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RESERVOIR
ENGINEERING

What is Reservoir Engineering?

P. L. ESSLEY. JR. I SINCLAIR RESEARCH, INC.


iEhtEER AIME TULSA, OKIA.
I

Abstract developed in an inetllcient manner, most effectively. A better understand-


vital engineering consideratiorm often ing of the ba~c purpose of reservoir
Reservoir engineering involves more are neglected or ignored, and individ- engineering and how it can be utilized
than applied reservoir tnechanics. Tfw ual engineering efforts often are in- most effective y should result in im-
objective of engineering is optintiza- ferior to those of a decade ago. Res- proved engineering.
tion. To obtain optinumt profit jrotn ervoir engineers often disagree in their
a field the engineer or the engineer- interpretation of a reservoirs per- Reservoir Engineering A Group
ing team must identify and define all formance, It is not uncommon for Effort
individual reservoirs and their physi- two engineers to take exactly opposite
cal properties, deduce each reservoirs positions before a state commission. The Purpose of Engineering
performance, prevent drilling of utl- Such disagreements understandably The goal of engineering is optimiz-
necessary wells, initiate operating con- confuse and bewilder management, ation. The purpose of reservoir en-
trols at the proper time, and consider lawyers, state commission members gineering is to provide the facts, in-
all important econontic factors, in- and laymen. Can they be blamed if formation and knowledge necessary
cluding income taxes. Early and ac- they question the technical compe- to control operations to obtain the
curate identification and definition of tence of a professional group whose maximum possible recovery from a
the reservoir systent is essential to ef- members cannot agree among them- reservoir at the least possible cost.
fective ettgineering. Conventional geo- selves? Since a maximum recovery generaliy
logic techniques seldom provide suf- There is considerable difference be- is not obtained by a minimum expen-
ficient data to identijy and define each tween the reservoir engineering prac- diture, the engineer must seek some
individual reservoir; the engineer tnust ticed by different companies, The dif- optimum combination of recovery,
suppletnent the geologic study with ferences between good engineering and cost, and other pertinent factors. How
engineering data and tests to provide ineffective engineering generally in- one defines optimum will depend
the necessary infortnation. volve only minor variations in funda- upon the policies of the various oper-
Reservoir engineering is difficult; mental knowledge but involve major ators and is immaterial to the views
The most successful practitioner is differences in emphasis of what is im-
usually the engineer who, through ex-
presented in this paper.
portant, Some companies or groups
tensive efforts to understand the res- From an operators point of view
emphasize calculation procedures and
ervoir, tnanages to acquire a few more reservoir mechanics, but pay little at- any procedure or course of action
facts and thus needs fewer assutnp- tention to reservoir geology. Others that results in an optimum profit to
tions. emphasize geology and make extensive the company is effective engineering,
efforts to identify individual reser- and any that doesnt is not, There are
Introduction voirs and deduce their performance two reasons why a company may not
during the development period or dur- receive effective engineering. Its en-
Reservoir engineering has advanced ing the early operating period. They gineers may be poorly trained and
rapidly during the last decade. The use reservoir engineering equations fail to perform properly. However, a
industry is drilling wells on wider and calculation procedures primarily company can employ competent en-
spacing, unitizing earlier, and recov- as tools to provide additional insight gineers and receive good engineering
ering a greater percentage of the oil of a reservoirs performance, Those work from them, but as a company,
in place. Techniques are better, tools utilizing the latter approach generally still do an ineffective job of engineer-
are better, and background knowledge are the most successful. ing. For instance, an engineer might
of reservoir conditions has been great- The. differences in practice observed do an excellent. jQb of water. flooding
lyimproved. In spite of these general indicate that many individuals, in- a reservoir, However, if even greater
advances, many reservoirs are being profit could have been received by
cluding managers, field personnel, ed-
ucators, scientists and reservoir en- water flooding five years earlier, then
Or[ inal manuscript recdved in Society of gineers do not understand the full obviously the reservoir was not ef-
Petro Yeum Engineers office Aug. 8, 1964, Re.
vised mnnusdtM received Nov. 2. Paper re- scope of reservoir engineering or how fectively engineered by the operator.
sented at 39th SPE Annual Fall Meeting keld To provide optimum profits, all oper-
in Houston Oct. 11-14, 1964, the reservoir engineer can be used
