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WATERFLOODING OF DEPLETED VOLUMETRIC GAS

RESERVOIRS AS A MANAGEMENT OPTION


TO HYDROCARBON FIELDS

INJECTION DEAU DANS DES GISEMENTS EPUISS DE GAZ-
UNE OPTION DE GESTION DE CHAMPS PTROLIERS

Monika Valjak, Djuro Novakovic and Zaki Bassiouni
Louisiana State University, USA


ABSTRACT

A volumetric gas reservoir reaches its economic limit when its pressure falls below the level
needed to move the gas through surface facilities and into a pipeline. Compression is considered
when economically feasible. Waterflooding is viable alternative to compression. This
management option may also be used in conjunction with compression to maintain reservoir
pressure, which ensures well unloading. The incremental recovery depends on the displacement
efficiency and the pressure at which the waterflooding is implemented. Managing this option as a
water disposal for the field would be a major additional economic incentive. The injection is not
a major cost component, as the water hydraulic head would exceed the reservoir pressure in most
cases. The cost of water injection can be eliminated altogether by downhole commingling of
high pressure large aquifer with the depleted gas reservoir. Studies of actual reservoirs
demonstrated the technical and economic feasibility of this management option.

RESUME

La compression est frquemment utilise pour grer des gisements puiss de gaz. Linjection
deau est une alternative conomique la compression. Elle peut servir seule, ou en addition la
compression pour maintenir la pression du gisement et ainsi assurer lcoulement efficace des
puits. La rcupration incrmentielle, grce a linjection deau , depend surtout sur la pression
courante du gisement ainsi sur lfficacit de dsplacement de gaz dans le milieu poreux. La
gestion de ce procd en tant que moyen de disposition de leau, produite avec les
hydrocarbures, augmente sa valeure conomique, le cut dinjection deau dans un gisement
puis tant ngligeable. Leau dinjection peut aussi venir dun aquifre prs du gisement. Des
tudes techniques et economiques des gisement rels sont inclues.

The content of this paper has previously been published as SPE 69651 presented at LACPEC,
Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 25-28, 2001.
INTRODUCTION

Reservoir management is an ongoing activity that starts with the fields discovery and
ends with its abandonment. The objective of reservoir management is to maximize the value of a
hydrocarbon asset. This means that reservoir management processes must continue as long as the
potential increase in reserves justifies required investment and expenses.
Volumetric gas reservoirs are those depleted by expansion of reservoir fluids and rock
matrix. The primary recovery from a volumetric gas reservoir is limited by the reservoir
abandonment pressure. A volumetric gas reservoir reaches its economic limit when the reservoir
pressure drops below the level needed to sustain the surface pressure necessary to move the gas
through surface facilities and into a pipeline. Additional gas reserves can be recovered using
compression.
In the early 1970s water was injected into the Duck Lake D 1 reservoir, south
Louisiana for ten years.
(1)
Water injection increased recovery by 7.110
8
m
3
(25 Bscf) or 3.6% of
original gas in place. Waterflooding was also proposed for high yield retrograde gas condensate
reservoirs above the dew point as an alternative to cycling.
(2,3)
Reported recoveries range from
111% to 210% for liquids and from 3.5% to 6.5% for gas. The absence of other papers suggests
that the technique of waterflooding of gas reservoirs did not receive wide acceptance. The recent
increasing interest in optimum reservoir management in general, and in marginal reservoirs and
bypassed hydrocarbons in particular, warrant another examination of this process.
This paper will review the concept of waterflooding of low-pressure gas reservoirs and
reintroduce it as an alternative, or supplement, to compression. The process would be integrated
in the overall field management as an economical option of produced water disposal. Two
studies using actual field data are presented to provide a measure of the technical and economic
benefit of waterflooding of low-pressure gas reservoirs.

