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A Thesis

Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the

Louisiana State University and
Agricultural and Mechanical College
in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of
Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering


The Department of Petroleum Engineering

Luis Ricardo Ramos
B.S., Universidad Simon Bolivar, 1988
August, 2000

Excessive water production is a common problem encountered in oil wells and

can be caused either by migration (water flow) behind the wells casing or through high

permeability layers in the reservoir (channeling), or by water coning.

Water migration behind casing is a completion problem caused by poor zonal

isolation by the cement sheath. Well logging methods have been used to detect water

flow. A cement squeeze has been a usual treatment applied to eliminate water migration.

In case of water channeling (multilayer channeling), an accurate downhole flow

profile of a producing well can identify the location of high-permeability layers

contributing to high water rate. Fig. 2.1 shows water flowing through those layers or thief

zones. The technology of water shut-off, i.e. blocking the water supply layers with

polymers or resins treats this excessive water production problem. Recently, Downhole

water oil separation (DOWS) technology has been shown potential for reducing the

surface water cut.

Water coning is another possible source of excessive water production in water-

driven reservoirs underlain by strong aquifers. This physical phenomena is shown in Fig.

2.2. Recently, several new techniques have been developed for water coning control [9-

14]. The techniques utilize in-situ gravity separation of oil and water, and require

segregated production/injection installations in dual completed wells. These techniques

have been categorized as Downhole water Sink (DWS) technology.

As remedial technologies are different, it is necessary to identify mechanism of

excessive water production prior to deciding on the well treatment. Specifically,

distinguishing water coning from channeling is critical for deciding whether shut-off or
DWS techniques should be used because each of them applies only to single mechanism

of water production.

The main objective of this chapter was to improve diagnosis of water problem by

providing physical meaning for the pattern recognition and to expand the method to cover

cases of varying production rates.

2.1 Water Problem Diagnosis

It has been sorted into two groups, the method of Chan for constant rate and the

new method which has been developed in this study for variable rate production history.

2.1.1 Chans Method State of the Art

Chan [6] developed set of diagnostic plots by conducting a series of numerical

experiments with oil-water reservoir systems. To model both coning and channeling,

Chan used the same set of data. The only difference in the simulations was the geometry

of flow. For coning, a water/oil contact (WOC) was defined and a bottom water influx

was simulated by injection of water at the edge of the water layer. Only top 20% of the

oil zone was perforated to simulate coning. To model water channeling, Chan eliminated

the bottom aquifer. Instead, he simulated a multi-layered completely penetrated oil

column with the edge water supplied to all layers by a peripheral aquifer.

Chan observed that log-log plots of WOR versus time showed characteristic

trends for different water invasion mechanisms. Fig 2.3 shows the physical behavior

between coning and channeling. He proposed that derivatives of WOR (dWOR/dt) vs.

time could be used for determining whether the excessive water production is due to

coning or multilayer channeling; dWOR/dt shows nearly a constant positive slope for
channeling and a variable negative slope for coning. Two examples are displayed in Figs.

2.4-2.5 respectively.

Three main stages have been identified in water cone development: before water

breakthrough, cone transition, and pseudosteady-state cone. At pseudo-steady state flow

conditions a stable water cone becomes a high conductivity channel. The WOR increase

is fast resembling that for the channeling case. For a strong bottom water drive, the well

spacing becomes a key factor for the occurrence of the water cone stabilization and

switching from coning to the channeling behavior. For example, a 10-20 acre well

spacing the transition from coning to channeling becomes indiscernible. The bottom

water channels up vertically to the oil perforations. The larger the well spacing, the

further the delay of the coning-channeling transition.

The diagnostic plot method was successfully verified with field data for constant

production rates. However, in most field cases production rates vary, data points are

scattered, and it is almost impossible to recognize the slope of the derivative trends.

Another limitation is that this method has not been supported by any theory, just series of

numerical experiments.

Summarizing, this technique has several shortcomings:

It is not supported by any theory or analytical model.

It can not be used for matching and determining missing parameters.

It can not provide forecasting of the system.

Derivative technique is ineffective for analysis of scattered production data.

Figure 2.1. Example of water channeling [15].



Figure 2.2. Example of water coning.






0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140

Figure 2.3. Pattern recognition with Chans method.

Figure 2.4. Recognition of water coning using Chans method [6].

Figure 2.5. Recognition of water channeling using Chans method [6].

