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.. .

..

a--*

Nile

Applying the Frontal Advance Equation to Vertical


Segregation Reservoirs
CREOLE PETROLEUM CORP
CARACAS, VENEZUELA

W. J. JOSLIN
MEMBER AIME

LL-370 RESERVOIR CHARACTERISTICS

ABSTRACT
The frontal-advance equation cats determine how the
fluid withdrawal rate and sabst.wface operating pressure
injluenee oil recovery from pressure-maitttained
resewoirs
having characteristics favorable for eficient, vertical segregatiott, For effective vertical segregation in formations
having
low dip angles, the requirements
are: thick, tnas,sive sands, low viscosity oil and high vertical permeability
witil few discontinuous shale members.
This approach has been successfully applied to tile I.L370, which is a massive Eocene sandstone reservoir containing crude with an average gravity of 26 API, a dip
of
anly
3 and vertical permeability of 1/2 darcy. The
average gas cap saturation was calculated for various
rates of vertica[ gas-oil contact tnovenient corresponding
to a wide range of reservoir producittg rates. This method
also evaluated the effect of different pressure tnaintenance
levels on oil recovery. Applicability of this procedure for
calculating the present oil saturatiott in the LL:370 gas
cap has been substatstiated from field performance, where
the oil saturation was computed by comparing oil recovery with the gas cap volume vacated.

INTRODUCTION
During the natural depletion history of the LL-370
reservoir, located in Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela, excellent
vertical segregation resulted in the formation of a thin
gas zone over a substantial portion of the oil-productive
area. Subsequently, gas injection forced thk thin gas-saturated zone slowly dqwnward, reducing the oil saturation
in the gas cap to a low value, The oil recovery has been
raised considerably above earlier predictions where vertical segregation effects were under-estimated.

<

RESERVOIR PERFORMANCE UNDER


NATURAL DEPLETION
Fig. 1 shows production performance from 1939 fo
date. EarIy development was gradual, with 30 wells pro,.
aReferencea

---Its order- to -detefiine-the -maximum efficient- producing--


rate and optimum operating pressure for this r=ervoir,
a vertical gas. frontal-advance analysis has been. made
through application of the fractional flow equation.
Original
mannscrlpt
received
in Snciety
of
received
oi7Sce, Aug, 6. 196S., Revised msauwwipt
presented
atSPE
Fail Meeting
In New Orleans,
JAN

IJARY,

Petroleum
End news
Nov. 12, 196S. I%POl
IJH3.

Oct. W,

given

at

end

of

paper.

TABLE L11,379 IWS.EBYQIR. PEO?ERW6


Permeability (aJr) from cores, horixontol
9;5
;:;
Pereslty
GmvJW
J.2j8
Formation volume fmtor, orishl
12.4
COnnafO waler saturation
4;:
Solution GOR, orlslnal
011 VISCOSitY,arlslnal
+
FormatIon dlp
2;::
CJriSlnaJ mcsure (-5250
ft subsea)
Section t ! Jcknas%
148
Net oJI mnd fhlcknex

nld
Went
per con!
7P fflbbl
glc
ft

1964

.. . -.

. .

The reservoir consists of a truncated monocline of massive. highly permeable Eocene sandstone, called the B-6
formation, covering an area of more thtui 13,500 acres.
The original oil in place was 2.17 billion STB. lnterr.sal
non-seuling faults subdivide the structure into four blocks
called the B-6-x.6, 10, 11 and, 13, which are effectively
bounded by major faulting on the fliinks, an unconformity updip to the west, and an immobi Ie aquifer to the
southeast. The producing formation occurs at an average
depth of 5,2S0 ft subsea and has a closure of more than
1,500 ft. A typical producing section has a net oil sand
thickness of 170 ft. Scattered throughout the section arc
a few randomly-positioned shale lenses which. increase in
thickness and areal extent downdip.
The reservoir rock and fluid properties vary with depth,
The permeability and produced oil gravity are 1600 rnd
and 28 API at tho top, compared to 300 md and- 1S0
API at the water-oil contact. The productivity of updip
wells is, therefore, much bigher than the reservoir average. The reservoir oiI was originally saturated at the crest,
grading to a slight degree of undersaturation at the wateroil contact. There was no original gas cap; and material
balance and the field performance indicate no water influx, Except for the northern B-6-x.6 block, the fluid and
rock properties have already been published. Average
1.L.-37Oreservoir properties are shown in Table 1,

.
,..

ducing 60,000 BOPD by year-end 19~.~. From then until


the start of injection in Oct., 1954, the producing rate
varied between 50,000 and 65,000 BOPD and the number of producing wells increased to 47, Individual well
rates initially averaged over 2,500 B/D/well in the highproductivity updip area. Subsequent driiling downdip anti
(he reservoir .messure decline brought the average down
to 1,300 to l,~OOB/D/weil before [ejection started. From
1946 to 1954]he produced GOR trended gently upward
from 500 to 950 cu ft/bbl.
With the high vertical as well * horizontal permeability
and a reservoir crude viscosity of 2 cp, thk force of gravity has been sufficient for excellent fluid segregation, Since
the sine of 90 degrees is 19 times the sine of the a~eragc
LL-370 dip angle; and the vertical permeability is 60
per cent of the horizontal permeability, vertical rather
than dip-wise segregation has occurred as the gas relensed from solution followed the path of least resistance to
the crest of the structure. A thin gas-saturated zone
formed along the sand top, enabling consistent success
with gas-shutoff workovers, thus accounting for the slow
rise in produced GOR, This thh gas zone aiso had an important effect on the subsequent performance under gas
injection.
RESERVOIR

