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Modeling Inflow Performance

Relationships for Wells Producing
From Two-Layer Solution-Gas Drive
Reservoirs Without...

Article in Petroleum Science and Technology April 2012

DOI: 10.1080/10916466.2010.499401


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Modeling Inflow Performance

Relationships for Wells Producing From
Two-Layer Solution-Gas Drive Reservoirs
Without Cross-Flow
a a a a
F. H. Qasem , I. S. Nashawi , A. Malallah & M. I. Mir
Department of Petroleum Engineering, College of Engineering and
Petroleum, Kuwait University, Safat, Kuwait

Available online: 24 Apr 2012

To cite this article: F. H. Qasem, I. S. Nashawi, A. Malallah & M. I. Mir (2012): Modeling Inflow
Performance Relationships for Wells Producing From Two-Layer Solution-Gas Drive Reservoirs Without
Cross-Flow, Petroleum Science and Technology, 30:11, 1122-1139

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Petroleum Science and Technology, 30:11221139, 2012
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ISSN: 1091-6466 print/1532-2459 online
DOI: 10.1080/10916466.2010.499401

Modeling Inflow Performance Relationships for

Wells Producing From Two-Layer Solution-Gas
Drive Reservoirs Without Cross-Flow


M. I. MIR1
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Department of Petroleum Engineering, College of Engineering and Petroleum,
Kuwait University, Safat, Kuwait

Abstract Continuous monitoring and accurate anticipation of the present and future
performance of the flowing wells and reservoirs constitute the cornerstone elements
in the design of optimum field development strategy. It is crucial for the petroleum
engineer to possess the appropriate tools that assist in efficiently predicting well
behavior, designing artificial lift equipment, forecasting production, and optimizing
the entire production system. Inflow performance relationship (IPR) is one of the vital
tools required to monitor well performance. Existing inflow performance relationship
models are idealistic and mainly designed for homogeneous reservoirs. However, most
reservoirs around the world are heterogeneous and composed of layers of different
permeabilities. Hence, there is an urgent need for new realistic IPR models that
describe the actual reservoir inflow performance behavior more efficiently than the
available models. The authors investigate the effects of reservoir heterogeneity on
IPR curves for wells producing from two-layer solution-gas drive reservoirs without
cross-flow. Furthermore, the results provide the petroleum engineer with two simple
yet accurate IPR models for heterogeneous reservoirs. The first model represents the
IPR of the well under present flowing conditions, while the second model is used to
forecast future well deliverability.

Keywords future well performance, inflow performance relationship, layers perme-

ability contrast, no cross-flow, pressure depletion effect, solution-gas drive reservoir,
two-layer reservoir

The ultimate goal of the production engineer is to optimize fluid production taking into
consideration reservoir and surface facility constrains. The achievement of this vital goal
requires good understanding of fluid flow in the porous media as well as in the piping
network. In 1954, Gilbert presented a Nodal System Analysis approach to optimize fluid
production from the reservoir. In this approach, the entire production system is divided
into two sections at a convenient location called a node. Most frequently, the node
is located at the bottom of the well. The reservoir is considered as the inflow section,
whereas the piping network is considered as the outflow section. The relationship between

Address correspondence to I. S. Nashawi, Department of Petroleum Engineering, College of

Engineering and Petroleum, Kuwait University, P. O. Box 5969, Safat 13060, Kuwait. E-mail:

