Factors Controlling Fluid Migration and Distribution in the Eagle Ford Shale
- Roberto Aguilera (University of Calgary) | John Freddy Ramirez Vargas (University of Calgary)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering
- Publication Date
- July 2016
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 403 - 414
- 2016.Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Eagle Ford, Buoyancy, Fluids Migration, Condensate, dry gas and oil
- 7 in the last 30 days
- 434 since 2007
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Production of shale and tight oil is the cornerstone of the United States race for energy independence. According to the US Energy Information Administration, approximately 90% of the oil-production growth comes from six tight-oil plays. The Eagle Ford is one of these plays, and it accounts for 33% of the oil-production growth with a contribution of 1.3 million B/D. This is outstanding. However, oil recoveries as a percentage of the original oil in place (OOIP) are extremely low. This must be improved. A geological challenge in the Eagle Ford shale is the understanding of unconventional fluids distribution over geologic time: Shallower in the structure, there is black oil; deeper and to the south; condensate appears; and at the bottom, dry gas can be found. Differences in burial depth, temperature, and vitrinite reflectance are used to explain this unique distribution. A similar fluid distribution occurs in other unconventional reservoirs (e.g., Duvernay shale in Canada). The low oil recovery and the unusual distribution of fluids led to the key objective of this paper—to identify the main factors that control fluid migration (caused by buoyancy of gas in oil) from one zone to another through geologic time. This was performed by constructing a conceptual cross-sectional compositional simulation model with northwest/southeast orientation that allowed the study of fluid migration, fluid distribution, and fluid contacts throughout 1 million years while maintaining computational time within reasonable limits. The controlling parameters studied were porosity, permeability, pore-throat aperture (rp35), and spacing between natural fractures. Results show that fluids in the matrix remained with approximately the same original distribution (i.e., approximately the same dry-gas/condensate contact and approximately the same condensate/oil contact). These fluids are the target of an ongoing research project with the ultimate goal of improving oil recovery from tight reservoirs by means of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) (Fragoso et al. 2015). There is, however, some gas migration through natural fractures to the top of the structure. This migration is interpreted in this study to be responsible for higher initial gas production in some oil wells in the top of the structure. Some operators indicate, however, that rapid gas/oil-ratio increases in the updip oil region are the result of low reservoir pressures and the rapid onset of two-phase flow. It would probably take geochemical evidence to support this conclusion.
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