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A reservoir is a subsurface volume of porous and permeable rock that has both
storage capacity and ability to allow fluids to flow through it. Hydrocarbon migrated
upwards through porous and permeable rock formation until these either reach or become
trapped below surface by non-permeable cap rock or seal. A petroleum reservoir is a
subsurface formation containing gas oil and water in varying proportions.

Three basic requirements must be fulfilled by a reservoir to make it economic,

a. Sufficent void space / storage capacity.

b. Adequate connectivity/permebality/transmissitivity.
c. Accmulation in a trapped of impervious cap rock which prevent upward
movement of accumulated hydrocarbons.

Classification of Reservoir Rocks

Type of rock:

Igneous Rocks: Can be part of reservoirs (fractured rocks)

Metamorphic Rocks: Formed by action of temp. &/or pressure on sedimentary

or igneous.

Sedimentary Rocks: The most important for the oil industry as it contains most of the
source rock and the cap rock and virtually all reservoirs.

Clastic rocks: Formed from the materials of older rocks by the actions of erosion
transportation and deposition.(Mechanical process). Such as conglomerate, sandstone, sh

In sandstone the average grain size is between range of 62.5 µm and 2.0mm. The
original porosity of high-energy sand may be 40-55 percent and the permeability 25-100

Non clastic rocks: Are formed by chemical precipitation (settling out from a solut
ion). Such as Limestone, calcite and halite.
Carbonate Reservoir is one of another most important reservoir rock and
possesses very high primary porosity from 35-75 %. Compaction may reduce the values
to 25-30%.

Origin of rock:

Fragmental reservoir rocks

Aggregates of particles and fragments of the older rocks (called also detrital rock)
.Sandstones, Conglomerates, Arkoses, gray wakes are the most common reservoir rocks.

Chemical reservoir rocks

It is composed of chemical or biochemical precipitate such as limestone and dolo

mite not transported as clastic grains. Limestone and dolomite are by far the most importa
nt of the chemical reservoir rocks, because they contain nearly half of world's petroleum

Miscellaneous reservoir rocks

It includes igneous and metamorphic rocks. It is geologically important but rarely

important commercially. The reservoir space is usually in fractures in the brittle basement

Conventional Reservoir

Conventional reservoir is a porous and permeable reservoir through which

hydrocarbon are extracted by conventional means and methods. Conventinal reservoir
produce oil and gas from geological formations that are relatively straight forward to
develop and do not require any special means or techniques to develop or unlock their
potential. These natural reservoir produce at natural pressure.

In conventional reservoir we have sandstone, limestone and dolomite.

Unconventioanl Reservoir

Unconventional reservoir are essentially any reservoir that requires special

recovery operations outside the conventional operating practices.
Hydrocarbon reservoir that has low permeability and thus are difficult to produce
under their natural pressure, often enhance oil recovery techniques are used such as
fracturing, stimulation or steam injection etc, must be performed making the process more
difficult than conventional play.

Examples are

Tight gas, Coal bed methane

Shale gas, Shale oil

Heavy oil/tar sands, Methane hydrates

Properties of Conventional Reservoir

 Porosity or Storage capacity

 Permeability or Transmissibility
 Fluid Saturation


Porosity is a ratio of void spaces in a rock to the total volume of rock and
reflected the fluid storage capacity of reservoir.
Porosity = volume of void space / total volume of rock

Porosity Types

Primary Porosity

Amount of pore spaces present in sediment at the time of deposition or form during
sedimentation. It is usually a function of amount of space between rock forming grains.

Intergranular or interparticle porosity

Intergranular or interparticle porosity occurs in space b/w the detrital grains that
forms the framework of sediments. This is very important porosity type, initially present
in almost all sediments. Intergranular porosity is generally progressively reduce by
diagenesis in many carbonates but it is the dominant porosity type in sandstone.

Intragranular or intraparticle porosity

In carbontes, sands particularly those of skeletal origin primary porosity may be
present within the detrital grains. This type of porosity is often diminished shortly after
deposition by infiltration micrite matrix. Further nore the chemical instability of carbntes
host grains often leads to there intraparticle pores being modified by subsequent diagenesis.

Secondary Porosity

Its post depositional porosity. Such porosity results from ground water resolution
fracturing and recrystallization.