THE CONCEPT OF WATERFLOODING VOLUMETRIC GAS RESERVOIRS

Material balance equation for a volumetric gas reservoir, neglecting the expansion of the
formation water and rock, can be written in the following format:
(4)

=
i
p
Z P
Z P
G G
) / (
/
1 ....(1)
where:
G
p
- cumulative produced gas,
G - gas originally in place,
P - reservoir pressure,
Z - Z factor, and
i - index that indicates initial conditions.
Equation 1 indicates that for a volumetric gas reservoir the plot of G
p
vs. the ratio P/Z is a
straight line. The prediction of future recoveries, as well as of the gas originally in place is done
by simple linear extrapolation of past performance down to the pressure of interest. The recovery
is a function of how low reservoir pressure can be reduced. The abandonment pressure P
a
for gas
reservoirs is usually dictated by the sales contract. Figure 1 illustrates, using the P/Z plot, a case
where waterflooding is initiated above abandonment pressure. In this schematic waterflooding
reserves exceed that of depletion. Because of the extremely favorable water/gas mobility ratio,
waterflooding recovery factor of a gas reservoir, is determined primarily by the displacement
efficiency, E
D,
defined as:
gi
gr gi
D
S
S S
E

= ,(2)
where S
gi
is the gas saturation at the beginning of the waterflooding process, S
gr
is the gas
saturation behind the waterfront also referred to as bypassed gas.
















Figure 1. Schematic illustrating a case where waterflooding reserves exceed that of depletion.


WATERFLOODING VS. COMPRESSION

Under depletion scenario, ultimate recovery G
pa
is attained when abandonment condition
(P/Z)
a
is reached, Figure 2.

















Figure 2. P/Z vs. G
p
plot comparing the compression and waterflooding options.

Incremental gas quantities (G
pc
G
pa
) could be recovered by further lowering reservoir
pressure to P
c
. This option requires the use of compressors to supplement the reservoir energy.
However, continued decrease in reservoir pressure complicates compressor design and unloading
of wells. Furthermore, compression requires significant capital investment. Incremental recovery
can be realized using waterflooding to slow reservoir pressure depletion or to maintain the
pressure at P
a
. The potential economic advantage of waterflooding is illustrated by Figure 3.
G
p

P/Z
depletion history
waterflooding history
depletion reserves
waterflooding reserves
(P/Z)
a
Abandonment conditions
G
PW
G
Pa
G
PC

G
P

G
(P/Z)
i

(P/Z)
C

(P/Z)
a

Produced gas
Depletion reserves
waterflooding
Additional reserves:
compression
















Figure 3. Field gas flow rate throughout the life of a reservoir.

Early in the life of a field, gas reservoir flow rate Q
g
increases, during the field
development plan, up to a certain desired value. The rate starts to decrease when the reservoir
energy can no longer sustain it. At some point in time, decision has to be made regarding
implementation of an improved recovery method. If compression is selected, reservoir pressure
continues to decrease resulting in continuous decrease of gas flow rate. However, if
waterflooding is initiated, the reservoir pressure is either maintained or the depletion rate is
decreased resulting, in both cases, in a flow rate higher than in the case of compression. These
relatively high flow rates result in a present value of waterflooding reserves exceeding that of
compression. Higher flow rates help unload wells and eliminate, or at least reduce, the need for
well workovers.

WATER VOLUMES NEEDED

Required water quantities can be estimated by the simple material balance equation:
inj ga g g p
W B B G B G + = ) ( ,...(3)
where W
inj
simbolizes injected water volume in cubic meters. B
g
, and B
ga,
are the gas formation
factors at current and abandonment pressure, respectively.
If the reservoir pressure is maintaned constant, then:
ga g
B B = ,(4)
and equation (4) becomes:
ga p inj
B G W = ...(5)
Water requirement is directly proportional to the volume of gas produced, and inversely
proportional to the primary recovery abandonment pressure. The more gas recovered during the
primary stage of production, the larger volumes of water needed for incremental gas recovery.
Figure 4 illustrates the needed quantities of water in m
3
per 1 m
3
of gas recovered from a
reservoir depleted to (P/Z)
a
value.
Primary stage Q
g

Waterflooding Q
g

Compression Q
g

Waterflooding
reserves
Compression
reserves
Time
R
e
s
e
r
v
o
i
r

g
a
s

f
l
o
w

r
a
t
e

Q
g


Primary stage ends
0.00
0.05
0.10
0.15
0.20
0.25
0 5,000 10,000 15,000 20,000 25,000
(P/Z)
a
(10
3
Pa)
W
i
n
j

(
m
3
/
m
3

o
f

g
a
s

p
r
o
d
u
c
e
d
)

Figure 4. P/Z at abandonment conditions versus water volumes required.