PERFORMANCE
GAS 1NJECTION

UNDER

The ~xceiient gravity segregation performance observed


under natural depletion suggested that gas injection wouicl
be an ideal supplemental recovery process. Based ou a detailed engineering study completed in 195 i, conservation
plant Tks Juand No. 1, designed to supply 137 MMcf/il
was constructed and placed in service on Oct. 3, 1954,
At that time the cumulative oil production was 223.5 minim
STB and the average pressure was 1,531 psia at tile
5,250-ft datum.
Subsequently, piant Tia Juana No, 1 was found to be
capable of supplying 180 MMcf/ D of high pressure gas,
and three more plants have since been constructed in Lake
Maracaib,o. Ail plants are now interconnected to an in:
tegrated system with a capacity of 780 MMcf/ D, and an
additional 150 MMcf/ D pkant is in the initial construction stage. This system permits optimum distribution of
high pressure gas among severai gas injection reservoirs.
Production performance during nine years of gas injection has been hlghiy satisfactory, New drilling has increased the producing rate some 28,000 BOPD. Average
we}i rates have declined only moderately from 1,472 to
1,331 B/D/ weli, This decline is the result of the gas front
movement, which has reduced the thickness of the oil section in many wells. For the first five months of 1963 produc--ion averaged 93,337 BOPD of 27 API crude with an

average GOR of 930 cu ft/bbi. By June 1, 1963, cunmlative oil production was 486,4 million bbl,and a cumulative total of 375.7 biilion cu ft of high pressure gas haii
been injected into the gas cap,
The thin zone of gas saturation that existed prior to
injection permitted injection effects to extend quickly
downdip, Less than two years after initial injection the
pre~ure decline was halted in more than 75 per cent of
the reservoir? CM Aug. 1, 1961, the average pressure was
1,521 psia, only 10 psi below the pressure at initial injection, and for the past two years it has not changed appreciably.
As shown on Fig. 2, the horizontal position of the gas
front has moved much more slowly during the recent
years, have remained almost stationary since Sept., 1960.
Higher withdrawal rates, however, have caused a more
rapid verticai advance of the front. The gas-oil contact
dropped 7 ft/ year from June, 1954, to Sept., 1960, with
an average reservoir production rate of 78,000 BOPD.
From Sept., 1960, until Nov., 1961, these rates were 8
ft/year and 87,000 BOPD. Fig. 2 shows, for the period
June, 1954, to Nov., 1961, the interpreted velocity of the
contact at various wells penetrating the gas cap, The average vertical gas front veiocity for interim periods was obtained by contouring and planimetering such observed
velocities. The fluid movements to date have not been appreciably influenced by the shale pattern in the gas cap,
m illustrated in the dipwise cross-section of Fig. 3.
Of primary importance in the analysis of reservoir performance is the fact that even though many wells have
LL- S70 RESERVOIR

13-6-X-.C
N*
*
fQ

.........mw, L,ll,r
OF
MS
-Julltt,1$X
wr OF6AS- SCMt, !W60
CUNNDIP

ot

---

cewmmt,,, w GA*- m (, !Wl

-_,-

OWML wow mm w mm

ma,,

00WW,P Uulr or OIL

wMCRS Ri PRCSW VCRIIUL CIS-WL COO


mm VE,cfm alTwlcM dubt ,, i9$~.~*Q

C22~Lz~cno,M*Lull
oras cl,,I&Y
$.,%1
- 0B-6-x-.

io

tif~l

B-6-X-.!

-2?.s

m)

ma
Frc.

2(;A.E..01I,,

COXTACT
AND

hIOVSMENT BKTWEEX .IHE


1, 1961.

F[c.

F& lPaomcmoN
IUw

HISTORY,

f&370

RESERVOIR,

3TYPICAL

1.

1954,

NOV.

SWTHEASI

IIORTWWT

.,

DIPSVISE

CROSS. SECTION

LLS7il

JOURNAL

OF

B.6

SANDSTONE,

REsEsvons.

OF

PETIIO1.EUM

TECHNOLOGY

-.

penetrated the gas cap, the produced GOR has remained


between 700 nnd 1,100 cu ft/bbl since initial injection, This
low GOR is the result OE (1) prorupt and efficient gas shutoffs performed in the upper sands of many wells; (2) the
halt in pressure decline made possible, by gas injection;
(3) the completion of new wells in the lowest part of each
sand member; and (4) the presence of isolated shale barriers in the producing sectism which have reduced coning
,.
and contributed to the success of workovers.
APPLICATION OF THE FRONTAL-ADVANCE
EQUATiON To VERTICAL SEGREGATION
RESERVOIRS

. .

.:.

...

f,

j+

h~.

k.

p.

.,,

,.

-$.

