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SPE

SPE 10181

Society of Petroleum Engineers of" 1M E

The Application of the Repeat Formation Tester to the


Analysis of Naturally Fractured Reservoirs
by George Stewart, * Heriot-Watt University; Manfred J. Wittmann, * S. T.
Schlumberger; and Theodor van Golf-Racht, * NORSK-HYDRO
*Member SPE-AIME
@Copyright 1981, Society of Petroleum Engineers of AI ME
This paper was presented at the 56th Annual Fall Technica~ Conference a.nd Exhibition of the Society of Petroleum Engineers of AIME, held in
San Antonio, Texas, October 57,1981. The material IS subject to correction by the author. Permission to copy is restricted to an abstract of
not more than 300 words. Write: 6200 N. Central Expressway, Dallas, Texas 75206.

ABSTRACT
The RFT* has important applications in the
study of naturally fractured reservoirs in which
low permeability matrix blocks are contained
wi thin a system of connected fractures of high
permeability.
The pressure inside an individual
matrix block, which is observable with the RFT,
is determined by the boundary pressure in the
fractures delineating the block. Hence RFT data
plotted on
a
pressure-depth
diagram follow
gradients corresponding to the fluids in the
fracture system with changes in slope at the
gas-oil
and
oil-water
contacts.
In
an
unproduced reservoir the actual OGOC and OOWC in
the fracture system may be determined whereas
logs measur ing fluid saturations in the blocks
indicate quite different distributions because
of cap illary pressure effects.
RFT data from
new
wells
in
a
developed
reservoir
allow
monitoring of the movement of the GOC and OWC in
the fracture network as a secondary gas cap
forms and aquifer influx occurs.
Oil recovery from a fractured reservoir is
controlled by the permeability of the fracture
system and by the permeability and size of the
blocks.
Fracture
permeability
is
readily
available from the analysis of well pressure
transient tests but the matrix properties are
more
difficult
to
determine.
The
test
pressure response of the RFT, with the probe set
in a block, is affected both by the matrix
permeability and the block size and a simplified
model of the process based on a spherical matrix
block with a constant pressure outer boundary
and a central point sink has been developed.
It
can be demonstrated that with a pressure gauge
of 1 psi resolution matrix permeabilities of
less than 5 md and block sizes of less than 2 m
can be detected.
The theory has been used to
evaluate RFT
tests in a fractured reservoir
and good agreement between the estimate of block
size using this technique and that obtained from
a statistical analysis of core was found.

Mark of Schlumberger

A finite-element numerical model has also


been used to simUlate pretest buildups in cubic
and parallelepiped matrix blocks.
The late-time
deviation
from
linear
spherical
buildup
commences when the nearest constant pressure
boundary is encountered.
Dimensionless buildup
type curves for such matrix blocks are given.

The question of supercharging of the block


pressure as a result of mud filtrate invasion
has also been considered.
The proximity of
constant pressure fractures limits the degree of
over-pressure
which
can
develop
at
the
sand-face. Supercharging only becomes a serious
problem at very low matrix permeabilities and
the RFT gives successful pressure measurements
in fractured reservoirs with a tight matrix.
INTRODUCTION
Many naturally fractured reservoirs are
composed of a highly permeable fracture network
and
low
permeability
blocks
whose
average
dimension
is
controlled
by
the
fracture
density.
The proportion of the total porosity
contained within the fracture system is small
and conventional logs respond essentially to the
fluids contained in the matrix blocks.
However
the
reservoir
produces
into the wells
the
fluid (s) present in the fracture system and it
frequently occurs that the fluid content of the
matrix and fractures are quite different.
Hence
matrix saturations from open-hole logs may not
be
a
good
indicator
of
production
characteristics.
In
order
to
understand
the
complex
production mechanism of a naturally fractured
reservoir
it
is necessary
to consider
the
original oil accumulation process.
In many cases the matrix and fracture
system are initially filled with water and oil
migrates upwards through the fracture system.
The situation then arises where the matrix
blocks containing water are surrounded by oil in
the
fracture
system.
Due
to
the
density
difference between the phases water is displaced

SPE 10181
THE APPLICATION OF THE REPEAT FOR11ATION TESTER (RFT)

from the blocks and replaced by oil until a


gravity-capillary
equilibrium
is
reached
as
shown in Figure 1.
Since the matrix block
originally contained water it is water-wet and
the
drainage
capillary
pressure
curve
is
appropriate.
This means that the lower portion of each
block will remain saturated with water to a
level which depends on the threshold capillary
pressure and the density difference between oil
and water.
Above this level the oil satur!ltion
in the block increases upwards and if the block
is large enough the irreducible water saturation
may be attained.
The important point is that
the logs will register this water held in each
block by capillary forces but initially the
reservoir will produce only the fluid in the
fracture system, Le. oil.
Evidently the size
of the blocks has an important effect on how
If
much oil has accumulated in the reservoir.
the average block size is small very little oil
will
have
migrated
into
the
blocks
and
vice-versa.
Blocks
smaller
than
a
certain
critical size
(determined by the pore size
distribution) will contain no oil at all since
the hydrostatic head over the block due to the
density difference is less than the threshold
displacement pressure.
A computer processed interpretation of a
suite of logs run in a fractured reservoir is
shown in Figure 2.
The repeating pattern of
water overlain by oil conforms to the model
given
above
and the
individual
blocks are
distinguishable.
In
this
example
from
the
Middle East the block size is large and there is
much more oil present in the blocks than water.
PRESSURE GRADIENTS IN NON-PRODUCED RESERVOIRS
When the RFT is employed in a fractured
reservoir the probe will almost invariably be
set in a matrix block and hence measure fluid
pressure in the matrix.
It is apparent that if
the test is made in formation containing only
water then the water phase pressure, Pw' will
be detected and a sequence of such tests will
exhibit a water gradient on a pressure-depth
diagram when hydrostatic conditions exist.
For
non-fractured
reservoirs
it
has
also
been
demonstrated by field experience and theoretical
analysis
of
the mechanics of mud
filtrate
invasion, that in the capillary transition zone
and the oil zone at irreducible water saturation
the pressure detected by the RFT is that of the
oil
phase,
Po'
provided
the
oil
is
continuous.
In th is case the measured pressure
gradient above the WOC corresponds to the oil
in-situ
density.
The
intersection
of
the
best-fi t lines through the pressure-depth data
in the water and oil phases respectively gives
the free water level (FWL) in the reservoir.
This is illustrated in Figure 3 which shows
measurements from a virgin reservoir in South
America with the threshold capillary pressure
effect clearly observable as a discontinuity in
the pressure-depth plot at the WOC.
Many other
field examples exist which confirm that the oil