Some void spaces become isolated due to excessive cementation, thus many void
spaces are interconnected and others are isolated. This lead to following classification

Inter-crystalline porosity

Intercrystaline porosity occur b/w the individual crystal of a crystalline rock. This
porosity is characteristics of carbonates that have have undergone crystallization and
particular important in recrystallized dolomite. Such rock are sometime very important oil

Fenestral Porosity

This porosity type is typical of carbonates. Here the pores are mainly generated by
the biogenic gasses. Penecontemporaneous dehydration, lithification and biogenic gas
generation can cause lamina to buckle and generate sub-horizental fenestral pores b/w the

Moldic Porosity

Molds are pores formed by solution of primary depositional grains generally

subsequent to some cementation. Molds are fabric selective that is to say solution is
confines to individual particles and does not cross cut cement, matrix and framework.

Typically in nay rock it is also the grains of one particular type that are dissolved hence
one may talk of oomoldic, permolodic, or biomolodic porosity where there has been
selective solution of ooliths, pellets, or skeletal debris.

Vuggy porosity
Vugs are second type of pores form by solution and like molds. They are typically
found in carbonates. Vugs differ from molds through because they cross cut primary
deposition fabric of the rock. Vugs thus tend to be larger than the molds with increasing
size vugs grade into what is loosely turned “caverens porosity” large scale vugy and
caverens porosity is commonly developed beneath unconformities where it is called

Fracture Porosity

Fracture porosity is results from the presence of opening produce by the breaking
or shattering of a rock. All rock types are affected by fracturing and rock compostion will
determine how brittle the rock is and how much fracturing will occur.

The two basic type of fracturing includes natural tectonics related fracturing and
the hydraulically induces fracturing. This type of porosity is extremely important in
petroleum reservoirs because a very small amount of fracturing porosity can give a very
good permeability.

Absolute porosity

Ratio b/w the total pore volume (interconnected and isolated) to the bulk volume
of rock.

Absolute porosity = Total pore volume / Bulk volume

Effective Porosity

It is the ratio b/w the interconnected pore volume to the bulk volume of rock.

Efective porosity = interconnected pores / bulk volume.

Effective porosity indicates the percentage of total volume of reservoir rock where void
spaces are connected by flow channels.


Permeabilty is the capability of a rock to transmit a fluid. It depends crucially on

the connections between the pores. Darcy’s law establishes the basic relationship between
pressure, flow rate and permeability. Permeability is usually measured parallel to bedding
planes of reservoir rock and is commonly referred to as horizontal permeability. Vertical
permeability is measured across the bedding plane and is usually less than horizontal
because of arrangement and packing of rock grains during deposition and subsequent
compaction. High vertical permeability is generally due to result of fractures and of
solution along fractures that cuts across the bedding planes. That are commonly found in
carbonate rocks or other types with a brittle fabric and also in clastic rock with high
content of soluble material. High vertical Permeability may also be characteristic of
uncemented or loosely packed sandstone.

Darcy’s Law

Q = k(P1-P2)A/Lm

where is Q the flow rate, k the permeability, P1-P2 the pressure drop over distance
L, A the area cross-section of the sample, and m the viscosity of the fluid. The permeability
unit is Darcy and is defined as the ability for a fluid of 1 centipoise viscosity to flow at a
velocity of 1 cm/s for a pressure drop of 1 atm/cm.

One Darcy is a relatively high permeability as the permeabilities of most reservoir

rocks are less than one Darcy. In order to avoid the use of fractions in describing
permeabilities, the term millidarcy is used. As the term indicates, one millidarcy, i.e., 1 md,
is equal to one-thousandth of one Darcy or,

1 Darcy = 1000 md

Permeabilities in an oil reservoir are rated as follows:

Poor 1-10 mD

Fair 10-100 mD

Good 100-1000 mD

Excellent >1000 mD

For a gas reservoir, the permeabilities are ten times lower for a given rating.

Permeability types:
 Absolute permeability:

When the rock pore spaces contains only one fluid or medium is
completely saturated with one fluid then permeability measurement is
referred as specific or absolute permeability
 Effective permeability:

The ability to preferentially flow or transmit a particular fluid when other

immiscible fluids are presents in reservoir. When rock pores spaces
contain more than one fluid then permeability ta a particular fluid is
effective permeability. Effective permeability is a measure of fluids
conductance capacity of a porous medium to a particular fluid when
medium is saturated with more than one fluid

 Relative permeability:

Relative permeability is the Ratio of effective permeability of a particular

saturation to absolute permeability of that fluid at total saturation. If single
fluid is present in rock, its relative permeability is 1.0.

