You are on page 1of 4

Calculating Overburden Pressure

Overburden pressure is caused by the weight of the rocks above the formation pre
ssing down on the rocks below. This is sometimes called overburden stress - stre
ss and pressure have the same units of measurement.
Integrating the density log versus depth or estimating the average rock density
profile and integrating will calculate this pressure:
1. Po = KS9 * SUM (DENSi * INCR)
Po = overburden pressure (KPa or psi)
DENSi = density log reading at the i-th data point (Kg/m3 or gm/cc)
INCR = digital data increment (meters or feet)
KS9 = 0.01 for metric units
KS9 = 0.0605 for English units
Overburden pressure gradient is:
2: (Po/D) = Po / DEPTH
A literature search will turn up some relationships for (PO/D) for specific area
s, such as this one for the North Sea:
3: (Po/D) = (ln(DEPTH - EKB) - 0.5185) / 3.47
In this equation, depth is in meters.
NOTE: All depths must be true vertical depths.
Typical values for (Po/D)
Sandstone 30% porosity
Sandstone 20% porosity
Sandstone 10% porosity
Sandstone 0% porosity

For a real rock sequence, these values may be integrated over each lithologic in
terval, or can be used to replace density log data over bad hole or missing log
intervals. If the density log is in porosity units, use the appropriate transfor
ms to build a density log. The log below shows the type of editing that might be
needed on a density log before integration.
Editing density logs based on the log response equation applied to a competent p
analysis of valid data.

Calculating Normal Pore Pressure

Normal pore pressures occur in many parts of the world. Normal pressure gradient
s depend only on the density of the fluid in the pores, integrated from surface
to the depth of interest. Fresh water with zero salinity will generate a pressur
e gradient of 0.433 psi/foot or 9.81 KPa/meter. Saturated salt water generates a
gradient of 0.460 psi/ft or 10.4 KPa/meter.
4: Pp = KP1 * DEPTH
5: Ps = KP2
Formation pore pressure gradient is:
6: (Pp/D) = Pp / DEPTH
DEPTH = formation depth (ft or meters)
Pp = formation pressure (psi or KPa)
(Pp/D) = formation pressure gradient (psi/ft or KPa/meter)
Ps = surface pressure (psi or KPa)
KP1 = 0.433 to 0.460 psi/foot for English units
KP1 = 9.81 to 10.4 KPa/meter for Metric units
KP2 = 14.7 psi for English units
KP2 = 101 KPa for Metric units
NOTE: All depths must be true vertical depths.
Formation pore pressure (Pp) is the pore pressure used fracture pressure equatio
ns. The best source of pore pressure data is the drill stem test (DST) or repeat
formation tester (RFT) extrapolated formation pressures from many zones in many
wells, plotted versus depth. Commercial databases containing this information a
re available, or the data can be tabulated from well history files.
The slope (Pp/D) of a series of best fit straight lines drawn through the data p
oints will provide the pressure gradient required. The hydrocarbon content will
give lower gradients: oil gives a Pp/D between 0.30 and 0.43 psi/ft (6.78 to 9.8
1 KPa/m). Gas zones will have gradients from 0.05 to 0.30 psi/ft (2.26 to 6.78 K
Pa/m). Partially depleted reservoirs may have abnormally low pore pressure if th
ere is no active aquifer, water injection, or gas injection to support the reser
voir pressure.
Pore pressure plot versus depth for North Sea - straight line at left is normal
pore pressure, line at right is overburden pressure, dots are measured pore pres

Some engineering problems require the initial formation pressure, before any pro
duction has occurred. The pore pressure needed for fracture pressure calculation
s is the current pore pressure at the time the frac is to be performed. Since re
servoir pressure depends on the past history of production from all wells in the
pool, local pressure anomalies may be present. The best pressure to use is the
actual, measured, extrapolated shut in pressure for the zone and well to be frac
If no measured formation pressures exist, the mud weight hydrostatic pressure ca
n be taken as the upper limit for the pore pressure. A lower limit would be the
mud weight during a gas kick.

Calculating Abnormal Pore Pressure

In some reservoirs, pore pressure is higher than normal. These are called overpr
essured or abnormal pressured zones. The best source of pore pressure is still t
he extrapolated formation pressures derived from DST or RFT data.
Some gas sands are naturally underpressured due to burial at depth with subseque
nt formation expansion after surface erosion. There is also some suspicion that
glaciation may have pressured then relaxed these zones. Measured pressures are t
he only source of pressure data for such zones.
Where overpressure data is sparse, a log analysis technique is sometimes helpful
. It relies on fitting lines to semi-log plots of sonic travel time in shale ver
sus depth.
First, we need to run a simplified log analysis, just to see where the shales ar
7: Vsh = MIN(1,MAX(0,((GR - GR0) / (GR100 - GR0))))
8: PHIe = MIN(PHIMAX*(1 - VSH),MAX(0,0.5 * (PHIN - VSH * PHINSH + PHID - V
You can substitute a more sophisticated log analysis model if desired. It is use
d for displaying shale, porosity, and lithology on the depth plot to aid in choo
sing the normal shale trend line on the sonic log.
Find DTCsh points for the depth plot:
9: IF Vsh > 0.5 THEN DTCsh = DTC OTHERWISE DTCsh = 0
Fit a best fit or eyeball line to the DTCsh data points (ignoring all zero or nu
ll data) above the overpressure zone - this is the normal pressure trend line:
10: DTCnorm = 10^(log(DTCsh1) - ((DEPTH / DEPTH1) * (log(DTCsh1) - log(DTC
11: DTCdiff = MAX (0,DTCsh - DTCnorm)
DTCsh0 is the DTCnorm at zero depth and DTCsh1 is the DTCnorm at DEPTH1 on the b
est fit trend line. DTCdiff is only needed for the depth plot of results.
Calculate overburden pressure gradient from an area specific transform or by int
egrating the density log:
12: (Po/D) = (ln (DEPTH - EKB) - 0.5185) / 3.47
13: Po = (Po/D) * DEPTH
NOTE: All depths must be true vertical depths.
Calculate pore pressure gradient:

14: (Pp/D) = (Po/D) - ((Po/D) - 1) * (MIN (1 , DTCnorm / DTC))^3

15: Pp = (Pp/D) * DEPTH
This equation is very sensitive to the choice of the normal trend line. The expo
nent 3 in the equation may also need adjustment.
Expressed as a head of water in meters for hydrodynamic maps:
16: HEADp = ((Pp/D) - 1) * (DEPTH - EKB)
To convert DST or RFT data to a head of water, rearrange equation 16 to read:
17: HEADrft = MAX(0,-DEPTH + EKB + RFTPRES / 9.81)
The Pp values from log analysis can be compared to DST or RFT pressures and adju
stments made to the best fit lines if needed. There is no good reason to believe
that the pressure in a reservoir will be equal to the pressure in the shale abo
ve it. However, if a calculated Pp in a shale is less than a measured Pp in a de
eper reservoir, then we would expect the formation to leak hydrocarbons or water
upward into shallower formations, or even to the surface.
To convert DST or RFT data to a head of water, rearrange equation 10 to read:
17: HEADrft = MAX(0,-DEPTH + EKB + RFTPRES / 9.81)
An example of this technique is illustrated below.