Results From a Thermal Recovery Test in a Watered-Out Reservoir
- Allen L. Barnes (Sinclair Oil & Gas Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- November 1965
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,343 - 1,353
- 1965. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1 in the last 30 days
- 119 since 2007
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Residual oil in watered-out reservoirs is a tremendous reserve which has been unrecoverable by established production methods. A study of the new recovery methods indicated that the forward combustion process might recover oil from such reservoirs; however, no thermal recovery operating experience in a watered-out system was available. The Delaware-Childers pilot thermal test was undertaken to test the feasibility of thermal recovery in this watered-out reservoir.
The pilot test consisted of a 2.22-acre, inverted five-spot in the 600-ft deep Bartlesville sand. The reservoir in the pilot area had a porosity of 20.6 per cent, a permeability of 118 md and an average sand thickness of 45 ft. The reservoir contains a 33° API, 6-cp oil.
Combustion was started Nov. 22, 1960. The initial air injection capacity was 750 Mscf/D, but it was eventually increased to 2,000 Mscf/D. The test was surrounded by an active water flood; therefore, water production was initially high, but decreased as the heat wave moved toward the producing wells. Oil-bank arrival at an individual well was indicated by a drop in GOR and WOR, and an increase in oil production. Combustion-front arrival was evident at three of the pilot producers, and they were plugged.
Cumulative oil production from pilot area wells was over 12,000 bbl. Operational difficulties were negligible and only conventional equipment was necessary. The combustion efficiency of this test averaged over 80 per cent.
Results from coring showed that the leading edge of the combustion front tended to be wedge-shaped but a nearly complete sweep of the reservoir was eventually obtained. An isopach map based on evidence from 10 core holes and the existing wells showed that 126 acre-ft had been swept by the heat wave. Using this swept volume, an air requirement of 15.7 MMscf/acre-ft was calculated. It was calculated that 275 STB/acre-ft was consumed by the heat wave.
There is a large amount of oil remaining in reservoirs that have been water flooded. A study of ways to recover this oil showed that the forward combustion process might be applicable. Results from a number of forward combustion tests have been reported in the literature, but none of these tests were conducted in a watered-out system. The Delaware-Childers pilot thermal test was initiated in 1960 to define the operating characteristics of underground combustion in this watered-out Bartlesville sand reservoir. The purpose of this paper is to present the pilot test results in detail.
FORWARD COMBUSTION PROCESS
The forward combustion process consists of initiating combustion in the formation surrounding an injection well and driving this heat wave through the formation toward offset producing wells. As the combustion front progresses through the reservoir, oil and formation water are vaporized, driven forward in the gaseous phase, and recondensed in the cooler part of the formation. These distilled liquids, water of combustion and gaseous combustion products, form a bank of three-phase region ahead of the burning front. This bank pushes mobile reservoir fluids toward the production wells. The rate of movement of the combustion front is controlled by the rate at which the nondistillable residue which serves as process fuel can be completely burned off the sand.
The production performance from a heat wave conducted in a watered-out oil reservoir will differ from one conducted in a dissolved gas-depleted reservoir because of the difference in fluid saturations. The primary depleted reservoir contains connate water saturation, relatively high oil saturation and some gas saturation. The watered-out reservoir contains a highly mobile water saturation, residual oil saturation and little gas saturation.
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