You are on page 1of 10


SoaeQ of PetrdeurnEngineers

SPE 23980

Pressure Transient Digital Data Acquisition and Analysis From

Acoustic Echometric Surveys in Pumping Wells
J.N. McCoy, Echometer Co.; A.L. Podio, U. of Texas; and Dieter Becker, Echometer Co.
SPE Members

I Copyright 1992. Society of Petroleum Engineers lnc.

I This paper was prepared for presentation at the 1992 SPE Permian Basin Oil and Gas Recovery Conference held in Midland, Texas, March 18-20, 1992.

This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE Program Committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper,
as presented, have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect
any position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or members. Papers presented at SPE meetings are subject to publication review by Editorial Committees of the Society
of PetroleumEngineers. Permissionto copy is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words. Illustrations may not be copied. The abstract should contain conspicuous acknowledgment
of where and by whom the paper is presented. Write Librarian Manager, SPE, P.O. Box 833836,Richardson, TX 750833836,Telex, 730989 SPEDAL.

Graphic displays allow the operator to monitor the
Increased efficiency in production operations progress of the transient test by plotting in real time the
requires that the formation and completion current status of the well, the acoustic signals and the
characteristics be well defined and analyzed before calculated pressures. Data that has been acquired at
committing funds to stimulation and/or workover that point can be plotted as standard transient analysis
operations. Such information is generally obtained from graphs ( Horner, MDH, Log-Log etc.) Data files can be
analysis of pressure transient data measured with exported to other analysis programs.
wireline recorders. Until recent times, these
measurements have been seldom made in pumping INTRODUCTION
wells, due to the time required to trip the rods and pump
out of the tubing in order to run the wireline pressure The present economic climate in the oil industry
recorders. This need spurred the development of requires that maximum production efficiency be
techniques for calculation of transient bottomhole achieved with minimum engineering and technical
pressure from surface measurements. manpower. Considering that the majority of US land oil
wells are produced through artificial lift and the majority
This paper describes the design and application of these by means of beam pumping systems, it
of a fully digital system for automatic calculation of becomes apparent that there exists an increasing need
bottomhole pressure from echometric surveys of the to easily monitor and analyze the performance of beam
annular fluid level. This portable system integrates pumped wells.
specially designed high resolution AID conversion and
conditioning with advanced signal processing and Flowing bottom hole pressure surveys, pressure
digital filtering techniques. This results in very accurate buildup tests, pressure drawdown tests, and inflow
determination of the depth to the fluid level, even in the performance analyses are the principal tools available
presence of background noise caused by gaseous to determine reservoir pressure, formation permeability,
liquid columns. productivity index, pump efficiency, skin factor, as well
as other indicators that can be used in the optimization
Automatic signal generation and recording is of producing well operations. These techniques are
undertaken by the software at predetermined, operator widely used in flowing wells and in some gas lift wells,
selected frequency so as to maximize the quality of the where the pressure information is easily obtained from
pressure transient data. Surface pressure and wireline-conveyed bottomhole pressure recorders. The
temperature measurements are used in conjunction with presence of the sucker rods in beam pumped wells
gas gravity and gas acoustic velocity to determine the essentially precludes practical, routine, direct
pressure at the gadliquid interface and the pressure at measurement of bottomhole pressure, thus eliminating
the sandface. the single most important parameter for well analysis.
Permanent installation of surface indicating bottomhole
pressure gages have not become cost effective, nor
References and illustrations at end of paper I have wireline measurements through the annular