xticms must be initiated at the proper voir uniformity, continuity, thickness the south fliittk of the structure (by
time. Effective reservoir engineer- iird other factors. We then apply gen- itccident, WCIISon the orth flank
ing, therefore, must provide the nec- eral equations and obtain a general were completed in other zones). This
essary facts sufficiently early to allow solution pertaining to an idealized caused a shift of the initial gas cap
most dfective control of a reservoir. reservoir, We delude ourselves when towards the south. Active water cn-
we call this engineering. If we are to crorichment displaced most of the oil
The Engineering System
truly practice engineering we must on the north flank of the reservoirs
Calhoun has described the engi- obtain particular solutions pertaining into the initial gas cap area, It is un-
neering system of concern to the pe- to particular reservoir systems. necessary to carry this story much
troleum engineer as being composed further. A large portion of the re-
of three principal subsystems: (1) the Ewlmition of the Reservoir System
coverable oil from the D-2 and D-3
creation and operation of the wells; The first consideration in reservoir zones was lost, The operator assumed
(2) the surface processing of the engineering and the principal func- that this field was fully developed
fluids; nnd (3) the fluids and their tion of the reservoir engineer is to and was being efficiently drained,
behavior within the reservoir. The define and evaluate the reervoir sys- When considered as one reservoir, it
first two subsystems are subordinate tem, To define means to determine appeared to be: wheri considered as
to the last. The nature of the reser- the areal extent, thickness, inclina- five reservoirs, it obviously wx not.
voir(s) and the reservoir tluids deter- tion, producing limits and the geolo- if the nature of the multiple reser-
mines how many wells ore neeclcd, gical environment of each separa!e voirs had been determined sufficiently
where they should be dril[ed, how reservoir witi-dn the reservoir system. early, the procedures necessary to pre-
they should be completed and pro- To evaluate means to determine the vent loss of recoverable oil would
duced, and what processing equip- physical properties of each separate htivc been clear.
ment is necessary to obtain optimum reservoir and its fluids, the variation
of the physical properties throughout This case is not atypical. Not far
profits. For effective engineering, the
various subsystems cannot be isolated. from this field an operator released
the system, and the location of in-
They must be considered as interre- approximately 1,000 acres of even-
homogeneities, barriers, fractures, etc.,
lated portions of a unified system. tually productive, highly profitable
that may affect flow. Only when the
limits and properties of each separate leases, located downdip from three
Petroleum engineering applies to the
reservoir are determined adequately producing wells. In this case, the en-
entire engineering system whereas
will an engineer have sufficient know- gineers interpreted water production
reservoir engineering applies only to
one part of the system. However, the from a lower sand zone as indicating
ledge of a reservoir system to accu-
entire system is controlled so com- rately deduce its future performance. the position of the water-oil contact
pletely hy the reservoirs perfornl- in the productive sand zone. Failure
Most engineers will agree to the to define the reservoir was costly.
unce that there is only minor distinc- necessity of defining and evaluating
tion between petroleum engineering In both of these cases numerous
the reservoir system. Yet surprisingly
and reservoir engineering. clues were available for early inter-
few devote adequate effort to d>ing pretation. Even when obvious clLtcs
The reservoir engineer is concerned it. Genersslly they rely on a structural
with reservoir fluids and their behav- do not exist, a competent engineer or
map and a few isopachous maps, An superintendent interested in defining
ior, and with identifying the geologi- isopachous map of total net pay may
cal environment and character of and ewd uat ing thc reservoir system
prove valuable for estimating original should be capable of obtainirig the
each separate reservoir with which hc oil in place, or as a political tool
must deal. For convenience the indi- necessary data. Modern engineering
for unitizing a reservoir, but it offers techniques provide the engineer with
vidual reservoirs and their fluids may little help in understanding reservoir
he described as composing a reser- numerous tools and test procedures
performance if more than one reser- to study the reservoir system, Used
voir system. voir is involved, Unfortunately, in the wisely in conjunction with geologic
The Engineering Process
sand-shale series which comprise many
or our so-called common sources of
The reservoir engineer applies a SP LN
supply, we more often than not deal
general knowledge of reservoir behav- with rmdtiple reservoirs, Fig, 1 shows
ior 10 a particular reservoir system -360