Example of variations in permeability and porosity:

- Some fine-grained sandstones can have large amounts of interconnected
porosity; however the individual pore may be quite small. As a result, the
pores throats connecting individual pores may be quite restricted and tortuous;
therefore permeabilities of such fine grained formations may be low.
- Shale and clays which contain very fine grained particles often exhibit very
high porosities. However because the pores and pores throats within these
formations are small. Most shales and clays exhibit virtually no permeability.

Some limestone may contain very little porosity or isolated vuggy porosity that is not
interconnected. These types of formations will exhibit very little permeability. However,
if formation is naturally fractured, permeability will be higher because the isolated pores
are interconnected by fractures.

Permeability Ranges for Conventioanl and Unconventioanl Reservoir

Controls on Permeability

Permeability has in fact the dimension of an area. One can visualize this as that part
of the pore system in a rock that is available for fluid flow. This is in general the narrowest
restriction, i.e. the transitions between pores, also called the pore throats. We therefore
have to look at the pore system of rocks, and how it develops with time.

Major Factors Affecting k

In clastic rocks, the three-dimensional pore network is a function of the grain

properties (the texture).

Grain size

Probably the most important factor affecting permeability. Small grains generally
have smaller pores and smaller pore throats than larger ones; fine-grained sandstones are
therefore usually lower in permeability than coarse-grained ones.

Grain sorting

Another important factor controlling permeability. If the grain distribution is very wide,
the smaller pores can more easily block the pore throats and therefore reduce permeability.

Grain roundness is of secondary importance.

Increased roundness and sphericity lead to higher permeabilities.

Capillary Pressure

Reservoir rocks are composed of varying sizes of grains, pores, and capillaries
(channels between grains which connect pores together, sometimes called pore throats). As
the size of the pores and channels decrease, the surface tension of fluids in the rock
increases. When there are several fluids in the rock, each fluid has a different surface
tension and adhesion that causes a pressure variation between those fluids. This pressure
is called capillary pressure and is often sufficient to prevent the flow of one fluid in the
presence of another.

Large pore throat diameters

Generally yield a lower capillary pressure because of the decrease in the amount of
surface tension. Large pores that are often associated with large pore throat diameters will
also contain lesser amounts of adsorbed (adhered) water because the surface-to-volume
ratio of the pore is low.

Small pore throat diameters

Generally yield higher capillary pressures because of the greater amount of surface
tension. Small pores that are often associated with small pore throat diameters will have a
high surface-to-volume ratio, and therefore may contain greater amounts of adsorbed
(adhered) water.
Fluid saturation

Saturation is defines as that fraction ,or percent of pore volume occupied by a

particular fluid (oil,gas or water). This property is expressed mathematically by following
𝑡𝑜𝑡𝑎𝑙 𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑓𝑙𝑢𝑖𝑑
Fluid saturation= 𝑝𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑒
applying above mathematical concept of saturation to each reservoir fluid gives.
𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑜𝑖𝑙
Oil saturation= 𝑆𝑜 = 𝑝𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑒

𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑔𝑎𝑠
Gas volume=𝑆𝑔 =
𝑝𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑒

𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑤𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑟
Water saturation= 𝑆𝑤 = 𝑝𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑒
The saturation of each phase range from 0-100%. By definition, the sum of
saturation is 100% therefore,
𝑆𝑜 + 𝑆𝑔 + 𝑆𝑤 = 1.0

Saturation type:

 Critical oil saturation

For oil phase to flow the saturation of oil must exceed a certain value which
is termed critical oil saturation. At this particular saturation the oil remails in pores
and for all practical purpose will not flow.
 Moveable oil saturation:

Moveable oil saturation is another saturation of interest and is defined as

the fraction of pore volume occupied by moveable oil as expressed by following
 Critical gas saturation

As the reservoir pressure decline below bubble point pressure, gas evolves
from oil phase and consequently the saturation of gas increase as reservoir pressure
declines. The gas phase remains immobile until its saturation exceeds a certain
saturation called critical gas saturation above which gas begins to move.
Unconventional Reservoir Types
Unconventional reservoirs include reservoirs such as

 Tight-gas sands
 Gas and oil shales
 Coal-bed methane
 Heavy oil and tar sands
 Gas-hydrate deposits.

Tight gas is trapped in ultra-compact reservoirs characterized by very low porosity and
permeability. The rock pores that contain the gas are minuscule, and the interconnections
between them are so limited that the gas can only migrate through them with great

Shale gas is extracted from a geological layer known as the "source rock" rather than from
a conventional petroleum reservoir structure. This clay-rich sedimentary rock has low
permeability. The gas it contains is either adsorbed or left in a free state in the void spaces
(pores) of the rock.

