Most oil fields do not produce more than 45% of the oil-in-place, even after enhanced oil recovery schemes have been applied. Most of this unproduced oil is missing because most displacement techniques by-pass significant portion of the original reserve. Finding this missing oil can lead to significant economic windfalls because the infrastructure for additional oil recovery is already in place and the cost of production is likely to be minimal. In this paper, all existing monitoring techniques, including 4D seismic and downhole seismic sensors, are reviewed. This is followed by a comprehensive review of emerging technologies in subsurface monitoring. These techniques include multi-well seismic, electrical resistivity tomography, electromagnetic and ultrasonic imaging, acoustic and fibre-optic imaging, as well as laser/infrared or MRI/NMR visualization near the wellbore region.

A detailed analysis indicates that for an accurate reservoir engineering analysis, geostatistical models should have information of 1m scale. This is the only scale that would satisfy the representative elemental volume (REV) requirement of an enhanced oil recovery (EOR) system. This scale length is orders of magnitude higher than that of core samples and at least an order of magnitude lower than the conventional seismic data. This data gap constitutes the weakest link between geophysical information and reservoir engineering. Any attempt to reconstitute the reservoir without information regarding petrophysical properties and fluid saturations in the 1m level, one risks falling into the trap of multiple solutions - a typical problem of history matching through reservoir simulation. To obtain a resolution of 1m scale, one must investigate the possibility of using 50-2000 Hz seismic frequency range. While this seismic range cannot be used with vertical seismic profiles (VSP) because of the travelling distance constraints, multiwell imaging can be used with multi-component receivers. This system, in combination with borehole seismic sources, can provide one with the desired resolution. The same system can be used in combination with resistivity tomography, a method that has recently given satisfactory results for tracking ground-water contamination. The images can be further refined with acoustic and fibre-optic imaging techniques. These techniques can provide satisfactory details to track viscous fingering, wormholes, and other time-dependent properties of an active reservoir. Finally, infrared/laser or MRI/NMR imaging of a wellbore is still in its nascent state of development, but holds great promises for the future applications of real-time monitoring and eventual dynamic reservoir management.


The fourth dimension is time. This time is measured in months and years for any reservoir application. This is in contrast with measurements in millisecond as commonly used in seismology. Typically, new survey results are compared with original and previous survey results, in order to monitor changes in fluid content or even rock characteristics.

Reservoir Characterization

Improving reservoir performance and enhancing hydrocarbon recovery while reducing environmental impact are critical to the survival of the petroleum industry [1]. Proper reservoir characterization has been directly linked with growing reserve [2]. In order to achieve these objectives, one must start with characterization of reservoir parameters [3], including fluid properties and their changes with time [4–6].

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