E
a typical 1st Dakota, D sand
to produce u desired result. The re- log from a field in the Denver-Jules- D-!
servoir systems with which the reser-
burg basin. Each sand zone in this
voir engineer must deal are generally field is separate, with unique initial -380
complex, involving multiple reservoirs, fluid contacts and individual perform-
flow barriers, faults and irregular dis- D-3
ance. The D-5 sand zone had the
tribution of physical properties. Ob- highest initial water-oil contact and -400
taining a desired result from such re- D-4
had an active water drive. The D-4
servoir systems may be exceeding y
reservoir is lenticular, covers only a
difficult, It seems unnecesssxy to portion of the tield, and produces by -420
state that we cannot engineer a par- D-5
a solution-gas drive, After five years
ticular rescrvair system until we have of, production the D-4 zone pressure,
obtained adequate knowledge of the
was 800 psi less than in the underlying -440
particular system to iden[ify its parts zone and. 500 psi less than. in the .over-
and otherwise describe it. Yet we are Iying zones. The D-2 and D-3 sand
prone to forget this vital phase of en- zones were connected through corn-
gineering, Too often we make broad, -460
rnon completions and thus had simi-
general assumptions regarding reser- %
lar pressures. Both reservoirs had
initial gas caps, active water drives, ELECTRICAL LOG
~References given at end of sxwer. and were being drained by wells on Fig. IElectrical IOK,

20 JO I: RNALOF lI-;tR~l.EIJsf TE~i[WJ.W~


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data and production data these tools may cause different sand zones to Even less often do we find a system-
can impart worthwhile insight into behave as separate reservoirs, and the atic engineering effort to prove geolog-
reservoir condhions. smaller nommiformities present with- ical interpretation and further de-
in the larger units, which may signi- fine the reservoir system. Yet such
The Coordinated Re~ervoh ficantly affect flow and reservoir per- studies provide the base upon which
lhlunt ion Program we must build our engineering, The
formance. Hutchinson has discussed
When the production superinten- nonuniformities present in reservoir ability to communicate and work
dent, geologist, and engineer cooper- systems.zs Such reservoir inhomo- closely with geologists, or to per-
ate during development of a field to geneities may provide the key to inter- form the functions of the geologist,
evaluate the reservoir system, it is of- preting reservoir performance or the is vital to reservoir engineering.
ten possible to deduce reservoir per- success of an injection project. Shale Application of Reservoir Mechunim
formance quite early, A coordinated or silt streaks, or laminations, which
reservoir evaluation program not only Reservoir mechanics generally re-
restrict or prevent fluid flow, may or ceives the most retention from reser-
provides information for better en- may not be continuous over a wide voir engineers. In fact, many engi-
gineering, it generally costs less than area. Such nonuniformities are often
a haphazard program. A few drill neers specialize in this apparently
too thin to appear on logs and we worthy endeavor and limit their prac-
stem tests, judiciously placed to test se!dom noted in core analyses but
individual zones at selected depths. tice (either by their own decision or
may be observed in outcrops and are by that of others) to evaluating reser-
often can give more reservoir inform- often described in the geologists de-
ation than more numerous tests of voir performance curves and predict-
scription of the cores. ing future performance. Superficially,
multiple zones indiscriminately
placed. An extra log, or an additional Elkins has commented on the ef- such practice appears to be a valid en-
hours time on a drill stem test, may fect of such inhomogeneities on re- gineering specialty. Actually, it is not.
provide, more usable information ducing vertical permeability in ap- Given sufficient time the nature of a
than can be obtained from much parently clean sands. He has de- reservoirs performance will generally
scribed calculations indicating that become apparent, Hindsight is won-
more costly coring and core anal-
yses. these minute barriers may cause the derfully accurate but is dificult to
ratio of horizontal to vertical perme- opt imize. Those who specialize in res-
Occasional y an early reservoir eval- ability to be as high as 10,000:1. ervoir mechanics may be competent
uation program will present reason- Such barriers effectively prevent water reservoir theorists and may provide
,abie proof or reservoir communica- and gas coning and may prevent many valuable services. yet their work
tion and drainage over wide areas. gravity drainage or gravity under- rarely produces the maximum possi-
This information may be the evidence runningl However, identification of ble profit from a reservoir. A simple
necessarY to obtain wide spacing-
inhomogeneities in cores, or deducing case history will illustrate why.
Such use of engineering to reduce their effect from well tests, does not
costs is becoming more common. A An operator owns most of a
indicate that such barriers are con- small reservoir, which produces from
few companies devote considerable tinuous. Several reservoirs are known a tvpicsd Pennsylvanian sand-shale
effort to this phase cif reservoir en- where thin impermeable streaks, ran-
gineering. In a recent case early proof series. Two offset wells were produc-
domly located within a large sand ing from Zone A. The operator met
of reservoir drairudge by wide spacing body, prevent coning but have little
allowed an operator to save $1,600,- these offset wells by completing two
effect in preventing vertical segrega- wells in Zone B of the sand-shale
000 in unnecessary drilling costs dur- tion of reservoir fluids. series, Detailed mapping indicated
ing development of a relatively small
reservoir. Early evaluation also pro- Knowledge of the extent and kind that Zone B was Ienticular and existed
of nonuniformities present may help only under the operators lease. Zone
vides data for early unitization and
optimum timing of pressure mainte- the engineer interpret reservoir data A was continuous throughout the en-
nance operations. or design special reservoir tests to tire field. A reservoir specialist may
evaluate reservoir performance. Yet someday note that Zones A and B
Early definition and evaluation of the effect of nonuniformities on the have different pressures and will con-
the reservoir system is the, basic re- performance of a reservoir system is clude that the operators lease is being
quirement for effective engineering. usually ignored by engineers. drained in Zone A without benefit of
The engineer must be allowed to ob- compensating drainage in Zone B, Hc
tain the data necessaly to evaluate In reservoir engineering the geolo-
gic study must precede the engineer- will be doing a good job, but the com-
the reservoir system and should par- pany has not received good engi-
ticipate in operating decisions with ing study. However, conventional geo-
logical techniques rarely provide suf- neering. All facts necessary to deduce
regard to the reservoir. It should be performance were available at the
the engineers job to obtain, as well ficient data to define the reservoir sys-
tem, The engineer must supplement time the wells were completed, Max-
as interpret, the facts necessary to imum prafits were possible only by
evaluate the reservoir system. It is his the geology with engineering data and
tests to provide the necessary inform- completing the wells properly in the
responsibility to know~what data are first place.
ation, Production ddta, formation
required and to devise a plan to ob- There is a distinct difference be-
tain them at the minimum cost. pressure, pressure gradients, interfer-
ence tests, and build-up tests nlaY bC tween reservoir engineering and the
The Geological Study used to prove communication be- application of reservoir mechanics.
To deftne and- evaluate the reser. tween wells or. zones, prove the .uis- The determination of a-reservoirs pro-
voir system, the engineer must con- tence of faults or other barriers, and ducing mechanism and prediction of
sider the depositiona! environment, otherwise define the reservoir. In its future performance is not in -itself
continuity, Mhology and limits of the practice, this interrelationship between engineering. Effective e~gineering re-
reservoir rock, The depositional en- geology and engineering is seldom ob- quires deducing a reservoirs probable
vironment Provides clues concerning tained. Only rarely do we find an ex- performance under all possible meth-
both the larger geological units, which tensive geologic study of a reservoir, ods of operation turd then controlling