TO THE ANALYSIS OF NA'l'URALLY FRACTURED RESERVOIRS

phase pressure is registered by RFT tests in the


capillary
transition
zone
although
the
discontinuity at the WOC is usually too small to
be apparent with a gauge resolution of
1 psi.
In a fractured reservoir a series of RFT tests
within an individual block would follow this
pattern, as illustrated in Figure 1.
However,
in practice, the block height is not large
enough
to be able
to distinguish
separate
gradients within a single block.
The important point is that in a reservoir
wi th an oil-filled fracture system there is a
FWL at the base of each matrix block. The water
phase is not continuous between blocks and the
phase pressure variation through such a system
takes the form shown in Figure 4.
The overall
pressure gradient is defined by the fluid in the
fractures since the water phase pressure is
brought back to the oil pressure - the same in
the fractures and matrix - at the bottom of each
block.
EVen when the probe is set in a local
water zone at the base of a block the pressure
measured will be very little different from that
in the oil phase at the same level.
Hence the
overall measured pressure gradient will reflect
the fluid in the fracture
system.
In the case
of small blocks - almost completely filled with
water and the open-hole logs showing little or
no oil saturation
the discovery of an oil
gradient demonstrates that the fractures are
oil-filled and wells will initially produce dry
oil above the fracture system WOC.
The basis for identifying a fracture system
phase contact from RFT data has been illustrated
for
the
case of oil
and water.
However
analogous arguments will apply when there is a
gas-oil contact in the fracture network and at
this location the measured pressure gradient
will evidently change from that of oil to that
of gas. Thus RFT measurements in exploration or
appraisal wells in the unproduced reservoir give
information on the initial fluid levels in the
fracture network provided sufficient tests are
made to allow the gradients to be defined with
adequate precision.
PRESSURE GRADIENTS IN DEVELOPMENT RESERVOIRS
RFT surveys will also be made in new
development wells drilled after the field has
been produced for some time.
In many reservoirs
the pressure will fall below the bubble-point
and gas will be liberated from the matrix blocks
and migrate upwards through the fractures to
form a secondary gas-cap as shown in Figure 5.
It is important to monitor the development of
the gassing zone and the secondary gas cap since
decisions concerning, for example, the setting
of gas exclusion liners in existing uncased
producers or perforation intervals in new cased
wells require knowledge of the current GOC in
the fracture system.
Also water may enter the
fracture network due to aquifer expansion - edge
or bottom, natural water drive
or water
injection. Again, in order to predict reservoir
performance it is necessary, if possible, to
monitor the change in fracture system WOC due to
water influx.

SPE 10181

George Stewart, Manfred Wittmann and Th. Van Golf Racht

Provided the blocks remain at pressure


equilibrium with the surrounding fracture system
during the depletion process the RFT measured
pressure
gradients
will
reflect
the
fluids
present in the fracture system.
Thus, as shown
in Figure 5, the primary and secondary gas-cap
will exhibit a gas gradient, the undersaturated
oil zone an oil gradient and the aquifer and
water invaded zone a water gradient presuming
vertical equilibrium in the high permeability
fracture network.
In the gas liberation zone
where gas emerging from the blocks is moving
upwards through the fractures countercurrent to
oil the observed gradient will be intermediate
between gas and oil hydrostatic.
Similarly in
the oil displacement zone where imbibition of
water into the blocks is expelling oil both
phases are moving in the fracture network and in
this
case
the
observed
gradient
will
be
intermediate between water and oil hydrostatic.
Conversely if smooth pressure-depth data, with
appropriate hydrostatic gradients as shown in
Figure 5, are observed in new development wells
this confirms that the block interiors are, in
fact, remaining at pressure equilibrium with the
fracture system.
This information itself is
just as important as monitoring fluid levels in
the fractures since it relates to the transfer
processes within the blocks.
The oil contained wi thin the matrix blocks
of a naturally fractured reservoir is produced
by a combination of some of the following
mechanisms :
oil expansion.
gas liberation in the interior of the blocks
(solution gas drive).
drainage of oil from blocks surrounded by gas
in the secondary gas cap.
imbibition of water into blocks which become
surrounded with water as the WOC in the
fracture system rises.
The rate of oil recovery from an individual
oil block,
particularly by the
latter
two
mechanisms, is dependent on two main factors the average block size and the block matrix
permeability.
Sophisticated
reservoir
simulation
models
for
naturally
fractured
reservoirs are based on the concept of a dual
porosity
system
and,
at
each
time
step,
computations are made for two coupled sets of
simul taneous
equations ~
one
set
describing
processes in the blocks with conditions in the
boundary fracture system assume~ known and the
other set modelling changes in the fracture
system with terms allowing for transfer to or
from the blocks assumed known.
Thus at each
grid point of the simulator two distinct sets of
saturations and pressures are computed - those
referring to the matrix and those referring to
the fracture system.
Block size and matrix
permeability are important parameters of such
models and, for example, water breakthrough in a
fractured reservoir can be rapid - corresponding
to very slow imbibition into the blocks - or
comparable to that of a homogeneous reservoir when water influx is absorbed into the blocks -

depending on the values of these quantities.


