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SPE 156337

Compressibility Method for Pore Pressure Prediction

Vahid Atashbari, Australian School of Petroleum; Mark Tingay, Australian School of Petroleum; Mohammad
Hossein Zareian, National Iranian Oil Company
Copyright 2012, Society of Petroleum Engineers

This paper was prepared for presentation at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference held in Abu Dhabi, UAE, 1114 November 2012.

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 have not been
reviewed by the Society of PetroleumEngineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect any position of the Society of PetroleumEngineers, its
officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is prohibited. Permission to
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Pore pressure is a key parameter in controlling the well in terms of reservoir fluid pressure. An accurate estimation of pore
pressure yields to better mud weight proposition and pressure balance in the bore hole. Current well known methods of pore
pressure prediction are mainly based on the differences between the recorded amount and normal trend in sonic wave velocity,
formation resistivity factor (FRF), or d-exponent (a function of drilling parameters) in overpressured zone. The majority of the
techniques are based on the compaction of specific formation type which need localization or calibration. They occasionally
fail to proper response in carbonate reservoirs.
In this research, a new method for calculating the pore pressure has been obtained using the compressibility attribute of
reservoir rock. In the case of overpressure generation by undercompaction (which is the case in most of the reservoirs), pore
pressure is depended on the changes in pore space which is a function of rock and pore compressibility. In a simple way, pore
space decreases while the formation undergoes compaction and this imposes pressure on the fluid which fills the pores.
Generally, rock compressibility has minor changes over a specific formation, but even this small amount must be considered.
Thus, the statistical tools should be used to distribute the compressibility over the formation. Therefore, based on the bulk and
pore compressibility achieved from the special core analysis (SCAL) or well logs in one well, the pore pressure in the other
locations of a formation could be predicted.

Rock mass as well as the pore space is always under the several stresses and the current underground state of estate is what
has been defined by Terzaghi[1] indicating that a body of soil is in a state of plastic equilibrium if every part of it is on the
verge of failure. This means that the moment of rotation with respect to all dimensions must set to zero. That implies with the
fact that the rock stays under the condition with the most stable situation of the stress state. These are the facts about the
current state of the rock. However, until this stage of stability, mineral maturation and rock type deformation are results of
burying during the deposition. Thus, bulk and pores of the rock under the overburdern stress will tend towards the deformation
until the rock reaches the most stable condition. In other words, Overburden pressure which is mostly the main stress tensor in
the depth of oil and gas reservoirs, leads to the compaction of the formation. Consequently, if the rock is surrounded by any
type of impermeable layers, which means no way of escaping for pore fluid, a portion of the stress will be imposed to the fluid
and the pore pressure will rise. This process can be modelled in in terms of stress-strain analysis whereas this research has
focoused on a phenomenon which is known as the compressibility mechanism. The amount of excess stress which is exerted
on the pore fluid is called pore pressure.
The method introduced here comes along the other pore pressure prediction methods and is suitable for the fields with the
basic knowledge about the underground geological environment as well as the compressibility of the formation rock type.

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Pore Pressure GenerationMechanism: Undercompaction
Normally, the pore space in the depositional sequences of the rocks is filled by fluid which might be water, oil, or gas. In
shallow depths, where there is permeation from the buried deposits to the earth surface, the fluid pressure would remain under
balance. A main hypothesis in the investigation of pore pressure is considering water to fill the underground pore space. Thus,
the normal hydrostatic gradient is assumed to vary from 0.433 psi/ft for fresh water[2] to 0.44 psi/ft for saltwater[3, 4]. If the
fluid is different type, that gradient needs to be adapted for new circumstances. Bruce et al[5] indicated that this gradient may
be 0.1 - 0.2 psi/ft for gas and 0.25 - 0.4 for oil. They also declared the gradient to be 0.433 psi/ft for pure water. Practically,
this gradient is usually 0.45 - 0.465 for formation waters (e.g. 0.465 psi/ft formation pressure gradient has been reported in
Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana[6]). Eaton[7, 8] has used 0.465 and considered the range of 0.433~0.465 psi/ft as the
hydrostatic pressure gradient in his works.

For the porosity based techniques of pore pressure prediction, the geology of the basin and depositional environment have
a great control on the porosity evolution versus depth. Concordantly, sandstones, shales and carbonates may have totally
different porosity vs. depth trends. Normal trend is required to estimate the porosity loss of the rock mass in the formation
against the loading stress. The majority of depth related functions are of the exponential form, and sometimes, same relation is
used for the sandstone and carbonates (i.e. [9-13]) regardless the difference in the nature and depositional environment. one of
the most used relations is this equation proposed by Giles et al[14] to define Normal Compaction Trend as a function of initial
porosity and effective stress (can be construed as mean effective stress),:
Equation 1
Equation 2
is the initial stress,
is effective stress, and C
is the pore compressibility,
is vertical overburden stress,

are maximum and minimum horizontal stresses respectively. Effective stress which is used here, or the one which
Goulty[15] used in his work, is based on Terzaghis equation, considering difference between total stress and hydrostatic
pressure. Indeed, obtaining the true amount of mean effective stress is a little bit problematic in this regard. Concurrently, that
must be noted that the real stress state in the field is the sum of all three principal stresses. Thus, taking the vertical stress as
the main variable to calculate the pore pressure in the field seems a wrong assumption. On the other hand, as studied by
Harrold et al[16], mean effective stress has a close proximity to the vertical stress (except the fault and adjacent areas which
must be studied as individual cases), so does the pore pressure calculaued using by the correspondent stresses. The degree of
such proximity may differ from one place to another, but reckoning the vertical stress as the main factor is our hypothetical