Clearly, the above example has shown that water requirements can be a seriously limiting
factor to the methods economic viability. It is presumed that water need is the reason for the
early lack of popularity of the process. Fortunately, economical water sources do exist. If the
field or the nearby fields produces significant quantities of salt water, or if there is an underlying
and undepleted aquifer, the chances that the waterflooding project would be profitable are very
high.

WATERFLOODING USING DISPOSAL WATER

Produced water accounts for greater than 80% by volume of the residual material
generated in the oil and gas industry. Cost-effective and environmentally acceptable disposal of
these waters is critical to the continued economic production of hydrocarbons.

Produced water is
most often disposed offshore or into disposal wells. It is also used in pressure maintenance and
improved oil recovery projects. A Model, developed for the Gas Research Institute,
(8)
showed the
cost per m
3
for disposal of produced water for deep well injection to range from $0.9/m
3
to
$22/m
3
($0.15/bbl to $3.50/bbl). Such a wide range is caused by whether injection is associated
with enhanced oil recovery or with a single purpose salt water disposal well. Other influencing
factors are the distance from water source to its disposal point, and formation properties such as
depth, pay, porosity, permeability and water injection rate. Using a low-pressure gas reservoir to
dispose of produced water changes disposal water nature from a waste product to a resource.

WATERFLOODING USING WATER FROM
HIGH PRESSURE AQUIFERS (DUMPFLOODS)

Waterflooding of a gas reservoir can be achieved using water crossflow from underlying
undepleted aquifers. The candidate aquifer must be of adequate permeability, size, and water
quality. The greater the aquifer permeability and size, the lesser the pressure drop in the aquifer
itself. Thus higher injection rates as well as injection pressures can be achieved and maintained.
Furthermore, the considered zone shouldnt have sand production problems. Since the aquifer is
underlying the gas reservoir of interest, where the reservoir pressure is depleted, the aquifer
pressure is not considered to be a limiting factor. The simplest completion option is shown on
Figure 5.
Reservoir temperature = 121C
Gas gravity = 0.6
















Figure 5. Schematic of well completion option for waterflooding using underlying aquifer.

The water from the lower high pressure zone will naturally flow to the upper, low
pressure zone. No additional energy source, such as downhole pumps, is required. If such a
device is needed, it can be installed on tubing. In that case another packer is needed, as can be
seen on Figure 6. This latter option might be uneconomical for the proposed process. Although,
it has the advantage of controlling injection rate.
















Figure 6. Schematic of well completion option for waterflooding using underlying aquifer.

Direct measurement of injected volume is not possible without a flowmeter installed
downhole and connected to the surface, which is an expensive option. Volume of aquifer water
encroached into the gas reservoir can be calculated by the following material balance equation:
( )
gi g w p g p e
B B G B W B G W + = ,..(6)
where:
W
p
- cumulative produced water, m
3
,
W
e
- water influx into the reservoir, m
3
,
B
g
, B
w
- gas, and water formation volume factor, respectively, m
3
/m
3
. The index i designates
initial conditions at the start of the flood.

RESERVOIR
AQUIFER
CASING
PACKER
CASING
TUBING
RESERVOIR
PUMP
PACKER
PACKER
AQUIFER
GODCHAUX RESERVOIR A CASE STUDY

Godchaux Reservoir A is a depletion drive gas condensate reservoir, located in Live Oak
Field, Vermilion Parish, Louisiana. Production from this reservoir started in 1955. The initial
average reservoir pressure was 4.310
7
Pa (6,170 psig). In 1969 when the reservoir pressure
decreased to 1.510
7
Pa (2,200 psig), a reservoir-wide unit was established and compression was
employed to meet a gas discharge pressure of 8.610
6
Pa (1,250 psig). The Godchaux RA Unit,
shown on Figure 7, has 11 wells drilled on an area of 1.410
7
m
2
(3,537 acres).
Summary of the initial characteristics for Godchaux reservoir is given in Table 1. The
reservoir performance up to 1969 is illustrated in Figure 8.


















