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SPE

Society of Petroleum Engineers

SPE 19312

Practical Problems in Well Testing Devonian Shale Gas Wells


J.A. Murtha, Marietta C./SA Holditch & Assocs. Inc., and D.E. Lancaster,
SA Holditch & Assocs. Inc.
SPE Members

Copyright 1989, Society of Petroleum Engineers Inc.

This paper was prepared for presentation at the SPE Eastern Regional Meeting held in Morgantown. West Virginia, October 24-27, 1989.

This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE Program Committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper,
as presented, have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect
any position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or members. Papers presented at SPE meetings are subject to publication review by Editorial Committees of the Society
of Petroleum Engineers. Permission to copy is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words. Illustrations may not be copied. The abstract should contain conspicuous acknowledgment
of where and by whom the paper is presented. Write Publications Manager, SPE, P.O. Box 833836, Richardson, TX 750833836. Telex, 730989 SPEDAL.

ABSTRACT Before analyzing any buildup test, the engineer needs to know certain
information. In particular, the analyst needs estimates of porosity, gas
This paper itemizes several problems that ean oeeur when saturation, reservoir temperature, hole size, well bore volume and
conducting pressure buildup tests on Devonian Shale gas wells. configuration, location of perforations, net pay thickness, and gas
Although buildup tests conducted on Shale wells have the same composition or gravity. In addition, it is essential to know the rate
objectives and use the same proeedures as buildup tests run on other history, especially for the last few weeks prior to shut-in. A successful
formations, certain characteristics of Shale reservoirs and their well buildup test, especially in low permeability reservoirs, requires
~ompletion meth?ds make well testing complicated. Specific problems planning. Lee 7 outlines a detailed strategy for designing well tests in
Include not runnIng the test long enough, encountering liquid in the tight gas formations.
wellb?re, mechanical failures, communication failures, cleanup
behaVIOr following stimulation treatments, and surprises. We provide The most common analysis methods used in studying data from
field examples and suggest remedies and means of avoiding some of pressure buildup tests involve two graphs that we will refer to as a
the common problems. Homer plot and a log-log plot. A typical Homer plot is shown in Fig.
1. Shut-in bottomhole pressure, Pw,' is plotted against the logarithm of
INTRODUCTION
(tp +6.1)/6.1, where Ip is the producing time preceding shut-in and 6./ is
In recent years, participants in research programs sponsored by the the variable shut-in time. Pressure is measured in psia; time is measured
Gas Research Institute (GRI)I.5 have had the opportunity to review and in hours. Fig. 2 shows a log-log graph of the buildup data and pressure
analyze numerous pressure buildup tests on Devonian Shale gas wells derivatives for a typical gas well. The pressure derivative portion is
in the Appalachian Basin. The usual objectives of these well tests are more sensitive to minor fluctuations in the pressure change values.
the same as for other formations in other parts of the world: (1) describe
the reservoir in terms of permeability-thickness product, skin factor, Note that adjusted times and pressures 8 are used in these fi~ures
and reservoir pressure; (2) quantify the effectiveness of stimulation when appropriate. Adjusted time and pressure are PSClldotime and
iO
treatments; and (3) use the results to forecast production. Likewise the pseudopressure multiplied by appropriate constants resu\ting in units
methodology of running a buildup test in a Shale well is essentially of time in hours and pressure in psia. Adjusted time and pressure
the same as for any other well: (1) flow the well at a constant rate for account for changes in pressure-dependent gas properties. Using
an ~dequate period of time, (2) shut in the well for an adequate time, adjusted times and pressures allows us to use equations derived for oil
whIle recordIng bottomhole pressure versus time; and (3) analyze the wells in analyzing data from gas wells. In analyzing buildup tests, we
data with Homer plots and type curve plots. also use effective time,l1 which adjusL~ the pressure buildup data to
account for the effect of producing time.
Unfortunately, Devonian Shale gas wells tend to have low reservoir
pressure and low permeability. They often require at least moderate The straight line fitted to the portion of the curve labeled Middle
stimulation to flow at measurable rates,6 and once fracture-treated, they Time Region (MTR) in Fig. 1 is used to estimate permeability, average
tend to clean up slowly. Finally, they sometimes have liquid in the reservoir pressure, and skin factor. The ponion of the data representing
well bore that cannot be lifted during normal production. All of these early time is influenced by wellbore storage and altered permeability
charac.teristics combine to make well testing challenging. Among the near the wellbore caused by damage or stimulation. A proper analysis
potential problems encountered are (I) the need for prohibitively long requires a recognizable MTR.
flow ~d shut-in periods in order to obtain data worth analyzing; (2)
distonl~n of pressure data caused by phase redistribution and liquid The log-log plot is usually matched to one of several sets of type
re-~ntcnn~ the forma~ion.du~ng s~ut-in; (3) extended cleanup periods
curves. The type curve used depends on whether the reservoir is
?unng w~lch p~oductlOn IS either Irregular or laden with nitrogen used homogeneous, hydraulically fractured (with either finite or infinite
In the stImulatIOn treatment; (4) noisy or missing data caused by conductivity), or dual-porosity. For our purposes, we will not be
mechani~al failure; (5) lack of experience among operators, analysts, concerned with these categories of type curves, but rather we will see
and servIce company personnel; and (6) failure to agree on objectives the effect of poor data in either the Homer plot or the log-log plot or
or schedules for the tests. both.