.- J,\ NI!,itlY,.19siS - :.
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its performance to obtain optimum Oklahoma water flood the increased accept technicai advice with regard
profits. This usually requires operating tax liability amounted to more than to individual components of the sys-
decisions before the behavior of the a few million. In a relatively small tem. On the other hand, many tech-
reservoir is apparent. Engineers, geol- Illinois water flood, the operating .nicai personnei, with extensive train-
ogists, and superintendents are not practice increased tax liability by ap- ing and background knowiedge in cer-
infallible. They will make mistakes. proximately $500,000, Irr both cases tain disciplines, are so obsessed with
However, if operating decisions are development drilling in stages resulted their calculation procedures and bal-
preceded by a systematic attempt to in 10SS of depletion allowance for ances that they often forget they dre
define and evaluate the reservoir sys- several years. In both cases alternate deaiing with a particular system which
tem, the chances of successfully de- plans could have been devised to re- cannot be engineered untii it is de-
ducing a reservoirs future perform- duce the tax liability. Several years fined.
ance and controlling operations to ob- ago a well-known water flood engineer
tain an optimum profit will be greatly outlined a stage development pro- Reservoir Engineerhrg - Individual
improved. Calhoun has pointed to the gram for living with prorated water Practice
analogy between effective engineering floods. The program he outlined An Art, or a .%ienw?
and preventive medicine. It is not could result in w loss in depletion al- Reservoir engineering is more of an
sufficient for the engineer to deter- lowance and increased taxes. art than an exact science, aithough it
mine the state of a reservoirs health The reservoir engineer should con- has a broad scientific base, Most ob-
and then attempt to improve it. To sult with a tax attorney on any de- served reservoir facts, phenomena,
be most effective, the engineer must velopment program involving large or symptoms are subject to more
maintain the reservoirs health from expenditures for development drilling, than one iogical interpretation. Wyl-
the start. or for injection of propane, butane or Iie discussed this peculiarity of reser-
The Importnncc of Timing other materials. The engineer cannot voir engineering with regard to inter-
Optimization requires consideration justify ignoring an item that may have preting piiot fieid tests, but extended
of the time element, Often, when to such serious economic consequences. his remarks to cover aii of reservoir
do something may be nearly as im- engineering. It is anaiogous to the
Responsibility of the Group Effort mathematical condition of having
portant a consideration as whaf to do,
Most engineers are becoming in- From a company point of view more unknowns than equations and
creasingly aware that proper timing successful engineering requires op- obtaining multipie solutions. Eikins
is a vital consideration in engineering. timizing an entire system. This gener- has aiso emphasized the necessity of
Generalizations as to the proper time aiiy requires a group effort. A com- investigating aii possibie interpreta-
to initiate a particular oil field oper- panys engineering may be ineffective tions of reservoir performance. When
ation are not possible, However, one due to its faiiure to recognize the ai- the complexities of reservoir geometry,
generalization concerning engineer- most totai dependence of the group muitiphase fluid flow, potentiai grad-
ing is valid: the best time to apply effort upon accurately defining and ients and reservoir mechanics arc
reservoir engineering principles and evacuating the reservoir system and considered, muitipie interpretations
study a reservoir system is as early correctiy deducing future perform- shouid not prove start Iing to any res-
as possible. ance. ervoir engineer. Yet too often we are
Reservoir engineering does not start prone to accept the first interpretation
Economic Considerations that appears to fit most of the data.
at some time after a fieid is devei-
Optimization requires comparison. oped. For maximum effectiveness it That some pieces of information dont
For logical comparison, things which must start simultaneously with dis- fit into piace never seem to bother us
are distinctly different must be re- covery, Weii iocations, driii stem tests, or cause us to question our interpre-
duced to a common basis. Thus, the seiection of iogging toois, and deter- tation.
engineer must become acquainted mination of completion intervais are The most obvious interpretation of
with certain techniques of the econo- ali reservoir engineering probiems. A 11 data often is incorrect, An exampie
mist and the banker. The details of development and operating decisions of this is illustrated by the reservoir
economic calculations are important should be tnade by an individual who performance curves shown as Fig, 2,
to the engineer but will not be dis- reco~nizes the dependence of the en- Generaiiy an increase in reservoir
cussed here, tire systetn upon the nature and be- pressure foiiowing a reduction in the
In such economic calculations all havior of the reflervoir. It is not nec- reservoir withdrawal rate suggests wa-
important cost items must be consid~ essary that such an individual be a ter encroachment. However, no water
ered, It is somewhat ironic that in- reservoir engineer. Any manager, was being produced and the reser-
come tax, which may represent the superintendent or foreman who con- voir was apparently seaied at the
largest single cost item in an evalna, siders the entire reservoir system dur- water-oii contact by a iow graVity,
tion, is often ignored, The rate of ing operations, and not just the indi. tar-iike oii. The data were questioned
return calculated after income taxes vidual weli, and who deveiops and but were proven to be reiiabie. The
are considered may be higher than operates the tleid as a system in a engineering committee conciuded that
when , calculated before taxes, Eco- manner which can obtain the maxi- the pressure increase couid not reflect
nomic comparisons may not be valid mum amount of reservoir informa- a true reservoir condition and was
unleis income taxes are considered. tion, is practicing one of the most caused by the method used to obtain
Tax consequences may occasionally important phases of reservoir engi- a weighted average field pressure. .Ac-
represent the major consideration-in neering. It heips if the individual has tuaiiy, pressure increases were ob-
an operating decision. An apparently a background knowiedge of reservoir served in individual weiis in aii parts
sound secondary recovery plan may mechanics and geoiogy. However, of the reservoir and in Jater pressure
result in several million dollars greater many nontechnical personnei deveiop surveys, confirming a field-wide pres-
tax liability than would an equally an intuitive feei for the reservoir sure increase. The present interpreta-
attractive alternate plan. In one large system and know when to seek and tion, and the oniy one that satisfies

