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Pore-Volume Compressibility of
Consolidated, Friable, and Unconsolidated
Reservoir Rocks Under Hydrostatic Loading
G. H. Newman, SPE-AIME, Chevron Oil Field Research Co.

Introduction
The ~Seof pOre.vQ!Urn.~
~~rn.nrewihilitv-norositv
d----------= =_. --.-,
cor-
___ unknown. Unconsolidated samples, on the other
relations in engineering calculations is well known. hand. present a much more complex problem, in that
The correlations developed by Hall’ for both sand- grain rearrangement is very likely during either coring
stones and limestones have been widely distributed. or subsequent handling. The advent of the rubber-
Van der Knaap’ published a similar correlation using sleeve core barrel much improved the chances of ob-
limestone samples from a single well and also corre- taining representative samples. We have some evi-
lated the data with net pressure. dence that, if carefully handled, rubber-sleeve cores
Such correlations are attractive because of the will provide reasonably undisturbed samples. How-
simple relationship established. However, those cor- ever, even if the sand is captured undisturbed in the
relations were intended only for well consolidated rubber sleeve, internal gas can expand the core during
samples; correlations for friable or unconsolidated the trip to the surface.
samples have not been published. The history of all the samples used in this study is
This study compares our laboratory data with the not complete, but most of the unconsolidated samples
published correlations of consolidated samples as were obtained from rubber-sleeve cores.
well as with values for friable and unconsolidated
sandstones. Compressibility values are presented for Preparing the Samples
256 rock samplesfrom 40 reservoirs — ] 97 samples The consolidated and friable samples used in this
from 29 sandstone reservoirs and 59 samples from 11 study were generally plugs 1 in. in diameter and 3 in.
limestone reservoirs. Porosities ranged from less than long. and their condition ranged from well preserved
1 percent to 35 percent. Compressibility values from to dry and weathered. The core plugs were extracted
the literature*3,s.$ for 79 samples are added, includ- in solvent to remove water and hydrocarbons, put
ing Halls and Van der Knaap’s. into a flexible jacket, and saturated with a refined oil.
The unconsolidated samples of about the same
The Experiments dimensions were generally cored from rubber-sleeve
Sampliig cores that had been frozen in liquid nitrogen and for
To obtain a representative sample of a formation for which liquid nitrogen had been used as a drilling
testing, one must avoid grain rearrangement. This fluid.” The frozen samples were placed in a Teflon
problem is unlikely to occur with consolidated sam- sleeve and allowed to thaw. End plates and screens
ples or friable samples containing some cementation, were then placed on the ends of the samples. At this
although the effect of removing the overburden is still point the bulk volume of the sample was determined

The pore-volume compressibilities and porosities presented here were derived from 256
samples of sandstone and limestone representing 40 reservoirs. These and previously
published data are in poor agreement with compressibility-porosity correlations in the
literature. The salient conclusion is that to evaluate rock compressibility for a given
reservoir it is necessary to measure compressibility in the laboratory.

FEBRUARY. 1973 129


from linear dimensions and the sample was placed in the following:
the test cell. A hydrostatic overburden pressure of
about 50 psi was exerted on the samples before they
~=ldv.
—— ,.. . . . .0 (1)
were cleaned with solvents and resaturated with a Vp
P
dpeff

refined oil. The change in the bulk volume at about where


50 psi was recorded. At the end of the compressibility
test the sample was extracted in toluene and the sand- Co = pore volume compressibility, vol/vol/psi
grain volume was determined. The sand-grain vol- VP = pore volume of the sample at a given
ume was subtracted from the initial bulk volume to effective pressure
dVp = incremental change in pore volume re-
obtain a pore volume (porosity) at zero effective pres-
sure. This porosity value at zero pressure was chosen
sulting from an incremental change in
to compare with pore-voiume compressibility because effective pressure
the zero pressure porosity is normally what the reser-
dp,ff = incremental change in effective pressure.
voir engineer has available from routine core analy- Eq. 1 contains the assumption that most of the pore-
sis data. volume change results from efiective pressure differ-
ence. This is a valid approximation for higher-
Measuring Porosity
porosity samples. A more comprehensive discussion
With the exception of the unconsolidated sandstone has been given by Geertsma.*2
porosities previously discussed, initial porosities were
determined by API-approved methods,’” which con- Effects of Cycling, Time, and Temperature
sisted of determining the pore volume by resaturation Cycling
and the bulk volume by either displacement or caliber Cycling is defined as a repeated application of the
measurement. stress cycle. In other words, the sample is placed in
the test cell and the effective pressure is increased to
Applying Stress
some predetermined value. (This value is sometimes
Overburden Pressure. All of our data were obtained higher than any stress the sample will ever be sub-
from samples under uniform hydrostatic stress. This jected to during reservoir depletion.) The pressure is
was accomplished by transmitting the overburden then released and a second, third, or even fourth
pressure to the jacketed test sample with hydraulic cycle can be performed. Except for the case of ex-
fluid. The tests were conducted under either constant ceedingly high-strength elastic rocks, each cycle pro-
or varying overburden pressure.