In
the following section it will be demonstrated
how an analysis of the pressure test buildup
response can give independent information on
these two important parameters.
Detailed
dual-porosity
reservoir
simulations of this type will yield values of
both the matrix and fracture system pressures
i.e.
depending on the block parameters and
depletion rate they will predict the approach
(or lack of it) to vertical equilibrium.
RFT
pressure tests in the developed field can detect
the
block
interior
pressures
directly
and
evidently
the
simulation
model
predictions
should match the measured matrix pressures. The
process of fitting a reservoir simulator to
observed
RFT data
in development wells
is
already
well
established
for
conventional
reservoirs.
However, there is even more benefit
to be gained in the history matching of a
naturally fractured reservoir simulator which
has more unknown parameters - especially matrix
permeability and block size
to be fixed.
Obviously
the
history
matching
should
also
account of any observed saturation changes in
the blocks as detected by TDT* or GST* logs.
PRESSURE BUILDUP ANALYSIS IN CONVENTIONAL RESERVOIRS
(1)
In a previous publication the transient
pressure response of the RFT
test operation
has been analysed in detail using spherical flow
theory.
It was demonstrated that the buildup to
formation pressure following the extraction of
20 cc of fluid, usually mud filtrate, will be
observable with a gauge of 1 psi resolution only
when the formation permeability is less than
about 5 md.
Here the term observable implies
that the duration and amplitude of the buildup
are
sufficient
for
the
slope
of
a
pressure-spherical time function plot to be
identifiable with some degree of confidence.
Spherical steady-state at the probe during the
flow period is not recommended as a basis for
permeability
analysis
because
the
effective
radius of the cavity created on entry of the
probe is unknown - spher ical flow sk in effect.
For a probe set in an infinite, unbounded
formation the spherical buildup plot will be
linear, once the effect of afterflow due to flow
line system capacity has disappeared, with a
slope dependent on the equivalent spherical
permeability,
ks = (k~kz)1/3,
of
the
anisotropic formation.
In addition, theoretical
analysis of the transient response for the caSe
where the probe is set symmetrically between two
hor izontal, impermeable barr iers showed that the
late time portion of the buildup is influenced
by the effect of the boundaries as shown in
Figure 6. Again with a pressure gauge of 1 psi
resolution the late time deviation from linear
behaviour
on
a
spherical
plot
is
only
discernible if the nearest no-flow boundary lies
within about 1 m of the probe:
this criterion
was used to define the depth of investigation of
the permeability estimate obtained from the
slope of the spherical buildup plot.

-Mark of Schlumberger

SPE 10181
THE APPLICATION OF THE REPEAT FORMATION TESTER (RFT) TO THE ANALYSIS OF NATURALLY FRACTURED RESERVOIRS

A study of the properties of the analytical


solution for this bounded case showed that the
time measured from the end of the buildup, ~t*,
at which the deviation commences is given by the
expression
h

=..J

Llt*k

CP]Jc

[0.0296 - 0.074

t
(RFT

~~j

Taking Pi-P* = 8 psi and using equation 1


the apparent thickness from pressure match hp
is 2.4 feet also.
The time match (equation 2) gives for a
time of deviation of t* = 50 sec an apparent
thickness
of
h t = 3.6 feet
again
assuming
isotropic
permeability.
These
results
are
reasonably consistent and compare well with the
information available from open hole logs.

(1)

units)

while the magnitude of the difference,


~p* ,between the actual formation pressure Pi' and
that
obtained
by
extrapolating
the
linear
portion of the buildup to infinite time, p*, is
given by:
1

h[4W(~:i*L]
(RFT

<PlJCth
- 960. 9 ....:....;..~k-'l'-

units)

(2)

Thus both the onset time,


~t*, and the
terminal pressure effect,
~p* , depend on the
thickness, h, of the zone between the barr iers.
Conversely, if ~t* and ~p* are measured from a
pretest response the thickness of the zone can
be estimated from equations 1 or 2.
A spherical buildup plot using field data
from a well in the North Sea is shown in
Figure 6.
It is easy to determine the straight
line portion of buildup which has a slope ms
of
-123 psi.sec- l / 2
The
extrapolation
of
this straight line gives p* = 6315 psi while the
late time data fallon a straight line on a
radial cylindrical plot (not shown) with a slope
of
46.6 psi/log
cycle
and
an
extrapolated
pressure Pi = 6323 psi.
For the following parameters

4>

0.3
0.3 cp
3.10- 6 psi- l
0.697 cc/sec
14.3 sec
19.9 sec

I..l
Ct
ql
Tl
T2

Many other examples exist which show late


time upward deviation on a
spher ical
plot
indicating the presence of no-flow boundaries
wi thin the radius of
investigation
of
the
pressure
test
process.
Note
that
the
correlations for
At* and Ap* refer to the
ideal case with the probe set exactly in the
middle of the bounded zone.
If the probe is set
unsymmetrically in the interval the thickness
given by the time and pressure match using
correlations 1 and 2 will be different ~
many
field
examples
do
indeed
exhibit
some
discrepancy between the thickness estimates from
the two equations.
The RFT test analysis gives
no
indication
of
the
continuity
of
the
impermeable bar r iers on a scale larger than its
depth of investigation but the demonstration of
the presence of no-flow barriers even of limited
lateral extent is an important indicator that
the reservoir effective vertical permeability
may be low.
Since pretest buildups can only be
analysed
in
this
way
when
the
formation
permeability is less than about 5 md (with a
1 psi resolution gauge) the direct application
of the RFT to permeability evaluation is limited
to tight reservoirs.
Al though comparison with
core data is difficult because of depth matching
problems and the different scales of the two
measurements the indications are that the test
buildup permeabilities are always lower;
this
is due to the fact that in an anisotropic medium
the spherical permeability, k s , can be much
less than the horizontal, k r , and due to the
fact that the RFT buildup measures essentially
the effective permeability to water at residual
oil saturation in the mud-filtrate invaded zone.

and using equation (25) from ref. 1 :

the
spherical
permeability
ks
is
0.17 md.
Using the conventional relationship for radial
cylindrical flow (in RFT units)
k

88 4 qll

mh

the
radial permeabilty-thickness
is calculated to be 0.4 md ft.

product

krh

Assuming
isotropic
permeability
the
apparent
thickness,
h m,
from
spherical
and
radial
buildup
slopes
is
therefore
0.4/0.17 = 2.4 feet.