Inflow Performance Relationships 1123

the sandface pressure and the flow rate within the inflow section is known as inflow
performance relationship (IPR).
The various concepts available to model fluid flow in the reservoir are classified into
either theoretical or empirical approaches. Fluid flow in porous media is usually modeled
mathematically by applying the laws of conservation of mass, momentum, and energy.
The resulting set of partial differential equations is either solved analytically for simple
cases or numerically for more complicated cases. If all the parameters involved in the
flow equations could be quantified, then analytical solutions could be used to model the
IPR. Unfortunately, most often sufficient information rarely exists to analytically solve the
differential equations; therefore, empirical correlations based on either field or numerical
simulation data are used to predict the IPR of the well.
Given the manner in which reservoirs are deposited and the complex diagenetic
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changes that occurred thereafter, it is profound to declare that most reservoirs around the
world are heterogeneous to some extent; nevertheless, the degree of heterogeneity varies
from one reservoir to another. Consequently, it is common to observe drastic permeability
variations within a single reservoir. Permeability alteration is usually more prominent with
depth than with lateral directions within the reservoir. Hence, practically every reservoir is
stratified to some extent (i.e., composed of layers of different permeabilities). A reservoir
in which fluid transfer from one layer to another only occurs through the wellbore is
known as commingled or stratified reservoir. Conversely, if the fluid transfers from one
layer to another away from the wellbore, the reservoir is called a cross-flow system.
Initially, oil well performance was based on the assumption that fluid flow in the
well is proportional to the difference between the reservoir pressure and the wellbore
sandface pressure. One of the first relationships based on this assumption is known as the
productivity index (PI). Evinger and Muskat (1942) stated that a straight-line relationship
between the pressure drawdown and flow rate should not be expected when multiphase
fluids are flowing in the reservoir. To emphasize their claim, they presented theoretical
calculation showing a curved relationship between the flow rate and pressure for two-
and three-phase fluid flow. Levine and Prats (1961) extended the knowledge of solution-
gas drive reservoirs and well behavior by assuming that the decline rate of stock tank
oil-in-place is constant and uniform throughout the reservoir. Later, Vogel (1968) used
computer simulation data for different crude oil properties to develop an IPR equation
for two-phase flow, oil and gas, in the reservoir. His equation incorporates the effects of
well spacing, fracturing, and skin restrictions. In 1973, Fetkovich used actual field data to
develop empirical IPR for two-phase flow. Both the Vogel and Fetkovich relations have
been applied extensively and successfully for analyzing oil well performance in solution-
gas drive reservoirs. The main deficiency involved in these correlations is that they assume
homogeneous and isotropic reservoirs and constant average reservoir pressure. Since then,
various generalizations of these two IPR equations have been reported in the literature.
Different forms of IPR equations that take into consideration damage or stimulation
in the vicinity of the wellbore of solution-gas drive reservoirs were also presented
(Standing, 1970; Dias-C and Golan, 1982; Camacho-V and Raghavan, 1987; Klins and
Majcher, 1992). Jones et al. (1976) and Camacho-V et al. (1993) investigated the effects
of non-Darcy flow created by high-flow rate production on IPR behavior. In many cases,
completion efficiency plays a dominant role in well performance; hence, Locke (1981),
McLeod (1983), and Sukarno and Tobing (1995) presented empirical IPR correlations
that incorporate the effects of well completion type and perforation design.
Efficient well performance optimization requires the accurate prediction of future
reservoir behavior. As oil is produced from the reservoir, the average reservoir pressure
1124 F. H. Qasem et al.

declines; consequently, fluid flow into the wellbore also declines. Thus, to accurately
capture future well performance, IPR equations should integrate the effects of reservoir
depletion. Standing (1971), Fetkovich (1973), Al-Saadoon (1980), Kelkar and Cox (1985),
Klins and Clark (1993), and Poe et al. (1995) presented techniques for estimating future
IPR. Furthermore, most mature solution-gas drive reservoirs produce water as a third
phase beside oil and gas, which dictates developing IPR formulation capable of predicting
three-phase fluid flow behavior (Chu and Evans, 1983; Wiggins et al., 1992; Wiggins,
All the mentioned methods thus far were developed for vertical wells producing
from single-layer reservoirs. Recently, it became a more common practice to drill a
long horizontal hole into the producing formation. The flow behavior in the vicinity of
horizontal sections is more complicated than that observed in vertical wells. A com-
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bination of linear, radial, and spherical flow regimes may exist and the flow behavior
may resemble that of an extensively fractured well. With the advent of new technology,
multilateral or multibranched wells are also being drilled. Fluid flow behavior into these
nonvertical wells has been also investigated and IPR equations have been presented by
several authors (Bendakhlia and Aziz, 1989; Cheng, 1990; Kabir, 1992; Chang, 1992;
Raghavan and Joshi, 1993; Huang et al., 1998; Retnanto and Economides, 1996; Kamkom
and Zhu, 2005; Yildiz, 2005; Guo et al., 2006). Qasem (1996) presented a detailed study
of IPR for naturally fractured reservoirs.
All the previously mentioned papers have concerned wells producing from a single
homogeneous formation. The accuracy of these idealistic IPR models for solution-gas
drive reservoirs is highly questionable when applied to heterogeneous reservoirs. Nind
(1989) discussed the effects of formation stratification on the shape of the IPR curves.
He presented hypothetical IPR curves for layered systems, but his conceptual work was
supported neither by analytical nor by numerical justifications. None of the available IPR
models for solution-gas drive reservoirs takes into consideration reservoir heterogeneity
due to layers. It is well known that real petroleum reservoirs are never homogeneous.
They may be fractured, layered, dual-porosity, dual-permeability, or of any complex
combination of these types. The objective of this study was to investigate the performance
of vertical wells producing from two-layer solution-gas drive reservoirs without cross-
flow. A new inflow performance relationship that accurately captures two-phase flow
behavior in the reservoir is presented. The effect of reservoir depletion on the IPR
behavior is also thoroughly examined at different depletion stages. Moreover, an empirical
correlation that is capable of predicting future IPR performance is also developed.

Description of the Simulation Model

Phase behavior of solution-gas drive reservoir fluids can be efficiently simulated using ei-
ther black-oil or compositional numerical simulation models. Over the years, both models
have proved to provide competitive results over a wide range of reservoir characteristics
and fluid properties. The simulator used in this investigation is an advanced 3D radial
black-oil model with the well located in the center (Computer Modeling Group, 2004). A
fully implicit formulation approach is adapted in the simulation process. This approach
has been extensively assessed and confirmed to be unconditionally stable. The model
architecture consists of 100 grid blocks in the radial direction. Grid sensitivity analysis
was carefully conducted to achieve the optimum number of grids. The grid mesh size
near the wellbore is very fine; then, it increases exponentially with distance from the well.
The small grid refinement near the wellbore is important to obtain accurate description of
Inflow Performance Relationships 1125
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Figure 1. Relative permeability curves of oil-gas system.

the fluid flow behavior at the sandface. The reservoir is cylindrical and composed of two
layers. Each layer is homogeneous and isotropic with a formation porosity of 25%. No
cross-flow between layers is allowed in the reservoir. Hydraulic fluid communication only
occurs in the wellbore. The assignment of absolute permeability to the two layers is case
specific; each simulation run has a different permeability value that varies from 0.1 md
to 1,000 md. The reservoir pressure of each simulated case starts from the bubble-point
pressure, which is equal to the initial reservoir pressure of 4,000 psi; then, it declines
as fluid is being produced from the reservoir. Figure 1 displays the relative permeability
curves for the simulated data. Few additional characteristics of the simulation model are
as follows:
1. The water present in the reservoir is immobile and has a saturation of 25%.
2. The reservoir temperature is 160 F and is constant throughout the reservoir.
3. The two layers are fully penetrated by a vertical well and are fully perforated.
4. No fluid flow occurs at the outer reservoir boundary.
Figures 2 and 3 illustrate the major pressure-volume-temperature (PVT) properties
of the crude oil as a function of pressure. Relevant fluid PVT and rock properties used
in this investigation are reported in Table 1.

Inflow Performance Relation (IPR) Simulation Specifics

Production rate data as a function of flowing bottomhole pressure are required to generate
IPR curves. The simulation program was allowed to run until the reservoir pressure
reaches 20% of the initial pressure. This condition is essential to produce a full-spectrum
IPR curve. Furthermore, to achieve good reservoir performance prediction, a minimum of
14 computer simulation runs were executed at various sandface pressures to generate the
data required for a single IPR curve. Small time-step intervals were used at the beginning
of each run to properly capture the early production stages.
1126 F. H. Qasem et al.
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Figure 2. Oil formation volume factor and oil and gas viscosities as a function of pressure.

Figure 3. Gas oil ratio and gas formation volume factor as a function of pressure.

IPR Data Acquisition

The following analysis procedure is implemented to generate the data required to develop
the empirical IPR models:
1. Simulated oil production rates, qo , were simultaneously recorded as a function of
average reservoir depletion pressure, Pr , for a fixed flowing bottomhole pressure,
Inflow Performance Relationships 1127

Table 1
Fluid PVT and rock properties used
in the simulator

Bubble-point pressure, Pb , psi D 4,000

Initial reservoir pressure, Pi , psi D 4,000
Reference pressure, psi D 14.7
Gas gravity, g (dimensionless) D 0.7
Initial oil saturation, Soi , % D 0.75
Residual oil saturation, Sor , % D 0.25
Critical gas saturation, Sgc , % D 0.02
Connate water saturation, Swc , % D 0.25
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Oil compressibility, co , psi 1 D 1.465  10 5

Rock compressibility, cr , psi 1 D 3  10 6

Formation porosity, , % D 0.25
Wellbore radius, rw , ft D 0.5
Reservoir drainage radius, re , ft D 750
Pay zone thickness, h, ft D 50
Reservoir temperature, T , F D 160

Pwf . For each simulation run, the average reservoir pressure is allowed to undergo
primary depletion starting from the bubble-point pressure Pb to the flowing bottomhole
2. For each of the subsequent simulation runs, Pwf is given a new value. A complete
run is executed, and qo is recorded as a function of Pr . At least fourteen Pwf values
were used to plot a single IPR curve.
3. The IPR curves are generated by plotting Pwf =Pr versus qo =qo;max :qo;max represents
the maximum rate corresponding to Pwf D 0. Each IPR curve applies to a specific
average pressure. Dimensionless average reservoir pressure, PD , is used to designate
each curve. PD is defined as the ratio of the average reservoir pressure to the bubble-
point pressure:
PD D (1)
4. To capture the minute IPR behavior variation, IPR curves were generated for 31
different dimensionless average reservoir pressure values. PD starts from a value of
0.975 then declines by a decrement of 0.025 to reach 0.2, at which Pr D 20% of
Pb . Each simulated data set required to plot a single IPR curve was determined at
constant layers permeability contrast.
5. Rigorous nonlinear regression analysis is performed on the data used to plot the IPR
curves to obtain the empirical equation for each specific case.
6. Once the regression model is successfully obtained, the previous steps are repeated
for different reservoir conditions and layers permeability contrast.

Simulation Outputs and Data Analysis

A comprehensive simulation work was conducted to investigate the effects of reservoir
depletion and variation in the permeability of the two-layer system on the behavior of the
1128 F. H. Qasem et al.

Table 2
Permeability clustering of the two-layer system

Simulator run k1 k2

Cluster 1
1 1 0.1
2 10 0.1
3 100 0.1
4 1,000 0.1
Cluster 2
5 0.1 1
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6 10 1
7 100 1
8 1,000 1
Cluster 3
9 0.1 10
10 1 10
11 100 10
12 1,000 10
Cluster 4
13 0.1 100
14 1 100
15 10 100
16 1,000 100
Cluster 5
17 0.1 1,000
18 1 1,000
19 10 1,000
20 100 1,000

IPR curves. Twenty different permeability combinations were assigned to the two layers,
as shown in Table 2. The permeability variation of the two layers was classified into five
clusters. In each cluster, the permeability of the top layer was allowed to vary from 0.1
md to 1,000 md while the permeability of the bottom layer was held constant at 0.1 md,
1 md, 10 md, 100 md, and 1,000 md for clusters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, respectively. Layers
of equal permeability are not included in the table because for such cases the reservoir
behaves as a homogeneous system.

IPR Curves and Data Interpretation

Considering the homogeneity of the individual layers and the fact that there is no fluid
cross-flow between the layers, the twenty-layers combinations presented in Table 2 can
be reduced to ten combinations. For example, simulator runs no. 16 and 20 in clusters
4 and 5, respectively, produce the same simulation outputs. To emphasize this point, the
data obtained from the two runs are plotted in Figure 4, which demonstrates that the IPR
curves of the two cases superimpose producing a single graph. This fact is true for similar
Inflow Performance Relationships 1129
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Figure 4. IPR curves of two reservoirs with reversed layers (PD D 0:875).

cases. Thus, it can be concluded that as long as there is no fluid cross-flow between the
two layers, the order of the layers does not have any impact on gross-fluid production
from the reservoir, hence on the shape of the IPR curve.

Effects of Permeability Contrast on IPR

It was demonstrated in the previous section that different reservoirs having two layers
of equal permeability but in reverse order have identical IPR curves. This is a very
important and convenient conclusion when comparing IPRs of statistically similar reser-
voirs. This conclusion is crucial because the IPR of one system is applicable to the other
system, which ultimately reduces the effort and time required to characterize reservoirs.
However, some may raise the following legitimate questions: Is there a simple way
that enables the practicing production engineer to distinguish between IPRs of different
two-layer reservoirs? Should the various layers be categorized based on permeability
difference between layers or based on permeability ratio? Which one of the two clas-
sifications has more pronounced effects on IPR and which one is more accurate and
simpler to adopt?
To answer these questions, we omitted the identical cases from Table 2 and classified
the remaining cases based on absolute permeability difference k and permeability ratio
Rk of the two layers as shown in Table 3. k and Rk are respectively defined as

k D jk1 k2 j (2)

Rk D (3)
Figure 5 presents the IPR curves for k values ranging from 0.9 md to 999.9 md.
The figure displays three bands of IPR curves. The band plotted in open symbols and
1130 F. H. Qasem et al.

Table 3
Layer classification based on absolute permeability difference
and permeability ratio

k1 k2 k D jk1 k2 j Rk D k1 = k2

1 1 0.1 0.9 10
2 10 0.1 9.9 100
3 100 0.1 99.9 1,000
4 1,000 0.1 999.9 10,000
6 10 1 9 10
7 100 1 99 100
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8 1,000 1 999 1,000

11 100 10 90 10
12 1,000 10 990 100
16 1,000 100 900 10

continuous lines corresponds to absolute permeability difference k values of 0.9 md,

9 md, 90 md, and 900 md. Even though there is a 1,000-fold difference in magnitude
between the last case where k D 900 md and the first case where k D 0:9 md,
the IPR curves of these two cases superimpose. This fact is true for all the IPRs of this
group. The same observation is also true for the other IPR bands; the IPRs plotted in
black symbols superimpose and the ones plotted in open symbols and dashed lines also
superimpose. As a result of these observations, it can be realized that there is no clear
relationship between the various IPR curves and k. Thus, it can be inferred that is not
a proper tool to categorize the effects of permeability contrast on IPR.

Figure 5. Effect of absolute permeability difference on IPR curves (PD D 0:875).

Inflow Performance Relationships 1131
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Figure 6. Effect of layer permeability ratio on IPR curves (PD D 0:875).

The same simulated cases shown in Figures 5 are replotted in Figure 6 to illustrate
the effects of permeability ratio Rk on IPR curves. It is obvious from the figure that
the IPR curves of reservoirs having equal Rk values superimpose. To explicitly confirm
this observation, IPR curves of systems having Rk D 10 and those having Rk D 100
are plotted together in Figure 7. The figure demonstrates that reservoirs having layers
of equal permeability ratios have almost similar IPR curves although the differences in

Figure 7. IPR curves for systems of various layer permeability contrast (PD D 0:875).
1132 F. H. Qasem et al.
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Figure 8. IPR curves for systems of various layer permeability ratios (PD D 0:875).

permeability values .k/ of the various systems are high. This observation indicates that
Rk plays a more dominant role in reservoir performance characterization than k and it
can be adopted as a general guideline for layers clustering purpose.
Another important conclusion can be withdrawn by inspecting Figure 8 in which
IPR curves of different Rk ratios are plotted together. The figure demonstrates that the
IPR shape changes significantly as Rk gradually increases from 1 to 100. For Rk  100,
the IPR curves almost superimpose. This implies that the pressure drawdown required for
the tight layer to contribute to fluid production increases as its permeability decreases;
hence, the higher permeability layer dominates the fluid flow. Consequently, for Rk
values beyond 100, the permeability contrast of the two layers has insignificant effect
on the shape of the IPR curve. As a result, for all practical purposes and within good
engineering application accuracy, it can be safely stated that the IPR curve for systems
having Rk D 100 can be used for reservoirs of higher permeability contrast (i.e., Rk 
100). It is imperative to mention that reservoirs having layer ratios .Rk / of 0.1, 0.01,
0.001, and 0.0001 have identical IPR curves as reservoirs with Rk of 10, 100, 1,000,
and 10,000, respectively, due to identical contributions of symmetrical layers (Figure 4).
Thus, the IPR curve of reservoirs having Rk D 100 can be also used for reservoirs having
Rk  0:01.

Shapes of the IPR Curves

The IPR curves of the two-layer solution-gas drive reservoirs without cross-flow exhibit
an S-shape behavior, which distinguishes them from their counterparts of homogenous
reservoirs. This behavior is evidently apparent in Figure 8, which displays a general IPR
graph for a wide reservoir spectrum. Three major regions can be identified on all the
plotted IPR curves depending on the value of Pwf =Pr . At high Pwf =Pr values, the IPR
exhibits a region of steep slope, then the slope tends to flatten at intermediate Pwf =Pr
values, and finally the slope increases again at low Pwf =Pr values. The S-shape behavior
Inflow Performance Relationships 1133

of the composite IPR curves is owed to the changes in the relative production contribution
of the two-layer system; consequently, to changes in Pwf =Pr values.
At high flowing bottomhole pressure (high Pwf =Pr values), there is a small pressure
drawdown around the wellbore; thus, the high-permeability layer contributes to most
gross-fluid production whereas the low permeability layer has low contribution to fluid
production. This results in a steep slope in the IPR curve.
As the pressure drawdown increases around the wellbore, the low-permeability layer
starts to effectively contribute to fluid production causing the slope of the composite IPR
to flatten.
At very high pressure drawdown, the release of gas near the well results in a decrease
in the oil mobility in both layers. This requires a high-pressure drop (i.e., low values of
Pwf =Pr ) for certain qo =qo;max, resulting in a steep slope in the IPR curve.
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Effect of Reservoir Depletion on IPR Curves

Reservoir fluid PVT properties are function of reservoir pressure (Figures 2 and 3).
The fluid mobilities change as oil is produced and the reservoir pressure is depleted. The
pressure decline affects the well performance and overall fluid production. These changes
are reflected on the shape of the IPR. The effect of pressure depletion on the IPR of
two-layer systems differs from one reservoir to another depending on the permeability
contrast of the layers. Figures 9, 10, 11, and 12 display the IPR curves at various depletion
pressures for the two-layer reservoir with Rk D 100.
It is clear from the figures that the shape of the IPR curves becomes more com-
plex with pressure depletion and the S-shape behavior becomes more prominent. As
the reservoir pressure decreases, the oil mobility decreases; consequently, to achieve a
desirable fluid production rate, higher pressure drop is required. In other words, for a
certain qo =qo;max lower value of Pwf =Pr is needed, causing steeper slope.

Figure 9. Effect of depletion on IPR curves (Rk D 100).

1134 F. H. Qasem et al.
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Figure 10. Effect of depletion on IPR curves (Rk D 100).

New Empirical IPR Model

It is evident from the preceding section that the IPR curve of two-layer system exhibits
different behavior than the well-known IPR of homogeneous reservoir. The next step of
this investigation is to present a new empirical IPR correlation for two-layer solution gas-
drive reservoirs. Extensive nonlinear regression analysis performed on various simulated

Figure 11. Effect of depletion on IPR curves (Rk D 100).

Inflow Performance Relationships 1135
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Figure 12. Effect of depletion on IPR curves (Rk D 100).

cases has resulted in a rational function of qo =qo;max versus Pwf =Pr that fits all the
simulated data with high degree of accuracy. The new equation is as follows:

Pwf 2 Pwf 3
1Ca Cb Cc
qo Pr Pr Pr
D 2 (4)
qo;max Pwf 3
Pwf Pwf
1Cd Ce Cf
Pr Pr Pr

The regression coefficients a through f vary with the permeability contrast Rk and
the average reservoir pressure Pr . Table 4 presents the regression coefficient values as a
function of Rk for a certain depletion stage .PD D 0:875/. It is clear that for Rk D 1,
the resulting equation becomes similar to Vogels (1968) equation. It has been previously
demonstrated that layers having permeability ratios Rk and 1=Rk have identical IPR
curves (Figure 4); thus, they also have the same IPR equation coefficients.

Table 4
Regression coefficients of the new IPR equation (Eq. [4])

k1 =k2 k1 =k2 a b c d e f

1 1 0.20147 0.798530 0 0 0 0
10 0.1 0.53633 2.013580 1.546581 0.26014 1.1464697 0.458331
100 0.01 3.15819 3.293419 1.14528 2.66794 2.3694723 0.678768
1,000 0.001 3.24921 3.479984 1.24075 2.76463 2.5458486 0.768287
10,000 0.0001 3.23840 3.463797 1.23343 2.75727 2.5247505 0.751384
1136 F. H. Qasem et al.

Predicting Future IPR Curve

Prediction of future IPR curve is very crucial for planning and designing surface facilities.
Many equations have been presented in the literature to determine the future performance
of wells producing from homogeneous solution gas-drive reservoirs (Levine and Prats,
1961; Standing, 1971; Fetkovich, 1973; Camacho-V and Raghavan, 1989). None of
the published studies proposed an equation for two-layer solution gas-drive reservoirs.
Presenting such an important equation constitutes another objective of this study.
Ratios of maximum rate at any future reservoir pressure Pr to the maximum rate at
bubble-point pressure Pb .qo;max;Pr =qo;max;Pb / are plotted against pressure ratios Pr =Pb in
Figure 13 for various Rk values. It can be observed from the plot that for Rk  100, the
IPR curves are practically the same. Nonlinear regression analysis performed on the data
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plotted in Figure 13 has shown that the equation for predicting future well performance
can be written as
qo;max;Pr Pr
D (5)
qo;max;Pb Pb

where the exponent m is a function of Rk . m is defined as

m D 6:013747301 3:5989x10 Rk3 2:603444941Rk 0:5 (6)

Procedure for Generating Present and Future IPR Curves

Determining well deliverability and forecasting future well performance for two-layer
solution-gas drive reservoirs require knowledge of the permeability of the two layers,
fluid bubble-point pressure Pb , average reservoir pressure Pr , flowing bottomhole pres-
sure Pwf , and a stabilized oil production rate qo corresponding to Pwf . Having this
information, the following steps are used to calculate and plot the present IPR curve:

Figure 13. Dimensionless future rate as a function of dimensionless future pressure.

Inflow Performance Relationships 1137

Step 1. Calculate the permeability ratio Rk of the two layers using Eq. (3).
Step 2. Select the appropriate coefficients for Eq. (4) from Table 4.
Step 3. Calculate qo;max from Eq. (4) and generate a complete IPR curve by assuming
different values of Pwf and calculating qo for constant Pr .
To predict future well performance proceed as follows:
Step 4. Use the value of Rk calculated in Step 1 to calculate the exponent m using Eq.
Step 5. Calculate qo;max;Pr from Eq. (5) for the desired future average reservoir pressure
Pr .
Step 6. Generate the future IPR curve using Eq. (4) for future Pr .
Downloaded by [Kuwait University], [Ibrahim Nashawi] at 03:13 25 April 2012

The objective of this investigation is to present an empirical IPR equation for two-layer
solution gas-drive reservoirs without cross-flow. The proposed equation can accurately
capture fluid flow behavior in reservoirs of various permeability layers. A detailed
investigation of the behavior of the IPR curves as a function of layer permeability ratios
and depletion pressure is also presented.
Based on the findings of this study, the following conclusions are pertinent:
1. An empirical IPR correlation for two-layer solution gas-drive reservoirs without cross-
flow is presented. The equation is accurate for a wide spectrum of permeability
2. The proposed equation provides the petroleum engineers with a simple and accurate
tool for predicting the deliverability of two-layer systems. Just as Vogels (1968) IPR
curve, the proposed equation only requires one estimate of oil rate as a function of
flowing bottomhole pressure.
3. The proposed equation effectively captures the S-shape behavior of the IPR curve.
This peculiar behavior is more evident with reservoir depletion.
4. The IPR curve of two-layer system without cross-flow can be divided into three
regions. Two regions of steep slopes, one at high Pwf =Pr ratio and the other at low
Pwf =Pr ratio. The middle portion of the IPR curve has a relatively lower slope than
the other two regions. The slope variation depends on the relative contribution of the
two layers.
5. Two-layer reservoirs can be classified based on the permeability ratio of the two
layers. Reservoirs having equal permeability ratios, Rk , have identical IPR curves.
Also, reservoirs having permeability ratios, Rk , and permeability ratios, 1=Rk , have
identical IPR curves.
6. For permeability ratios greater than or equal to 100 .Rk  100/ and greater than or
equal to 0.01 .Rk  0:01/, the dimensionless IPR curves almost superimpose, yielding
a single curve.
7. An empirical equation has been proposed for predicting future well performance. Thus
far, no one has proposed methods for predicting present and future well performance
for two-layer solution-gas drive reservoirs without cross-flow.

The authors express their appreciation to Kuwait University Research Administration for
financially supporting this work through a university research grant (EP01/03).
1138 F. H. Qasem et al.

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af coefficients of the empirical IPR equation, Eq. (4)
Bg gas formation volume factor, ft3 /SCF
Bo oil formation volume factor, bbl/STB
k permeability, md
krg gas relative permeability, dimensionless
kr o oil relative permeability, dimensionless
m exponent of Eq. (5) given by Eq. (6)
Pb bubble-point pressure, psi
PD ratio of the average reservoir pressure to the bubble-point pressure, dimen-
Pr average reservoir pressure, psi
Pwf wellbore flowing pressure, psi
qo oil flow rate, STB/D
qo;max maximum oil flow rate at Pwf D 0, STB/D
qo;max;Pb maximum oil flow rate at bubble-point pressure Pb , STB/D
qo;max;Pr maximum oil flow rate at average reservoir pressure Pr , STB/D
Rk permeability ratio, dimensionless
Rs solution gas/oil ratio (GOR), ft3 /SCF
k absolute permeability difference, md

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