This work presents a case study of developing the transition zone for a giant oil reservoir with significant gas cap and water aquifer, in Abu Dhabi-UAE, addressing geological and dynamic aspects, field development approach and present status. The reservoir lies within a relatively low relief heterogeneous carbonate structural trap and characterized by lateral and vertical variations in reservoir rock and fluid properties. Given the relatively low permeability of the mentioned reservoir, the transition zone contains a significant STOIIP; which called for this challenging development.

A number of parameters were addressed and optimized as part of the transition zone development plan. The dynamic modeling suggests that a full field ultimate recovery of 70% can be achieved by developing the transition zone. However, considering the complexity of the reservoir, thickness of the transition zone and current market conditions, the field development would be economically viable for a period of 50 years under miscible hydrocarbon WAG, provided the most effective development strategy in terms of the definition of transition zone, optimization of the number, location, orientation and horizontal reach of the proposed wells. Various development strategies for the transition zone were investigated during the study considering all possible uncertainties and economic drivers, all of which are discussed in details in this paper.

12 years of early production scheme (EPS, 1993 to 2005) and 12 years of phase-I development helped better understand the reservoir and characterize the transition zone. Total of +150 wells penetrated the reservoir with good data gathering (ROS, Core, SCAL, PVT, MDTs…etc.). PVT studies indicate a wide range of compositional variation areal and vertical, which further complicates the development plan considering the surrounding sensitive environment.

The transition zone is defined by rock types and the corresponding critical saturation. The amount of recoverable oil in the transition zone is depending on the distribution of oil saturation as a function of depth and the relationship between initial and residual oil saturation in the transition zone.

The reservoir is under EOR (Miscible HC GI at crest and WAG at flank) since commissioning of phase-I in 2005 and tracers were injected in 2012; adding challenges to the history matching and tracking of the flood front. Given the limitation on surface handling capacity of the current facilities, the transition zone development called for well placement in the upper part of the transition zone using 6 months WAG cycles. The first well of the transition zone development has been drilled; which has positively validated the definition of the transition zone, built confidence on the subsurface modeling approach and commended the planning strategy.

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