The
analysis
of
~any
tests
in
low
permeability,
unfractured
reservoirs
has
indicated that the theoretical basis for the
interpretation of buildup transient
response
using spherical flow theory is justified.
In
fact the best evidence that the test buildup
reflects
the
local
formation
permeability
derives from the study of the phenomenon known
as "supercharging" where the pressure at the
sand face , measured by the RFT, is in excess of
the formation pressure due to the pressure drop
associated with the influx (injection) of water
i.e. mud filtrate invasion. This effect is only
significant at low permeability - much less than
1 md
and it is now well proven that test
pressures in virgin reservoirs which lie above
the local hydrostatic pressure all exhibit a
very low p'ermeability from spherical buildup
analysis.
Actually
the
development
of
a
criterion
to
allow
the
discrimination
of

SPE 10181

5
George Stewart, Manfred Wittmann and Th. Van Golf Racht

anomalous pressure observations is one of the


main reasons for analysing the test transient
response in terms of permeability. However, in
a high quality reservoir most tests will exhibit
such a rapid buildup to formation pressure that
spherical analysis is impossible~ only if the
probe is set in a tight streak will the response
be observable.
PRESSURE BUILDUP ANALYSIS IN FRACTURED RESERVOIRS
In the case of a
naturally fractured
reservoir the matrix permeability is generally
low and certainly in the range where test
buildups will be amenable to analysis.
Since
the block permeability is one of the key
variables in the characterisation of fractured
reservoirs
a
direct
measurement
of
this
parameter, on a scale comparable to the block
size as provided by the RFT buildup, is of
obvious attraction.
Since the probe is almost
invariably set in the matrix the pressure
disturbance propagates out through the block
until a boundary is reached. Thus the RFT probe
is in immediate contact with the matrix ~
this
is in contrast to conventional well testing
which communicates directly with the fracture
system.
Also, from the point of view of the block
interior, the naturally occurring boundaries are
in fact the fractures.
In the context of an RFT
pressure test, in which 20 cc of fluid are
withdrawn, any disturbance of the pressure of
the high permeability fracture system will be
negligible.
Thus
the
fractures
may
be
considered as constant pressure boundaries which
surround each individual block. The analysis of
buildups in conventional reservoirs with shale
laminations has shown that the presence of such
barriers, and indeed their separation, can be
determined from the late-time behaviour of the
pressure test. Hence the question arises as to
whether the transient response can be used to
indicate the presence of fractures and, more
importantly, give an estimate of block size.
Figure 7 shows the spher ical plot of a pressure
test carried out in a naturally fractured
reservoir. The buildup exhibits a straight line
section followed by a late time deviation from
linear behaviour.
In this case the deviation
takes the form of a distinct levelling-off of
the pressure-spherical
time
function
graph.
This feature is typical for pressure transient
tests in systems with constant pressure outer
boundaries.
On the basis of this particular
result a theoretical analysis of spherical flow
with a constant pressure outer boundary has been
undertaken to see if the matrix block size can
be estimated from the form of this deviation.
It is possible to develop a simplified
model of the pressure buildup response of the
RFT in a naturally fractured reservoir utilizing
the constant pressure outer boundary, analytical
solution to the spherical diffusivity equation.
The conventional model of a dual porosity system
is
based
on
parallelepiped
matrix
blocks
separated by the fracture network.
In the

context of an RFT pressure test it is sufficient


to consider a single matrix block surrounded by
continuous fractures at constant pressure.
It
is assumed that the probe is set in the centre
of the low permeability matrix block and that
the
high
permeability
fracture
system
is
essentially
undisturbed
by
the
test
fluid
withdrawal.
It is convenient to regard the
matrix block as being spherical in shape, as
shown in Figure 8, since the analytical solution
to this problem is relatively compact whereas
the
analogous
solution
for
a
cubic
block
requires complicated superposition to generate
the
constant
pressure
boundaries.
The
difference in behaviour, with respect to an
internal
pressure
disturbance,
between
a
spherical block of radius, r e , and a cubic
block of the same volume will be very small.
In
any event the actual shape of a real block in a
naturally fractured reservoir will be neither
spherical. nor cubic and the two idealizations
have equal validity.
The advantage of both is
that
only
one
representative
dimension
is
involved.
In addition the matrix will be
assumed to be isotropic with permeability, k,
and porosity, <f>, and to be filled with a single
fluid of viscosity,
~,
and compressibility,
CtThe
constant
rate
spherical
source,
constant pressure outer boundary solution to the
spherical diffusivity equation was quoted by
Chatas (2) and for the probe pressure drop
takes the form :

-1
-2 (1:"

-1)

De

L:

(3)

n=l

where
r

_
kt
- cjJpC

and wn are the positive roots of the equation


f(w) =
tanw + w/(roe-l) '" O.
The
first
root, wI (TT /2 ~ wI ~ TT) ,
is easily found by
the Newton iteration

commencing
from
wl o =3
and
the
subsequent
roots
are given by
wn =
wI + (n-l)TT.
Pi
is
the
initial pressure
and
the constant
pressure
maintained
at
the
outer
boundary
r = reo
This solution can easily be computed
using a programmable calculator and summing the
series to n=lO.
The computations of Chatas

SPE 10181
THE APPLICATION OF THE REPEAT FORMATION TESTER (RFT) TO THE ANALYSIS OF NATURALLY FRACTURED RESERVOIRS

tak ing n=6 are significantly in error.


