Secondary Recovery Symposium, 5–6 May, Wichita Falls, Texas


The problem of water flood curtailment is not new. In 1930, in Pennsylvania, a surplus of crude oil forced the oil producers of that area to restrict their producing rates. Since that time, water flood curtailment has been considered or imposed in other operating areas. The problem has not been acute until the last two or three years, when, due primarily to a large influx of cheaper foreign oil, allowable producing rates have been reduced markedly. As the relative percentage of water-flood production to total production continues to increase, the problem of water flood curtailment again presents itself. For evidence of the importance of the problem, consider present Oklahoma production, where daily water-flood production is approximately 140,000barrels, compared to a daily unallocated primary production of 156,000. On a depth basis, the unallocated production is approximately comparable to the water-flood production. A large percentage of existing water floods are at relatively shallow depths. If these shallow floods could be curtailed without serious loss of ultimate recoverable oil, this would seem to be the desirable thing to do. On the other hand, if curtailment of these water floods would result in substantial loss of otherwise recoverable oil, then in the interest of conservation, these operations should not be curtailed until it becomes absolutely necessary.

There has been a great deal of discussion regarding the effects of waterflood curtailment. Most of the written and verbal material has been to support a specific contention. The purpose of this paper is to consider objectively the evidence on both sides of the argument, and to analyze these arguments in the light of our present-day technology.

The problem of water flood curtailment is often clouded by discussion of low rates versus high rates of water injection. If a water flood is to be curtailed it will probably be necessary to restrict the producing rates only during the peak oil-production period, which is a relatively small period in the over-all flood. It is this type of curtailment which will be considered in this discussion.

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