Figure 7. Godchaux Sand, Reservoir Unit A.

The current reservoir pressure is extremely low which excludes the application of the
process. The data will be used to validate the concept. The waterflooding process will be
hypothetically initiated in 1969, the year compression was implemented. The performance of the
hypothetical waterflooding will be compared to the actual compression.
The gas in place G at the end of 1969 was approximately 510
9
m
3
(175 BCF).
Microscopic displacement efficiency E
D
was estimated to be 0.61. Using an estimated mobility
ratio of 0.017, and a permeability variance of 0.44, confirmed that both the areal and invasion
efficiency are close to unity. Hence, waterflooding gas reserves are estimated at 310
9
m
3
(107
BCF). Waterflooding performance was estimated using material balance calculations. Two cases
were considered pressure maintenance, and pressure support.
Another possible management option is to interrupt the waterflooding after few years,
and implement compression. This option allows the reservoir depletion to a pressure much lower
than in the case of pressure maintenance. It also allows the postponement of capital investments
associated with compression. The reservoir performance under these different options is
illustrated in Figures 9 and 10.

C Pierce
Broussard #1
Godchaux #1
LA Furs D-2
G Hebert #1
Godchaux #4
Broussard #4
I White #1
Bernard #1
Godchaux #5
LA Furs D-3
Table 1. Initial parameters for Godchaux Sand.
OGIP 1.310
10
m
3
(465 BCF)
Units datum 4.0110
3
m (13,170)
Original gas/water contact 4.0410
3
m (13,250)
Initial reservoir pressure 4.310
7
Pa (6,170 psig)
Initial reservoir temperature
113 C (236F)
Reservoir permeability range (45-160) mD
Average reservoir porosity 26.1%
Irreducible water saturation 24%
Gas specific gravity 0.695
Initial gas formation volume factor 3.4510
-3
m
3
/m
3
(0.614 rb/MCF)
Initial solution gas condensate ratio 7.610
3
m
3
/m
3
(42,900 SCF/STB)
Initial liquid content 1.310
-4
m
3
/m
3
(23 STB/MMCF)
HCPV 4.510
7
m
3
(1.57*10
9
cuft)

y = -3101.7x + 40043
R
2
= 0.9974
0
5,000
10,000
15,000
20,000
25,000
30,000
35,000
40,000
45,000
0 5 10 15 20
Gp (10
9
m
3
)
P
/
Z

(
1
0
3
P
a
)

Figure 8. P/Z versus G
p
plot for the Godchaux reservoir.

To compare the economic feasibility of the different options, both present value of
reserves (PVR), and net present value of future income (NPV) analyses were used. The
economic analyses, summarized in Table 2, were performed assuming an average liquid content
of 5.610
-5
m
3
/m
3
(10 STB/MMCF), and average prices of $5.110
-2
/m
3
($1.45/MCF) of gas,
and $1.110
2
/m
3
($17.00/STB) of condensate.
Actual costs were used for the compression case. For waterflooding cases costs were
estimated at $50,000 to convert a well to injector, $40,000 for a pump, and $3,000/month to
operate a well.
year 1969
The last row in Table 2 lists the economic results if the project is considered a
commercial water disposal (CWD). A disposal fee of $6.3/m
3
($1.00/bbl) of water was
considered.

7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
time (years)
G
p

(
1
0
9
m
3
)
OGIP
presure maintenance
pressure support
compression
blowdown

Figure 9. Incremental gas recovery for all options.

0
200
400
600
800
1,000
1,200
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
time (years)
Q
g

(
m
3
/
m
i
n
)
presure maintenance
pressure support
compression
blowdown

Figure 10. Comparison of field gas flow rates for all options.

Table 2. Summary.