At long
dimensionless flowing times the solution reduces
to the steady-state equation
-1

(4)

i.e.
(Pi-p)ss

[!p - ~J

(5)

when

For
the
purposes of analyzing buildup
pressure response a flow-rate schedule of the
form shown in Figure 9 has been adopted i. e. a
single constant rate q for time T followed by a
zero
probe
flow.
Using
superposition
the
buildup pressure response is given by :

(6)

where
(t-T)O = Ato
is
the
dimensionless
shut-in
time
and
to
is
the
dimensionless
elapsed time. The buildup response was computed
using
equations
(3)
and
(6)
for different
combinations
of
dimensionless
flowing
time,
TD, and system dimension, rOe.
The results
are shown in Figures 10 where the dimensionless
pressure drop during buildup, POs' is plotted
against
the
dimensionless
spherical
time
function for an infinite acting system :

(7)

For
large
values
of
rOe
the
outer
boundary has no appreciable influence and the
system
is
infinite
acting
i.e.
Pos =
fos (TO' to)
and
the
solution
falls
on
the
diagonal of the dimensionless spherical plot.
For values of rOe lying within the depth of
investigation established during drawdown the
constant
pressure
outer
boundary
has
a
distinctive effect on the buildup response.
As
can be seen from Figures 10 there is a period of
quasi-spherical buildup of slope close to unity
followed by a levelling-pff of the plot.
This
behaviour is characteristic of systems with a
constant pressure outer boundary and analogous
results
have
been
obtained
for
radial
cylindrical flow.
In

the

situation

where

the

dimensionless

graph
of
Pos
versus
fos(To,tO)
has
a
slope of unity then a direct plot of the buildup
pressure, Ps (in psi), versus the spherical
time
function,
fs(T,t)=l/vf.'=T - l/~
(in
sec-l/ 2 )
will
have
the
form
shown
in
Figure 11. Once afterflow has become negligible

there will be a straight line section reflecting


the permeability of the matrix block;
the slope
of
this
line
is
given
by
8xl0 4qll (<f>IlCt)1/2/k3/2 psLsec l / 2 (RFT
units:
see appendix regarding units) where k is the
matrix permeability.
At time
~t* the data
begin to deviate from the straight line and
level off at the reservoir (fracture system)
pressure, Pi.
Extrapolation of the straight
line segment to fs(T,t)=O yields an intercept
pressure, p*, which is higher than the reservoir
pressure, Pi.
Both the shut-in time, At*, at
which
the
deviation
from
linear
behaviour
commences and the pressure difference (p*- Pi)
reflect the average dimension re of the matrix
block.
Following the approach which had proved
successful in the analysis of buildup response
in systems bounded by impermeable barriers an
analogous interpretation method was developed
for
the case of a constant pressure outer
boundary.
The basis of the method
is
to
establish,
from
the
analytical
solution,
correlations for the dimensionless quantities
p~
and
~t6
in
terms
of
rOe
and
To.
Here P5 is the intercept of the straight line
segment of the dimensionless spher ical plot and
A tE
is
the dimensionless shut-in
time at
which the analytical solution starts to deviate
from quasi-spherical behaviour.
For the cases
shown in Figure 10,
Ati5 was determined by
visual inspection of the plots and is indicated
by an arrow;
the slope and intercept of the
linear
portion
of
each
solution
was
then
computed
using
a
least-squares
regression
method. The results of these analyses are given
in Table 1 and the slopes are all sufficiently
close to unity to justify the assumption of
quasi-spherical
behaviour
i.e.
the
matrix
permeability can be determined from the slope of
the straight line section of a basic spher ica1
plot.
By analogy with the bounded layer case it
was
anticipated
that
the
combination
rOe (pE/To) 1/3,
which
is
independent
of
the effective probe radius, rp should be a
function of roell'TD.
These quantities are
tabulated
in
Table 1
and
are
plotted
on
Fig. 12;
as expected an excellent correlation
is obtained which can be well represented by the
quadratic expression
r

[P ]%
D

De TD

0.15+0.

_ O. 314

rr

De]

ro

(8)

This equation, reflecting the behaviour of


the analytical solution, is the basis of the
pressure match in which the characteristic block
dimension re can be estimated from knowledge
of the measured pressure difference, p*- Pi,
and
the
volume
of
fluid
extracted
during
drawdown,
qT.
In the case of a constant
pressure, spherical outer boundary the group
roe(P~/To)I/3
shows
greater
variation
wi th
rOi."/Tr;" than
the
analogous
quantity,
ho(p~/To) /3,
in
a
bounded
layer
system.
Hence
it
is
not
possible
to

SPE 10181

George Stewart, Manfred Wittmann and Th. Van Golf Racht

simplify the interpretation method by taking


rDe(PB/TD)l/3
to
be
constant.
The
important
property
of
the
particular
dimensionless
combination,
re(4TT (p"l!.Pi> q,Ct/(qTl/3,
is
that
it
does not involve either the effective probe
radius, rp, or the permeability, k.
The group
rDel
also does not involve rp since

lTD

ie:

(2301.9D2)h~ + (C-l1S.1D)

Letting

- 0.3

(12)

2301. 90 2
C - 115.10
- 0.3

a
b

the value of hb is simply determined from the


formula for the root of a quadratic equation :

(9)

This group
should be
evaluated
using
consistent units with permeability expressed as
length squared.
I f the height of a matrix block, hb'
defined as hb==2re
the correlation may
written in the alternative form :

is
be

O.3+0.95[~J - O.157[~
Le.