. . . . ,,
(1)
For reservoirs with highly permeabie sands and iarge
closures, .the change in capiliary pressure with change
in distance in the flow direction is usuaily small enough
to justify excluding this term from Eq. i. This is because capillarity affects recovery only in the transition
zone where there is a sharp change from high-oil to highgw. saturation, When this zone is smaii in proportion to
the totai volume of the gas cap, as is true in the LL-370
reservoir, the effects of capillarity on reservoir performance can be negiected.
Weige demonstrated that, when the capillary pressure
term can be eliminated from Eq. i, the average gas saturation behind the front at gas breakthrough, ST can be
calculated by drawing from the origin a tangent to the
~. curve. The value of ~ is obtained where this tange~
intercepts the Iine, f, = i. This method of calculating S,
is demonstrated in Fig. 4.
Before proceeding, a clear definition of S; is required,
especially in verticai segreg~tion reservoirs where the ciosure is iarge and the rate of gas-oii contact advance varies
somewhat with the voiume of highly oii-saturated sand
that stiii remains beiow the gas cap.
During the eariy proriuction history, both the oii producing rate and the velocity of the gas-oiI contact. can
theoretically reach a sharp peak in most gravity segregation reservoirs,. This would be foliowed by an extended
period of lower producing ratea and a very slow advance

A frontai-advance analysis, when, taken in a dipwise


direction where gas overriding and vert:cai segregation
are occurring, wiii give erroneous predictive resuits bc.
cause: (1) the calculated position of the gas front wouid
be incorrect as a function of time and cumulative pro. J,
duction; (2) for reservoirs with irreguiar structural configurations, no generai method is avaiiable to modify the
equation to account for the sharp fluid discontinuity in
the vertical direction wherever the gas phase extensively
overlies the. oii zone; and (3) the Buckiey-Leverett approach does not include provision for the near-soiution
GOR production that is possible from the iowermost sand
members in wells whose upper sands have been swept by
the front.
The Buckley-Leverett approttch, can, however, be used
as an acceptable method of .caicuiating the oii saturation
in the gas caps of reservoks experiencing vertical segregation if the foliowing conditions are met: (i) the direction of gas front movement is projected to match field behaviofi and (2) the oii saturation remains constant beiow
the gas-oii contact, The oii saturation in the gas-invaded
zone will be a function of the observed or postulated velocity of the downward movement of the gas cap, The
velocity of the front can then be converted by standard
reservoir engineering calculations to a corresponding psuedo-reservoir withdrawal rate for a given gas-oil contact
.5 ,6#%
.8 !9 1
area.
Where the fluid or rock properties show considerable
areal variation within a given reservoir, the gas cap can
/
be subdivided into blocks and separate analysis appiied.
J?inaily, the average oi! saturation in the gas cap can be
reiated to the totai reservoir withdrawal rate. In this ap~
!~
II
preach, instead of projecting the movement of the gas
*O
front in a dipwise direction, the gas-oii contact is pro# 6
.
jected vertically downward, satisfying the conditions whereLhJ.5
by the discontinuity in fluid saturation matches tield pera
+
formance and is in the verticai direction.
.
:fl
This approach is beiieved reasonable for reservoirs sim1
///
ilar to the LL-370, which have the foilowing characteristics: (1) thick sands and iow dips; (2) a gas iayer extendii
,
./
L2
ing over tin appreciable portion of the reservoir; (3) few
o
and discontinuous shale members dispersed throughout
z
the producing section; and (4) an essentiality horizontal
~ ,1
gas-oii contact.
t
<0
J
The future GOR, assuming that production is taken
E
from the iower, highly oii-saturated sand members, will
i
__ -, }_
remain approximately constant since gas shutoffs will per~ 4.68
mit isoiating the upper. highiy gas-saturated sands. .1 con-.2 :-..

.!.. 64!4dL6.9.k!$.
-.
.
-_ . . .
_
-stant- GC3R--simplitles -the- calculation cif the -fut-urri?rese&
VERTICALDROPOF GAS-OIL CONTACTI
~w
voir withdrawal rate corresponding to a given surface oii
+ FEET PER YEAR
production rate, Also, since the anaiysis presented refers
,.
.9.
o
.4.2
.S.4.56.?.8
to areas where the LL-370 gas cap overiies the oil zone,
GAS.iATUfiATION-FRACTION
OF HYDROCARBONPORE SPACE
the pressure has remained sufficiently constant sinci? 1954
so that calculations at the current pressure shouid match
FIG., 4--T,VPICAI,
/,, CURVES
FOR
DIFFERIWT RATES OF TIIS GAS
past performance.
FISCINTAIWANCK.
JANUARY,

-..

The oil recovery from the LL-370 gas cap has been
calculated using the fractional fiow equation, which was
originally developed by Buckley and Leverett:
0.001 127k.A iW,
gAp sin a
i%Z
qt J&

89

1004

.,

.,

..

.
.

.-

.
.

. .. .

-....

