Model Studies of Pilot Waterfloods
- W.J. Bernard (The U. Of Texas)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- March 1967
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 404 - 410
- 1967. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 5.1.1 Exploration, Development, Structural Geology, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics
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Factors which influence the success or failure of a water flood can seldom be determined in the laboratory. For this reason pilot waterfloods are initiated in a representative portion of the oil reservoir in question. For a pilot flood to predict quantitatively the recovery to be expected in a field-wide waterflood operation, the pilot area must behave as though it were confined (surrounded by similar areas). In this study, laboratory fluid-flow models were used to determine the simplest pilot pattern, for particular conditions of mobility ratio and initial gas saturation, that would behave as though it were confined. Pilot patterns studied ranged it? complexity from a single inverted five-spot to a grouping of n it? e regular five-spots. Only the innermost producing well in each pattern was studied. Model results showed that the optimum number of wells in the pattern depends upon the oil-water mobility ratio and the expected oil-bank size. Unfavorable mobility ratios will, in general, require more wells in the pilot pattern than will favorable mobility ratios. Pilot patterns in reservoirs which contain a dispersed, flowable, free gas saturation will require fewer wells than for the undersaturated case. The single inverted five-spot pattern was found to be unsatisfactory for predicting behavior of fully developed waterfloods. In particular, it is possible that, in reservoirs which contain a flowable, dispersed gas phase, the oil bank will never be observed at the producers due to the large accounts of free gas which continue to be produced with the oil.
One method which has been used to predict the performance of a waterflood is the pilot flood. The pilot waterflood is a flood which involves only a small cluster of the reservoir wells and is located in a small, representative portion of the reservoir. The object is that oil produced from the pilot can, in some way, be related to the oil recovery to be expected from a field-wide expansion of the waterflood. However, these field pilot waterfloods have often been unreliable in the prediction of oil recovery in a fully developed waterflood. This unreliability has also been demonstrated in several laboratory studies of pilot floods. Some of the investigators have shown that there are situations in which the pilot flood oil production is far too optimistic with respect to the oil recovery in the fully developed flood. Others have shown that the pilot results can also be pessimistic, especially if the pilot waterflood is initiated in an oil reservoir which has been depleted by primary recovery and is at very low pressure. The major reason for this unreliability of pilot waterfloods is the migration of fluids into or out of the pilot area. By the well-known method of images, if straight lines can be drawn to represent vertical planes of symmetry in a porous medium which contains pressure sources and sinks (injectors and producers), then these lines are invariant streamlines, or lines across which there is no potential gradient, and therefore no flow. In an actual reservoir, these lines of symmetry can never be established exactly because of reservoir inhomogeneities and irregular reservoir boundaries. However, if the reservoir is relatively large and contains wells in repetitive patterns, these lines of symmetry are commonly assumed to exist for the pattern units sufficiently far removed from the reservoir boundary. Lines of symmetry for the five-spot injection pattern are shown in Fig. 1. Each five-spot unit in this figure can be considered confined with respect to flow across its boundary. In pilot floods this is not the case. The lines of symmetry for the pilot patterns investigated in this study are shown in Fig. 2. It is obvious that the fluid within these pilots is not confined and is therefore able to migrate into or out of the pilot area. Intuitively, one can see that, if more wells are added to the pilot, the innermost unit tends to behave more and more like the confined pattern. However, there is a practical limit to the number of wells which should be placed in the pilot. This limit is usually determined by economic factors. It was the purpose of this study to use laboratory fluidflow models to determine which of the previously mentioned pilot patterns will force the innermost producing well to behave as it would in a fully developed waterflood. Since fluid migration is influenced by initial saturation conditions and the mobility ratio, these factors were included in the study. The ultimate objective of this study was to develop data which would allow the operator to choose a pilot pattern and operating conditions that will yield a production history which can be applied directly as an estimate of the performance of each production well of the fully developed waterflood.
BASIS FOR THE STUDY
The basic problem of field pilot floods is the migration of the reservoir fluids into or out of the pilot area. This problem has been the subject of previously reported model studies on pilot floods. These studies have been concerned mainly with the development of arbitrary "correction factors" to be applied to the simple, unconfined pilot systems such as the single five-spot.
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