It is also possible to determine from the


analytical solution a criterion for the time at
which deviation
from
linear
buildup on a
spherical
plot
commences.
This
time
is
obviously a function of the distance, r e , to
the constant pressure boundary which causes late
time divergence from infinite acting behaviour.
For
each
combination
of
rOe
and
TD
illustrated
in
Figure 10
the
dimensionless
shut-in time,
~t6, characterizing the onset
of the outer boundary effect was determined by
inspection of the
appropriate dimensionless
buildup curve;
these values are listed in
Table 1.
Again following the analogy with the
bounded layer system it was expected that there
would be a linear correlation between the
combination
rDel l~t5
and
the
ratio
~ tB/t~.
These
groups
are
plotted
on
Figure 13 and it can be seen that there is
indeed such a linear relation given by equation :

(consistent units)
2.12 - 0.818 t*

If the variables are entered directly


RFT units the correlation takes the form :

in

- 2301.9 ~(ll)
(RFT

units)

In order to estimate the block height,


hb'
from
the values of P*-Pi
and
k
as
determined from a buildup plot i t is convenient
to write :

(consistent units)
The scatter of the data points in Figure 13
is
due
to
the
fact
that
the
critical
dimensionless
shut-in
times,
~t6,
were
determined simply by visual inspection of the
plot
of
the
analytical
solution.
If
a
quantitative e.g. 1% error criterion had been
employed much less scatter would have been
observed.
For
large values of
~t6
th is
equation reduces to :

and
(RFT units)

in which
becomes :

case

the

pressure

match

equation

De

1. 31

The value of 1.31 established here from the


constant pressure outer boundary solution is in
very good agreement with the corresponding value
of 1.33 determined for the bounded layer case.
Thus the pressure disturbance generated by the
termination of the flow has to travel to the
block limit and then back to the probe before
the boundary effect manifests itself.
In terms
of RFT units and equivalent block size, hb'
the time match equation is :
h"

Db

0.035 - 0.0135

SPE 10181
THE APPLICATION OF THE REPEAT FORMATION TESTER (RFT) TO ~HE ANALYSIS OF NATURALLY FRACTURED RESERVOIRS

i.e.
0.035 - 0.0135

or

"/~~::

[0.035-0.0135 6~:J

(13)

This is the time match equation in RFT


units
and
can
be
used
to
estimate
the
characteristic block dimension, hb' from the
value of .6.ti) read from the spherical buildup
plot.
In principle the time and pressure match
equations should yield the same value of block
size, hb.
If the RFT probe were indeed set in
the centre of a regular block this would be so.
However, in general, the block shape will not be
spherical and, more importantly, the probe may
not be centrally located. Hence when real tests
are
analysed
there
will
always
be
some
discrepancy between the two estimates of block
size.
In practice the pressure difference,
p*- Pi' can usually be identified from the
spherical plot with greater confidence than the
time,
.6.t*,
at
which
deviation
commences~
pressure measurement error renders the latter
quantity rather difficult to define precisely.
The
theoretical
results
have
all
been
obtained from the analysis of the case where
there is a single flow period of duration, T,
and constant rate, q, succeeded by an indefinite
period of zero flow.
In reality an RFT pressure
test
involves an
initial rate, ql'
to an
intermediate time, TI'
(corresponding to the
motion of the first piston), followed by a
higher rate q2 from Tl to the total flow
time, T2 (second piston motion), and then zero
flow.
However, it was found that for the layer
system bounded by impermeable barr iers all the
single rate results carryover to the two-rate
case provided the plots are made with the
appropriate two-rate spherical
time function
Le. :

using the analytic solution for a homogeneous,


isotropic formation of permeability, k.
In the
case
of
a
spherical
outer
boundary
any
coordinate
transformation
to
account
for
anisotropy will render this surface ellipsoidal
and hence the Chatas (2) solution cannot be
employed. However it can be presumed that when
the system is infinite acting i.e. straight line
behaviour on a spherical plot the slope is
governed
by
the
equivalent
spherical
permeability ks ~ (kf k z )1/3 when the matrix is
anisotropic.
With regard to the pressure and
time match equations evidently the influence of
anisotropy on the layer system bounded above and
below by impermeable barriers, as discussed in
reference (1), cannot be used to infer the
effect in the present case since the flow
patterns are quite different.
For the moment
the problem of the effect of matrix anisotropy
on
the
spher ical,
constant
pressure
outer
boundary system will be left open as was the
question of the equivalent spherical source
radius, rp, in an anisotropic bounded layer
system~
both problems require an analysis in
ellipsoidal coordinates.
Note that anisotropy
may be a partial cause of any discrepancy
between the pressure and time match block height
estimates.
However in carbonate matrix blocks,
which
constitute
most
fractured
reservoirs,
aniostropy is not usually of importance and can
be neglected.
FIELD EXAMPLES

The examples presented on Figs. 14 and 15


are taken from RFT-tests in a high porosity, low
permeability chalky limestone formation.
Qualitative inspection of the RFT logs
allows distinction between two clearly different
patterns :
As shown on the lower part of Fig. 14, the
pressure
time
diagram displays
typical
low
permeability behaviour.
During drawdown
the
pressure drops to (virtually) zero indicating
the formation is unable to deliver the flowrates
imposed by the pretest pistons (about 0.6 cc/sec
and 1.6 cc/sec). At some time after the pretest
pistons have stopped the pressure begins to rise
and continues to do so for a considerable time.
In this example some 5 minutes of buildup are
shown.
(Note
that
one
small
division
corresponds to 6 secs of time).

The same is true in the present situation.


In the pressure match equation the quantity qT
is synonymous with the total volume of fluid
extracted
during
the
overall
flow
period
(usually 20 cc).
The single rate time T should
be replaced by the overall flowing time T2 in
both the pressure and time match equations.