2.1.2 New Empirical Method for Variable Rate Production History

This new method begins with a procedure of smoothing the scattered WOR

derivative data. It can be noticed that the cumulative water produced, Wp, is a power-

functional relation with cumulative oil production, Np. A derivative of this function

versus Np yields a smooth function of WOR that can be later differentiated with respect

to time.

For any period of time, cumulative oil and water productions are defined as


Np q 1 f dt
t BT
t w (2.1)
Wp q
t BT
t f w dt (2.2)


dt 1
qt (2.3)
dN p 1 f w


Wp q dt N
t p (2.4)

Consequently, the derivative of cumulative water production with respect to oil

production yields WOR, as

dW p d q dt N
t p 1
1 WOR (2.5)
dN p dN p 1 f w

If the WOR could be presented as a power function of time. Thus,

dW p
WOR a t n (2.6)
dN p


n = exponent defined differently for coning or channelling

From Eq. 2.6 it follows:

dW p a
dN p (2.7)
q av

Integration of Eq. 2.7, gives cumulative water production that is a power function

of cumulative oil production. A derivative of this function versus Np yields a smooth

function of WOR that can be later differentiated with respect to time. This approach

eliminates scattering behavior of the WOR derivative and allows easy recognition of the

plot pattern.
Following procedure is proposed to distinguish water coning from channeling:

1. Plot cumulative water (Wp) versus cumulative oil production (Np).

2. Using curve-fitting procedure, find a power law equation for Wp as a function of Np.

Oil production at breakthrough can also be estimated at this step. Its value can be

calculated from formula, that gives the highest value of the correlation coefficient, R2.

Wp ( N p N p ( BT ) ) n 1 (2.8)
( n 1)q av


n = exponent resulting from curve fitting recorded Wp vs. Np.

3. Compute WOR as a derivative of the power function:

dW p a
WOR ( N p N p ( BT ) ) n (2.9)
dN p q av

4. Make a plot of calculated WOR vs. time and fit a power law function for WOR as


WOR a ' t t BT


m = exponent resulting from curve fitting calculated WOR vs. time. Theoretically, for the

case of constant production rate, m n, as will be shown below.

If m is less than unity then water production mechanism is coning; if m is bigger

than or equal to one, then the channeling is the cause of the water production. Note, that

the derivative of a power law function in a log-log scale will increase if m > 1 and

decrease if the opposite is true. Verification of the Proposed Method with Simulated Data

Use of the pattern recognition method is illustrated using a published production

history for a reservoir with water coning [8], as shown in Table 2.1. Even though, the

simulated data did not require smoothing, all the steps of the proposed algorithm has been

followed to illustrate the method.

Fig. 2.6 shows a plot of water production vs. cumulative production. Following

the above algorithm, a power-law relationship between the cumulative water and oil

productions was found.

W p 0.0139 N p 12000 1.3712

and the WOR formula derived as,

dW p
0.019 N p 12000
dN p

In this example, the total rate was constant (qt = 1000 bbl/d), which gives a

breakthrough estimation,

p BT 12000
t BT 12 days
qt 1000

Fig. 2.7 displays the last step of the algorithm, plot of the WOR vs. time. The

power function that fit the data points is

WOR 0.2185 t 12

Since the value of the above formula is smaller than one, the WOR derivative will

decline vs. time, as also shown in Fig. 2.7. This pattern of WOR behavior indicates water

coning, which is consistent with the simulated case.

Also consistent with the theory are the close values of exponents n = 0.3712 and

m = 0.3384, which should be expected for the case of constant production rate.
Table 2.1. Computer-simulated production for reservoir with water coning [8].

Time WC Qo Qw Np RF
[days] [%] [bopd] [bwpd] [bbl] [%]
0 0.0 1000 0 30000 0.0
30 35.8 642 358 40247 1.1
60 51.5 485 515 63786 1.8
90 53.0 470 530 77889 2.3
120 54.0 460 540 91698 2.8
150 54.9 451 549 105227 3.3
180 55.8 442 558 118487 3.8
210 56.7 433 567 131488 4.3
240 57.5 425 575 144240 4.8
270 58.3 417 583 156752 5.2
300 59.1 409 591 169034 5.7
330 59.8 402 598 181093 6.1
360 60.5 395 605 192938 6.6
390 61.2 388 612 204575 7.0
420 61.9 381 619 216011 7.4
450 62.5 375 625 227254 7.8
480 63.1 369 631 238309 8.2
510 63.8 362 638 249183 8.6
540 64.3 357 643 259880 9.0
570 64.9 351 649 270406 9.4
600 65.5 345 655 280767 9.8
630 66.0 340 660 290967 10.2
660 66.5 335 665 301011 10.5
690 67.0 330 670 310903 10.9
720 67.5 325 675 320648 11.3
750 68.0 320 680 330249 11.6
780 68.5 315 685 339710 12.0
810 68.9 311 689 349035 12.3
840 69.4 306 694 358228 12.7
870 69.8 302 698 367292 13.0
900 70.2 298 702 376230 13.3
930 70.6 294 706 385046 13.6
960 71.0 290 710 393741 14.0
990 71.4 286 714 402320 14.3
1020 71.8 282 718 410785 14.6
1050 72.2 278 722 419139 14.9
1080 72.5 275 725 427384 15.2
1110 72.9 271 729 435523 15.5
1140 73.2 268 732 443558 15.8
1170 73.6 264 736 451492 16.1
Fluid Rate: 1000 bpd


