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SPE 99668

Application of Horizontal Waterflooding To Improve Oil Recovery From Old Oil Fields
R.V. Westermark, SPE, and J. Schmeling, Grand Directions; D.L. Dauben, SPE, Dauben Intl. Energy Consultants Inc.;
S. Robinowitz, Grand Resources Inc.; and H.V. Weyland, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Copyright 2006, Society of Petroleum Engineers

reservoir properties and detecting the presence and orientation
This paper was prepared for presentation at the 2006 SPE/DOE Symposium on Improved Oil of natural fractures.
Recovery held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A., 22–26 April 2006.

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
Results from several successful horizontal well projects are
presented, have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to discussed. These include (1) two horizontal waterfloods in
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 shallow Bartlesville sandstone reservoirs, (2) recovery from a
SPE meetings are subject to publication review by Editorial Committees of the Society of
Petroleum Engineers. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper
rim of moderately heavy oil underlain by water, and (3) an
for commercial purposes without the written consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is application of horizontal waterflooding in a moderately heavy
prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than
300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous oil reservoir.
acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper was presented. Write Librarian, SPE, P.O.
Box 833836, Richardson, TX 75083-3836, U.S.A., fax 01-972-952-9435.

The major objectives of this paper are to discuss the industry
This paper discusses the results of the application of horizontal trends in the application of horizontal wells in flooding
waterflooding technology to improve the recovery of oil from operations and to describe the specific experiences of Grand
older fields. A multi-disciplinary approach combining Directions, LLC (Grand), a division of Grand Resources, Inc.
geological interpretations, rock mechanics evaluations, Grand has been developing and applying horizontal well
reservoir simulation studies, and drilling technologies was technology during the past four years, with a focus on the
employed. A range of reservoir conditions in which the Pennsylvanian sands in the mid-continent area. Significant
technology is viable is discussed and the results of the field advancements have been made in a variety of reservoir
tests are presented. environments1-3.

The major focus has been on the shallow sandstone Waterflooding has been successfully used for many years
reservoirs in northeast Oklahoma and southeast Kansas. It has in the recovery of oil from petroleum reservoirs. Successful
been demonstrated that additional oil can be recovered in waterfloods often recover as much or more oil than in the
several different reservoir environments in these older fields, primary recovery phase. In spite of the many successes,
by utilizing a combination of horizontal and vertical wells. waterfloods have not always been effective from a technical
Two previous SPE papers described the results of a and/or economic basis. Common problems have included
Department of Energy (DOE) supported horizontal reservoir heterogeneities that cause the channeling of water;
waterflooding pilot located in the Wolco Field, Osage County, low permeability which limits the rate at which water can be
Oklahoma. injected below the fracture-parting pressure into the reservoir,
and high infrastructure costs for applications in reservoirs that
The technology has continued to evolve over time. The are deeper or located offshore.
key to assessing the potential for a horizontal well application
is a thorough understanding of the reservoir description, The concept of horizontal waterflooding was introduced by
including the oil saturation, depositional environment, Taber4 in 1992 as a method for improving the performance of
reservoir pressure, permeability, and an evaluation of any conventional waterfloods. It was pointed out that water can be
prior production and/or injection. Other parameters include the injected at much higher rates and lower pressures in horizontal
length, spacing, positioning and orientation of the injectors wells than in vertical wells, allowing oil to be recovered
and horizontal producers in the target zone. Use of rotary- quicker. It was further concluded that areal sweep efficiency
steerable drilling equipment has made it possible to drill would be improved by the line-drive geometry as compared to
underbalanced, short-radius horizontal laterals at a low cost. the sweep patterns that develop between vertical wells.
Special procedures have been adopted to permit the transport Because of the accelerated rate of recovery and the potential
of openhole logging equipment through the short-radius curve for increased total recovery, it was speculated that horizontal
to the end of the lateral, providing a good description of waterflooding could offer significant benefits over
conventional waterflooding. Joshi was also a pioneer in the
2 SPE 99668