Compare this with the diagram shown in the


upper part of Fig. 14. Again the pressure drops
to
zero
during
drawdown,
indicating
low
permeability,
and
initially
the
pressure
build-up resembles closely the one discussed
above.
However,
instead
of
continuing
to
increase,
the pressure soon levels off and
remains
constant
over
a
period
of
about
150 seconds until the test was terminated and
the pressure jumped to the hydrostatic (mud)
pressure.

The
pressure

This pattern may be interpreted in terms of


distance to a constant pressure boundary and

effect
of
a
spherical,
constant
outer boundary has been investigated

SPE 10181

George Stewart, Manfred Wittmann and Th. Van Golf Racht

eventually of block height as explained below


for
the
spherical
buildup
plot
shown
on
Fig. 15.
This computer-produced buildup shows
the typical features explained above.
At the
early stages of the buildup the pressure falls
below a straight line asymptote, approaches and
finally JOlns it at a total test time of
26 seconds. About 13 seconds later the pressure
begins to fall again below the asymptote and
finally levels off oscillating between 5926 and
5927 psi
(gauge
resolution ~ Ipsi)
for about
130 seconds until the end of the test.

Finally we
can
verify
the
investigation
of
this
test
equation (54) of Ref. 1, i.e. :

o. 6

[ 4 IT

~~C

t]

radius
of
by
using

1/
3

60 em

This means that detection of block sizes up


to 1.20 m was feasible
under
the specific
conditions of this test.
REMARKS

Using
the
asymptote
as
slope
of
spherical
buildup
one
can
calculate
spherical permeability as per equation

the
the

(1)
In the simulation of naturally fractured
reservoirs the two main parameters are the
dimensionless fracture storage parameter, w,
given by :
(VC)f

w
0.5 cp
0.3
3.10- 6 pSi- l
188 psi. sec- l / 2

where

To check to validity of the slope chosen we


can use this permeability to calculate the time
constant
of
afterflow
using
the
following
equation (see Ref. 3 for details).

where

5660)J

v Cf

(standard probe, no skin)

of the sampling
(50cc
in
this

volume
system
case)

Cf

compressibility
fluid
(3xlO- 6 pSi-I)

0.24 md

1. 75 sec

It can
be demonstrated
that
afterflow
effects can be neglected after 8 time constants,
i.e. in this case 14 seconds after the beginning
of the buildup.
A flow period of 12 sec was
observed (using only one 10 cc pretest chamber)
so that spherical buildup behaviour can be
expected after a total of 26 seconds as indeed
seems to be the case.
Using equation 12 we calculate for the
observed pressure difference Pi -p* of 4 psi an
apparent block height h b
of 90 em and using
equation 13
and
the P time
of
deviation
t* = 39 sec an apparent block height h~
of
97 cm,
showing
excellent
agreement
between
pressure and time match procedures.
This block
size compares well with results of statistical
core analysis.

(VC)m

and
the
dimensionless
matrix
permeability ratio, A , where :
k

0.83 cc/sec

This
results
in
ks ~ 0.24 md
and,
provided anisotropy can be taken to be 1, this
corresponds to the matrix permeability of the
block investigated.

(qNC)f +

to

fracture

a is the interporosity flow shape factor and for


a regular cubic block of dimension hb is given
by :

It is possible to determine the parameters


wand A by matching the observed reservoir
behaviour to a model of the Warren and Root
type~
this is discussed by Gringarten (4) in
connection with well testing and Cinco-Ley (5)
in
connection
with
depletion
history
monitoring.
Type curve analysis,
then,
can
provide a value of the parameters wand A
The importance of the present study is that RFT
data can give independent estimates of the
matrix permeability km and the interporosity
flow shape factor a
Hence a combination of
reservoir/well testing and RFT testing can lead
to a more complete description of the system.
(2) With a pressure gauge of 1 psi resolution
and an extracted volume of 20 cc the practical
depth of investigation of the test is around
I m.
If the block size is greater than twice
this distance, the late time boundary effect
will be too small to be observed.
In order to
extend the capability of the RFT tool in terms
of direct permeability measurement a new version
is being field tested which has an improved
gauge resolution of 0.1 psi and allows a much
larger test volume to be taken.
This will
considerably increase the depth of investigation
and allow blocks of larger dimension to be
identified.

10

SPE 10181
THE APPLICATION OF THE REPEAT FORMATION TESTER (RFT) TO THE ANALYSIS OF NATURALLY FRACTURED RESERVOIRS

REFERENCES
(1)

"Interpretation of the Pressure Response of


the Repeat Formation Tester".
SPE 8362,
presented at the SPE Fall Meeting 1979 in
Las Vegas.

(2)

Chatas, A.T., "Unsteady Spherical Flow in


Petroleum Reservoirs". SPEJ (June 1966).

(3)

"The
Essentials
Interpretation."
July 1981.

(4)

Gringarten, A.C., Bourdet, D.P., Landel,


P., Kniazeff, V.J. "A Comparison between
different
Skin
and
Wellbore
Storage
Type-curves
for
Early-Time
Transient
Analysis." SPE 8205, presented at the SPE
Fall Meeting 1979 in Las Vegas.

(5)

Giovanni Da Prat, Heber Cinco-Ley, Henry J.


Ramey, "Decline Curve Analysis using Type
Curves
for
Two-Porosity
Systems".
SPEJ
June 1981.

of
RFT
Schlumberger,

Pretest
paris,

TABLE 1

llt*D

Oe

p*0

10 3

50

-0.005376

1.037

10 3

40

-0.009322

10"*

100

10"*

50

10 5

TO

[Pt] 11,

De

Oe

y"St~

lltt;
t*0

De TD

830

0.8759

1. 581

1. 736

0.4536

1.021

425

0.8418

1.265

1.940

0.2982

-0.004542

0.993

2750

0.7687

1.000

1.907

0.2157

-0.01377

0.975

565

0.5563

0.500

2.104

0.0535

200

-0.003208

0.995

9800

0.6355

0.6325

2.020

0.0893

105

100

-0.007938

0.9842

2300

0.4298

0.3162

2.085

0.0225

10 5

50

-0.01675

0.950

545

0.2756

0.1581

2.142

0.00542

MATRIX'
BLOCK .

