dimensionless pressure and time terms (Gringarten et al., 1979). One such set is given in Figure 2 .
Figure 2
Note that each term is dimensionless and includes variables that are specific to the wellbore and
reservoir system being tested.
Type curves characterize theoretical model behavior and not individual differences that may exist
from well to well. They also provide a global description of pressure response from very early time
to the last recorded time. The type curve, or curves, then, should extend to the full range of test
data. A set of type curves is available for each different reservoir model defined by the various
investigators. An example is shown in Figure 3 .
Figure 3
Here, a type curve is given for a wellbore/reservoir model showing wellbore storage, skin factor,
and a reservoir exhibiting infinite-acting, homogeneous flow behavior (Gringarten et al., 1979). CsD
is the dimensionless well-bore storage constant and Cs the well-bore storage constant. (In some
texts CD is the dimensionless wellbore storage constant and C the wellbore storage constant.) Note
that the presence of wellbore storage is exhibited on this plot by a straight line of unit slope at
early time. The onset of infinite-acting radial flow, which occurs at initiation of the straight line on
the Horner plot, indicating the end of well bore storage, is shown. The model description and
1-42
definition of the dimensionless groups are also given. Note that the type curve has been obtained
by the mathematical simulation of appropriate equations representing the basic model and an
appropriate range of the variables found in the dimensionless group. It is valid for a drawdown test
and, in many cases, for a buildup test.
In 1983, Bourdet et al. introduced a set of type curves where the vertical axis is replaced with the
first derivative of pD with respect to ln (tD/CsD). Because the derivative of a function is more
sensitive to changes, the type curves based on the derivative of pressure magnify the
characteristics (i.e., flow regimes) of the pressure-based type curves. Hence, pressure-derivative
type curves are more accurate and reliable for interpretation purposes.
Figure 4 shows a derivative type curve for a homogeneous reservoir model.
Figure 4
As shown, the wellbore storage unit slope line remains unchanged. However, the infinite acting
portion of the type curves converge to a single horizontal line whose value is 0.5.
Type curves similar to Figure 4 have been developed for other reservoir models, such as dual-
porosity systems. All these type curves contain more discernible features than their counterpart
pressure-based type curves (Gringarten, 1979). Therefore, their use should be considered in
understanding any interpretation.
5. Well Test Planning and Execution
Planning and Conducting a Well Test
1-43
A well test requires that we control flow rate (constant or shut-in) and measure pressure;
equipment must be available at the surface to control, separate, meter, and dispose of production.
Also, a test must be carefully planned to meet objectives specified for conducting the test.
Control of Flow Rate
The control of flow rate is usually achieved at the surface through the use of chokes. For a
drillstem test, two chokes are normally located in the floor manifold, an integral part of the
surface equipment used in testing a well. One is usually an adjustable choke, the other a positive
one ( Figure 1 , Location of chokes in surface system).
Figure 1
The choke size required to provide the objective flow rate for a test is normally determined by
flowing through the adjustable choke initially to determine the suitable size. Then a proper size
insert is placed within the positive choke. Whenever a choke size is changed, flow is redirected to
the adjustable choke, the insert is changed, and the flow is once again directed. This avoids having
to shut the well in for choke changes. A well is normally shut in by closing a valve at the surface.
A gas well is often tested at a series of constant flow rates ( Figure 2 , Flow rate and pressure
history of a typical conventional test).
1-44
Figure 2
The operator, usually using a variable choke, changes the choke to the size needed for each flow
rate. The pressures measured at the taps on either side of the orifice plate in the meter run (
Figure 3 , Gas orifice metering system) are recorded and used to calculate the flow rate.
Measurement of Pressures
There are essentially four commercially available systems for measuring pressures during a well
test:
• bottomhole mechanical down hole-recording pressure gauges;
• wellhead electronic surface-recording pressure gauges;
• bottomhole electronic surface-recording pressure gauges; and
• bottomhole electronic down hole-recording pressure gauges.
We shall discuss each of them briefly.
Bottomhole Mechanical Downhole-Recording Gauges
These self-contained gauges have three essential components: a pressure-sensing device, a
pressure-time recorder, and a mechanical clock. The pressure element of a mechanical gauge is
normally a multiple-coil Bourdon-tube type ( Figure 1 ).
1-45
Figure 1
Well pressure is transmitted through a rubber diaphragm to fluid contained inside of the Bourdon
tube. Pressure increases cause the tube to uncoil. The rotation is transferred to a stylus that makes
a mark on a coated-metal chart. The recording chart is moved vertically by a clock, with the time
of movement along one axis of the chart dependent upon the clock selected (2 to 360 hours). The
stylus is moved perpendicular to this direction by the Bourdon tube as it records pressures, and the
movement of the chart by the clock records time. The relative motion of each yields a pressure-
time chart. ( Figure 2 shows charts that represent the pressures recorded downhole during a
drillstem test.)
1-46
Figure 2
Wellhead Electronic Gauges
Generally, any electronic gauge capable of monitoring and transmitting bottomhole pressures and
temperatures may be used to monitor wellhead conditions. However, two special pressure-
measuring systems are available to monitor wellhead conditions. These systems are especially
useful in closed-chamber drillstem testing. Wellhead gauges, of course, record at the surface.