.,
-

of the gas-oil contact. The initial high producing rates


would elongate the transition zone from high to low
oil saturation in the gas cap. This lengthened transition
. zone would result in a higher oil saturation in the gas cap
if the gas front were to break through to the updlp wells
during the period of high withdrawals. However, laboratory gravity drainage experiments on sand-packed columns
have shown that the fluid distribution can rapidly adjust
for changes in withdrawal rates, if gas production is not
continued after breakthrough.
Therefore, the ultimate recovery from a reservoir having appreciable closure is not affected by intermediate producing rates, but is a function of the producing rate and
gas-oil contact advance just prfor to gas breakthrough in
the last row of downdip producing wells: The Z values,
therefore, which have been calculated for various trssum-
ed withdrawal rates, correspond to the average oil saturations in the gas cap for particular periods of time. The
final residual oil saturation in the gas cap will be somewhat lower, depending on the production performance
immediately prior to abandonment.
Laboratory evidence was presented by Terwilliger, etd,
to show that the fractional flow equation can be used to
calcuIate the saturation distribution in a sand-packed column as a functiorj of oil withdrawal rate. The corresponLlence was excellent betwen the saturation distribution measured in the model and that calculated by the fracticmal
flow equation. These investigators found the oil recovery
prior to gas breakthrough to be sensitive to the withdrawal rate. However, very high recovery was obtained in these
laboratory experiments when the downward rate of gas-
oil contact advance was over 30 times the present average
gas-oil contact advance rate in the LL-370 reservoir (8,2
ft/ year).
Stewart, et al, obtained good agreement with field performance using the fractional flow equation to calculate
the oil saturation in the gas cap of the Elk Basin field, a
pressure-maintained reservoir with considerable gravity
segregation. The theoretical recovery in the Elk Basin gas
cap was 64 per cent by the fractional flow equation, as
compared to 66 per cent obtained by field performance.
Thus, both field and laboratory data have shown that the
fractional flow analysis can accurately describe the gravity drainage mechanism.
For calculational convenience in describing the verticaI
gas-oiI contact behavior of the LL-370 reservoir with the
frontal-advance equation, a model was selected with a 1.
acre surface area and vertical sides extending through the
.=.
producing section. The analysis required that: (1) the
model must be overlain by,the gas cap; and (2) the underIying oil zone must have sufficient thickness to permit
-..:
either commercial oil production or a reasonable amount
>.
,.
of oil migration out of the block. Twenty feet of net oil
sand was selected as the minimum thickness to extend the
results calculated for the model,
One average set of fluid and rock properties was found
sutlicient to represent the present LL-370 gas cap in the
model. The wide extension of the gas-oil contact over a
large percentage of the future recoverable oil reserves allows the original average reservoir properties to describe
adequately the present gased-out zone. The past withdrawal. of. high. grfwlty. swhs tim.updip.
areas..iri.cwnpenaatec.. -by weighting the average fluid properties with the lower
gravity crude that occurs downdip of the gas cap. Therecovery factors, calculated by the fractional flow analysis,
.. were found later.tobe insensitive to small changes in fluid
properties, especially at the slow rates of gas front advance that this reservoir will experience. .The relative

LL-5?C

.O(;O ,~

,~

,;

GAS SATURATION-FRACTl:N
OiH{DRO:ARi:N t$REOSPACE
FIG. 5RELATIVE

PKRMEABIIJTY CI:RWS.

permeability curves averaged from laboratory data on 14


B-6 cores as presented in Fig. 5 were ~sed in all calculations.
Since the gas-oil contact moves from top to bottom in
the producing section, it was necessary to assign an average vertical permeability value to the model. The LL-370
volume-weighted horizontal permeability to air was, 975
md based on a correlation derived from 14 cored wells.
Core analyses in 12 of these wells established that vertical
permeability averaged 60 per cent of thehorizontal permeability, Further laboratory work indicated.that in B-6
cores the permeability to oil with connate water present
was about 84.5 per cent of the air permeability. From
these data, an average vertical permeability to oil of 494
md was assigned to the model.
Five values of throughput rate q, were used in the calculations for each subsurface pressure level, The throughput rate was assumed to vary from 25 to ,600 reservoir
B/D/acre, With the present gas cap size, these values
are equivalent to reservoir producing rates ranging from
60,000 to 1,400,000 BOPD.
-TABLE 2SASIC DATA USSD IN FRACTJONA!. FLOW
CALCULATIONS
FOR THE MCX1..
DatQ Applied f.a All Cases.
Permeablllty 10 01[, Vertical, md
Porosity,
per cant
Connate Water Saturation, per cent
Ansle Utad h Calculations, degree!
Crets-Sectlwal
Area, acres
Crw+ectlwml
Area, $q ft
ReIewolt Temp,, F
Produced OOS.011 RaRo, cu ftjbbl
Crude Gravity, OAPl
Mum
_.
. .
.n feet Aubs?g
SpaclflG Data
pskat datum
P.
ret bbl/SfS
80,
Bg,
ras bbllcu ft
Cu ftfsls
Rn,
R,
co ft/STB
Cw
B.;
.
w
Al,
Specific gravity
Pm
Speclflc wavlfy
Oa,

4?4
i0,4
12.4

90
i

43,560
17s
(Ru+ ~~3/
52ti

case 1
15s0
1,213
0.001 S3

cai8 2-m
1,198

o.oo~m;
337
930
S94
2.4S
2.32
0.0162 0!0134
0.7ss , :.:::
0.073
.

JCSIJRh.4L
OF PETROLEUM

..

.
:..

. .
. ,.
.
.

ci$e3
17s0
I ,zza
0,00162
573
2%
O.O;;:
0:0s2

TEcHNOL49GY

,.
..

..

Sufficient data were now available to construct the /,


cumes, as shown in Fig. 4, and to calculate finally the
values of 59 for each assumed wdue of g,, The actual data
used in the fractional flow calculations arc shown in Table
2.
In Table 3, a method is presented for converting the
values of Z and q,, derived from the fractional flow calculations, to an average vertical gas front velocity for the
1-acre model. Knowing the oil saturation in the gas
cap as a function of g, permits computing the stock tank
and reservoir barrels which would be displaced from the
modei by a given vertical drop in the gas front. Fhally,
we can predict the overall reservoir performance by multiplying the results from the l-acre model by the total acres
of LL-370 gas cap which overlies the selected minimum
thickness of net oil sand.
The average planimetered velocity of the gas front for
the periods June, 1954, to Sept., 1960, and from Sept.,
1960, to Nov., 1961, compares favorably with the theoretical gas front velocities calculated by applying the calculations from the model to the average LL-370 gas cap
area and producing rates for the respective periods. This
comparison is shown, in Fig. 6.
Several other items were used to complete Table 3. The
average reservoir GOR was calculated by adding a free
ratio of .593 cu ft/bbl to the average solution GOR corresponding to tite pressure level assumed. This assumption
closely matches field performance since 1954. The free
gas now produced results from limited coning and probably from small quantities of free gas still present in the
iower, highly oil-saturated zones, Many welis completed
ION I OF VW,,q., ANO