..

. .. .
.

So

Pw

hb

1....:.._.....:...
....:.:...-.- - - : . - - - - - - 1

.
'.- . .

. : .BLOCK woc -

L-_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

...

Sw

-:/-

........ ....... .

FWL~

.....I

FRACTURE
NETWORK
(OIL FILLED)

____________~

SATURATION

PRESSURE _

Fig. 1 - Distribution of saturation and pressure in a matrix block

\,6900

0900il

Fig. 2 - Computer-processed interpreation of logs in a naturally fractured reservoir

FORMATION
5100

PRESSURE

(psi)

5200

5300

3170

3180

3190

glee

TVD
(m)
3200

3210
\

\
3220

--1--------\

\
'1\

_____ ~OC__ ~\_---

3230

~ \

TRANSITION
ZONE FROM LOGS
3240

WATER GRADIENT
1,043 glee

\
FWL

. - MUD PRESSURE
3250

Fig. 3 - Effect of capillary threshold pressure (WOC vs FWL)

-...
....
.-"'.' ".
II

..

D
E

[2J

D
........
.......:.:.,..

-------I

'

....
...

--1

II.

.......
. .....

[j

_.... _-----

......"
....
".".". "
ill"

...
..

'

MATRIX
BLOCKS

PRESSURE _____
RFT

MEASURED PRESSURE

Fig. 4 - Diagramatic representation of saturation and pressure in a fractured reservoir

PRIMARY

original gas pressure

present gas\,
pressure
"

GAS CAP
OGOC
SECONDARY
GAS CAP
GOC
GAS LIBERATION
ZONE

DEPTH

SATURATED
OIL ZONE

original
saturation
pressure

OIL DISPLACEMENT ZONE


wOC
OWOC

WATER INVADED ZONE

-----

/ __

present oil
pressure

AQUIFER

present water
pressure

PRESSURE IN FRACTURE SYSTEM


x RFT

DATA IN VIRGIN RESERVOIR

DATA IN PRODUCED RESERVOIR


RFT
PROVIDED BLOCKS ARE AT VERTICAL EQUILIBRIUM
Fig. 5 - Fracturepressure distribution in a produced reservoir

30 sec

40

50

100

200

6320

6310

6300
- 123 psi.sec
ms

-1/2

6290

6280
0.25

0.2

0.1

0.15

0.05

f s (T"T2 ,t)

(Sec

1/2)

Fig. 6 - Effect of impermeable boundaries On the RFT-pressure build-up

P*

,/

TYPICAL BUILDUP IN
FRACTURED FORMATIONS

BOUNDARY
EFFECTS

//

AFTERFLOW...(
EFFECTS ~ ~

Fig. 7

Typical RFT-pressure build-up in fractured formations

/'

.... -6-...

WELL
BORE

o
PARALLEL - EPIPED
MODEL OF
NATURALLY
FRACTURED
RESERVOIR

;QJ

J~

PERMEABILITY
k
POROSITY

0
. ___

FRACTURE
NETWORK

RFT
PROBE

<P

~/

hb

CUBIC
MATRIX
BLOCK "

(1

Fig. 8a

_CONSTANT
PRESSURE OUTER
BOUNDARY AT Pi
SPHERICAv
SINK RADIUS

rp

EQUIVALENT SPHERICAL SYSTEM


Fig. 8b - Modelling of matrix blocks

SHUT-IN

ql--------_
FLOW-RATE

T
_______________

~.

_----I......

TIME

dt

Fig. 9a

Pi ------------- -----------------------------::-.:,:--:,:.-=:--:.=.:--::.;:-.:.;:--:.=.-- - - - - PRESSURE

T
.... t
_ - - - t....... dt

TIME

Fig. 9b - Flow-rate schedule and pressure response of a single-rate RFT test

Or-------,-------r------r------~----~----_,~~--__,

0.01

0.02

50

0.03

50

0.03

0.01

0.02

0.03

0.02

0.01

fso(Tot o )
Fig. 10b

Fig. 10a

o~----------------------------~~------~~--~~~

0.01

0.02

0.03

0.03

0.02

0.01

Fig. 10c - Dimensionless pressure response in a system with constant pressure


boundaries

p"

LINEAR SPHERICAL
BUILDUP

:-_--;pi

AFTERFLOW
I

Ps
(psi)

I EFFECT

OF

I CONSTANT
PRESSURE

I OUTER
BOUNDARY
SLOPE =_

1hliE

8x10

q.,a (<\>.,aCt)

K~%

I FRACTURE
NETWORK

Fig. 11

Characteristics of a spherical pressure build-up in a matrix block

1.0

0.5

0.5

Fig. 12

1.0

Correlation for the pressure-match

1.5

2.2

2.1

2.0
rpe

{;:t"
Il p

1.9

1.8

1.7

0.1

0.2

0.4

0.5

Fig. 13 - Correlation for the time-match

Io

ANALOG PRESSURE
PSI
10000

DIGITAL PRESSURE DISPLAY

H-t--I--t-t-t-t+-----1

1 mI

Fig. 14 - Field examples of RFT pressure records in low permeability


formations

r---~------'-------'--------.-------r-------'--------'-------.--------r5950

en

0.

5900

...

ft (spherica I)
0.16

0.14

0.12

0.10

0.10

0.06

0.04

0.02

Fig. 15 - Computer-produced spherical build-up plot from an actual test