The solution of this problem has been found Transducers

through calculation of the bottom hole pressure from
casinghead pressure measurement and determination A strain gage pressure transducer provides a
of the annular fluid head from echometric surveys that signal proportional to pressure. Direct connection to the
yield the depth of the gas-liquid interface. 1123 wellhead is through a quick-connector so that
casinghead pressure can be monitored continuously
A microcomputer-based system for automatic during the test. Various pressure ranges can be used
acquisition of pressure transient data was developed in depending on the estimated maximum buildup
1987 as a hybrid system using analog filtering and pressure. The standard range is 0 to 1500 psig.
recording of the acoustic signal.4. Such system still Isothermal accuracy of the transducer is 0.1 1% of full
depended in some measure on the operator's scale. Calibration curves for each transducer are used
interpretation of the acoustic chart recordings to in the data processing so as to maintain this accuracy
determine the average acoustic velocity in the annular throughout the test.
A thermistor is mounted within the transducer
The present system is a fully digital data housing so as to determine the current operating
acquisition and processing package which automatically temperature so as to introduce appropriate zero and
determines the position in time of the gas-liquid sensitivity shift corrections.
interface, digitally filters the acoustic data to enhance
collar reflections and calculates the depth to the liquid
level from the acoustic velocity obtained from a count of Data Processing
collar reflections. Operation is pre programmed by the
user. The computer program EBUP has the multiple
functions of controlling the well testing sequence,
DESCRIPTION OF THE DIGITAL ACOUSTIC acquiring, storing and analyzing the data and
PRESSURE TRANSIENT SYSTEM generating tabular and graphical outputs.
The Automatic Acoustic Pressure Transient Bottomhole pressure determination is based on
system is based on the Digital Well Analyzerkonfigured wellhead pressure measurement determination of the
for long term unattended operation and controlled by gaslliquid interface and calculation of the annular fluid
software specially developed for pressure transient data gradients. In order to achieve the maximum accuracy in
recording and analysis. Figure (1) depicts a schematic BHP it is necessary to account for temperature
diagram illustrating the various components of the variations, acoustic velocity variations, and changes in
system. The equipment consists of an electronic composition of the annular fluid.
package which includes a computer, analog to digital
converter, amplifying and conditioning circuits. Thus is Temperature Correction
connected to the wellhead assembly with
interconnecting cables. A 12 volt battery and a large gas During the several days of the typical well test, the
supply container (if the casinghead pressure is less than transducer sensing element may undergo temperature
200 psig) are the needed power sources. Figure (2) variations of over 60 degrees F. Even though the
illustrates the functional relationships between these transducer is temperature compensated this
elements. Note that the data acquisition and processing temperature change causes considerable errors in the
package can be also used in conjunction with measurement of casinghead pressure. Additional
dynamometer and other sensors if desired. corrections are introduced by measuring the
temperature with a thermistor and computing the
corresponding pressure deviation from calibration
The Acoustic Source I Detector curves obtained for each individual transducer and
entered in the program.
This wellhead assembly consists of a
microphone, solenoid gas valve, pressure transducer Acoustic Velocity Variation
and volume chamber. If the casing pressure is less than
200 psig, an external gas supply is used to charge the During the well test ( buildup or drawdown) the
volume chamber. C 0 2 and Nitrogen gas are readily pressure temperature and composition of the gas in the
available and commonly used. annulus will undergo significant changes. These in turn
will cause variations in the acoustic velocity of the
gas.9,lO At any given time the average acoustic velocity
is obtained from an automatic count of filtered collar
Signal Acquisition, Processing and Recording reflections and the average joint length.

The electronics package is powered by a 12 volt,

100 amp-hour, deep discharge, marine type, car size
battery which also recharges the computer's self-
contained battery. Operating life from one 12 volt battery
averages about four days.
SPE 23980 McCOY, J.N., PODIO, A. L., BECKER, D. 3

