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Swanson River field

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The Swanson River field is located in Cook Inlet, Alaska, US. Production is from the Hemlock formation. Figs. 1 and 2 [1]show an areal view of this reservoir and a type log through the Hemlock formation, respectively. This field is a north/south-trending anticlinal flexure about 6 miles long by 1 to 3 miles wide with as much as 600 ft of closure. The Hemlock formation consists of interbedded fine- to coarse-grained sandstone, conglomerate, siltstone, and coal, with numerous thin, impermeable, calcareous stringers of somewhat limited areal extent. Field experience has confirmed that these calcareous stringers are effective barriers to the vertical migration of fluids in the vicinity of producing wells. There are 10 Hemlock intervals, and the H1 through H5, H8, and H10 intervals have been engineered and managed separately (see Fig. 2).

The original oil in place (OOIP) of this field is 435 million stock tank barrels (STB). This oil was very undersaturated at discovery in 1957, with an original reservoir pressure of 5,580 psi but with a bubblepoint pressure of only 1,350 psi. The oil is 37°API gravity, had an initial formation volume factor (FVF) of 1.21, and had a viscosity of 1.1 cp.

Immiscible gas/oil displacement

From these reservoir characteristics, it was clear that at the start of production the reservoir pressure would fall rapidly and that some form of pressure maintenance needed to be applied quickly. Fortunately for this very undersaturated oil field, a Tcf-sized dry gas field was discovered nearby for which there was no immediate or large outlets for its gas. A gas rental contract was signed between the two fields owners, and starting in 1966, 400 MMcf/D of gas was delivered for injection into crestal wells in the Swanson River Hemlock reservoir.

Laboratory studies indicated that a number of mechanisms were at work when methane gas displaced the low-bubblepoint-pressure Swanson River oil. First, if operating at a 5,000-psi pressure, the oil would swell from an FVF of 1.21 to an FVF of 1.80 on contact with the injected gas. Second, free gas would become saturated with intermediate hydrocarbon components from the fairly light (37°API) reservoir oil. Laboratory experiments show that breakthrough recovery efficiency exceeded 60%.

Although the Swanson River field has operated at high gas-oil ratios (GORs) [> 10 Mscf/STB] after the first several years of production, reservoir performance has been excellent, with 38% of the OOIP recovered through the first 10 years of gas injection. To show that the oil vaporization mechanism is also at work in this reservoir, during these first 10 years of production after the start of gas injection, the produced oil gravity increased from 37 to 40°API.

Ultimate recovery

The Swanson River field is currently being blown down to recover as much remaining gas as possible. From production statistics through 2002 and an updated OOIP of 390 × 106 bbl, ultimate recovery from application of immiscible gas/oil displacement to this field is nearly 58% of OOIP. This has been achieved primarily through oil swelling and oil stripping, not vertical gas/oil gravity drainage.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Young, R.E., Fairfield, W.H., and Dykstra, H. 1977. Performance of a High-Pressure-Gas Injection Project, Swanson River Field, Alaska. J Pet Technol 29 (2): 99-104. SPE-5874-PA.

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See also

Immiscible gas injection in oil reservoirs