Wp [bls]

Wp = 0.0139(Np-12000)1.3712
R = 0.9993

1.0E+04 1.0E+05 1.0E+06

Np - 12000 [bls]

Figure 2.6. Correlation between Wp and Np for computer-simulated data.


WOR = 0.2185(t-12)
R = 0.9959
WOR, dWOR/dt



0.001 WOR
Power (WOR)

10 100 1000 10000

Time [days]

Figure 2.7. Correlation of WOR and d(WOR)/dt for computer-simulated data. Field Case Histories

Application of the proposed method is demonstrated in two well histories. The

first well is from La Victoria oil field in Southwestern Venezuela. Strong water drive in

the reservoir results in early water breakthrough and, thus, low oil rates in all the

producing wells. The water-production history of a typical well is shown in Fig. 2.8.

Application of the conventional Chan method resulted in a very scattered plot of

WOR derivative, as shown in Fig. 2.9. It is almost impossible to decide on the direction

of the trend-line for these points. Thus the conventional method becomes inconclusive

and the question of water production mechanism remains open.

The new method was used to analyze data from the same well. The resulting plots

are shown in Figs. 2.10-2.11. Shown in Fig. 2.11 is the plot of WOR vs. time curve-fitted

with a straight line. The exponent, m, of the WOR line is equal to 2.14. Since the value is

greater than one, the cause of water production for this well is channeling.

This example clearly demonstrates the fact that the method of smoothing the field

data, improves the capability of the Changs concept.

The second field example is a well from Nigeria. Using the well production

history, one can try to determine the cause of the water production, with Chans method

directly. Fig. 2.12 shows the calculated values of WOR and d(WOR)/dt required for the

pattern recognition technique. As can be seen, the shape of the WOR pattern suggests the

water coning problem. Also, points of the d(WOR)/dt plot are too scattered to make any

A smoothing procedure based upon the correlation between cumulative water and

oil productions was used for the same data, as shown in Fig. 2.13, and yielded the

following equation for WOR:

WOR 0.321 N p

By re-plotting the calculated WOR vs. time instead of cumulative oil production,

its possible to get the value of the exponent m equal to 0.452. Since the exponent is

smaller than unity, the derivative of the WOR declines in time. This decline means that

the well in Nigeria had a water coning problem. Fig. 2.14 shows the plots of WOR and

d(WOR)/dt vs. time for that well.











0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 2000
Time [days]

Figure 2.8. Water cut production history of well LVT-19, La Victoria field.


1.0E+00 dWOR/dt

WOR, dWOR/dt




100 1000 10000
Time [days]

Figure 2.9. Type curve of well LVT-19 with Chans method.


Wp [bls]


1.0E+04 4.5256
Wp = 1E-24(Np-1.4E5)
R = 0.995

1.0E+06 1.0E+07

Np (Np - 1.4E5) [bls]

Figure 2.10. Correlation of Wp with Np of well LVT-19, La Victoria field.

Figure 2.11. Correlation of WOR with time, for well LVT-19, La Victoria field.

WOR = 5E-07(t-125)
10 1 2
R = 0.9971
W O R , d W O R /d t





0.001 dWOR/dt
Power (WOR)
10 100 1000 10000
0.0001 Time (t-125) [days]


1000 10000
Time [days]

Figure 2.12. Type curve of Nigerian well with Chans method.


Wp [MMbbl]

Wp = 0.1432Np
R = 0.9937

0.1 1 10

Np [MMstb]

Figure 2.13. Correlation of Wp with Np of Nigerian well.


Power (WOR)

WOR = 0.0346(t-905)
WOR, dWOR/dt

R = 0.9805



1 10 100 1000 10000

Time (t-905) [days]

Figure 2.14. Correlation of WOR with time for Nigerian well.