TABLE i-CALCUkAT
(1)
~2)

Q)
son
PSIA
,742
.762
.741
.721
.?01
.6s1
,647
.667
.607
.627
~

CA&l

[4]**

,5).**

q#TB

370 producing section. Effective cross flow has been experienced as the gas front advanced at an average rate of
1/3 in,/day or less. The gravity of drainage mechanism
should have reached a high degree of efficiency in reducing the oil saturation in sands of varying permeability, m
the gas front moved slowly into zones of high oil saturation, Therefore, a conformance factor is not required to
account for unswept zones in the existing gas cap.
EFFECT OF PRODUCING RATE UPON
BREAKTHROUGH
RECOVERY
Verticai segregation in low dip reservoirs having thick
sands with few shale barriers, causes the gas-oii contsct
to cover a huge percentage of the production area, OrJ
Nov. 1, 1961, the LL-370 gas cap covered 8,344 of the
original 13,534 productive acres, and 5,719 acres ha-d
60.,
{

70 -

e.

CASE f -

RESERVOIR
f 550 PSIA

#m
i 50
+

RECCW~/fY
AZ A ~#-4#710NW)w
v..

L.L-370

1>

Reca.e w

I*

THEORETICAL
0 C#LCULATfD

FRODUC{NQ

RflTE

550

2s
50
I50
300
600

CASE 2-1350
PSIA
25
.760
.740
!718
,73s
1%
.678
.69S
300
;:::
.644
600
.603
CASE 31 750- PSIA
.745
25
.765
.723
.743
1::
.6S3
,703
,649
300
,669
600
.629
.609

1701
1595

4,6S
9,64
30.60
64,40
137.30

1,493;000

75.1
72.7
6S,5
64.9
60,6

2107
2045
1929
1833
171s

4,33
8,92
2a .40
69,70
127.50

5s,100
I 16,200
34s,600
697,300
1.395.000

74,5
72.0
67.8
:$;
.

1949
1894

S4S

824
?78
740
694

1788

852
S31
7s4
745
69S

1841
1786
16SS
1604
1506

841
S16
771
733
688

4.96
10.22
32.40
6S.30
145,40

62,200
;*:g

65,300
130,700
392,000
7s3,900
1,56S,000

DATA SOINTS
g
m

.;/

,
,
!
ZWW)4Q2WOSQ700SW
DAILY PROOUCINO

Frc.

= Avemge

Sa. =
SAF =

qmi

Average

gas saturation

In all

6AVERAGE

TO NOV. 1, t 06!

GAS.OIL

,
603

1:
RA7S-

PERFORM&NCE

SEPT. !, f960

1
Ko3

MSOPO

CONTACT VELOCITY,

VT,, w

76
[

znne (2 per cent HP!4.

LL-370

RESERVOIR

displaced by sas front, per cent HPV.

oil saturaNan

LL.370

sEW. f, !960

70

THEORETICAL DAILY PRODUCINC RATS.

&t = Assumed thrmwhput rate, ressmolr B/D/acre.


.% = Average sas saturoNon In gas cap at breakthrough to the updlp
wells far Ihe nssum6d Q/ from fractional flow analyd$, per cent
hydrocarbon pore volume (HPV).
?@

75.5
73.3
49.1
65.6
61.5

FROM FIELO

A JUNK 1,1954

20

Sfack fcmk ON [n place for I acre.ft of 011 sand=


1.0x7758
X(6 X[1-SW)
s.

g,

&.\,

i he S18 production from the 1acre model that would cause a 1ft.
drop in the ea% ail contact wifh the qt value assumed.

qmi = The prOduciien in resewdr bbl from the 1-acre model that would
cuwe a 1-ft dtc.p In the eas.ell cenfacf wlfh the Qr value

.... . .

a,sunlmd.

\\*

RSSTR = Rawwalr bbl produced far each S18 produced= B. + (Rj) SF=
no + (593) so
R=
if

V.w =

_..

Praduced gas.ell

ratio, cu ft/bbl,

[WC w ft/bbl

at 1,5S0 PS141.

rEfla, (R- R.) of I S50 psla, or 593 cu ft,bbl


sa$.ell
of RJ was also wad in Cates 2 and 31.

Free

AYotOSe Veloclfv sas.ell


value of at. ff/~Oar

. . . ..

[This value

cOnfOct RI the 1 -acre mcidel far tha assumed

Am = Area of smell
confacf In 11-370 rewrvolr which has 20 or mere
.
-feet of.. wndariylng-oll-. sand; The acres measured on. Nav. 1.1941,
were used In this calculation, (S,719 acres)

E,..-.

Recovery = The {nterlm ON recavery from the gas cap at tJ.as break fhraugh
the updip wells, per cent of original ON In place.
.
.
.%scol,
2-.3#=
**aRn= Rawraxcol, 4
** qSTll=SAl?x COl. 3
+ Vvo =

-CQI, 1x365
cd.

,IANUAS2Y,

.
1

.:.