.?2. Jo URKt\L OF PETROLJXM, TECHNOLOGY.


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all known facts, is that the appar- agnosis of our system we generally matical expressions, Reservoir engi-
ently anomalous pressure increase rely on: (1) a few physical facts; neering is no exception, even though
was due to a redistribution of fluids (2) production statistics (often of due to the complexity of reservoir
within the reservoir, resulting from doubtful reliability); (3) samples re- systems it is iii-suited for exact math-
gravity segregation. The anomalous presenting approximately one bil emat ical soi utions. As a consequence
pressure effect is simi!ar to the one Iionth of the reservoir; (4) statistical we have a generation of engineers
discussed by Matthews and Stege- averaging techniques (often misap- schooled in the mechanics of the
meier, At high producing rates most plied); and (5) stylized mathemat- mathematical solution. A few appar-
of the gas released from solution in ical equations derived from assump- ently beiieve that engineering invoives
the reservoir wasproduced at nearby tions which may only remoteiy rep- no more than obtaining soiutions with
wells, Following the drastic allowable resent reservoir conditions. equations and balances. While such
~llt, gas-oi[ ratios decreased, and the Is it any wonder, then, that the engineers are a small minority, their
fanaticism illustrates the hypnotic ef-
high-pressure downdip gas migrated reservoir engineer has been described
fect which a calculated solution OC-
upstructure to the low-pressure gas as an individual who takes a limited
cap, Theoretical circulations were casionaliy has on ali engineers. This
number of facts, adds numerous as-
sirens cali has iured many an engineer
made to determine the effect of the sumptions and arrives at an uniimit-
to a rocky concision in the past and
fluid redistribution on the tleld pres- ed number of conclusions? Such a no doubt wili continue to do so in the
sure and inr.iiuated a good agreement statement may have been made in future.
with actual field performance. The jest; nevertheless, it provides an in- A ciassic example was given re-
results are shown on Fig, 2. trinsic description of reservoir engi- centiy by an engineering committee
Gas injection was started in this res- neering as it is often practiced. Un- report and iater testimony of the
ervoir shortly after the pressure fortunately, due to the complexity of chairman of the committee before a
peaked (67 million bbl cumulative the reservoir system, reservoir engi- state commission. Pressure data in
production), For several years prior neering wiil aiways remain this way. the reservoir in question were sparse
to gas injection considerable fluids The fact that we must rely on in- but ciearly indicated a severai-thou-
were being withdrawn from the res- sufficient facts, data of poor quality, sand psi gradient towards the center
ervoir; yet the reservoir pressure was and an imperfect knowledge of the of the reservoir, The committee ex-
increasing. For several years after reservoir does not mean that we can- trapolated the pressure gradient
the start of gas injection reservoir not do a good job of engineering. It across a distance of approxinlatelY
withdrawals were replaced, but the does mean that we cannot expect per- ~~ 1 mile to obtain the pressure at the
average field pressure declined. An fection and that we should contin- water-oii contact, The extrapolated
extensive geological and engineering ually strive to obtain better data and pressure at the contact at different
study revealed that the field consisted iearn more about the reservoir. Occa- times varied from several hundred
of a large number of individual sional faiiures are inevitable. What to nearly 1,000 psi greater than the
reservoirs, resulting from Ienticular we must strive for is the highest pos- highest measured pressurei. The
zones and extensive faulting. The ai% sible batting average. The most suc- committee used this information in a
parently anomalous pressure decline cessful practitioner of the art is van Everdingen and Hurst type
was due to the fact that many wells usually the engineer who, through equation to directiy caiculate water
were producing from ,reservoirs other extensive studies to define and evalu- influx. They determined from their
than the ones receiving the injected ate the reservoir system, manages to calculations tg-,at a stable influx rate
gas. obtain more facts and thus requires of i ,500 B/D would eventually bc
This example illustrates the diffi- fewer assumptions, Additional facts obtained. Since this was less than
cult y of interpreting field perform- can be obtained only by hard work 1/10 of the rate of reservoir with-
ance curves and the complexity of and imaginative thinking. Assump- drawals, they ccmciuded that the
some reservoir engineering problems. tions are easiiy conceived. This no iimited water influx would not ma-
Theoretical calculations in this field doubt explains our innate tendency terially alter the soiotion gas drive
have little meaning except as clues to to substitute assumptions for facts performance, The water influx cal-
aid interpretation of observed phe- when the facts are not readiiy ob- culation was the crux of their analy-
nomena. Due to the complexity of tainable. sis, A1i of their conclusions and rec-
the field, large volumes of oil could The Hypnotic Effect of the ommendations were dependent on it.
easily be trapped and not be drained. Csdculated Solution Yet they made no effort to confirm
Reservoir engineering in this field As a profession grows it iogically their answer by other methods, The
consists almost entirely of identify- tries to reduce concepts to mathe- fact that water had invaded an ap-
ing and defining the numerous reser- preciable portion of the reservoir,
voirs. Engineering tests are being w that numerous wells had watered

b ~
conducted to confirm or disprove out, and that actual water produc-
the geological interpretation, to lo-
cate flow barriers and determine com-
go s.
-... ~,
.
..,CWW16D

~~
FaEww i! tion exceeded 1,500 B/D didnt seem
to bother them, They were so hypno-
municating zones. It will not be an
if i,,.. I tized by their calculations that the
easy task. Nature hides her ,secrets
well. +.\ :;, .-;-R, .1 chairman later testitied under oath
that oniy a minor volume of water
Irr theory, reservoir engineering is $,~, q %,, :I had moved. ..into the reservoir. In:
Pf?awculo stead of questioning their own re-
1!
. .... .
based on broad scientitlc principles. RATE\>
MO
In practice, however, it is not rigor- \ . . . . . ..~...-. =-- sults, they went to considerable
ously scientific. To start with, . we JWwrnt samsatiw ion trouble to concoct a theory to make
deal with a system which may be un- CW,M.AT,VE PROCWTION - MILLION OBLS the apparently anomalous facts fit
believable complex and impossible to Fig. WProduction history und
the results indicated by their calcu-
define completely. To arrive at a di- ctdctrlatcd and observed. pressure. lation.

