Oil & Gas

From exploration to distribution
Week 2 – V11 – Production Mechanisms and Hydrocarbon Recovery
Jean-Marie Voirin

W2V11 - Production Mechanisms – p. 1
© IFPEN - IFP School 2015 / © TOTAL SA 2015 / © IFP Training 2015

W2V11 . however most of the comments apply to gas reservoirs too. The aquifer is. as indicated by the blue arrow. it was explained how an oil reservoir is formed during geological times and you have seen the properties of the rock and fluids.Introduction In this session the part of the Reservoir Engineering described is devoted to recovery of oil and gas fields and associated production mechanisms. connected in some way to the surface.IFP School 2015 / © TOTAL SA 2015 / © IFP Training 2015 . In this part.Production Mechanisms – p. or was. Secondary and Enhanced Oil Recovery. Oil is lighter than water. water was replaced by oil over geological times. Only unmovable water remains. First we will try to understand why a well is producing and what we call recovery factor. over a distance which may be large. Production In the previous sections. 2 © IFPEN . this is called an aquifer. Then we will review the different recovery stages. Most of the porous and permeable layers are saturated with water. This excess pressure at the wellhead allows the oil to flow naturally. Primary. Due to this link to the surface the pore pressure in a reservoir is usually close to hydrostatic meaning that it is equivalent to the pressure of a column of water extending from the surface to the reservoir depth. We will mainly talk about oil fields. This drawing of a simplified geological cross-section shows a series of porous and permeable rock layers extending from the surface to the location of the oil reservoir. When a well is drilled to the oil reservoir the pressure of the oil column is less than the reservoir pore pressure. as highlighted on this chart. They are overlaid with a sealing impermeable layer called the caprock and underlaid with other rock layers of no interest here. except in the oil reservoir where oil is trapped.

Production Mechanisms – p. As oil is removed the reservoir pressure will start to drop and progressively the rate will decrease due to the change in drawdown. external energy will have to be provided.IFP School 2015 / © TOTAL SA 2015 / © IFP Training 2015 . Initially it depends on the natural energy present in the reservoir and on how efficiently this energy is passed on to the producing wells. The oil quantity that can be produced from a reservoir is called recovery. This is the subject of this lecture. If natural energy is not sufficient to yield an economical combination of rate and recovery. It is also a function of the fluid ability to move through the reservoir to the well.The well production rate is a function of the pressure drawdown which is the difference between the pressure at the bottom of the well and the reservoir pressure further from the well. 3 © IFPEN . W2V11 .

It is called the Recovery Factor and corresponds to the percentage of the volume of oil effectively produced (or recovered) from a reservoir. the field rock and fluid characteristics. and the production economic limit related to production level and associated costs. 3. as measured at the surface to the volume of original oil in place calculated in the same surface conditions.Production Mechanisms – p. These different items are always interrelated. the production mechanisms and the associated recovery stages: natural energy only or supplemented by external energy. W2V11 . the number. 2.Recovery Factor To easily compare the effectiveness of the different recovery methods within a given field and between fields. The Recovery Factor depends on a number of parameters including 1. 4 © IFPEN . a dimensionless ratio is used. producers and injectors 4.IFP School 2015 / © TOTAL SA 2015 / © IFP Training 2015 . type and location of wells.

It usually has a length and width of several kilometers and a thickness of 10s to 100s of meters. Primary recovery corresponds to production mechanisms which only use the natural energy present in the reservoir. The bars on the right represent the relative volumes of fluids in place at the initial pressure.Production Mechanisms – p. Even so recovery at this stage is usually low and an oil reservoir will often be produced by means of several producing mechanisms over its lifetime. which is also the most unfavorable. the associated unmovable water and the rock.IFP School 2015 / © TOTAL SA 2015 / © IFP Training 2015 . This stage is also called natural drainage. The only energy available is the energy associated with the compression of the oil. 5 © IFPEN . It usually happens first during the life of a field. Recovery can be increased by pumping the producing wells when needed.Primary Recovery The oil reservoir is located at a depth that can reach a few kilometers. The most simple case. W2V11 . hence its name. happens when the link with the aquifer is extremely weak or nonexistent and when there is no free gas in the reservoir. Prior to any production. the reservoir pore volume is filled by oil and unmovable water.