development and application of horizontal well technology5 volumetric sweep for a conventional 5-spot waterflood is 72%
and recently provided an analysis of the costs and benefits of pore volume for a mobility ratio of 1, compared to 83% pore
horizontal wells used in a variety of applications, including volume for a horizontal waterflood. This higher sweep
waterflooding and enhanced oil recovery6. efficiency predicts that a larger amount of oil can be recovered
within the normal life of a project.
Grand continues to monitor and take advantage of the
ongoing industry advancements that have been made. This Grand focused its early attention on the application of
discussion will show that Grand has advanced the technology horizontal waterflooding in the 25-50 millidarcy (md)
during the process of implementing a number of projects. Fig. permeability portion of the shallow Bartlesville formation1-3.
1 shows the location of the projects discussed in this paper. Conventional waterfloods had often failed because of the
inability to inject water at sufficient rates while staying below
the fracture-parting pressure. By contrast, sufficient volumes
Discussion of water can be injected below fracture-parting pressure into
horizontal injection wells. Horizontal producing wells are then
Industry Trends. used to capture the mobilized oil. The University of Tulsa,
together with the DOE, also designed a similar project in the
Horizontal waterflooding has been under development for Glenn Pool Field in Oklahoma13.
the past 15 years. Texaco has been a leader in the testing of
the technology with applications in the New Hope Field Recent laboratory studies and field projects evaluated the
(Texas)7,8, Aneth Field (Utah)9,10, and the Captain Field (North immiscible water-alternating-gas (WAG) process using
Sea)11. Table 1 provides the descriptions and applications of horizontal wells in reservoirs containing moderately viscous
the major projects that have been conducted. oil. Key targets were the heavier oil reservoirs in the North
Slope of Alaska. A recent DOE study estimates that 10-20
In a horizontal well, the curve is referred to as the heel billion barrels of moderately heavy oil are contained in
while the end of the lateral is referred to as the toe. A reservoirs such as Ugnu, West Sak, and Shrader Bluff14.
horizontal waterflood, as originally conceived, consists of at British Petroleum (BP) is evaluating an immiscible WAG
least one horizontal injection well and one or more adjacent, process using horizontal wells as a means of recovering a
parallel horizontal producing wells, heels and toes in the same portion of the moderately viscous oils in the North Slope15.
orientation, as shown in Fig. 2a. With time, the concept of Horizontal injection wells will permit the high-rate injection
horizontal waterflooding has been expanded to include various of fluids into the reservoir and horizontal producing wells will
combinations of horizontal and vertical wells, depending upon capture the oil. A soluble gas such as carbon dioxide (CO2)
the particular application. In flooding applications, horizontal will dissolve in the heavier oil and reduce its viscosity. The
wells are aligned parallel to the principal orientation of natural combined effects will permit the recovery of oil that may not
fractures so that oil can be mobilized and produced from the otherwise be possible. Thermal projects are not applicable due
matrix. This is in contrast to many primary recovery to the permafrost conditions.
operations in which the horizontal laterals intersect the natural
fractures to maximize productivity. Horizontal injection and producing wells are also being
used in low permeability reservoirs where miscible gas
Field Applications. flooding is underway. These miscible gas projects are
conducted in light oil reservoirs where miscibility with the
The major objective in the earlier applications was to use crude oil can be established with the injection of gasses such
horizontal wells to improve waterflood performance in deeper, as CO2 or an enriched hydrocarbon gas. Mobil used horizontal
low permeability reservoirs. The low matrix permeability injection wells as an alternative to infill drilling in a CO2
mandated the use of smaller well patterns to recover the oil project in the Levelland Field16. Mobil also reported plans to
within a reasonable time frame. At the same time, the cost of use a CO2 horizontal flooding process in the Aneth Field to
drilling the deeper wells was too high to justify their use. improve the economics of the project17. EnCana (formerly
Several field tests established that one horizontal well in such PanCanadian) used a combination of vertical and horizontal
a reservoir could replace several vertical wells in wells to maximize the performance of a CO2 flood in the
effectiveness, with a considerable savings in drilling costs. Weyburn Field, Canada18. Phillips evaluated horizontal
Good examples are the Texaco projects conducted in the New injection wells to accelerate the recovery of oil from the South
Hope Shallow Unit7,8 and the Aneth Field9,10. Cowden Unit and to permit the centralization of field handling
facilities19. ARCO used a combination of vertical and
Horizontal waterflooding has also been applied in horizontal wells in the implementation of an enriched gas
reservoirs containing moderately viscous oil. This process drive project in Prudhoe Bay20.
accelerates and increases oil recovery by the improvement of
sweep efficiency and was successfully applied by Texaco in Well Patterns.
the Captain Field, located in the North Sea11. Fig. 3 depicts
the theoretical improvement in sweep efficiency achieved by Experience has shown that the pressure drop through a
horizontal wells12. As shown, the predicted breakthrough horizontal injector can be significant relative to the pressure
drop between wells within the reservoir. Vicente21 performed
SPE 99668 3

a numerical model study to couple the well flow dynamics of Technical Approach.
the horizontal wellbore and the reservoir, determining that
reservoir models need to incorporate the effects of pressure Grand has made continuous improvement over the past
drop through the horizontal lateral and the transient saturation four years in the development of the technology needed for the
effects that occur in the reservoir around the wellbore. Steady successful application of horizontal wells in waterflooding.
state models are considered appropriate in low-permeability This success is attributed to the technical team and to
reservoirs where the pressure drop through the lateral is innovations in the technology.
negligible compared to the pressure drop between wells. In
other situations, the reservoir model needs to include a Screening of Prospective Reservoirs.
wellbore model along with local grid refinement around the
lateral to accurately predict fluid flow through the reservoir. In Grand uses a team of professionals to make an initial
such cases, there is a tendency for fluids to flow from the heel evaluation of a prospective reservoir as a candidate for
of a horizontal injector toward the heel of a horizontal horizontal waterflooding. This team consists of a geologist,
producing well. The net result is a lower sweep efficiency and rock mechanics expert, reservoir engineer, and drilling
recovery than might be anticipated. Various investigators have engineer.
studied the problem of non-uniform flow out of and into
horizontal laterals and have made recommendations on Geologic studies focus on the vertical and areal
completions and well configurations that would minimize the distribution of porosity and permeability. Isopach, structure,
problem. Key findings include: and stratigraphic maps are generated to determine the
suitability of a prospect for waterflooding and the use of
• Lach11 discusses the use of a “tuned” liner to horizontal wells. The reservoir needs to have lateral
encourage the distribution of injected water toward the continuity, sufficient vertical permeability to permit the use of
toe of the injection well. A combination of horizontal wells, and sufficient oil saturation to permit an
interspersed open wire wrapped screen and blank economic application.
casing was used to promote a more even inflow
profile. A rock mechanics analysis is performed to evaluate the
properties of the rock where the curve and the horizontal
• Popa22 proposed the drilling of horizontal injectors lateral will be drilled. This evaluation will determine if the
and producers in a toe-to-heel (TTH) orientation, as rock has adequate strength to maintain hole stability during
shown in Fig. 2b, to promote better sweep between drilling and to permit the openhole completion of the lateral. A
wells. He also proposed the use of horizontal cased hole completion or liner may be required if borehole
producing wells along with vertical injection wells, stability is an issue.
pointing out that much better control on flow
distribution can be achieved in vertical injection wells A reservoir engineering evaluation is made to determine if
rather than in horizontal injection wells. A vertical the prospective reservoir appears suitable based upon prior
injection well aligned with the toe(s) of horizontal experiences.
producing well(s) is also considered TTH and is
shown in Fig. 2c-1. The drilling engineer makes an assessment of all of the
issues related to the drilling, logging, and completion of the
• In a later publication, Popa23 continues to advocate the well. He also evaluates drilling the well underbalanced, to help
drilling of horizontal injectors and producers in a TTH minimize formation damage.
configuration. He further discusses a variety of other
field patterns designed to enhance sweep efficiency, Approximately 70% of projects do not pass the initial
noting that horizontal producers are always screening and those that do move on to a more rigorous
recommended and that the injectors should be either a screening process.
vertical well or a relatively short horizontal well, as
shown in Fig. 2d. Detailed Planning.

• Zhao24 proposes a toe-to-heel waterflooding process to The same team of professionals performs the detailed
recover heavier oils, in a pattern that utilizes a analysis of those potential projects that passed the initial
horizontal producer and a vertical injector. The screening.
horizontal producers are located at the top of the A major activity during this stage is the use of a 3-
formation and the vertical injection well is placed near dimensional, 3-phase black oil simulator to confirm the
the toes in a staggered line drive configuration, as suitability and to assist in the design of the project. A reservoir
shown in Fig. 2c-2. The injected water tends to flow description is initially built into the model by using the
near the bottom of the formation by gravity drainage previously generated geologic description and by history
and the pressure support pushes the oil upward toward matching past performance. Once a history match is achieved,
the horizontal producing well. a number of simulations are performed to evaluate the impact
of different horizontal well design parameters. These include
the placement of horizontal and/or vertical wells, the lengths
4 SPE 99668