23
:JANUASSY, 1.{J65.. . ..-
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All equations we use m reservoir learn that we use two-climensionnl To be successful wc must bc in-
engineers are bused on certain SSS. techniques less today than oLw prede- nately curious and scientifically hon-
sumed conditions, which may or cessors did 20 years ago. Any map est. We must continually question
may not represent the conditions in or cross section is a graphical two- our own results and search for addi-
u ptirti.cular reservoir, An equation dimensional representtttion of infor- tional facts. Elkins stated this quite
which M valid in one situation may mation, Data plotted on such rmsps aptly: Since nearly all basic features
not apply in another. Often our and cross sections will indicate reser- of reservoir performance must he in-
equrrtions must be modified to fit voir performance trends far more ferred, periodic re-evaluation of spe-
particular reservoir conditions. Used quickly mtd accurately than a field cific cases is imperative,
wisely and cautiously our equations performance curve. Yet we are re- From an individLial cngineers
are valuable engineering tools. How- lying increasingly on field perform- point of view, successful engineering
ever, they are by no means our only ance curves and less on two-dinlen- is limited to optimizing a system
tools and on occasions may be our sional plots of the data and individ- from the time he first becomes ac-
least important ones. ual well. performance curves. This is quainted with it. Even from this
a step backward, as a fkld perform- more limited viewpoint effective engi-
The Use of Models
ance qurve cannot show variation of neering is dependent upon recogniz-
Due to the complexity of most
data throughout the reservoir. Variat- ing the nature of the reservoir and
reservoirs, it is impossible to dupli-
ion provides the key to early inter- its performance. Most examples of
cate a reservoir or build a true pro-
pretation of reservoir. performitnce. poor individual engineering result
totype model. All models with
which we deal are greatly sinlpli- Field performance curves have lit- from an unwarranted reliance upon
tfed systems. Such. models provide tle value for early assessment of re- field performance curves and calcula-
wduirble information concerning the servoir performance, They have led tion procedures as tools to evuhmte
gsneral nztLlre of reservoir systems many engineers astray. The tech- reservoir perfornumce, An increased
and the mdurc of fluid flow in such nique of plotting, or visLlalizing, all effort to define and evaluate the reser-
data in two dimensions, used exten- voir system and greater use of two-
sys[cnls. Indeed. it is from the study
of sLlch IUOL!eIS that we obtain much sively by our predecessors, will allow dimensional plots of datu should int-
nt oLtr knowledge concerning reser- much earlier evaluation of reservoir prove individual engineering etior(s.
voir mcchdrsics, performance, The technique is sim-
1lw Ihwkgrwmd Reqnirrd for
The advent of the high-spcecl digi- ple, quick and effective. It shoLlki he Ibsf,rmir Engintwring
lal conlpLlter hiis Wowed conNruc- used more widely, The diversity of the turrctions the
[imr of mathematical models for the The I)ifliculty of
reservoir engineer is expected 10 per-
study of mLl[tiphase, nlultidinlen- Reservoir Engineering form also compounds the difficulty
tional tluicl flow. These models Reservoir engineers deal with sys- of his job, He may be required to
come close to duplicating simple re- tems which cannot be examined phy- plan a reservoir evaluation progriim
servoir systems and provide addi- sically, A complete knowledge of the during drilling wtd cfeveiopmcnt, de-
tional insight concerning reservoir reservoir system is not possible. The termine proper well spacing. evalu-
behavior. As a scientific tool, they engineers joh is further complicated ate logs, calculate reserves, evaluate
arc supcrh. However. in our cxLlber- hy the lack of exactness of most open flow tests or drawdown and
nnce wi[h our new toy, let LIS not data. Water nnd gas production data l-lL1ikf-up tests, invest igate the eco-
forget two significant facts: the
are often unreliable, memured pres- nomics of the proposed expend iIurcs
mat hernat icrd models are
reservoir
sures may not represent stabilized (including income taxes in th~ eval-
still greatly simplified comptrred to pressures, and results obtained from uation), participate in engineering
many reservoirs, and until we can fluid samples may not represent the c.ommittec studies and unitization
dctine o reservoir system, it is im- reservoir fluids, Consequently, we meetings, recommend procedures for
possible to duplicate it in a model. should not expect exttct solL~t ions pressure mainteriance. dig through
No model. however rigorous, can from our calculations even on the accounting data to determine costs
provide an exact answer if the input rare occasions when we use rigorous or to determine the p~st production
information is wrong, equations. This does not mean that of depleted reservoirs, evaluate pilot
My remarks concerning the calcu- Ollr equations are worthless. It floods and plan secondary recovery
Itited solution also apply to the merely means that we should regard projects, explain why a particular proj-
mathematical model. With the glam- our calculations as providing clues to ect failed, or undertake any number of
our of the cotnpu[er and the intrigu- reservoir behavior and not as exrrct other duties.
ing sophistication of the mathemati- indicators of reservoir behavior. Fur- To succeed, the engineer must de-
crr[ model it will he doubly ditlicult ther, we should always question the velop the geologist% knowledge of
to treat such calculated solutions ob- results of our calculations, If we are sediments and environmental condi-
ject ively, These remarks are not in- to obtain the right answer, we tions; the physical chemists knowl-
tended to discourage use of such must continually seek answers to the edge of reservoir fluid properties,
models. Rather, they are intended as following questions (I) what does phase behavior, electrical conductiv-
words of caution to the engineers the answer mean: (2) does the an- ity, and fluid flow in porous sys-
who would use these scientitlc tools swer f-l! all the facts: (3) why tems; and the mathematicians knowl-
to obtain engineering solufions. Used doesnt it; (4) are there other pos- edge of numerical analysis and the
wisely, [hey will provide valuable sible interpretations of the data; use of. high-speed digital computers,. .
clues about a- reservoirs perform- (5) were the asstlmptions correct: In addition, he must be completely
ance. Used unwisely, - they can lead (6) are the data reliable; (7) are ad- familiar with past production and
one blindly astray, ditional data necessary: (8) has completion practices in the reservoir,
lw{,.~iillellsittllttl there hcen an ideqtiiit~ geologicttl including a knowledge of which
I{cpmentution of Dkita study: and (9) has the reservoir zones are perforated in every well
It surprises most engineers to been adequatcl y defined? and each wells pertornumcc. He also