~~ ~,, =

~-. _.

.-.

q. = The thenmtlcal 11.370 reservoir daily all producing rate If the gas.
oil contact on Nov. 1, 1961. were lowered at the rate, VW.

olCo200xt3400SCo

t.a

._

-..

OIL RECOVERY
J?ROMLL-370 GAS CAF AS A
7INTERtM
RATE AND SUBSURFACEPRESSURE
FIJNCTION
OF DAILYPROJN3CING

FIG.

Cot. 1 XAno

LEVEL.

R128m

.
J1

1964

-.

,
1
sco70Qsoo~l~
OAILY PRODUCING RATE - MfiOPD
,

. .

,., ..

.- ---I

20 M or more of net oil sand lying beneath the gas-oil


contact. Thk last area, 5,719 acres, is the multiplier that
wm used to convert the fractional flow calculation from
the 1-acre model to the total reservoir,
Referring to Case 1 (1,550 psia), shown in Fig. 7, interim oil recovery from the gas cap, prior to gas breakthrough in the wells penetrating the gas cap, varies but
slightly for large increases in ieservoir withdrawal rate.
For example, the theoretical interim oil recoveries from
the gas cap are 73.4, 71.1 and 68.2 per cent of the original
oil in place for surface withdrawal rates of 100,000, 200,000 and 400,000 BOPD, respectively.
Doubling the present producing rate of about 100,000
to 200,000 BOPD causes the recovery prior to breakthrough in existing wells t& be reduced by about 2.3 per
cent of the oil in place. As stated previously, the ultimate
recovery is not tiected by high interim producing rates
but is rather a function of the rate of gas-oil contact advance prior to abandonment, This rate for the LL-370 reservoir wiil be considerably less than 5 ft/year.
Rates higher than 200,000 BOPD are not considered
practical at present for the LL-370 reservoir because of
the large investment which would be required for additional drilllng, A maximum tield producing rate should bc
based upon economic considerations. This optimum producing rate would make mbst efficient use of producing
facilities and permit a stable crude offtake rate,
Often tbe maximum efficient producing rate is much
higher than the optimum economic rate in reservoirs with
good vertical segregation characteristics. For exampie, at.
400,000 BOPD the LL-370 breakthrough recovery is 68,2
per cent of the oil in place, which is oniy 2.9 per cent
less than that at 200,000 BOPD, and 5.2 per cent less
than at 100,000 BOPD.
Recovery from the LL-370 reservoir apparently is not
very sensitive to production rate because of the Iarge areal
extent of the gas-oil contact. which permits high downdfp
oii withdrawals with a low velocity of the gas front. At
current reservoir pressure, producing rates of 100,000,
200,000, and 400,000 BC)PD would cause the free oil
level to fall 8, 16, and 33 ft/year, respectively. The area
of the gas-oil contact determines the zone through which
gas can encroach effectively into the remaining oil sands
and thus determines the maximum efficient producing
rate of the reservoir. other variables being equai, a reservoir with twice as much gas-oil contact area can produce at twice the rate of another reservoir having only half
the gas-oil contact area and still achieve the same recovery
prior to isiitial gas breakthrough.
The area of the effective oil zone that underiies the
LL-370 gas cap can be expected to change with time and
production. New calculations must be made to determine
the maximum efficient producing rate for the reservoir
when the changes occur in either the average reservoir
characteristics beneath the gas front or the area of the
gas-oil contact, Calculations every two years should suffice
for this reservoir.
The shapes of the fluid distribution for various gas-oil
contact velocities were calculated for the LL-370 reservoir using the method verified in laboratory experiments.
by Terwilliger, et al: These curves are shown in Fig. 8
Only a minor difference can be observed in the fluid dis. tribntion. pattern for. the curvm. representing. gsw front-ad-.
vances of 0,93 and 3s).6 ft/year, equivalent to LL-370
withdrawal rates of 12,000 and 373,400 BOPD, respectively. These cufies further cofirm that a gas front advance of 16 ft/ year, equivalent, to a withdrawal rate of
200,000 BOPD, would have little effect on the breakthrough recovery.

EFFECT OF HIGHER WITHDRAWALS


CC)NFORMANCE FACTOR

..-

ON THE

The existing LL-370 .welIs are producing with reasonable drawdowrss, and increasing these drawdowns would
only aggravate the degre# of gas coning. Any large increase in the future producing rate of the reservoir, therefore, must come from the drilling of new welis, These new
we[ls can be carefuliy ioeded to induce an even advance of the gas front throughout the reservoir.
Considerable tleld data are avaiiable from the reservoir
to prove that rates of gas-front movement up to 25 ft/year
wiii not cause fingering or appreciably affect the. conformance factor. For example, in the vicinity of weil LL-451
located in the Et-6-x.10 block, the free-oii levei has fallen
at a rate of 22 ft/year for the period of ,hsne, 1954, to
Nov., 1961. The last GOR measured on this well was 404
cu ft/bbI. In other wells located in this same area the
gas-oil contact has been observed to fall more than 20
ft/year without any apparent effect on the oil saturation
in the lowermost sands.
The large gas cap and the vertical segregation performance reduce to negligible values the pressure interference
between offset welis located in the gas cap, since the fltud
moves principally from the upper sands to replace the
oil withdrawals from the low r sand members. Therefore,
in the LL-370 gas cap the classical pressure distribution
around a welIbore, that wouid be predicted by the diffusivity equation, does not exist. Both calculations and
field tests have supported this conclusion in the updip portion of the reservoir. Decreasing the well spacing below
the gas cap to 300 meters does not result in measurable
pressure interference in offset weIls, However, the production from a given weii does influence the fall of the
gas-oil contact close to the well,
Severai investigators have discussed the effect of flooding rate upon recovery, Jones stated that fseld experience on displacement of oil by gas under various reservoir
conditions indicates that gas-front movements of 200
ft/year represent the lower Iimit of interface advancement for most reservoirs. And if -.
gravity is not effective

i-t --370

RESER\~OiR
CASE f -1550
PSIA

@
80

q!=

51,S

bbls/day/ac,e

@%m50.
@

150

Vgo E 0.93

f!/yr

II

%Jcls ~,~q

,,

,,

,(

,,

VgO * 30.6

,s

70
tW
u
u.

