Targeted Technology Applications for Infield Reserve Growth: A Synopsis of the Secondary Natural Gas Recovery Project Research, Gulf Coast Basin

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A diverse and vast resource base of 1,295 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of technically recoverable natural gas resources (including proved reserves, conventional resources, and nonconventional resources) was estimated by the National Petroleum Council (1992) in a recent analysis of domestic petroleum supplies. Of this resource base, 216 Tcf is predicted to be recoverable by reserve appreciation in existing fields in the lower 48 states. The integrated application of concepts and cost-effective technologies from the disciplines of geology, engineering, geophysics, and petrophysics will be required for converting these resources into producible reserves.

In the last decade, characterization of the internal geometry of reservoirs, mainly oil reservoirs, has demonstrated a higher degree of compartmentalization than previously recognized. This compartmentalization, other than structural compartmentalization, is primarily a function of the depositional system and, secondarily, of the diagenetic history of the reservoir after deposition. The objective of a current infield reserve growth analysis of nonassociated natural gas reservoirs is to define the potential for incremental gas recovery based on better understanding of depositional and diagenetic heterogeneity within these reservoirs. Natural gas reserve growth (reserve appreciation) in conventional reservoirs has multiple components. Historically, extensions and deeper pool drilling have been the standard approach used by industry to achieve infield reserve additions. Recompletions of existing wells were often made without the concepts of reservoir heterogeneity or compartmentalization as a tool in recompletion strategy. Where significant geologic variation occurs, untapped, incompletely drained, or bypassed reservoir compartments remain to be drained of natural gas by new infield drilling or by recompleting strategically placed development wells. Today infield reserve growth is beginning to be based on an understanding of vertical and lateral heterogeneity that leads to recompletions in bypassed and incompletely drained reservoirs that were not previously recognized. In addition to concepts of reservoir heterogeneity and compartmentalization, new surface and downhole tools are being developed that will enhance the operator's ability to define these resource targets with greater precision and reliability. Examples of these tools now being developed and selectively used include borehole gravity, through-casing resistivity, cross-well geophysics, and surface three-dimensional seismic in the onshore.


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