Compression
Pressure
maintenance
Pressure
support
Waterflooding
Blowdown
Q
g
(initial-final)
(m
3
/min)
(MMCFPD)
983.2-59.0
(50-3)
983.2
(50)
983.2-707.9
(50-36)
983.2-511.3
(50-26)
q
g
(m
3
/min)
(MMCFPD)
88.5-15.7
(4.5-0.8)
245.8
(12.5)
245.8-180.9
(12.5-9.2)
245.8-125.9
(12.5-6.4)
Q
i
(m
3
/min)
(BPD)
-
8.06
(73,000)
4.64
(42,000)
8.06
(73,000)
q
i
(m
3
/min)
(BPD)
-
1.16
(10,500)
0.66
(6,000)
1.16
(10,500)
W
inj
(m
3
/m
3
)

(MMbbl/BCF)
-
8.410
-3

(1.5)
(5.1-6.2)10
-3

(0.9-1.1)
8.410
-3

(1.5)
G
S
(m
3
)
(BCF)
4.510
9

(160)
310
9

(107)
310
9

(107)
4.510
9

(160)
Duration (years) 26 5.86 7.66 12.3
PVR (m
3
)
(BCF)
1.8910
9

(66.7)
1.9310
9

(68.2)
1.8110
9

(63.9)
2.2110
9

(78.1)
NPV (10
6
$) 91.34 97.54 91.17 109.86
NPV (10
6
$)
CWD
- 197.80 156.20 175.45

RESERVOIR X CASE STUDY

Reservoir X is a depletion drive gas reservoir situated in Louisiana. Since its discovery in
1955 the average reservoir pressure decreased about 94% of its initial value of 5.510
7
Pa (7,980
psia). Compressors have been employed for some time to reach sales contracted pressure.
Currently only one well is producing, and at a rate of 9.910
3
m
3
(350 MCF) of gas per day.
Another downdip well is shut-in. All other wells are plugged or unavailable because of
mechanical problems. Field management considerations dictate that production must continue
from this well. The producing well is loading at frequent rate. The operator showed interest in
maintaining the reservoir pressure by water injection.
Using available geologic and engineering data a reservoir model was built and calibrated.
Figures 11 12 show the production history and pressure data of well #1, the only well currently
producing from the reservoir. The continuous curve on Figure 12 represents the history match,
which was considered satisfactorily. The summary of calibrated model characteristics is given in
Table 3.
Prediction of waterflooding performance was done using one well available for water
injection. Water injection rate is limited by formation fracture pressure, which was estimated to
be 110
8
Pa (14,800 psia). Field gas economic limit is set to 2.95 m
3
/min (150 MCFPD).
Predicted performance of waterflooding compared to compression is illustrated in Figures
13 and 14, and summarized in Table 4. Table 4 also lists the results of economic analysis of
compression and waterflooding.
The economic analyses were performed assuming average prices of $1.610
-1
/m
3

($4.5/MCF) of natural gas, and $1.610
2
/m
3
($25/STB) of condensate. In the commercial water
disposal option a fee of $6.3/m
3
($1/bbl) is assessed.

Table 3. Summary of reservoir model characteristics.
Reservoir pore volume 910
6
m
3
(56,528,362 RB)
OGIP 2.210
9
m
3
(75.75 BCF)
Cumulative gas produced up to date 1.910
9
m
3
(67.3 BCF)
Gas recovery factor 88.84 %
Average reservoir pressure 4.810
6
Pa (693 psia)


Figure 11. Gas production rate for well #1.


Figure 12. Bottom hole pressure on well #1, and history match result.

For compression option no additional investment is needed. Only operating expenses of
$5,500/month/well were assessed. For waterflooding case investments, such as the cost of
converting a well from a producer to injector, and a cost of pump, were estimated at $50,000,
and $40,000, respectively. Operating costs are estimated to be $3,000/month.
Table 4. Summary.