Experience indicates that pressure dependent The type of presentation is selected from options
velocity variations occur gradually and continuously, as in the data presentation menu. These include:
shown in Figure (3). The data reduction program
interpolates between these points to calculate the depth Casinghead pressure vs. time
to the gaslliquid interface from the measurement of the * Bottomhole pressure vs. time
travel time of the liquid echo. If this variation were not * Liquid level vs. time
taken into account and a single value for acoustic * Transducer temperature vs. time
velocity were used in interpreting the travel time data a Acoustic time (seconds) vs time
significant error in calculated BHP would be made. Acoustic Frequency (Jtslsec) vs time
Annular Fluid Composition * MDH -- BHP vs Log(time)
Several papers have been presented on the * Log-Log analysis
correct methods for calculation of bottomhole pressure * Liquid Afterflow vs time
from acoustic determination of annular liquid levels. The * Gas afterflow vs time
BHP is the sum of the casinghead pressure and the Smoothed velocity vs time
hydrostatic column pressures due to the annular gas Battery voltage vs time
and liquid. The gas column gradient is calculated as a
function of pressure, temperature and gas gravity. The
liquid column pressure is a function of the composition In all the transient plots, utilities are made available
of the liquids, and the in-situ waterloil ratio and to aid in the interpretation. These include least square
gaslliquid ratio. Pumping conditions and well geometry line fits of selectable portions of the data, unit slope and
determine the fluid distributions. For example in steady half slope trend lines, zooming to portions of the data
state pumping conditions the liquid above the pump and calculation of time derivatives.
intake is oil due to gravity segregation occurring in the
annulus. When the well is shut in for a buildup the water
cut remains essentially constant during the afterflow WELL TESTING PROCEDURES
period. These factors are taken into consideration by the
program in calculation of the bottomhole pressure. In- In the set-up phase it is necessary to determine
situ oil and water densities are calculated as a function whether the implosion or the explosion method is going
of pressure and temperature using conventional to be used. In general if the casing pressure is less than
correlations.6 200 psi the external gas supply is used to charge the
volume chamber. The supply is directly connected to the
When the producing bottomhole pressure is volume chamber with a small orifice restricting the flow
below the bubble point, free gas is produced from the to a very low rate so that the chamber repressurizes
reservoir and is generally vented from the annulus. This automatically after each shot. The combination of
annular gas production reduces the liquid column chamber pressure and volume determines the energy
gradient and thus has to be taken in consideration in the delivered to the annulus. The energy level should be
BHP calculation. Experience indicates that a gaseous sufficient to generate a reflection from the liquid level
liquid column can extend for a significant period of time with an amplitude at least ten times greater than the
after the well is shut in. A correlation derived from a background noise.
multitude of field measurements of gaseous liquid
column gradients2 is used to account for this effect. If the casinghead pressure is above 200 psi, the
However when a long gaseous liquid column is present, implosion method can be used. The casinghead gas is
in order to obtain the most accurate results, it is released into a volume chamber or directly to
recommended that before the initiation of the buildup atmosphere. The same considerations are valid for the
test the liquid level be depressed to a few joints above implosion method regarding energy level and signal to
the pump by increasing the casinghead back pressure noise ratio.
while maintaining a steady pumping rate. This is easily
achieved by means of an adjustable back pressure The acoustic sourceldetector should be
regulator installed on the casinghead valve. connected to the wellhead through the shortest possible
piping so as to minimize the occurrence of vibrations
Presentation of Results and spurious ringing. Using a 90 degree elbow places
the acoustic wellhead in a vertical position thus
At any time during andlor after the test it is preventing accumulation of moisture during a long term
possible to obtain graphical and tabular presentation of test. The gas supply (if used) is then connected to the
the data and the calculated results. wellhead as well as the cables to the solenoid valve the
pressure transducer and the thermistor. The chamber
pressure is controlled either by a manual pressure
regulator or by means of an automatic regulator that
maintains a constant difference in pressure between the
chamber and the casinghead pressure. In either case
the chamber pressure should always exceed the casing
pressure by at least 200 psi.

The computer program is then activated by RESULTS OF FIELD TESTS

inserting the EBUP disk in the drive and powering the
computer. To start a new test the operator enters well The Automatic Acoustic Bottomhole Pressure
data into the screen shown in Figure 3.The only System has been field tested, for a variety of situations
parameters which must be input to start acquisition of and environmental conditions. No serious problems
the data are the well name, pressure datum, pump depth have arisen and in all cases it was possible to bring to
and average joint length. The other parameters which completion the well test.
are used for bottomhole pressure calculations and
transient pressure analysis may be entered at a later Detailed results of two field tests are presented
time. here to illustrate two different situations: the first test (A)
corresponds to a well where during the buildup the
The test parameters are set up in the next screen liquid column rises about 100 feet and the casing
which includes the pressure transducer calibration and surface pressure exhibits an increase of about 130 psi;
temperature coefficients as well as means for checking in the the second well (B) there is virtually no influx of
the transducer zero by sensing atmospheric pressure. liquid during the buildup and all the pressure increase is
caused by accumulation of gas in the wellbore. This well
The frequency at which data is to be taken is also exhibits significant wellbore skin.
specified in the next screen either as number of shots
per hour or as shots per log cycle. For transient pressure
analysis 30 shots per log cycle provide a sufficient and
uniform data density for accurate interpretation. This The well was being produced with a casinghead
screen also provides an input to specify how often a full pressure of 20 psig with gas being vented from the
collar trace and raw data files are saved to disk. annulus. Initial conditions indicated that the well was
Typically this is done every ten shots. essentially in a pumped-off condition with the annular
fluid level near the pump intake.
The next step involves acquiring data for a
baseline acoustic signal that clearly shows a liquid level Figure 3, is a complete listing of the well data.
reflection. After setting off the shot the acoustic signal is Figure 5 shows the casing pressure increase as a
displayed with the computer selected liquid level signal function of time for the 166 hour duration of the buildup
enclosed by a 0.5 second window on either side. As the test. The rate of pressure increase decreases with time
liquid level position changes during the transient test the and the overall change in casing pressure corresponds
signal window will move correspondingly. This insures to 107 psi. Figure 6 shows the corresponding variation
that the program will only apply the liquid level detection of the liquid level which rises fairly uniformly from a
algorithm to the correct portion of the data even though depth of 4674 ft to a depth of 4589 feet. This depth is
there might be interfering signals from tubing anchors or calculated based on the measured travel time to the
other obstructions. The width of the window is selectable liquid level and the acoustic velocity in the annular gas.
by the operator and can be changed during the test. Since the casing pressure changes with time the
Having completed the set-up phase the program acoustic velocity also changes. This is seen in Figure 7
continues to the automatic test data acquisition. where dominant frequency ( jointslsec) of the signal
corresponding to the collar reflections is plotted as a
During the automatic testing phase information function of time. Considering the average distance
regarding the current status is displayed on the between collars to be constant, this frequency
screen.This is shown in Figure 4 which includes both corresponds to the variation in acoustic velocity during
tabular and graphic presentation of the test parameters the test. Note that the curve is rather smooth and
and data. At the top of the screen, the left hand window parallels the variation of casinghead pressure. Two
displays in real time the elapsed duration of the test and points can be observed that do not fall on the general
the time remaining until the next measurement is to be trend. These can be recognized as bad data due to
made. The current battery voltage, number of data points hardware malfunction and are not included in the
recorded and a tabulation of the most recent seven calculations. The liquid level and the casing pressure
measurements are displayed in the next two windows. data are combined in calculating the bottomhole
The rightmost window displays a menu for the operator pressure variation during the buildup, which is
to interrupt the normal progress of the test and presented in Figure 8.
undertake any of the actions listed.
The program permits exporting this bottomhole
Graphical presentation of casinghead pressure, pressure data as a function of time to a disk file which
liquid level and bottom hole pressure are displayed at can then be fed to commercially available transient
the bottom of the screen. These graphs have the analysis programs. It also provides means for analysis of
purpose of providing some measure of quality control of the data so as to insure that the test will yield the
the test to insure that the expected behavior of the data information necessary to analyze the well's
is observed. performance. Figure 9 shows the program's MDH
analysis which is obtained by selecting (using operator
controlled markers) the portion of the data in the
rectangular window and fitting a least square line to the
Similarly Figure 10 shows the corresponding I REFERENCES
Horner plot which yields an extrapolated reservoir
pressure pf 278 psia and a skin of -2.96.
Mc Coy, J. N., Podio, A. L., Huddleston, K. L. and
B. Drake :" Acoustic Static Bottomhole Pressures,"
SPE 13810, Production Operations Symposium,
Oklahoma City, OK, March 10-12, 1985.
Mc Coy, J. N., Podio, A. L., and K. L. Huddleston
This well produces an average of 25 BOPD , from :"Acoustic Producing Bottomhole Pressures, "
a perforated interval at 1000 feet. The casinghead SPE 14254, Annual Technical Conference and
pressure is maintained at 60 psig, with casinghead gas Exhibition, Las Vegas NV, September 22-25,
being used to power the pumping unit's gas engine.
Hasan, A. R. and C. S. Kabir,:" Determining
Well data is presented in Figure 11.
Bottomhole Pressures in Pumping Wells," SPE
The casinghead pressure stabilizes in about four 11580, Production Operations Symposium,
hours from shut-in as shown in Figure 12. Departure Oklahoma City, OK, February 27-March 1, 1983.
from unit slope occurs almost immediately as shown in Podio, A. L. , McCoy, J. N. and Huddleston,
K.L.:"Autornatic Pressure Buildup Data
the Log-Log plot of dBHP vs dTIME, presented in
Figure 13. Acquisition and lnterpretation Using a
Microcomputer-based Acoustic Liquid Level
In this well there is virtually no liquid influx that Instrument", SPE 16228 Presented at the SPE
takes place during the buildup, as shown in Figure 14. Production Operations Symposium, Oklahoma
The test was carried out during the summer over a City, OK, March8-10,1987.
period of almost four days. During this time the Podio, A. L. and J. N. McCoy,: "Computerized
casinghead temperature exhibited variations in Well Analysis," SPE 21 174 presented at the SPE
temperature of about 50 degrees F. as can be seen in Latin American Petroleum Engineering
Figure 15. In order to achieve the desired accuracy in Conference, Rio de Janeiro, October 14-19, 1990.
the pressure calculations, these variations have to be Huddleston, K. L., et al.: "Application of Portable
taken into consideration in converting the pressure Microcomputers to Field lnterpretation of Acoustic
transducer signal to a pressure value. Well Surveys," SPE Computer Technology
Symposium, Lubbock Texas, March 1985.
The calculated bottomhole pressure is used in
constructing the MDH plot shown in Figure 16 which
indicates that the well has a very significant skin of 23
and is probably a good candidate for stimulation.


A digital pressure buildup data acquisition and

processing system has been developed which uses an
acoustic liquid level instrument to determine the annular
fluid distribution. Unattended operation is made
possible by using a portable microcomputer to control
the progress of the test according to a predefined
schedule and to record and interpret the data and to
present the information to the operator, in real time
during the test.

The system has the overwhelming advantage

over existing technology of providing, in the field,
instantaneous information regarding the progress of the
pressure transient test so that the operator is able to
decide on the best course of action to insure that the
test will yield accurate and complete data. Preliminary
analysis of the data done at the well site can be followed
up with detailed transient analysis by exporting the data
to other analysis software.

Acquisition Data Processor and APPLICATION
control control unit Analysis



Fig. 2-Block dlagram of hardware and software Interaction.

To Well

Fig. 1-Schematic diagram of the Well Analyzar.

Well Name: BIT76 Company: UT Operator: PBN
Formation Depth: 4730 [Ft] Pump Depth: 4730 [Ft]
Average Joint Length: 31 [Ft] BOPD: 10 BWPD: 1 HCF/D: 2
Surface Temperature: 76 [F] Bottomhole Temperature: 166 [PI
Bo: 1.2 [Vol,%'ol] uo: 2 [cp] Oil Gravity: 44 [API]
Casing us T(hrs) Liquid vs T(hrs) BHP us T(hrs)
Bw: 1 [Vol/Vol] uw: 0.7 [cp] Water Gravity: 1 [SG]
Bg: 2.23 [RBfMCF] ug: .Oll [cp] Gas Gravity: 0.75 [SG]
Net Pay(H): 15 [Ft] Porosity: 0.28 [Fraction] Aorner Time(tp): 300 [Hrs]
Total Compressibility(ct): 376 [lE-61 Drainage Area: 20 [Acres]
Wellbora RadiusIFt]: 0.5
Casing, ID: 7 [Inches] Tubing, OD: 2.5 [Inches]
-Flag for Gaseous Liquid Correction [O-ON / 1-OFF]
-Flag for Pressure Falloff Test [I-ON / 0 - O m ]