References and figures at end of paper.

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2 PRACTICAL PROBLEMS IN WELL TESTING DEVONIAN SHALE GAS WELLS SPE 19312

FIELD EXAMPLES Long Shut-ins

Case 1 - Buildup Test Not Lon~ Enou~h Obviously, the simplest way to ensure a test is run long enough is
to shut in the well for a period of time that extends beyond well bore
One of the most common, and among the most frustrating, storage effects and, in case the well has been fracture-treated, also
problems with a buildup test in a Shale gas reservoir is to discover that extends beyond the influence of the fracture. As Table I indicates,
the test was not run long enough to accomplish its objectives. A major however, the necessary shut-in time may be excessively long. Lost
reason for a test not being long enough is that the data were masked by production and the cost of acquiring data (rental of bombs, personnel
well bore storage effects. A second reason is that the data were obscured costs, etc. ) normally rule out a buildup test of several months. In
by linear flow into a created hydraulic fracture. Although in some addition, the flow period should normally exceed the shut-in period, so
instances we can still use type curves, the analysis is limited by the the overall testing period is roughly twice as long as the buildup period.
insufficient data. If you do run a long buildup test with mechanical gauges, then it may
be necessary to pull the bottom hole bombs, reset the clocks, and rerun
Wellbore storage (for pressure buildup tests) and wellbore the bombs. This process can, in tum, create problems: times and
unloading (for pressure drawdown tesL~) are phenomena that affect pressures must be tied together carefully; additional personncl cost is
botlomhole pressure response because the well is shut in or opened up required; some wellbore pressure is lost when the lubricator is pressured
at the surface. For a pcriod oftime after shut-in, for example, gas from up, and so on.
the reservoir continues to flow into the wellbore and compress the gas
that is trapped there. The time required for the flow at the sand face to Decreased Wellbore Volumes
eease is called the time to the end of well bore storage influence; it can
be estimated by the [ollowing formula. One way to shorten the necessary time for a buildup test is to rcduce
the wellbore volume open to flow. In fact, running production tubing
(200,000 + 12, OOOs.)C . (I) with a packer set a small distance above the top perforation (and the
tubing seat at the bottom perforation) is a common method of reducing
kgh/).l the wellbore volume by a factoroftwo to three. In some cases, however,
operators have found that this packer-tubing configuration is not a good
Table I shows how the reservoir quality, reservoir pressure and idea. In particular, with a well that has recently been stimulated, it is
well bore configuration contribute to tWbl" The worst case, that is, the sometimes better to run tubing without a packer, so that the well can
longest duration of wellbore storage influence, occurs in wells with be "blown down" or "rocked" every week or so, by shutting it in for a
large wellbores open to flow and completed in reservoirs with low day and then opening the tubing and letting the excess pressure in the
productivity. In practice, the times shown in the table must actually be casing assist the liquid up the tubing. With a packer,this process cannot
exceeded substantially to yield data on a logarithmic scale (either be done effectively. In Case 2, we shall see one potential problem with
Homer plot or type curve plot) that can be used to establish a buildup tests on wells having tubing but no packer, in addition to the
recognizable pattern. For instance, on a Homer plot, if it takes two problem of the large wellbore volume.
weeks to reach the middle time region, then it would probably require
another two weeks of data to identify the semilog straight line with Prestimulation Well Tests
confidence.
For wells that are to be fractured, one way to reduce the time
Table 1 - TIME TO THE END OF WELLBORE STORAGE necessary for a successful poststimulation buildup test is to run a
DISTORTION. prestimulation buildup and estimate permeability priorto the treatment.
Knowing permeability (and assuming that the product, of permeability
kh= 100 kh= 1 and thickness, kh, remains constant), one can analyze a poststimulation
md-ft md-ft buildup of shorter duration. Essentially, the analyst already knows the
p = slope of the Homer plot and the reservoir pressure and is looking for
p=
only the skin factor or fracture half-length.
1200 psia 200 psia
Surface Pressure Readings
Cased hole or 3 to 6 25 to 50
tubing without hours days In certain situations, a buildup test can be run for several weeks by
packer
running bottom hole bombs only for the first two weeks and then taking
surface readings with a dead weight tester for the remainder of the
Tubing with 1 hour 5 to 25 shut-in. This procedure relies on a knowledge of the well bore gradient
packer days and generally requires no liquid in the wcllbore. We have had good
luck running such a two-week buildup test, where a gradient survey
The presence of a vertical fracture can also affect a buildup tcst. near the end of the shut-in period confirms that there is essentially no
The pressure response during the formation linear flow period can liquid in the wellbore. The service company person then returns to the
distort the buildup data and make estimates of permeability and skin well site every few days to take a dead weight test reading. Meanwhile
difficult. On a log-log plot, this linear flow period shows up as a linear the data from the first two weeks has been plotted; each new pressure
trend with slope 0.5 cycle/cycle assuming the fracture is highly point is added to the plot until the analyst decides that further data is
conductive. Again, we may be able to do a type curve analysis with unnecessary. Fig. 3 shows a Homer plot where the two points at the
data of short duration, but we would have a problem finding a unique end were taken by this method at the end of the third and fourth weeks.
interpretation.
The advantages of taking surface readings is that the wireline
Equally as important as running a buildup test long enough is equipment need not be tied up for an extended period and the shut-in
preceding the shut-in with a flow period at least as long as the buildup. can last as long as necessary. Of course, in some cases it might be just
Holgate ~ ill. documented the problems of an insufficient drawdown
6
as easy and as cost-effective to continue rerunning bombs.
period.
Case 2 - LjQuid jn the well bore
How To Run Buildup Tests Long Enough
Although we are discussing well tests in Devonian Shale!Ulli wells,
Because it is essential that a well test be run long enough, we must we have found that some of these wells produce liquid, either
find ways to guarantee it. We offer several suggestions, including long
hydrocarbon or water. Others have liquid in their wellbores that comes
shut-ins, changing the well bore volume, rerunning bombs, and running from stimulation treatments. Whetherornot the formation is producing
prestimulation tests.
liquid, any liquid in the wellbore can cause problems with pressure
buildup tests in one or more of the following fashions:

1) phase redistribution in the wellbore after shut-in,

2) changing wellbore storage coefficient,

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SPE 19312 MURTHA, J. A. AND LANCASTER, D. E. 3

3) liquid level falling past bomb in tubing during shut-in, and Removal of Wellbore Liquid

4) additional backpressure against formation during normal Sometimes, the wellbore liquid can be removed prior to the buildup
operations. test. Normally, this requires swabbing the well. Depending on the
configuration, the rocking procedure mentioned above might remove
Phase redistribution, also called phase segregation, occurs when most of the liquid. Note, however, that this liquid removal process will
suspended liquid falls back toward the bottom of the well bore after a likely introduce a new pressure transient into the reservoir. That is,
well is shut in. This falling liquid displaces gas which necessarily moves swabbing will have the effect of changing the conditions under which
upward. Meanwhile, afterflow gas continues to bubble up through the the well had been flowing and will, quite likely, change the flow rate.
liquid. As Stegemeier l2 described, this phenomenon can cause a
distortion in the bottom hole pressure buildup in the form of a "hump" Since well test analysis theory is based on the assumption of a
on a Homer plot. The distortion can make analysis difficult. constant flow rate preceding the shut-in for the buildup test, a rate
change may influence the buildup data and, hence, the analysis. If the
Well bore storage coefficients are calculated in one of two ways, swabbing duration is brief, or if the well is allowed to flow again for a
representing either a changing level of liquid/gas interface or a single long enough period of time before being shut-in, the buildup test should
wellbore fluid being compressed during a buildup. These coefficients provide analyzable data. Even if a significant rate change takes place
are used in type curve analysis as well as in formulas like Eq. I above. shortly before shut-in, there are more sophisticated methods to
When a gas well has liquid in the wellbore, the type of wellbore storage accommodate the data. In particular, present well test analysis tools
can vary during the shut-in period and complicate the analysis. often account for multiple rates preceding shut-in by using the principle
of superposition to analyze the pressure versus time data.
We have encountered one particularly troublesome problem caused
by wellbore liquid. We ran buildup tests on two wells in Pike County, Gradient Surveys
Kentucky. Well A had been perforated over a 900 ft interval and
completed with 2 3/8-in tubing, without a packer, inside of 4 1/2-in Whenever there is liquid in the well bore, it is important to
casing. As mentioned earlier, this wellbore configuration permitted a determine its location during the test. Gradient surveys should be taken
periodic rocking to remove well bore liquid. at the beginning or the end of the buildup, or both, by running a bomb
with a short clock down to the bottom of the tubing, stopping at 50 ft
The service company ran the pressure bombs down the tubing to intervals over a several hundred ft range ncar the level of the
midperf depth and arranged to have the operator shut in the well at the perforations. Table 2 shows one such survey, from which the analyst
surface five hours later. Two weeks later, the service company pulled determined the liquid level, namely 4157 ft, and the average liquid
the bombs, rewound the clocks, and reran the bombs. When the charts gradient, namely 0.0477 psi/ft.
were read, it became clear that there had been enough liquid in the
tubing at shut-in to cover the bombs, but that the liquid level dropped Table 2 - GRADIENT SURVEY FOR PIKE COUNTY, KY
nearly 100 feet during the first 12 minutes of shut-in. The pressure DEVONIAN SHALE GAS WELL B
recorded on the bombs dropped from 153 to 116 psia during the first
12 minutes, then remained essentially constant until 2 hours and 20 ~ --'2m1b... Q.rill1iffil
minutes later when it began to rise. (psi g) (ft) (psi/ft)

Fig. 4 shows the well bore configuration and approximate liquid 94.7 0
levels for Well A at the time of shut-in, 12 minutes later, and then 2 0.002
weeks later. Fig. 5 shows a log-log plot ofthe buildup data, which we 99.5 2000
believe to be uninterpretable. The person reading the charts noticed 0.002
the peculiar pressure drop and flattening out and chose to set time equal lOlA 3200
to zero when the pressure began to rise, namely 152 minutes after actual 0.003
shut-in. Using this incorrect time leads to the log-log plot, Fig .6, which 103.9 4000
resembles a typical Shale buildup test, except for very early time. In 0.289
fact, the reservoir description from this plot is consistent with the well's 219.6 4400
productivity in the first four months of production. The point is, 0.475
however, that the data uses a fictitious shut-in time. Well B is discussed 314.6 4600
below. 0.477
362.3 4700
Finally, when liquid is present in a well bore during normal flowing 0.478
operations, it exerts a pressure against the formation, thereby reducing 386.2 4750
the gas flow. Since one purpose of a buildup test is to estimate the 0.470
productivity of the well, and since this productivity is a function of, 409.7 4800
among other things, the flowing bottomhole pressure, well bore liquid
can affcct the interpretation of the buildup data. Proper Placement of Bombs

How to account for well bore liquid The operator might avoid the problem of the liquid level falling
past the pressure bomb by running the bomb down near the bottom of
Some well bore liquid problems can be avoided with proper test the tubing, assuming that some liquid remains in the wellbore
design. Other problems can be solved by using more sophisticated throughout the shut-in.
analysis tools.
Shortly after we encountered the buildup on Well A, illustrated in
More Sophisticated Analysis Tools Figs. 4 and 5 that was caused by liquid falling past the bomb, we
designed a buildup test on an offset well, Well B. This time, we
In recent years, analytical well testing models have been positioned the bombs at 4800 ft, in tubing that extended to 4860 ft, just
introduced. These models use analytical solutions to differential at the bottom perforation. Fig. 7 shows the sequence of liquid levels
equations that represent fluid flow in porous media. Some of these in the tubing and the annulus at the time of shut-in and then two and
solutions have been programmed for automatic history-matching of three weeks later. Fig. 8 shows the Cartesian plot of pressure versus
buildup test data, yielding a reservoir description in the form of time for the first 120 hours from the pressure bomb. Unfortunately,
permeability, skin factor, drainage area, porosity, average reservoir these data were uninterpretable. We do know that during the first 20
pressure, and so on. One such model in particular, TESTMAT, 13 which hours, the tubing liquid level rose and fell almost periodically, and after
was developed with support from the Gas Research Institute (GRI), an abrupt increase began to fall at 40 hours as more and more liquid
features a well bore phase redistribution parameter. In other words, entered the formation.
TESTMAT can incorporate parameters that describe the hump caused
by fluid segregation.

57
4 PRACTICAL PROBLEMS IN WELL TESTING DEVONIAN SHALE GAS WELLS SPE 19312
Figs. 9 and 10 illustrate the problem of cleanup. Fig. 9 sh0:-Vs the
Homer plot of buildup data from a test conducted on a Wash1l1gton
Surface Tubing and Annulus Pressure County, Ohio Shale well in June 1986,26 days after it had been tre~ted
with nearly 2.9 MMscf of nitrogen. Fig. 10 is the analogous semllog
In addition to the gradient survey, annulus pressures can be useful plot using a multi-rate model on the same well one ~~ar later. Our
in tracking the behavior of the liquid level during the shut-in. The levels analyses led to widely different estimates of permeability (0.023 and
and pressure patterns in Fig. 7 were obtained by having bottom.hole 0.0064 md) and skin factor (-4.5 and -3.14). We trust the second test
pressure and surface tubing and annulus pressures at several Urnes analysis much more than the first. Incidentally, a production log on
during the buildup test and knowing the liquid gradient from the survey this well run two weeks prior to the first shut-in gauged the flow to
in Table 2. We learned, for example, that there was 8.5 bbl of liquid atmosphere at 2 MMscfJD.
in the wellbore at shut-in, 5.6 bbl after two weeks, and 4.3 bbl after
three weeks. From the shape of Fig. 8 we can tell that the liquid was Gas Sampling
reentering the formation as early as 40 hours, causing the boltomhole
pressure to fall. Every gas well should have gas samples takcn and analyzed soon
after completion. The surest way to determine whether a well has
Knowing the bottom hole pressure and the surface annulus pressure cleaned up is to examine the produced gas composition. Gas
at shut-in, two weeks later, and three weeks later allowed us to chromatography is inexpensive and reliable; in addition to th~ n.itrogen
determine that the liquid level in the annulus continued to fall content, a gas analysis will provide useful data for determmmg gas
throughout the shut-in. We were able to piece together the following properties required in analyzing buildup data. We have seen Shale
scenario. wells that were still producing 30% nitrogen after several weeks of
From a previous zone isolation test, we knew that 75 to 80% of the production following a large nitrogen stimulation treatment. By
contrast, another fracture-treated well produced gas. with less than 5%
produced gas entered the annulus through perforations that well abo~e nitrogen within 48 hours. We recommend gas samplmg every few days
the initial annulus liquid level. This afterflow caused the pressure 111 during fracture eleanup and at least once for every well.
the gas column in the annulus to build up, which in tum caused !he
liquid either to U-tube up into the tubing or to re-enter the formatIon Case 4 - Surprises
or both.
Designing, running, and analyzing the data from a well test !nv<:lves
Well test analysis theory is based on pressures at the sandfa.ce. several people and some equipment. The engineer whose Job IS .to
Roughly speaking, the difference between the sandface and tub1l1g analyze the data will occasionally receive data that defies analYSIS.
pressures is proportional to the difference in liquid levels between Worse, the data may appear to be analyzable, but may aetually re9uire
tubing and annulus. In Well A, after the liquid level in the tubing fell further investigation to avoid false conclu~ions. Whether I.t be
below the bomb. it was impossible to deduce sand face pressure from mechanical problems, human error, or faIlure to commUnIcate
bomb pressurc, because we didn't know where either liquid level was. effectively, common symptoms are noisy data, incompl~te data, a~d
In Well B, the pressure bomb remained below the tubing liquid level conflicting or incorrect information about the well history or Its
throughout the test. so the recorded pressures could be taken as sandface completion.
pressures at the depth of the bomb. The annulus liquid lev~l, however,
continued to drop as liquid entered the formation, prevent1l1g us from Leaky packers can cause buildup data to look like Fig. 11.
deducing the pressure in the annulus gas column. Mechanical failure of the clock can cause data to have a gap such as
the buildup in Fig. 12. Improper articulation of the data before ~d
We plan to retest these two wells in Pike County. Our next design after rerunning bombs can cause subtle but important s~ope changes.m
calls for bottom hole gauges in the tubing and surface gauges on the Homer plots, as also seen in Fig. 12. When a mechanIc~1 gauge falls
annulus. From this combination of data. we will be able to deduce the during a buildup test, the chart reader mustestimate the tll!l~ when the
buildup history in the gas column of the annulus and the liquid level data stopped being recorded. The usual procedure for thiS IS t<: use a
history in the annulus. time scaling factor supplied by the manufacturer (e.g., 5 mch~s
corresponds to 180 hours). If this factor is wrong, all time values Will
Case 3 - Well Stj]] Cleanjng Up At Time Of Shut-jn be incorrect by a constant multiple, causing a lateral shift on the Homer
plot or the log-log plot.
Shale wells often require some form of stimulation. such as a
nitrogen breakdown. to initiate production. Some operators prefer to When gauges arc rerun, the two sets of time data must be Iin!<ed
pump a nitrogen fracture treatment befo~e. runni~g a b.uildup .te.st. together properly. An incorrect artieulat!~n would caus~ the later time
Whenever a well is stimulated, the reservoir 111 the Immediate VICInIty values to be incorrect by a constant additive factor. ThiS error would
of the well bore becomes tern poraril y su percharged. In the case oflarge distort the earlier times more than the later times and have a net effect
nitrogen injcctions, the immediate production consists lar~el~ of of changing the slope on a Homer plOt.
nitrogen. We havc seen production logs run on Shale wells that 1l1dlcate
open flow rates of several hundred MscfJD, only to find a reasonably Reporting the wrong shut-in time can cause the log-log plot to fail
stable flow rate, against small backpressures. of 25 MscfJD. The to show a unit slope at early time, as illustrated in Figs. 13. The person
unusually high rate was the result of nitrogen flowback. A buildup test reading the charts chose the wrong time for shut-in. The actua~ shut-in
run on a well that is still producing significant amounts of nitrogen does time was reported along with the data to the analyst, who notICed ~he
not tell us much about the ability of the reservoir to produce natural irregular early time data. A phone call between the analyst and a servIce
gas. company field engineer clarified the malter. The charts were reread
and led to the data shown in Fig. 14.
Fracture fluid from foam fracture treatments can cause even more
severe problems. In extreme cases, liquid buildup during cleanup can Reporting gauge pressure as absolute pressure can result in the.odd
kill the well. Swabbing or other means of liquid removal should be shape of the final points in Fig. 15. These last two points were obtamed
completed prior to the drawdown period preceding a buildup test. from dead weight tester readings after the bombs had bcen pulled.
Again, communication between the field engineer who took the
How to avoid stimulation cleanup problems readings and the analyst corrected the problem.
The first rule to follow to avoid influence of cleanup behavior on Although they do not lend themselves to graphical intel1?retation.
well test data is the obvious one: don't schedule a well test until the other forms of misinformation can cause faulty interpretatIon. For
well has cleaned up. Some guidelines may be useful in practice. example, we planned a test on two producing zones in a Shale well in
Breathitt County, KY, assuming that the shallower zone had been
For Devonian Shale gas wells, we have found that small nitrogen producing up the casing-tubing annulu~. and a~other zon~ ~ad b~en
breakdowns (200 Mscf injected) will clean up and be ready to be shut producing up the tubing. We were particularly mterested m Isolatmg
in for a buildup test in a month or less. For largerstimulation treatments, the shallow zone because we had analyzed a prestimulation buildup
with straight nitrogen or foam. it often req~ires at least a m?~th before on it earlier. whdn the service company employee arrived to ri~ up the
the nitrogen cut falls below 10%, the liqUid returns arc minImal, and lubricator and run the bombs, he found that the casing was shut m. We
the flow rate stabilizes. We then prefer to flow the well another 3 to 4 proceeded to test the lower zone and noticed that the casing surface
weeks before shutting it in for a buildup. pressure was identical to the tubin!! surface pressure both when the
58
SPE 19312 MURTHA, J A AND LANCASTER, D E 5

