Multi-disciplinary approach to developing challenging heavy oilfields with basal aquifers

Stuart Law, Andrew McDonald, Edgar Castillo, Eric Mackay, Susan Fellows

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS), a significant heavy oil prize of 9 billion barrels has been previously identified, but not fully developed. In the shallow unconsolidated Eocene reservoirs of Quads3 and 9, just under 3 billion barrels lie in the discovered, but undeveloped fields, of Bentley and Bressay. Discovered in the 1970s, they remain undeveloped due to the various technology challenges associated with heavy oil offshore and the presence of a basal aquifer. The Eocene reservoirs represent significant challenges to recovery due to the unconsolidated nature of the hydrocarbon bearing layers. The traditional view has been that such a nature represents a risk to successful recovery due to sand mobility; reservoir and near wellbore compaction; wormhole formation; and injectivity issues. We propose improving the ultimate oil recovery by a combination of aquifer water production and compaction drive. By interpreting public domain data from well logs, the range of geomechanical properties of Eocene sands have been determined. A novel approach to producing the heavy oil unconsolidated reservoirs of the UKCS is proposed by producing the aquifer via dedicated water producers situated close to the oil-water contact. The location was determined by sensitivity analysis of water producer location and production rates. By locating water producers at the OWC with a production rate of 20,000 bbls/ day of fluids, the incremental recovery at the end of simulation is increased by 4.1% OOIP of the total modelrelative to the ‘no aquifer production’, casesuggesting a significant increase in recovery can be achieved by producing the aquifer. A rate of 30,000 bbld/day located at the OWC was found to increase incremental recovery by 5.8 %OOIP relative to the ‘no aquifer case’. In all cases, as the reservoir fluid pressure is reduced, oil recovery increases via compaction and reduced water influx into the oil leg. This reduced pressure leads to a higher tendency towards reservoir compaction which is expressed as a change in mean effective stress and porosity reduction.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSPE Europec featured at 80th EAGE Conference and Exhibition 2018
PublisherSociety of Petroleum Engineers
ISBN (Print)9781613996065
Publication statusPublished - 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Fuel Technology


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