Bottomhole Electronic Surface-Recording Gauges
These gauges incorporate a means of measuring bottom-hole pressure and temperature and
transmitting the measurements to the surface while the test is in progress ( Figure 3 , Example of
real-time surface pressure recording and interpretation system).
1-47
Figure 3
Most of these gauges use a single armored cable to transmit the signals from the sensor to the
monitoring system at the surface. The gauges may be either permanently installed or retrievable.
Bottomhole Electronic Downhole-Recording Gauges
Gauges of this type are self-contained, battery-operated devices. In operation, the gauge may be
lowered into a well on a solid wire (slickline), or it may be run on a recorder carrier ( Figure 4 ,
Downhole electronic temperature and pressure recorder with digital memory).
Figure 4
In most of these gauges a transducer converts pressure into an electrical signal that is recorded
downhole. Pressure data are available only after a gauge has been retrieved to surface.
1-48
Surface Production Facilities
The surface facilities required to undertake a well test are generally more extensive than simply a
flow control device and pressure-sensing and -recording instruments. An example of the surface
equipment that may be required to test an offshore flowing well that has not yet been completed is
shown in Figure 1 (Location of chokes in surface system).
Figure 1
In referring to Figure 1, we see that the production flows up through the surface test tree, then
through a safety valve to a data header where fluid samples may be taken for laboratory analysis.
Production then flows through the positive or adjustable choke. In some cases, both chokes may be
closed and production directed through the manifold bypass. From the manifold the produced fluids
flow to the heat exchanger where they are heated before being separated. Oil, gas, and water are
separated in the separator and then individually metered. A test tank may be available to use in
cleaning up the well, taking samples, and proving liquid flow meters.
Tests may also be conducted on wells following final completion, using production equipment or
portable test equipment. If the well produces only dry gas, then a separator and heater are not
needed. In such a case, a critical flow prover and pressure instrumentation may be sufficient.
1-49
Figure 3
Optimal Times to Test a Well
A well may be tested for a number of different reasons during its life. These usually coincide with
the need to make decisions with respect to the well or reservoir or the fact that an opportunity
presents itself to add to the data base of information available on the well. Optimally, well testing
will occur in conjunction with the following events:
• Prior to Completion: To assist in the completion decision, a drillstem test or a
repeat formation test, or both, will normally be carried out.
• Postcompletion: Once the well has been completed a buildup, draw-down, or
deliverability test is performed to quantify near-wellbore and reservoir conditions and to
define inflow performance characteristics.
• Prestimulation and Poststimulation: Stimulation (acidizing or fracturing) treatments
are often applied to wells to improve their performance. Usually a well test (typically a
buildup test) is performed before the treatment to evaluate the need for stimulation and
after the treatment, to estimate its effectiveness.
• Preoperational and Postoperational Changes: Whenever an operational change
occurs (e.g., a workover or installation of artificial lift) it is good policy to test the well
before and after that change to evaluate any problem that may have developed and to
add to the data base of the well.
• Periodic Surveys: During either planned, routine field shut-in periods or unforeseen
field shut-ins, the pressure buildup of the wells should be recorded.
• Enhanced Recovery: It is good policy to test wells whenever fluids are to be
injected into a reservoir or wells are to be converted from production to injection wells.
Testing should occur both before and after fluids are injected and should serve as a
means of monitoring fluid movement.
1-50
Well testing at the above times will help in making important decisions and, in addition, allow the
monitoring of changes that may affect the well's long-term performance.
Planning a Well Test
Once the decision to test a well has been made and the objectives of the test clearly stated, a
well-test plan must be prepared. To be complete this package should include the following key
elements:
• Statement of Test Objectives As we saw in the preceding section, we need to
specify why the well is being tested and what we expect to learn from the test data.
• Proposed Test Design This section of the package includes the specification of the
type of test to be run; the flow rates, duration, periods; the shut-in periods and times;
the contingency procedures in the event that the test has to be altered in the field
because of mechanical problems.
• Mechanical Design The required surface and subsurface mechanical system is
specified in this section of the package. It will typically include the test interval and
landing locations, a schematic of the well's tubular goods, the required surface test
facilities, the meter system, and the way in which the produced fluids are to be disposed.
Safety, environmental, and regulatory considerations must be included in this design.
• Instrumentation The instrumentation package must also be specified. It should
include the pressure and temperature measuring and recording devices (with backup as
needed) as well as the wireline recommendations.
• Sampling The package should also include specifications for sampling produced
fluids: how many samples to take, when, and where.
• Well-Test Reporting Communicating the results of the well-test procedures clearly
to all persons concerned with the test and making sure that all test data is recorded
systematically is extremely important. For this reason the proposed test chronology and
data to be recorded are provided to the individuals responsible for the test. They, in
turn, should use appropriately prepared forms to record the actual test chronology and
actual data recorded and later interpreted. Several service contractors now offer
computer-based systems that monitor, record, and report pressures and flow rates at
many different points in the surface and subsurface systems during the test. Once the
test is complete, the contractor, with on-site -computers, can analyze the data and
provide an interpretation that includes the optimal design of the well's completion.
Communication to all concerned both before the test package is prepared and before the test is run
is important for success. Such communication will include discussion with local management, field
personnel, service companies who will provide equipment and instrumentation, regulatory officials,
and partners in the well.
Once the well test plan is complete, it may be given to the proper field personnel with confidence
that the recorded data may be interpreted so as to satisfy the test objectives.
1-51