pressure decreases and energy associated with the rock and fluids is released. To estimate how much oil can be recovered. shrinking the pore volume available between them. A material balance of the reservoir system before and after production can be done. This production mechanism always exists as soon as the pressure drops in a reservoir. Several things take place: • there is less oil but the remaining oil has expanded due to the lower pressure • the space left is filled by: the water which expands due to the decompression and occupies a larger volume in the pores. Depending on rock and fluid characteristics. In this particular case it results in the equation shown here.When oil is removed from the reservoir by the producing wells. the arrangement of the rock grains which is modified.Production Mechanisms – p. Production has been made possible by the fluid expansion and pore volume shrinkage replacing the produced oil. The oil volume originally in place at the initial pressure is on the left-hand side of the equation whereas the right-hand side W2V11 . 6 © IFPEN . the amount of producible oil will vary.IFP School 2015 / © TOTAL SA 2015 / © IFP Training 2015 .

the ratio of the oil effectively produced. The corresponding recovery factor is low. called N. as compressibilities of the oil. expressed in surface conditions.IFP School 2015 / © TOTAL SA 2015 / © IFP Training 2015 . 7 © IFPEN .Production Mechanisms – p. the calculation gives a result of around 5%. In this primary recovery case. to the volume of original oil in place. however. around 80%. as gas compressibility is much larger than that of the water and rock. primary recovery is the main production mechanism and may lead to high recoveries. When inserting typical values in the material balance formula. water and rock are very small. This material balance equation can be arranged to show the Recovery Factor. the natural energy available is limited.reflects the oil volume remaining at a later time at a lower pressure P as well as the changes associated with water expansion and pore volume shrinkage. In a gas reservoir. W2V11 . It means that 95% of the oil will be left in the ground. with no aquifer and no free gas. called Np.

the gas cap will provide additional energy and displace the oil as it expands downwards due to the high compressibility and low density of the gas. the presence of an aquifer connected to the oil reservoir will provide energy and reduce the pressure drop as water replaces the produced oil. This mechanism is called water drive.Production Mechanisms – p. The active water drive is the most favorable case of primary recovery and may lead to a recovery factor of more than 50%. Combinations of these mechanisms may also take place in the same reservoir. This primary mechanism is called gas cap drive. The aquifer can be located at the bottom of the oil reservoir or at the edge. as pressure drops due to production. favorable cases exist for which additional natural energy is present leading to significantly higher recoveries: as you know. To achieve that.IFP School 2015 / © TOTAL SA 2015 / © IFP Training 2015 . W2V11 . will provide additional energy by expansion. below a certain pressure. The recovery factor may rise up to 15 / 20%. An aquifer is said to be active if it provides enough energy to efficiently replace the produced oil volume.In oil reservoirs too. sometimes as high as 70%. the connection with the oil reservoir has to be good. due to its high compressibility. A gas cap may also be present. especially in terms of permeability. Often. 8 © IFPEN . A gas cap of large volume can lead to recoveries up to 40%. and the size of the aquifer has to be large when compared to the oil reservoir volume. This primary mechanism is called solution gas drive. Recovery by this mechanism depends on the ratio between the gas cap and oil volumes. solution gas will be released from the oil and.

sweeping the oil towards the producers. In some fields. In both cases the purpose of injecting water is to sweep the oil towards the low pressure areas created by the production. A part of the volume between the injector and the producers is not contacted by the injected water. We will look at this in more detail in the following slides. additional energy will have to be brought in by injecting fluids. this is called peripheral injection.Production Mechanisms – p. water can be injected to supplement an existing aquifer at the periphery of the oil reservoir. The secondary recovery methods try to mimic nature and use specific wells to inject either gas (the same idea as gas cap drive) or water. Objectives of the secondary recovery methods are to increase recovery by: 1. maintaining the reservoir pressure (or at least limiting its decline) 2. most often. water can also be injected into the oil zone either at the start or progressively following peripheral injection. It is the most common method as water is easily available at low cost. 9 © IFPEN . it is colored in green. Now we will look at the level of recovery that can be achieved by this technique. It shows what happens as water is injected into the oil reservoir. This 3D drawing represents a segment of a regular pattern of wells in an oil field under a waterflood. When a waterflood is initiated. W2V11 . If not. This technique is called waterflooding and the idea comes from the natural water drive.IFP School 2015 / © TOTAL SA 2015 / © IFP Training 2015 .Secondary Recovery However. These production methods are called Secondary Recovery methods as they take place following Primary Recovery. natural energy provided by the different primary mechanisms is limited and recovery remains low. Sweeping of the oil is limited both horizontally and vertically. In some cases it is sufficient. Water will replace the produced oil and limit further pressure drop. 3 producers and 1 injector. both fluids can be injected in different parts of the reservoir. When the natural energy contained in the reservoir is not sufficient to provide a reasonable and economic recovery. This is called infill injection. Waterflooding uses specific wells in addition to the producers to inject the water.