Coal-bed Methane as its name suggests, is trapped in coal deposits. It is also known as
coal seam gas. Most of the gas is adsorbed on the surface of the coal, which is an excellent
"storage medium". It can contain two to three times more gas per unit of rock volume than
conventional gas deposits.

Bituminous Sands

It is also known as oil sand s or tar sands. They consists of loose sands or partially
consolidates sandstone saturated with dense and viscous form of petroleum called bitumen.

Oil Shale
Consist of immature organic rich rock containing kerogen. Converting the Kerogen
into oil required pyrolysis.
Gas Hydrates
Clathrate compound in which the host molecule in water and the guest molecule is
a gas. They occur naturally in large quantities in the deep ocean floor and permafrost
Unconventional Reservoir Properties

Reservoir Quality

Given that reservoir quality (or storage) is one of the fundamentals of any
reservoir – and since what we really want to do is get hydrocarbons out of the ground –
we might consider turning the phrase around. Rather than discussing “reservoir quality,”
we should consider what makes a “quality reservoir.”

Placed in a quality reservoir context, we need then consider all of thefi elements
required to make a reservoir successful. All successful reservoirs, whether conventional
or unconventional, must have the same fundamentals: storage, conductivity and drive.
When these basic elements come together in appropriate combination, a rock unit then
can be considered a quality reservoir figure below.


Storage in an unconventional reservoir often is associated with organic material –

however, storage can commonly be associated with inorganic grains (primary and
secondary) and with fractures. The primary difference between an unconventional and
conventional reservoir is that the conductivity of an unconventional reservoir usually
requires enhancement via hydraulic fracturing to be commercial.
Successful reservoir stimulation requires an additional subset of rock properties – the
ability of the rock to fracture complexly (brittleness) and to maintain the induced fractures
(stiffness). Natural internal reservoir fracturing can provide enhanced conductivity and
some storage, although extensive tectonic fracturing may breach seals and rob a reservoir
of the energy required to be successful.

The third fundamental, sufficient reservoir energy, also is required, and it must be retained
over geologic time by sealing lithologies. Most mudstone successions contain clay-rich
and clay-poor intervals. Both are needed to act as reservoir (mudstones) and seal
(claystones) for pressure retention.

Each element of a quality reservoir has some forgiveness. For example, slightly lower
conductivity can be compensated by increased storage or reservoir energy.

However, there are limits – beyond which the elements in a rock unit will fail to become a
quality reservoir.

Shale Reservoir Primary Properties Plot

For source-rock reservoirs, the triangle in represents a classification scheme that
illustrates the primary properties for some of the major plays that control the enriched
reservoir and conductivity elements important to make a quality reservoir.

Classification by elements may help describe some of the boundaries that make shale plays

The horizontal axis is the hard component percentage, which is the volume percent of the
hard/brittle elements (minerals) minus the soft/ductile elements (clay, TOC and porosity).
Since clay is most often the element contributing to ductility, the triangle is divided
vertically by whether a rock is primarily clay dominated or mud dominated.

Horizontally, the triangle is subdivided into segments of mature enrichment, when vitrinite
reflectance (Ro) is greater than 1 percent.

Note that the organic content is displayed as a volume percent and not weight percent.

Most of the successful plays group together with similar properties in a class we call
“Organically Rich Mudstones.” This area is where the hard elements exceed the soft ones
and the enrichment of organic material is sufficient to provide storage and hydrocarbons,
but not so much to soften the rock enough to diminish induced reservoir conductivity.

These characteristics of hardness and enrichment are primary elements of quality


For any given well or wells in a play, the range of the points on could spread across the
chart. However, those points that are quality reservoir will almost always plot as
organically rich mudstones. The geologic conditions that come together to serve as the
fundamental elements for quality reservoirs can be mapped to identify sweet spot areas:

 Storage and conductivity through regional geology, sedimentology and sequence

 Drive through pressure data, burial history and basin modeling.

All successful reservoirs share the same fundamental attributes in appropriate

combinations, and there are various ways to arrive at an appropriate combination.

Thus, we can use our understanding of conventional reservoirs – along with an appreciation
of additional factors (organic-associated pores, ductile vs. brittle components, fractures,
etc.) – for insights into what makes a quality unconventional reservoir.