Compression Waterflooding
Duration (years) 4.3 14.7
Recovery (%) 89.21 90.87
Incremental recovery (%) 0.36 2.03
G
p
(m
3
)
(BCF)
1.9110
9

(67.58)
1.9510
9

(68.84)
Incremental G
p
(m
3
)
(BCF)
7.9310
6

(0.28)
4.3610
7

(1.54)
q
g
(initial final) (m
3
/min)
(MMCFPD)
3,736.3-2,949.7
(190 150)
7,669.1-2,949.7
(390 150)
q
i
(m
3
/min)
(BPD)
NA
0.276-0.128
(2500 1160)
Q
i
(m
3
)

(MMbbl)
NA
1.2510
6

(7.89)
PVR @ r = 15% (m
3
)
(BCF)
5.6610
6

(0.20)
1.710
7

(0.60)
NPV @ r = 15% (10
6
$) 0.64 3.09
NPV @ r = 15% (10
6
$)
CWD
NA 6.56

0
2
4
6
8
10
0 5 10 15
time (years)
Q
g

(
m
3
/
m
i
n
)

Figure 13. Predicted gas production rate.
Waterflooding
Compression
1.90E+09
1.91E+09
1.92E+09
1.93E+09
1.94E+09
1.95E+09
1.96E+09
0 5 10 15
time (years)
G
p

(
m
3
)

Figure 14. Predicted cumulative gas production.

CONCLUSIONS

Waterflooding of low-pressure volumetric gas reservoirs is a viable improved recovery
method. It provides an alternative to compression. It may also be used in conjunction with
compression. Reservoir studies of actual reservoirs demonstrated both the technical and
economic feasibility of this reservoir management option.
Waterflooding reserves might, or might not, exceed those for compression depending on
reservoir conditions and properties. However, because waterflooding accelerates the recovery,
the present value of such reserves surpasses those of depletion and compression options.
Waterflooding is a relatively low-cost alternative to compression. Its economic potential is
highest when the gas reservoir is used as water disposal facility.

Nomenclature
B
g
= gas formation volume factor, m
3
/m
3
,
B
w
= water formation volume factor, m
3
/m
3
,
E
D
= Microscopic displacement efficiency, dimensionless,
G = gas originally in place, m
3
,
G
p
= cumulative produced gas, m
3
,
G
S
= secondary stage gas reserves, m
3
,
P = reservoir pressure, Pa,
q
g
= well gas flow rate, m
3
/min,
Q
g
= reservoir gas flow rate, m
3
/min,
q
i
= well water injection rate, m
3
/min,
Q
i
= reservoir water injection rate, m
3
/min,
S
g
= gas saturation, fraction,
S
w
= water saturation, fraction,
W
e
= water influx into reservoir from lower aquifer, m
3
,
W
inj
= volume of injected water, m
3
,
W
p
= Cumulative produced water, m
3
,
Z = Z factor, dimensionless.

Waterflooding
Compression
Subscripts
a = abandonment conditions,
c = compression parameters
i = initial conditions,
r = residual saturation.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The authors would like to express their gratitude to Petroleum Technology Transfer
Council, Houston, TX for supporting this work, and to Cody Energy, Inc., Denver, CO for
providing data for the reservoir study.

REFERENCES

1. Cason, L.D. Jr.: Waterflooding Increases gas Recovery, JPT (Oct. 1989) 1102.
2. Rivas Gomez, S.: Waterflooding Will Benefit Some Gas Reservoirs, World Oil (Apr.
1983) 71.
3. Mathews, J.D., Fishlock, T.P., Hawkyard, I.R., and Soper, B.M.: Feasibility Studies of
Waterflooding Gas Condensate Reservoirs, paper SPE 15875 presented at the 1986 SPE
European Petroleum Conference, London, Oct. 20 22.
4. Craft, B.C., and Hawkins, M.F.: Applied Petroleum Reservoir Engineering, Prentice Hall
Inc., NJ (1959).
5. Core Laboratories, Inc., Special Core Analysis (Apr. 1974).
6. Geffen, T.M., Parrish, D.R., Haynes, G.W., and Morse, R.A.: Efficiency of Gas
Displacement From Porous Media by Liquid Flooding, Trans. AIME, (1952) 195, 29.
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Waterflood Residual Gas Saturation and its Production by Blowdown, paper SPE 15455
presented at the 1986 Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, New Orleans, LA, Oct.
5-8.
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Practices and Research Needs, paper SPE 29729 presented at the 1995 SPE/EPA
Exploration & Production Environmental Conference, Houston, TX, March 27-29.