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Tom Aage Jelmert

NTNU
Department of Petroleum Engineering
and Applied Geophysics

PRESSURE BUILDUP
It is difficult to keep the rate constant in a producing well. This is not an issue in a
buildup test since the well is closed. The rate is zero. This test may be conducted any
time. The disadvantage is that the well has to be closed for a period. Since the well is
closed, it will not generate income during this period. Hence the shutin time should be
as short as possible.
Procedure
1. Produce the well at a constant (stabilized) rate. At time tp close the well.
2. Measure the last flowing pressure which we call pwf and the shutin
pressure pws.
3. Make interpretation.

Figure 1: Schematic of an ideal buildup test

In the above figure, tp and t denote production time and shutin time respectively.

Infinite-acting reservoir
For a new well, the pressure wave associated with the flow period may not have
reached the outer boundary. Then the following equation applies:
1

p ws = p i

t p + t
qB 1.15
log
2kh
t

This is the Horner equation.

The above equation shows up as a straight line on a pws vs. log

t p + t
t

plot.

Determination of permeability
Note that the rate profile of Fig. 1 is idealized. Instantaneous shutin is not possible.
There will always be some afterflow (see wellbore storage). As a consequence the
measured pressure will not obey the Horner equation initially.

Hr is used to denote the Horner ratio: Hr =

t p + t
t

Observe that the shutin time, t, increases to the left in the Horner plot, Fig. 2. The
Horner ratio Hr will decrease as t increases.
The slope of the straight line is given by:

m=

qB1.15
2kh

Tom Aage Jelmert

PRESSURE BUILDUP 2

k=

qB 1.15
2mh

m=

p1 p 2
log Hr1 log Hr2

which simplifies to:

m = p1 p2
when Hr1 and Hr2 are one decade apart.

Determination of the reservoir initial reservoir pressure

The Horner equation may be written:
pws = pi -

qB 1.15
log Hr
2kh

Note that:
pws = pi

for

Hr = 1

The Horner ratio will approach 1 for infinite shutin time t. Hence the initial reservoir
pressure may be obtained by extrapolating the straight line back to Hr = 1. The
technique is illustrated in Fig.2.

Determination of the skin factor

The skin is not included in the Horner equation. To involve this parameter, the last
flowing pressure pwf is subtracted from both sides of the Horner equation. The last
flowing pressure is given by the drawdown equation. On the right hand side of the
Horner equation we subtract the mathematical model and on the left hand side the
observed pressure.
The result is:
p ws p wf =

t + t
kt p

qB 1.15
log p
log
0.351 + 0.87 S
2

t
2kh
ct rw

Usually the shutin time is small in comparison with the production time. Hence
tp+ t tp
Then the above equation will simplify since the production time tp disappears.

Tom Aage Jelmert

PRESSURE BUILDUP 3

The modified Horner equation may be solved for the skin factor once the shutin time
is specified. The traditional choice is t = 1h. This choice leads to:
p ws t =1h p wf

S = 1.15
3
.
91
log

c
r
t w

Observations:
1. The skin factor is controlled by the distance
= pws t = 1h - pwf
2. The skin factor S will increase with increasing difference .
3. The measured wellbore pressure at 1 hour may not be on the straight Horner
line. Then the line is extrapolated until it intersects the Hrt= 1h vertical line.
This is illustrated in the below figure. The Horner ratio at 1 hour may be computed
from Hrt = 1h = tp + 1

Figure 3: The skin depends on the distance .

Bounded reservoir
Sooner or later the pressure wave associated with the flow period will hit the outer
boundary. Suppose this is of no-flow type. If the well is closed during pseudo-steady
flow, then the pressure will build up towards the average pressure rather than the
initial pressure. This is illustrated below.

Tom Aage Jelmert

PRESSURE BUILDUP 4

Figure 4: Pressure versus distance, pseudo-steady flow

The effect of the outer boundary appears at the late part of the Horner plot while the
early part essentially remains unchanged. The boundary effect will show up as a break
off from the straight line.

Figure 5: Horner plot, bounded reservoir

The Horner equation for the straight line section may be written:
p ws = p *

qB1.15
t + t
log
t
2kh

where p* is the intersection with the Hr =1 axis. The intersection has been called the
false pressure. It has no physical interpretation but it is related to the average pressure,

Tom Aage Jelmert

PRESSURE BUILDUP 5

p . The straight line on the horner plot may be used to determine the permeability and
skin factor as discussed previously. The procedure will not be repeated here.

Determination of the average pressure

Matthews, Brons and Hazebroek presented charts that relate the false pressure to the
average pressure for various geometries.

Index D is used to denote dimensionless variables.

The average pressure may be calculated as follows:
1. Obtain the slope m and the false pressure p* from the Horner plot.
2. Estimate the shape and size of the drainage area.
3. Compute the dimensionless production time from the formula:

t DA =

kt p

ct A

4. Look up the MBH-curve that corresponds to the estimated shape of the

drainage area, and find PDMBH.
5. Calculate the average pressure from the formula:
mp DMBH
2.303
The difficult part in this calculation procedure is point 2. Estimation of the size and
shape of the drainage area is beyond the scope of these notes.
p = p*

The average pressure is used in material balance calculations. Also it is used to

calculate the flow efficiency, FE.
FE =

Tom Aage Jelmert

p p wf p S
p p wf

PRESSURE BUILDUP 6

pwf is the last flowing pressure. For pseudo-steady flow, the difference p p wf is
independent of time. This condition leads to a constant value of the flow efficiency.
Otherwise it will depend on time.
p * p wf p S
Sometimes the flow efficiency is approximated by FE =
.
( p * p wf )
The result is not as accurate but easier to obtain.

Horner time
As mentioned previously it is difficult to keep the flow rate constant for any length of
time. The rate may have fluctuated significantly during the production period. Horner
proposed the following correction:
tp =

Np

qLAST
where Np is the cumulative production since the last major shutin period and qLAST is
the last stabilized rate.

Tom Aage Jelmert

PRESSURE BUILDUP 7