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Using Pressure Tests to define

Fluid Contacts in the Subsurface

Reservoir Pressures
Fluids confined in pores are under pressure: Reservoir
Pressure, Fluid Pressure or Formation Pressure.
We can determine the pressure by measuring the force
per unit area exerted by the fluids on the reservoir rocks
where it is penetrated by the well.
Fluids in communication will transmit pressures freely
Pressure normally cited as pounds per square inch (psi)
Pressures normally computed as pressure gradients

The Hydrostatic Gradient


For a freshwater system = 0.433 psi/ft
If water contains dissolved salts: its
specific gravity will be higher so its
hydrostatic pressure gradient will be
higher than freshwater.
Thus on a pressure depth plot, saline fluid
pressure gradients will be shallower than
hydrostatic.

Using pressure measurements to


find fluid contacts
2 primary types of fluid contact
Sharp
Transitional

Good quality reservoir: good K (2000mD)


Sharp contacts

Poorer quality: as K decreases, sharpness of the


contact decreases
transitional zone

When we drill the Discovery Well: use the


pressure data from this well to locate the fluid
contacts.

Discovery Well

Oil

Pressure Test Data


used to determine
locations of fluid
contacts:
Appraisal well can
be moved to locate
the OWC.
Pressure gradients
are used to identify
component fluids

Pressure Gradients determined by


fluids

Dry Gas
60 API Oil/ Wet Gas
10 API Oil/ Water
Heavily saturated brine

0.100 psi/ft
0.321 psi/ft
0.433 psi/ft
0.500 psi/ft

All under Static Conditions


We can use this to study reservoir connectivity

Depth (ft)

psi Pressure

overburden

fre

br
in
e
N
pr orm
es a
su l h
re yd
ro
st
at
ic
sh

overpressure

Dry gas

35 API
oil

underpressure

As long as there are no pressure barriers


in the system:
Can continue these gradient lines with depth.

Consider a simple hydrocarbon system:


We will see different gradients for different
fluids

Pressure psi

gas

i
tat
os
dr
Hy
t
ien
rad
cg

Depth ft

gas

oil

oil

oil

OWC
water

H2O

H2O

Pressure/ depth plots good at predicting


possible contacts but.
Not good enough to base expensive decisions
on
RFT tool is used to determine pressure in the
well. MDT tool can make more measurements at
lower cost and is better therefore at
compartmentalization definition.
To follow are a few examples of how we can use
these tools.

psi

depth

Simple Pressure Gradient

psi

B
depth

Different Pressure Gradients: Flow Barriers

What pressures do we commonly measure?


Original reservoir pressure can only be
determined from the first well drilled.
When a producing well is shut in: pressure starts
to rise until an equilibrium highest pressure is
reached. Rise is rapid at first, slowing with time .
Maximum pressure = static bottom-hole
pressure or static formation pressure
Static formation pressure of a producing well is
normally low than virginal reservoir pressure.
Difference between the two = measure of
pressure decline in the reservoir.

Flowing pressure = measured while well is


producing.
Differential Pressure = difference between
flowing pressure and bottomhole static pressure
Casing/ Surface pressure = static pressure at
the top of a shut in well if the pressure has been
allowed to build to a maximum.
Can calculate reservoir pressure from this by
incorporating total weight of fluid in the column

And many more.

Sources of Reservoir Pressure


Variety of sources of pressure:
Some continuous add to the present pressure system
Some transitory effects
Their importance of various effects is dependant on whether
the reservoir is sealed in or not.

Three primary sources of reservoir pressure are:


Pressure exerted by the water above the point of
pressure measurement
Pressure exerted by the rock overburden
Osmotic phenomena

Lesser contributors to pressure


Temperature changes
Secondary precipitation or cementation
phenomena
Earthquakes
Atmospheric and oceanic disturbances
Chemical and biological reactions
Often difficult to tell how much of the pressure is
contributed to by each of these.

1. Pressure due to the water


column
Interconnected pores are generally water filled,
which exerts a pressure.
When the water is at rest
Exerts hydrostatic pressure, at right angles to the
boundary surface, and in all dirctions at all points in
the fluid at that pressure value.
Pressure at any point = pressure gradient x height of
water column above the point of measurement

Energy stored by the reservoir is a potential


energy as it exists by virtue of its position.
The pressure gradient is determined also by the
salinity of the brine.

2. Compaction and Pressure


Load pressure exerted by a column of rock =
100psi per 100ft depth.
= 2 x normal hydrostatic pressure gradient
Pressure is transmitted by the particles of the
rock, not the fluid
When grains are allowed to touch (compacted)
they transmit some of the pressure to the fluid.
E.g. rapid basin filling: often causes fluids to be
squeezed out of the rocks.

3. Osmosis
Clays = semipermeable membranes
Permit osmotic pressures to build up
wherever there is a marked contrast in salinity
of the fluids either side of the clays.
Major contributor to subsurface fluid
pressures

a. Temperature Changes
Changes in temperature change the fluid
pressure.
Increased temperature causes oil, gas and
water to expand, increasing presssure.
Can be caused by an approaching igneous
body.
Fluids would then move towards the cooler
region.
Temperature has a significant effect on fluid
viscosity in the subsurface

b. Cementation & Secondary


Precipitation
Decrease of porosity resulting from
recrystallization/ cementation.
In a confined unit this will cause pressure
elevation.
Generally only a temporary effect

c. Earthquakes
Advance compression waves of
earthquakes cause elastic compression of
shallow reservoirs.
Causes sudden rise and fall of the
groundwater level
Earthquakes can increase production for
short periods in petroleum wells!

d. Tides, Tsunamis and


Atmospheric pressures
Tidal and other oceanic disturbances cause
minor temporary elastic effects in underlying
rocks.
Ice cap melting and reformation undoubtedly
caused load movement over large surface of the
earth.
Small atmospheric changes can have quite
significant effects in shallow aquifers.
Oil seep speed can respond quite rapidly to
changing atmospheric pressures

e. Chemical & Biological Processes


Decrease in fluid volumes = decrease in fluid pressures.
Volume of a solution is much less than the combined
volumes of the solvent and solutes.
In fact, adding salt to distilled water decreases volume
as the molecules are forced closer together.
Breakdown of hydrocarbons tends to increase volume.
Catalytic reactions, biological activity, temperature
changes can all cause this volume change.