Water Coning Control in Oil Wells by Fluid Injection
- Charles R. Smith (U. Of Texas) | Sylvain J. Pirson (U. Of Texas)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal
- Publication Date
- December 1963
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 314 - 326
- 1963. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 2.4.5 Gravel pack design & evaluation, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 4.3.4 Scale
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The effect of fluid injection to control water coning in oil and gas wells was investigated. Analytical and model techniques were employed. The factors investigated were the position and length of the completion interval, the point of fluid injection, the viscosity of the injected fluid and the relative thickness of the oil and water sections. The resulting influence of these factors on the net producing water-oil ratio was determined. Several important conclusions can he drawn from the study. In general, it was found that the net producing water-oil ratio can be reduced by fluid injection. The magnitude of this reduction depended on the factors listed above. An important practical consideration is that the injection fluid may be either oil or water. If the injected fluid is less dense than the connate water of the reservoir, the fluid will not be lost. This fact is reassuring when valuable oil is being injected. Efforts to suppress water production were more successful when the injection fluid was more viscous than the reservoir oil, or when a zone of reduced permeability existed in the vicinity of the point of fluid injection. Under test conditions, little benefit was derived through the use of impermeable barriers or cement "pancakes".
The occurrence of water coning has been known for at least 60 years. In thin oil or gas pay sections, the presence of an oil-water or gas-water contact hinders production and often causes early abandonment of the afflicted well if a completion is even attempted. Even when relatively thick pay sections are found, the encroachment of water when a water drive is present will eventually pose serious water coning problems. This water is often corrosive, expensive to separate from the oil or gas and is costly to dispose of. The theory of water coning has been discussed by a number of authors. Briefly, water coning to the producing interval in a well is due to pressure gradients resulting from the production of fluid from the reservoir. These pressure gradients will cause a water cone to rise toward the bottom of the producing interval if a water-oil or water-gas contact exists. The tendency of the water to cone is offset or partially offset by gravity forces since the water has a higher specific gravity than the oil. A balance then exists between two forces, gravitational forces arising from the difference in specific gravities of the oil and water, and the pressure gradients causing the flow of fluids to the wellbore. If the pressure gradient exceeds the gravitational force, water coning to the wellbore occurs and water production results. Through the years considerable thought has been given to the water coning problem. More than 50 U. S. Patents have been granted to inventors on the subject. A relatively complete literature review of the water coning problem has been made. A number of these patents hold considerable promise for the solution or the partial solution of the water and/or the coning problem. Very little has been written describing field tests of techniques for the suppression of water coning. A notable exception is the paper by West. He reports success in reducing gas coning by a combination of gravel packing and oil injection above the oil-producing interval. He also describes a comparable method to prevent water coning, but provides no field examples. This study experimentally and analytically verifies the benefits of oil injection as a means of partially or completely suppressing the water cone. While the gas coning problem was not treated, it is anticipated that results comparable to those obtained in water suppression could be obtained with reduced oil injection since the viscosity contrast between oil and gas exceeds that between oil and water. For the purpose of this study, the conventional potential flow theory was applied to the water-coning problem. The experimental verification centered on both a radial and a linear model. The model study permitted the investigation of complex flow configurations and the use of fluids of differing densities and viscosities. No analytic expressions are available to permit a solution of the problem as stated (see Fig. 1).
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