1
all L

I -,2Id
z.
J 5,0-[

%= 300

c1

,,

!,

!(

%0*

%.ao(l

,,

,,

,,

,,

%o m 137.3

64.4

II
It

~
k 40
a
L
w
g

30

~1
~.
s 2.0
g
w
z
- 1
-..

[~
(.

1.0

..
[-------------

----

o,&__&-&_LJ.l._L_&_&J
.50

.60

GAS SATURATION
- PER CENT

Fm.

8SAmmATIaN

PROFILES
FREE

OXL

JOURNAL

92

-->~---40

.30

HYDROCARBON

0
PORE

FOR VARIOUS RATES


LEVEL,,

VOLUME

OF

FALL

OF

V=,

OF PETROLEUM

TECHNOLOGY

..
-.
. .-.

.,

:..

..

.. . ...

at this rate, it is not likely to be significantly more dfec-.


tive at a lower rate. This conclusion and the high percentage of oil recovery from the gas-swept zone, as determined from actual field performance, support the fact
that high efficiency is being obtained in the LL-370 reservoir whefe the flooding rate in the vertical direction is
less than 10 ft/year,
Excellent evidence from other fields supports Jones
conclusion that rates of gas front advance up to 200
ft/ year do not affect ultimate recovery in good gravity
segregation reservoirs, A prime example is the performance of the Mile Six pool in Peru? Although the gas front
dropped 100 ft/year in the period 1933 to 1934, the subsequent slow rates of gas-oil contact advance prior to
abandonment (less than 5 ft/year) resulted in the recovery
in Mile SIX of over 67 per cent of the original oil in
Flace
THE EFFECT

OF PRESSURE LEVEL UPON


RECOVERY

To evaluate the effect of various subsurface pressure


levels on recovery prior to gas breakthrough in the existing wells completed be[ow the gas cap, three sets of fractional flow calculations were performed on the 1-acre
model at pressures of 1,550, 1,350 and 1,750 psia. Calculations for these pressures were labeled Cases 1, 2 and
3, respectively. Case i corresponds to 1,550 psia, or the
average pressure measured in the reservoir since injection
started. After obtaining the average gas saturation in
the gas cap ~ from the fractional flow analysis for the
three cases, the per cent oil recovery in the gas cap was
calculated, Results are shown in Fig, 7 and Table 3,
At the present producing rate of 95,000 .BOPD, the
.,
fractional flow analysis indicated that lowering the pressure level from 1,750 to 1,350 psia resulted in a 1.5 per
cent reduction in the recovery prior to breakthrough, as
compared to a 1.6 per cent reduction at 200,000 IiOPD.
At the slow advance rates projected for the LL-370 gasoil contact during the final stages of depIetion, the decrease in ultimate recovery for the 400 psi drqp will approach 1 per centthe reduction in recovery due to the
change in the oil formation vohsme factor. For current
production rates, however, the recovery at gas breakthrough in the ,updip wells will be reduced about 0,4 per
cent for each 100 psi drop below 1,750 psia.
Field data observed in the LL-370 reservoir show that
moderate changes in- the pressure level have not affected
the segregation performance. In the pressure survey of
Aug., 1961, the sand top pressure was 1,300 psia in
the downdip portion of the B-6-X.11 block, where communication is restricted to the gas cap. No large increase
in the GOR behavior has been observed in the Iow pressure area to indicate that the segregation mechanism has
become less effective.
Recovery is not strongly influenced by low operating
pressure levels in reservoirs with favorable segregation
characteristics, as has been demonstrated by the field performance of the WiIcox sand in the Oklahoma City pool
and the Lakeview pool of Kern Co., Calif.OAlthough the
reservoir pressure was reduced in both fields to practically the weight of the fluid cohsmn only a few years after
.._ discovery,. Idghrecweryofltiu-oil
.im-piace.was .Iater .ob,
tained at these low pressures.
RECOVERY FROM FIELD PERFORMANCE
The theoretical gas saturation calculated by the fractional flow analysis can be checked against the gas satura-

tion determined by field performance. In this method the


reservoir space, which w-as once saturated with oil but
later displaced by free gas, is compared with the total
hydrocarbon pore volume of the gas cap, First, however,
the free gas volume G. below the gas-oil contact must be
computed and subtracted from the total reservoir gas
space to obtain the free gas volume in the gas cap. The
average gas saturation in the gas cap ST can be calculated
with the following equation:
NB,,, -(N-NJB.+-