$,.
must be art eoonomist, an ac~ountartt may employ numerous engineers References
of sorts, an expert negotiator, itruf but their engineering is too little and 1.Calhoun, J. C,: A Definition of l?etro-
have a working knowledge of pro- too later and is usually inadequate, Ierrm Engineerln , low. Pet. Tech.
ration law, unitization law and taxes. h such cases company policies (July, 1963) 15, %0, 7, 725.
Few engineers develop a background greatly handicap the efforts of the in- 2. Hutchinwur,C. A,, Jr,, I)odgc, C. F. and
Polasek, T. L.: Identification, Chrssiii-
in depth that is this extensive, How- dividual engineers, They have diffi- ration turd Prediction of Reservoir Non.
ever, the engineer must develop a culty obtaining necessary data, and uaiformitiwr Affecting Prodncin O era-
working knowledge in each area and generally must attempt to salvage timrs low, Pet. Tech. (Marc fi, fi61)
13, NO. 3, 223.
know when to consult with specialists lost profits rather than to create new
3. Hrr~chierson, C. A,, Jr,: A Frontier in
for additional information. The expe- profits, Reservoir Technology: Reservoir In.
rienced reservoir engineer is a gener- Reservoir engineers often disagree homogeneity Assessment and Controi,
alist, not a specialist. Pet, Eng. (Sept., 1959) 31, No. 10,
in interpreting a fields performance. B19.
Cienerally incorrect interpretations 4. Elkins, Lincdr: Some Imporurnt Pue-
result from ignoring signicant facts wpts in Ihe Practice of Reservoir Engi.
or from a failure to dig deep enough neeriag, SPE Distinguished Lecturer
The purpose of reservoir engineer- Series, 1963.64,
to uncover all the facts. Incorrecf in-
ing is to control each separate reser- 5. wylli~, M, R, J,: Reservuir Mechanics
voirs performance to obtain an op- terpretations also result from an un-
Stylized Mytil or Potential Science?,
timum profit, To accomplish this pur- warranted reliance on field perform- ~~8J~et, Td. (June, 1962) 14, No,
pose generally requires operating de- ance curves and calculation proce- ,..
cisions before the performance of dures as tools for interpreting reser- 6. Matthews, C, S, and Stegemeicr, G. L.:
voir performance, Reservoir engi- Study of Anomalous Ires,qure Build.Ul}
each reservoir can be determined. To Behavior, Trans., AIME ( 195B) 213,
neering is difficult. The most success-
correctly deduce the performance of 44.
each reservoir requires that the reser- ful engineer is usually the one who 7. van Ererdingen, A, F. and Hurst. W.:
voir system be identified and defined makes the greatest effort to define 1he Application of the Lapla[,x Trrms.
and evaluate the reservoir system, formation to Finw Problems in Rewr-
by geologic techniques and special vuirs., Trws., A131E( 1949) 186, 30Fi,
engineering tests to provide a basis and uncovers the most facts.
for deduct[on. Efleclive engineering In examining several hundred en- P, L, ESSLtiY,
requires that the reservoir engineer, gineering reports and observing en- JR.. is a senior re-
or someone jal niliar with reservoir gineering practice for a number of senrch en fiineer
enginteriqg principles, participate iit years, I have concluded that relative- w witlt Sinclair Re-
development and operating decisions. ly few individuals truly understand ., search, !nc. in Ttd-
Companies which do not consider the reservoir engineering. As it result, .$k. so. He worked jive
development and operation of an oil reservoir engineering is not as effec- years with Mara-
field as, parts of an engineering sys- tive as it should be. Too often the thon Oil Co, and
tem, and do not utilize reservoir en- maxinl Lml possible profit is not ob- seven years with
gineering principles as a basis for de- tained from a reservoir. To improve kg Skeily prior to join-
velopment and operating decisions, engineering 1 offer a simple sugges- ing Sinclair in 1962. He received an
generally do not- obtain optimum tion: Put the reservoir back into re- MS degree in pe(rrtlemn engineering
pmffts from their operations, They servoir engineering. from the U. of Tul.ra in 1950.

JAiWuARY, 196s . . . . . .~,s


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