bombs were run and at the end of the buildup period. It turned out that NOMENCLATURE
the packer was leaking, and production from the upper zone had been
commingled with the lower zone. Ourtest, therefore, led to information Meanjn~
about the layered reservoir, rather than giving us some valuable
information about the effectiveness of the fracture treatment on the c, Total compressibility evaluated at p.", pSj'1
upper zone.
C Wellbore storage coefficient, bbl/psi
How 10 ayojd [edUce, ilnd accommodale sUl:prises
D non-Darcy now factor, Mscfl
Attention to Details
h Net pay thickness, ft
Planning, cooperation, communication, and experience will
combine to reduce surprises and make the occasional surprises easier Formation permeability to gas, md
to handle. The analyst needs to keep in touch with the operator and the
service company personnel. Everyone should agree on specific
objectives of the well test, such as evaluating a stimulation treatment, m Slope of semilog straight line, psi/cycle
or estimating kh, s', or average reservoir pressure. The well test needs
to be designed in accordance with these objectives. The operator and p* Extrapolated pressure, psia
the ficld personnel should be prepared to deal with events that interfere
with plans. p Average drainage area pressure, psia

Redundancy ~(p; + Pwj)' average buildup test pressure, psia


The likelihood of mechanical failure can be reduced by
redundancy. Bottomhole bombs should be run in pairs. There is some Initial (or discovery) reservoir pressure, psia
room for debate when running a two-week test, whether to run two 360
hour clocks or to run one 360 hour clock and one shorter clock, such Pwj Flowing bottom hole pressure, psia
as a 48 hour clock, to give better resolution of early time data during
well bore storage influence. The former method will reduce the odds Shut-in bottom hole pressure, psia
of missing data fortheentire two-week period, at theexpenseofmaking
early-time data harder to read from the charts.
I':1p (P; - Pwj)' flow period; Pw, - PwJl':1t = 0), shut-in
SUMMARY period, psia

We have cited several problems that can occur when designing, q, Gas production rate, MsefJD
running, and analyzing well tests along with some suggestions for
solving the problems. We summarize our suggestions below. Skin factor, dimensionless
1. Know the well history: the wcllborc mechanical diagram, the s + Dq" apparent skin factor, dimensionless
production history, including rates and amounts ofliquids, and the
zones to be tested. Time, hours
2. Establish good communication between the operator, the service
company, and the well test analyst. Don't take anything for granted. 0.0002637k,tl<\>).1c,2, dimensionless time
Don't hesitate to ask for confirmation of details.
Production time before a buildup test, hours
3. Have specific objectives for the well test that have been agreed to
by all concerned individuals. Duration of well bore storage distortion, hours
4. Run pressure gauges in tandem in case one fails.
I':1t Time elapsed since shut-in, hours
5. Take accurate surface pressures whenever possible, on tubing and
annuli. I':1t, 1':1//(1 +l':1tltp), equivalent shut-in time, hours

6. Run a gradient survey either before shutting in the well or after Gas viscosity evaluated at p.", cp
pulling the bombs, or both.
Porosity of reservoir rock, fraction
7. Take gas samples, especially while the well is cleaning up from
stimulation treatments. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
8. DeSign both the drawdown and the buildup tests for adequate We acknowledge the support of the Gas Research Institute, which
duration to accomplish objectives. Consider altering the wellbore sponsored work leading to this paper under Contract Nos.
configuration to reduce well bore volume. 5086-213-1446, "Reservoir Engineering and Treatment Design
Technology" and 5084-213-0980, "Analysis of Eastern Devonian Gas
9. Minimize loss of pressure from the wellbore when tripping gauges Shales Production Data." We also thank our colleagues at S. A.
through a lubricator.
Holditch & Associates and at Eastern Reservoir Services and Reuben
L. Graham, Inc.
10. Place pressure bombs and gauges at strategic positions, espeCially
in the presence of liquid in the wellbore. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
II. Try to remove the liquid from wellbore if convenient before the I. Graham, R. L.: "Exploration-Production Studies in Newly Drilled
drawdown.
Devonian Shale Gas Wells," Reuben L. Graham, Inc. Annual
12. Have available the necessary analysis software for the data to be Report to the Gas Research Institute, GRI Contract No.
obtained. 5085-213-1123, Feb. 1986.

59
6 PRACTICAL PROBLEMS IN WELL TESTING DEVONIAN SHALE GAS WELLS SPE 19312

2. Gatens, J. M. III, Holgate, K. E., And Lee, W. J.: "Evaluation of 8. Agarwal, R. G.: "Real Gas Pseudo-Time - A New Function for
Massive Hydraulic Fracturing Experiments in the Devonian Shales Pressure Buildup Analysis of MHF Gas Wells," paper SPE 8279
in Lincoln County, West Virginia," S. A. Holditch & Associates, presented at the 1979 SPE Annual Technical Conference and
Inc. Topical Report to the Gas Research Institute, GRI Contract Exhibition, Las Vcgas, Sept. 23-26.
No. 5084-213-0980, May 1987.
9. Al-Hussainy, R., Ramey, H. J. Jr., and Crawford, P. B.: "The Flow
3. Murtha, J. A., Gatens, J. M. III, Lancaster, D. E., Lane, H. S., Lee, of Real Gas Through Porous Media," lIT (May 1966) 624-36.
W. J., Olarewaju, J. S., and Watson, A. T.: "Reservoir Engineering
and Treatment Design Technology," S. A. Holditch & Associates, 10. Agarwal, R. G.: "A New Method to Account for Producing Time
Inc., Annual Repon to the Gas Research Institute, GRI Contract Effects When Drawdown Type Curves are Used to Analyze
No. 5086-213-1446, Dec. 1987. Pressure Buildup and OtherTest Data," paper SPE 9289 presented
at the 1980 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition,
4. Murtha, J. A., Gatens, J. M. III, Hopkins, C. W., Lancaster, D. E., Dallas, Sept. 21-24.
Lane, H. S., Lee, W. J., Olarewaju, J. S., and Watson, A. T.:
"Reservoir Engineering and Treatment Design Technology," S. A. II. Gringarten, A. c., Bourdet, D. P., Landel, P. A. and Kniazeff, V.
Holditch & Associates, Inc., Annual Report to the Gas Research J.: "A Comparison Between Different Skin and Wellbore Storage
Institute, GR! Contract No. 5086-213-1446, Dec. 1988. Type-Curves for Early-Time Transient Analysis," paper SPE 8205
presented at the 1979 SPE Annual Technical Conference and
5. Lancaster, D. E.: "An Overview of GRI's Comprehensive Study Exhibition, Las Vegas, Sept. 23-26.
Well Program in the Devonian Shales of the Appalachian Basin,"
paper SPE 18551 presented at the 1988 SPE Eastern Regional 12. Stegemeicr, G. L. and Matthews, C. S.: "Study of Anomalous
Meeting, Charleston, WV, Nov. 1-4. Pressure Buildup Behavior," lIT (Feb. 1958)44-50, Trans., AIME,
ill.
6. Holgate, K. E., Lancaster, D. E., and Lee, W. J.: "Analysis of
Drill stem Test Data in Devonian Shale Reservoirs," paper SPE 13. Murtha, J. A., Gatens, J. M. III, Lancaster, D. E., Lane, H. S., Lee,
15925 presented at the 1986 SPE Eastern Regional Meeting, W. J., Olarewaju, J. S., and Watson, A. T.: "Practical Methods For
Columbus, 01-1, Nov. 12-14. Analyzing Well Test and Production Data From Devonian Shale
Reservoirs," S. A. I-Iolditch & Associates, Inc. Topical Report to
7. Lee, W. J.: "Pressure-Transient Test Design in Tight Gas the Gas Research Institute, GR! Contract No. 5084-213-0980, Oct.
Formations," lIT (Oct. 1987) 1185-94. 1987.

500
~ MIDDLE TIME REGION

400 EARLY
TIME
0
(J)
0
REGION
0.
0
w 300 I-
a:: 0
:J
(f)
(f)
W 0
a::
CL
200 r-
a 0 DELAYED BUILDUP
w CAUSED BY WELLBORE
I-
(f) 100 t- o STORAGE DISTORTION
:J
-, 0 ...
a ( \
0
o 0
0 t- o 0 0 0 0 o 0 0 0 0

-100 I J I I I

10 10 1 10 2 10 3 10 4 10 5 10 6

ADJUSTED HORNER TIME

Fig. I - Horner plot for a typical Devonian Shale gas well.

60
250r---------------------------------------__
o PRESSURE DIFFERENCE
o PRESSURE DERIVATIVE
'iii
Q.
200
c
W 'iii
<!>W Q.

~2: W
::ct:t 0:::
::) 150
U> en
We:
e:::w
(f)
W
~o 0:::
a..
(f)W
We::: o 100
e:::::) W
o..(f) I-
en 10 1 (f)
ow ::)
Wo::: 0
1-0.. 3<J: 0
00
en 50 0
::)
.." 0
o 'ttbooC\:X)
<J: 000 CIl:XlOo CXXlO 0 0 0 0
100~ ________ ~~ ________ ~ ________ ~ ________ ~
0
10-1 10 0 10 1 10 1 10 3 10 4 10 5 10 6

EFFECTIVE ADJUSTED TIME, hours ADJUSTED HORNER TIME RATIO

Fig. 2 - Log-log plot for 0 typical Devonian Shale gas well. Fig. 3 - Horner plot showing last two data points obtained from surface
measurements.

103r---------------------------------------------~
4t" CASING
21-" TUBING o ADJUSTED PRESSURE CHANGE

I+---+-WIRELINE o PRESSURE DERIVATIVE


'iii
Q.

GAS ENTERS W
ANNULUS <!>W
~2:
::c!;::(

L-r
U>
I'lstt_+-_PRESSURE GAUGES We:
o:::w
IN BOMB
::)0

~W
SOME GAS WO:::
0:::::)
PERCOLATES o..(f) o
DOWN ANNULUS,
offl

t>t = 0
UP TUBING
WATER ENTERS
FORMATION
t>t = 12 minutes t>t = 2 weeks
WO:::
1-0..
en
::)

3<J:
I
o

o
10-1~ ________ ~ __________ ~1 ________ ~1 __________ ~

Fig. 4 - Sequence showing failing liquid levels during buildup test an Well A.
10-1 10 0 10 1 10 2
EQUIVALENT ADJUSTED TIME, hours

Fig. 5 - Log-log plot of buildup data from Well A showing unusual early-time data
when actual shut-in time was used.
r-------------------------------------------~
3
10 4t" CASING
o PRESSURE DIFFERENCE
o PRESSURE DERIVATIVE 2i" TUBING
'iii 3600 -
0..

W TOP PERF
0W 3800 - (3760)
~2:
:r:~
U> 4000 - GAS ENTERS
Wcr:
OCW
ANNULUS
::::la
Cfl 10 - 4200 -
CflW '
WOC
OC::::l
o..Cfl
a~ 4400-
WOC
1-0..
Cfl
::::l
o 4600 - 6.2
J
a o o bbl
<I:
o 4800 - WATER 1.6
bbl
BOTTOM PERF
I I I I pslo (4862)

10 .c.t = 0 .c.t =2 weeks .c.t =3 weeks


'
EQUIVALENT ADJUSTED TIME, hours

Fig. 6 - Log-log plot of buildup data from Well A showing typical shapes when Fig. 7 - Sequence showing changing liquid levels during buildup test on Well B.
Incorrect shut-in time was used.

'"
N

HORNER ANALYSIS RESULTS


a 470 k = 0.023 md
'Cij
0..
530 s = -4.5
p' = 1067 psia
W 450 o
oc o
::::l o
Cfl 'iii o
Cfl
W 430 0.. o
oc 510 o
0.. W
OC
W ::::l o
...J 410 Cfl
0 Cfl
:r: W
OC
::1!
g 390 0..
a 490 o
b
III 370
W
I-
Cfl
o
::::l o
J
a o
350 o o
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 470 o
o
o
TIME, hours o
Fig. 8 - Cartesian plot of the first 120 hours of buildup data from Well B 450L-______________ ~ ____________ ~ _______________J
showing erratic early time data and eventuel pressure decline.
100 10 10 2 10 3
'
ADJUSTED HORNER TIME

Fig. 9 - Horner analysis of the June 1986 pest-stimulation pressure buildup test from
a Washington County, Ohio well showing cleanup Influence.
100
MULTIRATE ANALYSIS RESULTS
k : 0.0064 md
102r---~~~~~~~ ____________________ ~~~

90 s : -3.14 o ADJUSTED PRESSURE CHANGE _n.J'l.O>O-l:>-oou'UDDDDDDCl


o PRESSURE DERIVATIVE
GRINGARTEN et al.
TYPE CURVE - -
0
'iIi
Cl..
80 '"
W
Cl..

Ow 10 1

W 70 z> ~
0:: - o
::J
U) :c!;:(
U) 0 u> 00 00 0
W 0 wo?
0:: 60 0 o::w o oocO'o

t ~o
CL 0 ::Jo
U)
0 0 U)w 0
w 0 wo::
f-
U) 50 O::::J

,
0 CLu) PACKER LEAK
...,
::J 0 0[3 o
0 0 wo:: o
40 f-CL
U)
::J
...., o
ooW 0
30 000000
o
0 0 o 0

20
10 10 1 10 2
EFFECTIVE TIME FUNCTION
EFFECTIVE TIME FUNCTION, hours
Fig. 10 - Muilirate analysis of the July 1987 post- stimulation pressure buildup test from Fig. II - Log-log plot of buildup dala showing effect of pocker leak.
a Washington County, Ohio well.

103~ __________________________________________ ~

o PRESSURE DIFFERENCE
o BUILDUP DATA
o PRESSURE DERIVATIVE

_ m : 178 psi/cycle
o 300
'iii
0- coo
W o (j)
0:: CO
::J o "'tJ
U)
U) \o rn
W 101
0:: 200 o
CL 00
o o
w o
f-
U) o
o
....,
::J
o N
o o
100 o
o
o
o
o
o 10-1~_O~
o ____ ~ __________ ~ ________ ~ ________ ~ ________ ~

Ocl::loo 00000 0
o 10-1 10 0 10 1 10 2
o 000000000 0 0 10- 2
10 1 EQUIVALENT ADJUSTED TIME, hours

ADJUSTED HORNER TIME


Fig. 13 - Log-log plot of buildup dota using incorrect shut-In lime. (See Fig.14)
Fig. 12 - Horner plot of buildup showing gap caused by failure of mechanical gauge and
apparent change In slope when bombs were rerun,
~pE 19 'J 12

o PRESSURE DIFFERENCE
o PRESSURE DERIVATIVE
(/)
0..
u..i
<!>w
Z>
<{- 10 2
:r:ti
U>
Wo::
o::W
:::>0
(/)W
ill 0::
0:::::>
l..(/)
o
Wo::
ill 10 1
rl..
(/)
:::>
J
0
<{

100~ __________ ~ __________ ~ ________ ~~ ________ ~

10-1 10 1

EQUIVALENT ADJUSTED TIME, hours

Fig. 14 - Log-log plot of buildup data using corrected shut-In time. (See Fig. 13)

250~------------------------------------~

200
.2
(/)
0..
u..i
0:: 150
:::>
(/)

ill
0::
l..
o 100
W
r(/)
:::>
a
<t 50
~OOOOo
00 0 CXXXX>occ:ooo 0 0 0
O~ ______________ ~ ____ ~~ ____ ~ ______ ~

10 1

ADJUSTED HORNER TIME RATIO

Fig. 15 - Horner plot showing final two points reported as absolute pressure.
64