WP-W,

-G~-

Condensate
injected
~=
Hydrocarbon Pore Volume Above Gas-Oil
Contact
.,
.,.
. . . . . ...
, (2)
The recovery from field performance as a per cent of
the original oil in pkce is calculated as follows:
Recovery = 1- +(1-T)
. . . . . . (3)
o
On this basis the recovery in the LL ~70 gas cap by
Nov, 1, 1961, wa 69 per cent of the original oil in
place. This value aJ rees well with the 73 per cent interim
recovery prior to breakthrough calculated by the fractional flow anaiysis for a vertical gas front movement of 8.2
ft/year, the average vertical front velocity estimated for
the period Sept. 1, 1960, to Nov. 1, 1961.
The accuracy with which the gas saturation in the gas
cap can be calculated from field performance always depends on (1) the reliability of locating the position of the
gas-oil contact; (2) the accuracy of measuring the pore
volume represented by the gas cap; (3) the ability to assign the proper fluid and rock properties to the gas cap
and to the entire reservoir; (4) knowledge of the water
influx; and (5) the accuracy of the average gas saturation assigned to the highly oil-saturated zone.
The gas saturation calculated from field performance
refers only to the area swept by the existing gas front,
The results cannot be extrapolated to the extreme downdip portion of the reservoir where the fluid attd rock
characteristics are less favorable. The accuracy of this
calculated gas saturation improves as the gas cap voh.smc
becomes an appreciable portion of the entire reservoir
volume. Since the gas cap had invaded about one-third of
the original LL-370 pore volume by Nov. 1, 1961, the
gas saturation computed from field performance should
be within acceptable limits of accuracy. The reliability in
estimating ST is further improved by the large volume of
excellent basic data that have been gathered and correlated
for this reservoir,
SUMMARY
The. frontal, advance equation can determine how the
fluid withdrawal rate and subsurface operating pressure
intluence oil recovery from pressure.maintained reservoirs
having characteristics favorable for etlicient vertical segre-
gationo
The area of the gas-oil contact determines the maximum
efficient producing rate in reservoirs having favorable
gravity segregation characteristics and high closure, Frequently the gas-oil contact extends over these reservoirs in
a dipwise direction rather than as a horizontal plane, permitting et%cient rates much higher.than have normally been
considered possuble. For exarnpl~, calculations made-foi
the LL-370 reservoir, which falls in this category, indicate that doubling the current producing rate has iittle
effect on recovery at gas breakthrough, Calculated breakthrough recoveries have been confirmed by field perforn~ante.
99
.-

Ultimate recovery in these reservoirs is not influenced


by high interim produciog rates but is a function of the
rate of the gas front advance just prior to depletion,
The interim recovery prior to gas breakthrough is relatively insensitive- to the pressure Ieve! at which vertical
segregation reservoirs are operated. For example, the
recovery from the LL-370 would be reduced less than
0,5 per cent by lowering the current pressure level 100
psi. ,
The analysis presented will permit selecting a maximum
field producing rate which can be maintained throughout
the greater part of the ~rocfucing life of the rese~oir wifhout exceeding the maximum permissible rate as variations
occur in the area of the gas-oil interface. This allows an
efficient utilization of producing facilities and a stable
crude offtake rate.
Since the vertical frontal-advance analysis accurately
describes the mechanism of oil and gas segregation, it
can also be used to evaluate the effect, of producing rate
and operating pressure on recovery from water drive reservoirs which have favorable vertical gravity segregation
characteristics.
ACKNOWLEDGE

ENTS

The author wishes to thank Creole Petroleum Corp. for


permission to prepare and publish this paper. The author

-.

...

-.

is indebted to K. It. Tripp, chief reservoir engineer, fw


his encouragement: and constructive criticism,
REFERENCES

1. McCord, L), R.: Performance Predictions lncorpor tbrg Grav.


ity Draurageand Gas Cap Pressure Maintenance--Lb70 Area.
BolfvarCoastal Field, Trans., AIME (1953) 198, 231.
2. Edison, T. 0,: Gas Injection Performance Review of the I.1..
370 Reservoir in the Bolivar Coastal Field, Venezuela, JOUJ.
Pet, Tech. (June, 1957) I% 19,
3, BuckIcy,S. E. and Leverett, M. C.: Mechankn of Fluid 1)isr)lacemeatin Sands. Trans., AIME (1942) 146, 107.
4,Wel e, H. J.: A Si&pfitiedMethodfor ComputingOil Recov.
wy By Gas or Water Drive, Trrw, AIME (lg52) 195, 91.
5, Stewart, F. M., Garthwaite, D. L. and Krebill, F. K.: Pressure
Maintenance by Inert Gas Injection in the H]gh Relief Elk
Basin Field, Trurrs,, AIME (1955) 204,49.
6, Terwilliger, P. L., Wilsey, L. E., Hall, H. N., Brid es, P. M,
and Morse, R. A.: An Ex erimental and Theoretic f Inveetiga.
52 ojB~ity
Drainage kerfmrnance, Trans., AIhlE (1951)
.
.
7. Jones, P. J,: Petrokunr Production, VOL. II, The f)ptimm
Rate o~ Production, Reinhold Puhfishing Corp. (1946) 24.
8. Jordmr, J. K., McCardell, W. M, end Hocott, C,R.: Effect Of
Rate on Oil Recovery.Oil and Grrs .lour, (May 13, 1957) 98,
9, Anders, E, L,, Jr.: %e six PoolAn Evaluation of Recovery
Efficiency, Trans., AIME (1953) 198,279.
10. Lewis, J. 0.: Gravity Drainage iii Oil Fields, Trans., AIhlE
z

(1944)

155, 133.

_,._. __ _...__-

-.