Pore Pressure. The pore pressure was controlled


.L--.. -I. +L
Lll IUU&fl Llle
..== . ,CM-
wll~p!e
i..kat wa]l
,.
and omlld he varied
. . ... -- --
CODE 0
independently of the overburden pressure during _G_SANOSTONES 0
tests. The tests were conducted with either constant ● LIMESTONES *8
or varying pore pressures.
00


Effective Pressure. The ability to vary the overburden .0 o

and pore pressures independently made it necessary ‘e



to express the data at a common stress condition.
o
o
0 00
O*
This was established as a function of the effective
pressure, defined as the difference between the over-
burden (lithostatic) and pore pressures.
Determining Volume Changes o

The change in sample pore volume as a function of


effective stress was obtained by various laboratory
methods.:” These included (1) direct measurement
of fluids expelled from the samples, and (2) inferred
pore-volume changes determined by measuring di-
mensional changes of the samples. The values were
(
obtained during both increasing and decreasing effec- 00
tive stress. A pore-volume vs effective-stress relation-
ship was found for each sample by increasing the 0 ‘(
effective stress in about 500-psi increments to an
effective stress equal to or greater than lithostatic
pressure based on individual sample depths. Litho-
gatic pressure was assumed to be 1 psi./ft.

Calculating Pore-Volume Compressibility


- .400-.
15
+-
INITIAL POROSITY &T ZERO NET PRESSURE
The compressibility values shown in Fig. 1 were
Fig. l—Porevolume compressibility at 75 percent
obtained by graphically differentiating the pore- Iithostatic pressure vs initial sample porosity for
volume: effective-pressure relationships by means of both sandstone and limestone samples.

130 JOURNAL OF PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY


\

vides a lower compressibility value as a result of an percent were measured at 74”F; the remainder were
irreversible change in the rock’s internal structure. measured between 130° and 275 ‘F. While we have
Some investigators’ found it necessary to cycle the not made a systematic study of the effect of tempera-
samples in order to form a copper jacket around the ture, a statistical analysis of pore-volume compressi-
test sample. This was done so that the pore volumes bility conducted on a suite of sandstone and lime-
expelled during subsequent loading were not affected stone samples at various temperatures within the
by the penetration of the copper jacket into the an- indicated temperature range showed no significant
nular space between the jacket and the sample, as temperature effects. The results, however, were not
well as into the surface pores. Other investigators, conclusive, since the scatter of the compressibility
including King,’ have cycled the samples until they data at any one temperature was as great as any
exhibit elastic behavior; that is, until there is no addi- observable temperature effects, or greater. Von Gon-
tional pore-volume hysteresis between cycles. Cycling, ten and Choudhary,’ in discussing the effects of tem-
for either reason, can result in lower compressibility perature on compressibility, show increases as high
values on a rock that has failed internally, and the as 12 percent at 400”F. We recommend, therefore,
resulting condition is certainly not the condition of that all compressibility measurements be made at
the sample as it is received in the laboratory. This reservoir temperature.
internal failure is easily exposed with scanning elec-
tron micrographs, with thin-sections, or in the case Presentation of Data
of unconsolidated sands, with grain-size anaiysis be- ihe pore-voiume compressibility vaiues shown in this
#--- cI1lU
lUIG
....~ tZILG1
o%-. &y-1,-l;-”
b,,,,,&
A n .avr-.antinn
fi,l WAW&y U”Jl
tn thic wmJh+
.“ .s..- .. “ ..
he
“- ~~ld~y ~~~, in !n.o~t ~a~e~, r.---_.-
nressure dependent. To
in a compacting reservoir that had failed in situ dur- compare samples that had been obtained from various
ing pressure depletion or a highly fractured reservoir depths. which means the samples were subjected to
that had failed as a result of tectonic forces during various effective stresses under reservoir conditions,
its hi~t~ry: The effects of cycling can be even more a common effective pressure base of 75 percent of
serious on friable or unconsolidated sands because of the lithostatic pressure was used. This value was
their inelastic behavior. seiected as the most probal.ie average efiective stress
We have only one example where cycling may lead the sample would encounter during reservoir deple-
to a closer approximation of in-situ compressibility, tion. The lithostatic pressure was assumed to be 1
and that is in testing highly disturbed unconsolidated psi per foot of depth.
sands, when grains have been rearranged during cor- The values obtained at this pressure base, plotted
ing. Rearrangement of grains from that in-situ condi- against the initial sample porosity, are shown on Fig.
tion generally tends to provide a looser packing, 1, along with Hall’s correlation. Compressibility-
which results in a higher pore-volume compressibility porosity values obtained from the literature, for both
value during the laboratory tests. We have demon- sandstones and limestones, are shown on Fig. 2.
strated this by taking sets of adjacent samples from
a carefully handled and preserved rubber-sleeve core. Analysis of Data
One set of samples was carefully handled and the Limestones
other set was purposely rearranged. The results have The limestone values shown on Fig. 1 are compared
shown that the disturbed samples had much higher with both Hall’s and Van der Knaap’s correlations
compressibilities. Cycling the ‘disturbed samples- re- on Fig. 3. No attempt was made to separate the lime-
+,,eo,-1 +h.arn
LuLll&u
rnnv
.I, w,li ,tlv. e -, V=W.
PICK-IV
J tn.V tha
...w ... ---- nat.kino
in-ck
~-- .....a rnn
---- - ~?~~~ ~~rn.pi~~ by geography Or litholoe~.
dition, but significant internal failure occurred.
The values of pore-volume compressibility in this Sandstones
study were obtained by methods that did not require To analyze further the porosity and pore-volume
cycling. In addition, the reported compressibility compressibility of the sandstone samples shown in
values were obtained during the initial application of Fig. 1, we used a qualitative rock-typing system. The
effective pressure. samples were grouped as consolidated, friable, or
unconsolidated:
Time 1. Consolidated samples consisted of “hard” rocks
Our pore -volume compressibility values presented (thin edges could not be broken off by hand).
here were obtained from pore-volume: effective-stress 2. Friable samples could be cut into cylinders, but
relationships that had been obtained using pressure the edges could be broken off by hand.
increments of about 30 minutes (30 min/500 psi). 3. Unconsolidated samples would fall apart under
This time was generaiiy sufficient to reach a practicai their own weight unit?% they had iiiidergull~ ---- SpCLldI
--,. ...,.1

stress equilibrium for most samples. We are aware treatment such as freezing.
that true stress equilibrium cannot be obtained in the Each rock type was replotted under this crude
laboratory in any practical time. However, the most classification system (Figs. 4 through 6). HaiYs cor-
-:--: c--- . -1------- .,.1.,. ..1 ..,. h., +L - G-t f=,,, -~lmt;-”
1b,,=””.. 99A
“. hk
w SJ>.7 .anrlctnne data nnint~ are alcn chmw~-.
slgnlll~iint ~diiine Gilttll&GS 1-G pl~d 111 LUG 111OL Iew Ji-11..s>”..w . . . y--...” --- ---- “.. -

