Compaction drive is a potentially important recovery mechanism for weakly cemented heavy oil reservoirs. In order to assess its magnitude the knowledge of the compressibility of the reservoir sands is required. However, due to the very nature of this class of reservoirs, the reliability of laboratory measurements can be questioned as the specimens are heavily disturbed during the coring process. To circumvent this shortcoming, the option of carrying out in-situ compressibility measurements becomes attractive. The use of a dilatometer, allowing the downhole measurement of the pressure-deformation characteristics of the formation, has thus been considered.

A preliminary study was carried out involving direct numerical simulations of a dilatometer test in a sand described by a Cam-Clay model. That study showed that the mechanical parameters, in particular the elastic and plastic compressibilities as well as the consolidation pressure do affect the response, thus establishing the theoretical feasibility of such a measurement.

A series of three tests were conducted in a newly drilled well in an uncemented sandstone reservoir.

By applying an inversion technique, based on an iterative finite element algorithm, it is then possible to identify the Cam-Clay parameters of the formation sands.

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