This paper demonstrates that decline curve analysis not only has a solid fundamental base but also provides a tool with more diagnostic power than has been suspected previously. The type curve approach provides unique solutions on which engineers can agree or shows when a unique solution is not possible with a type curve only.
Rate-time decline curve extrapolation is one of the oldest and most often used tools of the petroleum engineer. The various methods used always have been regarded as strictly empirical and generally not scientific. Results obtained for a well or lease are subject to a wide range of alternate interpretations, mostly as a function of the experience and objectives of the evaluator. Recent efforts in the area of decline curve analysis have been directed toward a purely computerieed statistical approach, its basic objective being to arrive at a unique "unbiased" interpretation. As pointed out in a comprehensive review of the literature by Ramsay,1 "In the period from 1964 to date (1968), several additional papers were published which contribute to the understanding of decline curves but add little new technology."
A new direction for decline curve analysis was given by Slider2 with his development of an overlay method to analyze rate-time data. Because his method was rapid and easily applied, it was used extensively by Ramsay in his evaluation of some 200 wells to determine the distribution of the decline curve exponent b. Gentry's3 Fig. 1 displaying the Arps4 exponential, hypbolic, and harmonic solutions all on one curve also could be used as an overlay to match all of a well's decline data. However, he did not illustrate this in his example application of the curve.
The overlay method of Slider is similar in principle to the log-log type curve matching procedure presently being employed to analyze constant-rate pressure buildup and drawdown data.5–9 The exponential decline, often used in decline curve analysis, readily can be shown to be a long-time solution of the constant-pressure.10–13 It followed then that a log-log type curve matching procedure could be developed to analyze decline curve data.