minutes of applied stress. It is not within the scope The results of this classification system are com-
of this report to investigate these time effects; we only pared in Fig. 7 by “class averaging” the compressi-
point out that they exist. bility values from Fig. 1 and Figs. 3 through 6 in
porosity increments of 5 percent. For example, the
Temperature compressibilities for each rock type having between
Of the compressibility values presented in Fig. 1, 81 O and 5 percent porosity were averaged and piotteci
FEBRUARY, 1973 131
at 2.5 percent porosity. Hall’s correlation is also porosity. This is evident on Fig. 6 as well. The un-
shown. consolidated samples also show significant inelastic
These class-averaging curves are intended for in- behavior (permanent volume reduction with pressur-
ternal comparison of the data only. They are not for ization, resulting from internal grain failure).
correlation, because of the wide variations in the The friable samples in Figs. 1 and 5 also show this
compressibility values. This wide variation can be inelastic behavior, but there is apparently very little
seen on Fig. 8, which shows the range of the data correlation between compressibility and initial sam-
points making up the class average for the consoli- ple porosity.
dated sandstones. Besides showing wide variations in compressibility
as a function of porosity -and rock type, our results
-- ..;
Discussion are in poor agreement wth Halls correlation. ~ltem-
Fig. 1 shows that our lower-porosity limestone and ture values of compressibility for 79 samples (in-
sandstone samples follow the general trend obtained cluding Hall’s data), shown in Fig. 2, support our
by Hall: the pore-volume compressibility values in- results and have about the same scatter. Van der
crease with decreasing porosity. This is more pro- Knaap obtained a good correlation for 23 limestone
nounced on Fig. 3, where only the consolidated samples taken from a single well; but his values are
limestone data are compared with Hall’s and Van der also in poor agreement with Hall%.
Knaap’s correlations, and on Fig. 4, where only the We believe the poor agreement between our data
consolidated sandstones are compared with Hall’s and Hall’s is in part because Hall’s are based on only
data. 12 samples — 7 limestones and 5 sandstones in the
The individual compressibility curves for these porosity range of 2 to 26 percent. Our data are based
consolidated samples showed substantially elastic be- on 256 samples, 194 in the same porosity range as
havior; most of the volume was recovered when the Hall’s.
pressure was released.
The samples with the higher porosity in Fig. 1 tend Conclusions
to be unconsolidated, and behave contrary to HalI’s 1. The pore-volume compressibility-porosity val-
general trend; compressibility tends to increase with ues obtained in this study are in poor agreement with

!000 .
I I I I I I [ I
o 14ALL1. SANDSTONES
● I+ALL1, LIMESTONES
~ VAN OER KNAA$. SANDS1ONES
● VAN DER KNAA#, LIMESTONES 100
I I I I I I
D FA7T3, SANDSTONES
~ DOBRVN1N5, SANDSTONES
i
~ KOHLHAAS AND MILLERS. SANDSTONES
fi VDN GONTEN ANO CHWOHARY7, SANOSW)NES
I A VON GONTEN ANO CHOUDMARY7. LIMESTONES % (rlj
~ + CARPENTER ANO SPENCERS. SANDSTONES
? ‘e

~ VAN OSR KNAPP’S CORRELATION

,.o~
,,00-
I .~.+
15 20 25 35
0540152(1253rJ 354rJ45 INITIAL POROSITY AT ZERO NET MESSURE
INITIAL poRos17Y AT ZERO NET PRE5fWRE
Fig. 3-Pore-volume compressibility at 75 percent
Hg. 2—F’ore-volume compressibility vs initial sample Iithostatic pressure vs initial sample porosity
porosity obtained from literature source as indicated. for limestones.

132 JOURNAL OF PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY


.-

1
0

CONSOLIDATED SAMCSTONES
~o
A:”
0 0 0
1

k ,0
o

‘?
:x i\

‘o

I 0 Ooo
0 0.O
0

,..-O
I I
0
I !
II 1!

20 25 30 35 INITIAL POROSITV AT ZERO NET PRESSURE


INITIAL POROSITY AT ZERO NET PRESSURE
Fig. 5-Porewolume compressibility at 75 percent
Fig. 4-Pore-volume compressibility at 75 percent
Iithostatic rwessure vs initial sample porosity for
Iithostatic pressure vs initial sample porosity for
friable sandstones.
consolidated sandstones.

I 1 I I 1 I

o ;8”
L+’ O.”
UNCONWLIOATEO SANDSTONES
00 c
0
o 0
0
uNCONSOLIOATEO —
0 00

0
0 Wc)

o
%0 o
o
00 %
/ ●
@e
o TOTAL ALL SAMPLES
00 0
HALL%
00 c1
CORRELATION lALLS
ORRELATION
\
“L. ~ CDNSULIOATED
SANDSTONES

-\A

,.., ~

Fig.
Iithostatic
INITIAL POROSITY AT ZERO NET PRESSURE

GPorwrolume
pressure
compressibility
vs initial sample
at 75
porosity
percent
for Fig.
,.o~
o

7-Class
5 10

averages
15

of pore-volume
20
INITIAL POROSITY AT ZERO NET PRE~RE
25 30

compressibility
i

vs initial sample porosity.


unconsolidated sandstones.

