Cyclic Water Flooding the Spraberry Utilizes "End Effects" to Increase Oil Production Rate
- Lincoln F. Elkins (Sohio Petroleum Co.) | Arlie M. Skov (Sohio Petroleum Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- August 1963
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 877 - 884
- 1963. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 3.1.1 Beam and related pumping techniques, 4.3.4 Scale, 5.6.2 Core Analysis, 3.2.3 Hydraulic Fracturing Design, Implementation and Optimisation, 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing, 6.5.2 Water use, produced water discharge and disposal, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 4.6 Natural Gas, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.3.1 Hydrates, 7.4.5 Future of energy/oil and gas, 5.5.2 Core Analysis, 3.1 Artificial Lift Systems, 5.4.1 Waterflooding
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First response to large-scale water flooding in the fractured very low permeability Spraberry sand has led to a new unique cyclic operation. Capacity water injection is used to restore reservoir pressure. This is followed by many months production without water injection and the cycle repeated. Expansion of the oil, rock and water during pressure decline expels part of the fluids but capillary forces hold much of the injected water in the rock. At least with reservoir pressure restored and with partial water flood development, field performance has proved this cyclic operation is capable of producing oil from the matrix rock at least 50 per cent faster and with lower water percentage than is imbibition of water at stable reservoir pressure.
The Spraberry Field of West Texas presents unusual problems for both primary production and water flooding. Extensive interconnected vertical fractures in the fractional-md sandstone permitted recovery of oil on 160-acre well spacing, but they made capillary end effects dominant. Primary recovery by solution gas drive is less than 10 per cent of oil in place. The concept of displacement of oil from the sand matrix by capillary imbibition of water has led to field techniques which promise greatly increased oil recovery. Free exchange of laboratory research, reservoir information and results of field pilot tests among the various companies has been very important in development of this technology.
Five units covering a total of 170,000 acres have been formed for water flooding, and 10 other areas covering an additional 175,500 acres are in various stages of unitization. Part of the Driver Unit reaching fillup first has demonstrated very unusual waterflood behavior and indicated numerous operating problems that will develop within and among the various units.
SPRABERRY ROCK AND PRIMARY PERFORMANCE
The Spraberry, discovered in February, 1949, is a 1,000-ft section of sandstones, shales and limestones with two main oil productive members: a 10-15 ft sand near the top and a 10-15 ft sand near the base. In part of the field some thinner intermediate sands are oil productive, and others are water bearing. All sands have permeabilities of 1 md or less and porosities of 8-15 per cent. Ordinary core analysis and electric and radiation logs are ineffective in differentiating between oil productive and non- productive sands. Sands capable of containing producible oil are best identified by mercury injection capillary pressure measurement and, in some cases, by core water saturation. About 3,500 wells have been drilled in the 500,000-acre trend. Vertical fractures were observed in practically all Spraberry cores. Continuity and interconnection of fractures were confirmed by pressure interference among wells during early development.' Major fractures trend northeast-southwest as indicated by oriented cores and confirmed by five fluid injection tests, by analysis of the pressure transients observed during development, and by three interference tests in the Driver Unit Water Flood reported herein. Fracture spacing probably averages inches to a few feet. Spraberry wells typically produced 100-400 BOPD initially after hydraulic fracture treatments. By 1962 oil production had declined to an average of 12 bbl/well/day, near the economic limits of operation. Reservoir pressure had declined from 2,300 psi initially in the Upper Spraberry and 2,500 psi in the Lower Spraberry to 500-1,000 psi. Partial closing of the fractures with declining reservoir pressure is believed to be the cause of such low oil production rates at these relatively high reservoir pressures. Cumulative recovery of 208 million bbl of oil is 80 to 90 per cent of that recoverable by primary means. Performance of the entire reservoir is summarized in Fig. 1.
IMBIBITION WATER FLOODING
By 1952 reservoir performance indicated low primary recoveries. Most engineers, expecting serious channeling of injected fluids through the fractures, held little hope for secondary recovery. With its extensive background of research on the fundamentals of fluid flow within reservoir rocks, Atlantic's Research and Development Division on short notice in 1952 conceived that displacement of oil by capillary imbibition of water into the rock might significantly increase Spraberry recovery. Laboratory data reported by Brownscombe and Dyes scaled to probable reservoir conditions showed potential waterflood recovery equal to or greater than primary recovery with a 10-15 year flood life. A pilot test using three 40-acre injection wells, one central producing well and 18 surrounding observation wells demonstrated technical feasibility of the process.
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