Pore Pressure Prediction Method
All overpressure generation mechanisms could generate detectable amount overpressure if the conditions, main factors
which are seal and time, are in the favour. Considering the seal to exist during the later stages of deposition, it must be a matter
of time whether a particular mechanism leads to overpressure as analysis expected or not. Overpressure generation seems to be
a young phenomenon since fluid pressure in the old sediments cant be preserved for long time and the depositional
environment should be studied in a short period of geological time, i.e. 5 million years. During the process of burying,
incremental rate of deposition of overlying formations exerts an excess pressure on the target formation which leads to its
compaction. This is what we have investigated the numerical aspects of that.
We started our analysis by simple definitions. Zimmerman [17] has introduce four sets of compressibilities for two
independent volumes and two pressures; weve select two of them. In these equations, first subscript of variables indicates the
relevant volume change, and the second subscript indicates the pressure which varies.
Equation 3
SPE 156337 3
Equation 4
The superscript i is for the initial state of the media (before compression). b and p denote bulk and pore respectively.
Combining those two equations together will give us the following relation:

Equation 5
We assumed the infinitesimally small and equal size of increments for all independent variables (pore pressure and
confining pressure), so differentiation could result in:

Equation 6
Bulk frame and pore compressibilities are known from special core analysis (SCAL), but since the test is taken by keeping
pore pressure as constant, the term in denominator (C
) is unknown. We tried to find relations for this. Zimmerman[17]
demonstrated the relation between the bulk compressibility due to pore and confining pressure.

Equation 7

Where C
is matrix compressibility. We used the compressibility of the matrix which has been demonstrated by

Equation 8
Where is the porosity. Putting all together, we defined the pressure difference which is imposed to the porous media as a
function of the compressibility and porosity.

Equation 9
We added an exponential constant to this equation to correlate it for different geological fields and proposed the following
equation to predict the pore pressure using compressibilities:
Equation 10
Where P
is pore pressure, fractional is porosity, C
is bulk compressibility in psi
, C
is pore compressibility in psi

is the effective overburden pressure in psi, and is dimensionless empirical constant ranging from 0.9 to 1.0.
Concurrently, one can solve equation 9 for porosity in order to obtain the normal compaction trend. Porosity can be
achieved from:

Equation 11
Case studies of this method with different values for can be found in the work of Atashbari and Tingay[19].
Fruthermore, it must be taken into the consideration that the normal compaction trend differs from one field to another as in
the work done by Giles et al shown in figure 1. Indeed, obtaining the true and correct normal compaction trend is a key
parameter in the reservoir rock characterization as well as a clue to pore pressure prediction.
4 SPE 156337

Figure 1 - Porosity versus depth trends for (a) sandstones, (b) shales and (c) carbonates. A broad range of porosity~lepth behaviours
exist, depending on the initial porosity (sorting, grain size), composition, age, pressure regime and temperature gradient. In general,
porosities are higher than average in overpressured areas, and lower than average in areas where uplift has occurred, or where there
is a high geothermal gradient and/or unstable mineralogy, although both pressure and temperature may have varied through time.
The maximum, minimum, and average curves, used to investigate the effect of the choice of porosity model on thermal modelling
results are in upper and lower dotted curves and heavy solid line, respectively.[14]
SPE 156337 5
This research has been conducted in order to fill a remarkable gap in the pore pressure prediction for carbonate reservoirs, but
this concept and associated techniques can be used in all types of rock including sandtones and shales. To approach reliable
overview for field developments, compressibility tests are recommended in at least exploration and delineation wells. This
technique could be used to validate the current pore pressure prediction methods or as a diagnostic analysis for normal
compaction trend. It must also be noted that the compressibility tests are done on the core samples in the lab (not in the
reservoir) where the stresses have been removed already; hence, permanent rock deformation is probable in this condition.
Better results come through using correlation factors which could be achieved by imprical methods.

= Rock Bulk Compressibility
= Bulk Compressibility versus Confining Pressure
= Bulk Compressibility versus Pore Pressure
= Pore Compressibility
= Rock Matrix Compressibility
= Porosity

= Initial Porosity
= Confining Pressure
= Pore Pressure
= Bulk Volume
= Correlation Constant

= Effective Stress

= Maximum Horizontal Stress

= Minimum Horizontal Stress

= Vertical (Overburden) Stress

6 SPE 156337

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