Bit Bsc t o Continue with the Teat

Fig. 3-Well data sonen.

Fig. 4-Transient test progress information screen.

A".,, 4682 - I
0,0 36.6 73,2 l09,8 146,4 183,0 0.B 36.6 73,2 109,8 146.4 183.8
Casing Pressure(Psig) vs TiMHrs) Liquid Level(Ft1 vs Tine(Hrs)
Esc-Exit I FI-Bispiag Box for Fit Line 8 ZOOM / FIB-Print
Fig. 5-Caolnghesd p e w r e as a function of time. Fig. 6-Measured liquid level podtion as a function of time.
0,0 36,6 73,2 leg. a 146~4 183~0
Full Trace Frequency(Jts/Sec) us Ti~e(Hrs)
Esc-Exi t 1 F1-Display Eax for F i t Line & Zoo# I FIB-Print
Fig. 7-Acoustic signal frequency from collar reflections vs. tlme. Fig. 8-Computed bottomhole pressure as a function of tlme.


Flg. $-Test Well A-pressure vs. log ol tlme. Flg. 10-Test Well A-Homer analysis pW.
%ell Name: WAG89 Company: Operator:
Formation Depth: 1000 [Ft] Pump Depth: [Ftl
Average Joi;:t Length: 31 [Ft] BOPD: 25 BWPD: MCF/D:
Surface Temperhture: 76 [F] Bottomhole Temperature: 111 [F]
Bo: I.iF. [Voi/Vol] uo: 3 [cp] Oil Gravity: 32 [API]
Bw: 1 :Vor;iVol] UW: 1 [cp] Water Gravity: 1 [SG]
Bg: 1 jKBixiT] ug: 1 [cp] Gas Gravity: .7 [SG]
Net Paytti): 1- [Ft] Porosity: .2 [Fraction] Horner Time(tp): IErsI
Total Compressibility(ct): 5000 [lB-61 Drainage Area: 20 [Acres]
Vellbora Radius[Ft]: .325
Casino, ID: [Inches] Tubing, OD: [Inches]
--Fla; for Gaseous Liquid Correction [0-ON / 1-OFF]
-Flar: for P,essure Falloff Test [I-ON / 0-OFF]

Hit Esc to Continue with the Test

Fig. 11-Well dsta for Test Well 6.

Fig. 12-Caslnghead pressure as a function of h e , Well 8.

1880~ I
B,B 19.6 39,3 58.9 78,s 98,2 ,01 1
o i 18 1B0
Liquid Leuel(Ft1 us TiwdHrs) hBHF'!ps?) us bT(hrs)
Fi-Unit ; rl-Hq!f 1 F3-Dwivative fi;-Sixe ; F W P r i n t i Esc-Exit

Esc-Exit I El-1)ispIay Box for Fit Line & ZOOM : FIB-Print Fii. 14-Measured llqutd level as a functian of t h e , Well B.

Fig. l S - L ~ g - l ~ gplot of change In BHP vs. test time.

B, €4 19,6 39,3 58,9 78,5 98,2
Transducer TeBy IF1 vs Ti~dHrs)
ksc-Exit"I X-Mil;r!at; ?ax i ~ p & f Plf&-Ppinl
Fig. 15-Wellhead temperature as a function of time, Well B.


............................... R...


1 14
NDH--BHP[PSIBI us Log(Ti~e(Hrs))
Fig. 16-MDH analysis plot, Well B.