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SPE 142937

Downdip versus Updip Gas Injection Evaluation in a Deepwater Development


Kasim Sadikoglu, Matt McQueen, Mark Sweatman, BP Exploration, Chertsey Road, Sunbury-on-Thames, Middlesex,
TW16 7LN

Copyright 2011, Society of Petroleum Engineers

This paper was prepared for presentation at the SPE EUROPEC/EAGE Annual Conference and Exhibition held in Vienna, Austria, 23–26 May 2011.

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 Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect any position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or
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Abstract
Downdip versus updip gas injection options have been evaluated for a deepwater multi-reservoir development discovered and
appraised over the last few years. At the time of the study, the development plan called for gas injection in the Alpha field until gas
export to the mainland became available. The name of the field has been changed to preserve confidential data.

The depositional model of the Alpha field envisages stacked turbiditic channel systems meandering from east to west. The field is
tilted approximately 30 degrees north-south due to post-deposition tectonic movement. As a result, the apex region of each
meandering channel may form attic-traps that can only be swept by a fluid lighter than oil. Whilst downdip gas injection offers the
potential of recovering the oil in these attics, it also carries the risk of gas over-running towards updip producers causing excessive
gas production.

A study was performed to assess various gas injection scenarios using 2D and 3D reservoir simulation. A simple model utilising a
single channel at various dip angles was built prior to any detailed simulation to study fluid movements and demonstrate proof of
concept. Fully integrated geological sector and full-field models were then constructed using an object-based modelling technique
to assess downdip and updip gas injection options in multiple equiprobable stochastic realisations.

The study concluded that counter to conventional thinking, downdip gas injection both delays gas breakthrough and recovers more
oil in this reservoir. These benefits were the result of:

(a) Downdip injection scenarios offering greater opportunities for gas solution in the highly undersaturated oil prior to
accumulation at the crest;
(b) Increased offset between producer and injector.
(c) Displacement of trapped oil in tilted-channel attics improving sweep;

Based on the outcome of this study, downdip gas injection was integrated into the development plan. Later developments in the
project enabled gas export from first oil, rendering gas injection unnecessary.

Introduction
This paper covers a black oil simulation study conducted to evaluate updip and downdip gas injection options for a deepwater
multi-reservoir development. At the time of the study, the development plan called for injection of all the produced gas from
Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel into the Alpha field for 2.5 years until gas export to the mainland
became available.

When gas injection forms part of a reservoir recovery mechanism, crestal gas injection is the norm in the industry. Although rare,
some downdip gas injection field applications also exist. Hinderaker et al. (Hinderaker et al., 1996) touch on the benefits of gravity
2 SPE 142937

assisted miscible process in draining attic oil in parts of several Norwegian reservoirs. Thang Bui et al. (Thang Bui et al., 2010)
explain that gravity assisted simultaneous updip water injection into the gas-cap region and downdip gas injection improves sweep
efficiency and oil recovery in the Samarang field. Karim T. Mitri et al. (Karim T. Mitri et al., 1998) also conclude that down-dip
gas injection is beneficial, though in this case the formation referenced is almost flat (<2 degrees) and it may be more appropriate
to classify the development scheme as “peripheral” rather than “down-dip” gas injection. The modelling methodology applied (i.e.
sweep of small scale attics) and the reservoir characteristics of the Alpha field differentiate this study from those mentioned above.

There are two important features of the Alpha reservoir which are relevant to downdip/updip gas injection evaluation. Firstly, the
higly undersaturated nature of the reservoir oil (3000 psi undersaturated) allows for solution and storage of a significant volume of
injected gas. Secondly, the Alpha field is tilted approximately 30 degrees north-south due to post deposition tectonic movement
and the apex region of each meandering channel may therefore form attic-traps that can only swept by a fluid lighter than oil.
Whilst downdip gas injection offers the potential of recovering the oil in these attics and also increasing the amount of gas going
into solution, it also carries the risk of gas over-running towards updip producers causing excessive gas production.

At the time of the study, a key development decision was how to best handle and utilize produced gas whilst simultaneously
limiting gas production and identifying ways to improve oil recovery. With these objectives in mind, updip and downdip gas
injection scenarios were evaluated using 2D and 3D simulations models.

Rock and Fluid Description


The reservoir is a high permeability (~1200 md) and high net-to-gross (NtG) system. It contains medium to light API gravity oil
with a bubble point pressure 3000 psi below the initial pressure. Initial reservoir pressure and the forecasted reservoir operating
pressures are both below the miscibility pressure, therefore black oil models were used for all simulations.

A single set of three-phase relative permeability curves were used in all simulations. Measured relative permeability curves
suggest an intermediate to oil wet system. Although the residual oil saturation to water (Sorw) reduces to 0.11 in the oil-water
relative permeability curves, the oil mobility is very low at water saturations higher than 0.80. An Sor of 0.20 can therefore be
assumed for practical purposes. Residual oil saturation to gas (Sorg) is 0.05. Hysterisis has been used in gas-oil relative
permeability curves with a trapped gas saturation of 0.28.

3D Mechanistic Model: Single channel


A mechanistic 3D model was built to observe gas movements within a single channel, shown in Figure 1. The xyz grid cell sizes
were set to 10x10x1m with a model dimension of 75x150x4 cells.
10
0m
700 m

0m
75

Figure 1: 3D mechanistic model of a geobody

The channel was set to a width of 100m (represented by 10 cells in the x-direction), thickness of 4m (4 cells), amplitude of 700m
and a half-wavelength of 750m. It was populated with constant properties (1200md horizontal permeability, 120md vertical
permeability and 1.0 NtG) in order to observe the impact of the structure on recovery.
SPE 142937 3

The development plan envisaged 2.5 years of full gas injection (i.e. all produced gas is reinjected) with water injection as a top up
phase to maintain reservoir pressure. This is followed by water injection alone after gas export commences (i.e. all produced gas is
exported). The scheme was simulated in the mechanistic model for two different cases: Case 1 assumes water injection only as
means of sweep and pressure support; Case 2 injects 2.5 years of gas before the injector is converted to water injection and
continues to inject water only. Assuming a depletion rate of 15% of recoverable resources per year, the maximum liquid rate was
set to 130 STB/D for both cases. In addition, a scaled gas production limit was imposed to mimic FPSO constraints. Reservoir
pressures in both cases were reasonably maintained by controlling injection rates to match total voidage. Figure 2 shows oil
saturation at the top layer as a plan view of Figure 1, red representing the highest oil saturation. At the end of 20 years, Case 1
(water injection only) leaves more trapped oil in the attics of the channel.

time = 0 time = 2.5 years time = 20 years


Prod Prod Prod
Unswept oil
Wtr Inj Wtr Inj
Wtr Inj

Case 1: Water injection only Case 1 Case 1

Prod Prod
Prod
Gas Inj. Gas Inj.
Wtr Inj.

Case 2: Gas inj for 2.5 years, water inj. thereafter Case 2 Case 2

Figure 2: Gas and water movement along the geobody

The table below compares percentage change in cumulative oil production between the cases with Case 1 being the reference.
When the north-south dip angle of the channel is zero, the “water injection only” case recovers more oil than the “gas injection”
case due to gas production constraints. As the dip angle is increased above 10 degrees, the gas injection case starts recovering
more oil, reaching +6.4% at 40 degrees dip angle. This is due to the small scale traps created by tilting the channel. Multiple
channels within a stacked system would result in more complex structures, eroding or cutting into each other. However, observing
fluid movements within a single small channel is helpful for understanding displacement by water and gas in full field model.

Dip angle Change in


(Deg) cum oil (%)
0 -3.70
10 -1.60
20 1.40
30 3.80
40 6.40

3D Mechanistic Model: Multiple stacked channels


A 3D mechanistic model was generated to study how the gas fills small scale attics with multiple stacked channels. The model was
tilted 30 degrees north-south and 3 degrees east-west to represent the structure over the field where the gas injection was planned.
The model contains 170x125x20 cells of 10x10x1m size. It was populated as a binary system; sand with 1.0 NtG and 1200 md
horizontal permeability, and 120 md vertical permeability, and shale with zero NtG. The updip gas injection case on the left
(Figure 3) has four wells; gas injector at the top right, oil producer on the top left and two water injectors just below oil-water
contact. The downdip gas injection case, on the right, accommodates 3 wells; one producer, one water injector, and one gas
injector, converted to water injection after 2.5 years.
4 SPE 142937

3 De g 3 Deg

g
g

De
De
30

30
Figure 3: Sector model for evaluating updip (left) versus downdip (right) gas injection

Mobile gas saturation at the end of 20 years is shown in Figure 4. The data below 30% gas saturation has been filtered to eliminate
trapped gas saturation to show only mobile gas. The figure shows that the downdip gas injection case traps more gas (1.5%
additional HCPV) within the small attics. In other words, the downdip gas injection displaces 1.5% HCPV more trapped oil due to
gravity than the water injection only case.

Updip Gas Injection Downdip Gas Injection

Figure 4: 3D sector model: gas saturation at the end of 20 years

An additional observed benefit of downdip gas injection is delayed gas breakthrough and reduced GOR development. Simulations
with five different stochastic models (Figure 5) showed that GOR increases earlier and faster in the updip gas injection case
(dotted lines) compared to the downdip case (solid lines). This is important because the risk of excess gas production delaying oil
production is significant.
SPE 142937 5

GOR
9
mc.1
8
mc.2

7 mc.3
mc.4
6 mc.5
MSCF/STB

3
Downdip GI
2
Updip GI
1

0
2012 2014 2016 2018 2020 2022 2024 2026 2028 2030 2032 2034

Figure 5: 3D sector model: GOR profiles with different stochastic realizations.

3D Fullfield Model
After testing the concept in mechanistic models, similar comparison runs were conducted using the full-field model (FFM) for
multiple stochastic realizations. The FFM was populated using a complex object-based modeling methodology. Large-scale
channel systems were identified through seismic mapping and each were populated with hundreds of smaller axial (i.e. high NtG)
and marginal (i.e. low NtG) channels to reach a target NtG for the entire system. The smaller channels were populated with
horizontal permeability and NtG values from triangular distributions (minimum-most likely-maximum), the permeability value
remaining constant throughout the channel. Different distribution ranges were used depending whether the channel is axial or
marginal. Vertical permeability was calculated as a function of NtG and horizontal permeability. Transmissibility multipliers were
assigned along the boundaries of individual channels to encourage flow along, rather than across the channel axis.

The full-field model simulations confirmed the mechanistic model results. As shown in Figure 6, the downdip gas injection case
(red line) has slower GOR development for five different equiprobable stochastic realisations.
6 SPE 142937

Monte Carlo #1 Monte Carlo #2


16
16
Downdip
Downdip
14 Updip
14 Updip

12 12

GOR (MSCF/STB)
GOR (MSCF/STB)

10 10

8 8

6 6

4 4

2 2

0 0
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 0 20 40 60 80 100 120

Cum GI (BSCF) Cum GI (BSCF)

Monte Carlo #3 Monte Carlo #4


16 16
Downdip Downdip
14 Updip 14 Updip

12 12
GOR (MSCF/STB)

GOR (MSCF/STB)
10 10

8 8

6 6

4 4

2 2

0 0
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 0 20 40 60 80 100 120

Cum GI (BSCF) Cum GI (BSCF)

Monte Carlo #5
16
Downdip
14
Updip

12
GOR (MSCF/STB)

10

0
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140

Cum GI (BSCF)

Figure 6: fullfield model: GOR developments for updip and downdip gas injection cases

What is the physics behind the observed gas movements?


The 3D sector models suggested three benefits with downdip gas injection:
• Delayed gas breakthrough and slower GOR development;
• Potential incremental oil recovery via swept attics;
• Potential reduction in well count (gas injector is converted to water injector).

With respect to delayed gas breakthrough, there remained uncertainty over the respective contribution of model population versus
the fluid physics. To eliminate the static modeling impact (i.e. channel orientation, size, NTG and permeability), a simple 2D
homogeneous model was constructed with 1200 md permeability, 170x125x1 number of cells, and 10x10x10m cell sizes. The grid
was tilted 30 degrees north-south and 3 degrees east-west. Figure 7 shows gas saturation 6 months after the gas injection started
for updip and downdip gas injection cases and also a plot of GOR versus cumulative gas injection. Compared to the updip case,
offset between gas injector and producer increases 40% in the downdip case, delaying gas breakthrough (1.2 BSCF gas injected
prior to breakthrough in updip case, 3.4 BSCF gas injected in downdip case). Although final GOR levels are similar, the downdip
case experiences delayed gas breakthrough and significantly less gas production.
SPE 142937 7

1 km
Homogeneous Model

Updip
3
Downdip

GOR (MSCF/STB)
2

1. 4
km 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Cum Gas Inj (BSCF)

Figure 7: 2D Mechanistic model: Gas saturation 6 months after gas injection

Several sensivity runs were conducted to better understand the mechanism of the gas movements:
• Doubling the depletion rate;
• Altering the rate at which gas is redisolved into oil;
• Existence of high permeability channel between producer and gas injector in downdip case;
• Upside and downside relative permeabilities;
• Well locations.

All sensitivity runs favoured the downdip gas injection case when considering the gas breakthrough time as the key criterion
(Figure 8). The worst three cases for the downdip gas injection were the high permeability channel, double depletion rate, and
downside relative permeability assumptions. In all three cases the GOR development for downdip gas injection saw similar or less
gas production than for updip injection.

High perm channel Double Rate Downside RP (Corey 1)


Updip Updip Updip
3 3 3
Downdip Downdip Downdip
GOR (MSCF/STB)

GOR (MSCF/STB)
GOR (MSCF/STB)

2 2 2

1 1 1

0 0 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Cum Gas Inj (BSCF) Cum Gas Inj (BSCF) Cum Gas Inj (BSCF)

Figure 8: 2D Mechanistic model: sensitivity runs

Downdip gas injection in the 2D models has slower GOR development due to larger offset between producer and gas injector: in
addition, the 3 degree of tilt in the east-west direction also provides a benefit as the gas accumulates towards the crest, away from
the producer.
8 SPE 142937

PVT Effect
The reservoir oil is highly undersaturated with 3000 psi difference between the initial reservoir pressure and the bubble point
pressure. The rate at which gas can enter the oil in a gridblock (often known as DRSDT keyword in simulators) was constrained at
0.01 SCF/STB for the base case and sensitivities were conducted for higher and lower values. Gas entering solution creates three
main benefits. Firstly, it makes oil less viscous, improving oil/water mobility. Secondly, some of the injected gas is stored in oil
reducing the volume of produced gas. Thirdly, the dissolved gas swells the oil leading to less trapped oil. The downdip gas
injection creates more opportunity for gas solution before it accumulates at the crest.
Conclusions
The study concluded that counter to conventional thinking, downdip gas injection both delays gas breakthrough and recovers more
oil in the Alpha field. These benefits were the result of:

(d) The reservoir oil being highly undersaturated, and thus downdip gas injection creates more opportunity for gas solution
before it accumulates at the crest;

(e) The offset between gas injector and producer increasing;

(f) Gas filling attics, thereby displacing trapped oil and improving sweep.

Based on the outcome of this study, downdip gas injection was integrated into the development plan. Later developments in the
project enabled gas export from first oil, rendering gas injection unnecessary.

Acknowledgements
Thanks go to Tim Fennah (BP) and Claire Smith (BP) for providing geological input to this study, Colin McGill (BP) and Ricardo
Alvarez (BP) for their support in project management, Eivind Garborg (Statoil), Stein Rune Jakobsen (Statoil) and Vidar Haugse
(Statoil) for their input to the concept, and Tim Moulds (BP) for reviewing the paper.

References
1. Hinderaker, Leif, Norwegian Petroleum Directorate; Utseth, Rolf H., Statoil; Hustad, Odd Steve, Akervoll, Idar, IKU Petroleum
Research; Dalland, Mariann, Kvanvik, Bjorn Arne, Austad, Tor, Paulsen, John Eirik, RF-Rogaland Research, “RUTH - A
Comprehensive Norwegian R & D program on IOR”, European Petroleum Conference , 22-24 October 1996, Milan, Italy
2. Thang Bui, and James Forrest/Schlumberger; Raj Deo Tewari/Petronas Carigali S.B.; Richard Henson/Schlumberger; Mohamad Abu
Bakar/Petronas Carigali S.B. “Improving Recovery from Thin Oil Rim by Simultaneous Downdip Gas and Updip Water Injection –
Samarang Field, Offshore Malaysia”, SPE EOR Conference at Oil & Gas West Asia, 11-13 April 2010, Muscat, Oman
3. Karim T. Mitri, Renaud Perret du Cray, Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO) “An Improved Oil Recovery Study
of Supplemental Down-dip Gas Injection, Peripheral Water Injection, and Crestal Gas Injection in a Middle East Layered Carbonate
Reservoir”, Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, 11-14 November 1998, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates