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Immiscible gas injection monitoring

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There are a variety of methods for monitoring immiscible gas injection projects. Some apply both to the pattern type of gas injection projects and to the vertical gravity-drainage type of gas injection projects; others apply only to the gravity-drainage projects. In all cases, individual well production and pressure performance as a function of time must be recorded.

The purpose of monitoring activities is to perform real-time analysis of reservoir performance and to consider any remedial actions. These actions include such alternatives as rebalancing the gas rates into the various injectors, rebalancing the flow rates of the various producers, and potentially drilling a few new injection or production wells into areas of the reservoir determined to require more drainage points or to improve the overall sweep efficiency.

Tracking gas-oil ratios

The most obvious monitoring method is to track the gas-oil ratios (GORs) of the individual production wells as a function of time. The GOR will be approximately flat at the oil’s solution GOR until there is gas breakthrough. Then the GOR will climb. The timing of gas breakthrough and the rate of GOR climb will indicate how efficiently, or inefficiently, the gas/oil displacement is progressing. Field engineers should have made preliminary calculations, possibly using a numerical reservoir simulator, so that they have projections of what should be expected regarding gas breakthrough timing and GOR increases at the individual well locations (and as a function of the volume of gas injected at the individual injection wells).

Vertical movement of gas/oil contact

The other methods concern primarily the monitoring of the vertical movement of the gas/oil interface [the current gas-oil contact (GOC)] in gravity drainage type projects. Two techniques are generally used:

  • Cased-hole logging programs
  • Monitor-well observations

Both help track the GOC movement as a function of time. By mapping the GOCs from the individual wells, engineers can determine whether the GOC is staying reasonably horizontal. By comparing the GOC movement as a function of time to the projected GOC behavior, engineers can determine how efficient the gas/oil displacement is and whether the project’s expectations are being met.

Monitoring produced gas composition

Another technique is to take periodic gas samples and perform gas chromatograph analyses to determine the produced gas composition. To use this technique, baseline gas samples should be taken early and periodically from all wells. There are two circumstances in which gas chromatography is a useful tool for gas-injection project monitoring.

  • The first is those projects in which flue gas (88% N2, 12% CO2) or pure N2 is injected. In that type of project, it is important to track the BTU value of the gas from each well and how the nonhydrocarbon content of the produced or residue gas changes as a function of time. This is important with respect to the use of that gas for field fuel and the marketability of the residue gas stream.
  • Second, this technique can be important late in the life of a gas-injection project when wells are operating at very high GORs. This technique is useful for determining whether some of the very lean injection gas is breaking through into some of the wells without becoming saturated with light and intermediate hydrocarbon components from the residual oil phase in the gas-swept region above the current GOC. Such lean gas can actually strip intermediate hydrocarbon components from the produced oil in the field gas/oil separators. If there is no gas plant as part of the field facilities, then those hydrocarbons will be lost to the downstream owner of the gas plant that processes the field gas.

Assessing source intervals

One other aspect of the monitoring activities is to track from which of the perforated intervals most of the gas flow is entering the wellbores. This can be accomplished with periodic spinner or temperature surveys. Depending on the nature of the reservoir interval, it may be possible to temporarily plug off some of the perforations to reduce wells’ producing GOR.

Additional options

For some reservoirs, other unique techniques can be used. For example, if a reservoir has a natural oil gravity variation as a function of depth, then the production wells’ oil gravity can be tracked as a function of time.

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See also

Immiscible gas injection in oil reservoirs

Immiscible gas injection performance