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Measuring permeability vs depth in the unlined section of a wellbore using the descent of a fluid column made of two distinct fluids : inversion workflow, laboratory & in-situ tests

Abstract : In wells producing water, oil, gas or geothermal energy, or in access wells to hydrocarbon storage, it is critical to evaluate the permeability of the formation as a function of depth, to improve the reservoir model, and also to identify the zones where additional investigation or special completions are especially useful.A new technique is proposed, consisting of scanning the open hole (uncased section of the wellbore) with an interface between two fluids with a large viscosity contrast. The injection rate into the formation depends on interface location and well pressure history. An inverse problem should be solved: estimate permeability as a function of depth from the evolution of flow rates with time. The wells are usually equipped with a central tube. The scanning is done by injecting a liquid in the central tube at constant wellhead pressure. Injection and withdrawal rates are measured at the wellhead; the difference between these two rates is the formation injection rate.To validate and improve this technique, we used a laboratory model mimicking a multi-layer formation, already available at LMS. We also made use of in-situ tests performed on an ultra-low permeable cap rock above an underground gas storage reservoir. In these tests, a viscous fluid contained in the open hole was displaced by a less-viscous fluid (a method called opening WTLog). The more permeable layers were correctly identified (Manivannan et al. 2017), but a quantitative estimation was challenging due to transient phenomena in the vicinity of the wellbore (near-wellbore zone). In addition, the investigation radius was small.These challenges are addressed by proposing a slightly modified test procedure and a new interpretation workflow. Laboratory tests with a modified test setup showed the advantages of the ‘closing’ method in which the well is filled with a less-viscous fluid at the start of the test. We also added a stabilization period before the injection of viscous fluid to minimize the transient effects; this period is also used to estimate the average permeability of the open hole and the effect of near-wellbore damage (skin).Then the test proper is performed (closing WTLog). The injection profile of the less-viscous fluid is computed from the wellhead flow rate history. A permeability profile is estimated from the injection profile. The permeability estimation considers a monophasic flow in each layer and the same skin value for all the formation layers. Major uncertainties in the permeability estimates are caused by formation pressures and heterogeneities in skin values; they are estimated using an analytical formula. We have verified on the laboratory setup that the estimated permeability profiles are well correlated to the permeabilities measured before the tests.An attempt was made to perform a WTLog in a 1750-m long wellbore opening in a salt formation. The first phase was successful and the average permeability was correctly assessed. However, this permeability was so small (4.0E-21 m² or 4 nD) that the gauges and the flowmeters were not accurate enough to allow a clear distinction between the permeabilities of the various parts of the open hole.
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Submitted on : Monday, January 7, 2019 - 2:43:05 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 6, 2022 - 3:46:13 AM
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  • HAL Id : tel-01972043, version 1


Sivaprasath Manivannan. Measuring permeability vs depth in the unlined section of a wellbore using the descent of a fluid column made of two distinct fluids : inversion workflow, laboratory & in-situ tests. Geophysics [physics.geo-ph]. Université Paris Saclay (COmUE), 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018SACLX086⟩. ⟨tel-01972043⟩



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