Tight formation testing when mobilities are lower than 0.01 mD/cP poses significant challenges because the conventional pressure transient buildup testing becomes impractical as a result of the large buildup stabilization time. This paper introduces a new automated pulse test method for testing in tight formations that significantly reduces testing time and makes the determination of formation pressure and permeability possible. A pulse test is defined as a drawdown followed by an injection test, and the source is shut in to record the pressure transient. Based on pressure data during the shut-in period, the next drawdown or injection test is designed, such that the flow rate is a fraction of the initial pulse rate, followed by another shut-in test. This procedure continues until the difference in pressure at the beginning and at the end of the shut-in period is reduced to within a specified limit of pressure change; then, an extended transient is recorded to a stabilized shut-in pressure. The overall advantage is to reduce the pressure stabilization time by implementing an adaptive pressure feedback loop in the system. The method can be applied to a straddle packer test using conventional drillstem testing tools or formation testers, using either straddle packers or probes.
The effects of wellbore storage and fluid compressibility are found to reduce the pressure drop and positive pressure pulse in the drawdown and injection tests, respectively; they also affect the decay rate to the asymptote of the shut-in pressure response. Consequently, the combined pulse test method with the pressure feedback system and wellbore storage effect reduces the reservoir pressure testing time in tight formations.
The automated pulse-test method has been successfully validated with consideration of the effects of wellbore storage and overbalance pressure in tight gas and heavy oil formations. In addition, the effects of invasion with water- and oil-based mud filtrate were considered in the modeling. The method uses successive pressure feedbacks and automated pulses to yield a pressure to within 0.5% range of the initial reservoir pressure while decreasing the wait time by a factor of 10 for a packer type formation tester.
To account for various tool options and storage effects, the packer-type, oval probe, and standard probe-type formation testers have been simulated in various tight formation conditions. The method enables a rapid appraisal of pressure measurements in comparison to conventional testing. Simulations also indicate that the analytical spherical model can be used to analyze a pulse test, even when encountering multi-phase compositional fluid effects.