133
FEBRUARY, 1973
to initial sample porosity.
These data- suggest that correlations might be ob-
tained for both well consolidated limestones and
sandstones with similar lithologies. That is, correla-
tions may be obtained from samples within a given
reservoir, provided lithologic variations are sm@l.
This would be similar to Van der Knaap’s correlation
for limestones from a single well. Much the same
approach is recommended for the friable and “uncon-
solidated samples, but here the pore-bolume com-
pressibility is not merely porosity dependent; other
stress parameters need to be investigated.
References
1. Hall, H. N.: “Compressibility of Reservoir Rocks,”

\/
AVERAGE FOR CONSOLIDATED
Tnzm., AIME ( 1953) 198, 309-311.
SANDSTONES 2, Van der Knaap, W.: “Nonlinear Behavior of Elastic Po-
\ rous Media.” Trans., AIME ( 1959) 216, 179-187.
\\ 3. Fatt, I.: “Pore Volume Compressibilities of Sandstone
Reservoir Rocks: Trans., A-ME ( i95tl j 213, 362-364.

IT
4. King, M. S.: “Wave Velocities in Rocks as a Function
of Changes in Overburden Pressure and Pore Fluid Satu-
ration: Geophysics ( 1966) 31, No. 1.
5. Dobrynin, V. M.: “Effect of Overburden Pressure on
RANGE OF THE Some Properties of Sandstones: Sot. Pet. l%?. J. (Dec.,
CLASS AVERAGE 1962) 360-366.
6. Kohlhaas, C. A. and Miller, F. G.: “Rock-Compaction
I and Pressure-Transient Analysis with Pressure-Dependent
. Rock Properties,” paper SPE 2563 presented at SPE 44th
;;6xd Fall Meeting, Denver, Colo., Sept. 28-Ott. 1,
1.0
o
I I
5
I
10
I
15
1 I
20
I
25
!

34
INITIAL POROSITYAT ZERO NET PRESSURE 7. Von Gonten, W. D. and Choudhary, B. K.: “The Effect
of Pressure and Temperature on Pore-Volume Com-
Fig. II-Class average of pore-voiume ccmipwssibiiitj W pressibiiity,” Paper @nc 9C9C FIw<...w..
~r~ /-.-” . . . . -t..+ U.
*t -CPF_ AA~~ .&&
initial sample porosity for consolidated sandstones. nual Fall Meeting, Denver, Colo., Sept. 28-Ott. 1, 1969.
8. Carpenter: C. B. and Spencer, G. B.: “Measurements of
published compressibility-porosity correlations. This Compressibility of Consolidated Oil-Bearing Sandstones,”
RI 3540, USBM (Oct., 1940).
is also supported by values in the literature. There
9. Jennings, H. Y.: “How to Handle and Process Soft and
is a need, therefore, for laboratory compressibility Unconsolidated Cores,” World Oil (June, 1965 ) 116-119.
measurements in evaluating rock compressibilityy for 10. API Recommended Practice for Core-A nalysis Procedure,
a given reservoir. API RP40, 1st cd., New York (Aug., 1960).
2. Pore-volume compressibilities for a given po- 11. Mann, R. L. and Fatt, I.: “Effect of Pore Fluids on the
Elastic Properties of Sandstone” Geophysics ( 1960) 25,
rosity can vary widely according to rock type. 433-444.
3. Attempts to correlate the data showed that 12. Geertsma, J.: “The Effect of Fluid Pressure Decline on
consolidated sandstones differed greatly from lime- Volume Changes of Porous Rocksfl Trans., AIME (1957)
-’la 2?1 720
ALU, JJ, -J2Z. .m~
stones and friable and unconsolidated sands, but the
data are too widely scattered for correlations to be
.-1;
L“’IQ. ”
nhle. we!! ~efin~~ trends were found only in the Original
... -
manuscript
-- . .,,
received in Society of Petroleum Engineers
omce uec. 44 19JJ. --..: ---
IWVISW --- ...-+”.,w, ,--.
,,l-{lb=u, -.-m;”.rl.-W .F.@”
. . . ~~, ~Q7~,
consolidated sandstones and limestones and in the Paper (SPE 3S35) was presented at SPE Rocky Mountain Regional
unconsolidated sands, whereas the compressiiiiiity of Wzeti rig, he!i! in 2!enver, (%!0., April 10-12, 1972, Q Copyright
1973 American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum
the friable samples showed little or no relationship Engineers, Inc.

134 JOURNAL OF PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY