The world's first 4D surface-gravity surveillance of a1 waterflood has been implemented at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. This monitoring technique is an essential component of the surveillance program for the Gas Cap Water Injection (GCWI) project. A major factor in the approval process for the waterflood was to show that we could monitor water movement economically where a very limited number of wells penetrated the waterflood area. The drilling of numerous surveillence wells to monitor water movement adequately would have been cost-prohibitive. Field surveys now show conclusively that density changes associated with water replacing gas are being detected readily with high-resolution surface-gravity measurements. The gravity methods used to monitor the water-flood include time-lapse (4D) measurement of surface gravity over the reservoir followed by inversion of the 4D signal for mass-balance calculation and flood-front detection.

This paper will focus on field results of time-lapse surface-gravity surveys. Differences in the gravity field over time reflect changes in the reservoir-fluid density. The inversion procedure was formulated and coded to allow for various constraints on model parameters such as density, total mass, and moment of inertia. The gravity survey was designed to permit the inversion for reservoir mass distribution, with resolution on the order of hundreds of meters in the presence of uncorrelated noise of reasonable magnitude (12-μGal standard deviation).

Time-differenced gravity-survey results clearly show an increase in surface gravity that is a result of the injected-water mass. Density-change maps deduced from measured gravity change show that water movement is reasonably similar to the reservoir simulations and to the water detected in observation wells. The overall ultimate gravity signal is predicted to increase to approximately 250 μGal, ultimately resulting in accurate maps of the water movement.

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