Characteristics of the Delaware Formation
- Ralph E. Jenkins (Core Laboratories Inc.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- December 1961
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,231 - 1,236
- 1961. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 5.7 Reserves Evaluation, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 5.1 Reservoir Characterisation, 4.6 Natural Gas, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 5.5.2 Core Analysis, 2 Well Completion, 3.2.3 Hydraulic Fracturing Design, Implementation and Optimisation, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 4.3.4 Scale, 5.6.2 Core Analysis, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 5.6.1 Open hole/cased hole log analysis, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 2.2.2 Perforating, 5.3.4 Reduction of Residual Oil Saturation
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The Bell Canyon member of the Delaware Mountain group has yielded quite a large number of fields in which completion and production problems have been numerous and complex. Reserves are difficult to estimate due to the problem of evaluating the formation water saturation, and the feasibility of water flooding is questionable. Extensive laboratory investigations were undertaken to determine if normally measured rock and contained fluids properties could account for many of the peculiar characteristics of the formation. A statistical study of routine core-analysis data was made. Capillary-pressure data were obtained by several techniques. Fresh-water and brine permeabilities were measured and relative permeabilities of oil, water and gas were determined. Some qualitative wettability tests were performed, and the petrography of a few thin sections was studied. The results of this work are presented, with typical or average data shown for each test. The permeability-to- water characteristic of the Delaware was found to be abnormally poor. Correlations of laboratory and field performance data indicate high water saturations in much of the formation. Pore geometry is highly uniform.
The Delaware formation has undergone extensive exploration and development in the past few years. This has resulted in the discovery of quite a number of fields-producing oil for the most part. A large percentage of the productive wells have produced water along with the oil. Often there is no apparent pattern for the percentage of water cut experienced. In several instances vertical displacements of over 200 ft have been established between communicating wells in which the formation appears to be about the same, yet the structurally high wells yield a much higher water cut than the lower wells. Drill-stem tests have contributed little to well completion because they nearly always show small amounts of water (usually mud filtrate), regardless of what is produced later in the life of the well. Other formation evaluation methods have had no more than limited success in indicating ultimate productivity. Consequently, predicting the type of fluid productivity of Delaware wells has been very difficult. Hydraulic fracture treatments are almost universal, and unstimulated Delaware wells have not exhibited the productivity that normally would be expected of wells with the specific permeabilities encountered. Some operators have indicated that their Delaware wells need frequent restimulation. The uncertainty of reservoir water saturations reported for the Delaware has made difficult the task of evaluating oil in place in the reservoirs and estimating primary recovery. The unreliability of this data also will cause feasibility studies for water flooding or other secondary- recovery methods to be problematical. Several opinions have been voiced to explain why the Delaware performs as it does. Chronically poor well completions, dynamic water and tilted water tables, capillary inequilibria, peculiar relative permeability characteristics and oil-wetness are among the suggested reasons. The dual purpose of this paper is (1) to describe the principal rock characteristics, and (2) to present an evaluation of those characteristics so that approaches can be made to explain the irrational behavior of wells completed in the Delaware.
STUDY OF ROUTINE CORE-ANALYSIS DATA
A statistical study of routine core-analysis data has been made to relate fundamental rock properties and characteristics of the formation to well productivity. For the most part, well production data were obtained from operators and augmented by production data from commercial information services. Only data which were available in detail and which were considered to be accurate were used. The core data used were obtained on samples from the perforated or open interval only and, thus, may not always represent the total productive interval in a well. All the core-analysis data included in this study are from the Bell Canyon member of the Delaware and were obtained by "plug-type" techniques, as opposed to whole-core or full-diameter techniques. Porosity values were obtained by the summation-of-fluids technique, permeability values are air permeabilities corrected for slippage to an equivalent liquid permeability, and the oil and water contents were determined by means of a high- temperature down-draft retort. All the procedures used are discussed at length in Ref. 1.
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