Uncertainty in proved reserves estimation by decline curve analysis




Apiwatcharoenkul, Woravut

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Proved reserves estimation is a crucial process since it impacts aspects of the petroleum business. By definition of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the proved reserves must be estimated by reliable methods that must have a chance of at least a 90 percent probability (P90) that the actual quantities recovered will equal or exceed the estimates. Decline curve analysis, DCA, is a commonly used method; which a trend is fitted to a production history and extrapolated to an economic limit for the reserves estimation. The trend is the “best estimate” line that represents the well performance, which corresponds to the 50th percentile value (P50). This practice, therefore, conflicts with the proved reserves definition. An exponential decline model is used as a base case because it forms a straight line in a rate-cum coordinate scale. Two straight line fitting methods, i.e. ordinary least square and error-in-variables are compared. The least square method works better in that the result is consistent with the Gauss-Markov theorem. In compliance with the definition, the proved reserves can be estimated by determining the 90th percentile value of the descending order data from the variance. A conventional estimation using a principal of confidence intervals is first introduced to quantify the spread, a difference between P50 and P90, from the variability of a cumulative production. Because of the spread overestimation of the conventional method, the analytical formula is derived for estimating the variance of the cumulative production. The formula is from an integration of production of rate over a period of time and an error model. The variance estimations agree with Monte Carlo simulation (MCS) results. The variance is then used further to quantify the spread with the assumption that the ultimate cumulative production is normally distributed. Hyperbolic and harmonic models are also studied. The spread discrepancy between the analytics and the MCS is acceptable. However, the results depend on the accuracy of the decline model and error used. If the decline curve changes during the estimation period the estimated spread will be inaccurate. In sensitivity analysis, the trend of the spread is similar to how uncertainty changes as the parameter changes. For instance, the spread reduces if uncertainty reduces with the changing parameter, and vice versa. The field application of the analytical solution is consistent to the assumed model. The spread depends on how much uncertainty in the data is; the higher uncertainty we assume in the data, the higher spread.



LCSH Subject Headings