10 © IFPEN . On average only 60% to 70% of the oil can be mobilized and displaced. Typically 70 to 80% of the pore volume is effectively swept when combining all these elements. the volume swept is likely to be small as water will channel through the oil. • and finally the economic criteria which will control the cumulative injected quantities and final oil rate. Trapped oil is measured in the lab on rock core samples. density and the types of well drains (vertical. • the water and oil relative mobilities. the remaining 30 to 40% is definitively lost for waterflood recovery. In addition. When combining these effects and taking into account the fact that some compartments of the field may not be drained by any well.IFP School 2015 / © TOTAL SA 2015 / © IFP Training 2015 .Production Mechanisms – p. horizontal). high permeability layers being invaded by water more quickly. if water is significantly more mobile than the oil (oil viscosity larger than water viscosity). • the well location. in areas effectively swept by water there is still oil trapped in the pores due to strong capillary forces. W2V11 . The most accurate way to estimate sweep efficiency and assess the associated uncertainties is by using a numerical simulation model of the reservoir. This has a significant degree of uncertainty as the sampling is limited and the reservoir rocks heterogeneous.The efficiency of the sweep varies based on: • the level of heterogeneities and layering.

11 © IFPEN . years in abscissa. as hydrocarbon gases. The area below the curve shows what would be the recovery if nothing else was done.IFP School 2015 / © TOTAL SA 2015 / © IFP Training 2015 . The natural energy present in the reservoir is used for production. To achieve their objectives these processes may modify the fluid mobilities to improve the sweep efficiency by adding polymers to the injected water in order to increase its viscosity and make it closer to the oil viscosity or by heating the oil. or after primary recovery when water or gas injections are not an option.the recovery factor achieved by waterflooding ranges from 35 to 50 %. as in bitumen reservoirs. W2V11 . It starts by Primary Recovery or natural drainage. be applicable to significantly increase the recovery factor by another step. usually using steam or they may change the capillary properties to mobilize the oil trapped in pores after waterflood by adding surface active agents (surfactants) to the injected water to strongly decrease capillary forces or injecting solvents miscible with the oil. in some instances. so does the oil rate. As available energy declines. Conclusion To summarize this lecture we will look at a typical field production profile with time. When EOR follows Secondary Recovery it can be called Tertiary Recovery.Production Mechanisms – p. It means that more than 50% of the oil in place will still remain in the ground. Enhanced Oil Recovery Only the implementation of special processes called Enhanced Oil Recovery or EOR will. 1. production in ordinate. These techniques are more expensive and more difficult to implement and their applicability is really field specific as they depend strongly on rock and fluid properties. As a consequence their contribution to the total world oil production is less than 5% today. CO2 or N2. However EOR may have to be implemented initially.

Water has to be injected to maintain the pressure and sweep the oil towards the producers. These techniques may correspond to improvements of the Secondary phase (for example horizontal versus vertical wells) or enhanced methods. W2V11 . the Enhanced Oil Recovery techniques discussed earlier.IFP School 2015 / © TOTAL SA 2015 / © IFP Training 2015 . 3. Secondary Recovery methods have to be implemented at a certain time. at least to limit the decline. 12 © IFPEN . the oil rate will decline and other techniques may be needed.Production Mechanisms – p. To increase recovery and maintain the oil production at a given plateau.2. As water starts to be produced.