of horizontal laterals, spacing between wells, placement within horizontal lateral to the desired length. An air/foam mixture is
the vertical interval, and the orientation of wells. Economic used for circulation to permit underbalanced drilling, thereby
analyses are performed on the proposed pattern to be used in minimizing formation damage. Precautions are taken to avoid
the project to confirm viability. the use of surfactants that tend to emulsify with the oil, which
can also cause formation damage. Surveys are run frequently
A large number of simulations performed under a variety to confirm that the wellbore direction and inclination are
of conditions have resulted in some general observations. within plan. While lengths of up to 1000 ft have been drilled,
These include: (1) horizontal injection and producing wells experience has shown it is not the length of the lateral but how
should be drilled in a toe-to-heel orientation, (2) horizontal many compartments of high oil saturation are encountered that
well patterns should be drilled parallel to the prevailing natural determine the potential production from the well.
fracture orientation in waterflooding operations, (3) horizontal
producers should be placed near the top of the reservoir where A geologist is on site during the drilling of the well. He
the oil saturation is the highest, (4) pressure support is needed analyzes the cuttings from the well and provides an
to sustain production from a horizontal producing well, (5) interpretation of the lithology, sand quality, and the presence
horizontal injectors should be placed lower within the section, of oil. Observation of fluids circulated to the pit also provides
and (6) vertical injection wells are sufficient where good valuable information on the contents of the reservoir being
injectivity is possible. drilled. Attention is given to the first fluids to the surface after
surveying, which acts as a mini drill stem test (DST), as the
A detailed well plan is developed to specify the kick off reservoir has had approximately one hour to fill the wellbore
point, end of curve, trajectory, orientation, and length of the with natural fluids.
horizontal wells to be used in the project.
Formation Evaluation.
Because conventional well logging tools will not pass
Grand uses a low-cost, rotary-steerable drilling system to through the short radius curve, Grand has developed a
drill the short-radius curves discussed in this paper. This procedure to log short radius horizontal wells. Logging tools
system was developed and licensed by Amoco Production were modified and are conveyed by conventional sucker rods.
Company (now BP). Grand has advanced the technology as a Because friction limits the distance to which the logging tools
result of drilling these projects. can be pushed with sucker rods only, roller rod guides are
used, when necessary, to move the logging tools to a longer
All existing wells in a prospective project area are distance. This equipment facilitates the acquisition of a suite
reviewed for possible use. If the risk-weighted cost of exiting of logs, including gamma ray, density, induction, and acoustic
a candidate well exceeds the cost of a new well, which occurs borehole televiewer for fracture identification.
frequently in this shallow production region, a new well is
drilled. Completion.

When a new well is required, outside contractors are used Because of the short-radius of the curve, it is possible to
to drill and cement casing in the vertical hole to a specified use a conventional downhole pump assembly, set in the
depth. In some cases, the vertical portion of the well is initially vertical section above the curve, with relatively low pressure
drilled through the target formation for the purpose of head on the formation. The initial production provides an early
obtaining additional information about the reservoir. Openhole indicator of the amounts of oil, water, and gas that will be
well logs and a borehole televiewer can be run to evaluate produced from the well. It has been noted that there is a good
formation characteristics, porosity, fluid saturations, and correlation between the amount of oil circulated to the pit
fracture orientation. In these instances, the well is then during drilling and the stabilized oil production rate that is
plugged back with cement and the horizontal lateral kicked off ultimately achieved from the well. The curve and horizontal
in an orientation parallel to the observed natural fractures. portions of the well are openhole completed, with no
stimulation required.
There are two drilling assemblies used to drill a horizontal
well: the curve drilling assembly (CDA) and the lateral Field Applications.
drilling assembly. A gyroscopic surveying tool is utilized to
orient the CDA, which drills a reliable curve based upon the Grand has applied horizontal well technology in the
tool configuration, typically a 70 ft turning radius. This means following reservoir conditions:
that the wells go from vertical to horizontal, 90 degrees, in 70
ft of true vertical depth (TVD), a total drilled length of • Shallow, low permeability (< 50md) reservoir
approximately 110 ft. The curve is typically drilled with water • Shallow, low permeability zone (< 50md)
or mud. The CDA is pulled from the hole after the curve has with an underlying high permeability (> 100md) zone
been completed. • Shallow, moderately viscous (52 cp) oil reservoir
underlain by water
A modified air hammer drilling assembly, which produces • Shallow, moderately viscous (70 cp) oil reservoir
a good penetration rate, is run into the hole to drill the
SPE 99668 5

Bartlesville Sandstone Reservoirs. Thickness Porosity Permeability

(ft) (% pv) (md)
The Bartlesville sandstone in northeastern Oklahoma has Upper
been one of the most prolific oil producing formations in the 40-100 17 25-50
“C” zone
United States. Ye25 reports that 1.5 billion barrels of oil have
been produced from the Bartlesville sandstone through the “D” Zone
0-50 28 800
1960s. The Bartlesville remains an important producing
horizon, even though it is in a mature stage of depletion. In
spite of the large cumulative production from the Bartlesville, The porosity log for well 1-A, Fig. 4, clearly shows these
the recovery efficiency is often less than 15% of the original- two zones. The “D” zone was not considered to have a major
oil-in-place (OOIP). Recovery during the primary recovery impact since it was located at a sufficient distance from the
phase is low as a consequence of the low initial pressure and pilot. Also, it was anticipated that the pressure drawdown from
the inefficient solution gas drive mechanism. the two horizontal producing wells would adequately control
reservoir fluid movement.
Secondary recovery operations are often not effective or
economic due to the shallow depth, low permeability, and the Fig. 5a shows the layout of the original pilot This figure
natural fractures. The Bartlesville sandstone across northeast shows the location of a central horizontal injection well, two
Oklahoma ranges west to east from approximately 3000 ft to a adjacent horizontal producing wells and the location of the
surface outcrop. The formation typically has a permeability of nearby “D” zone. Wells were drilled in a toe-to-heel
less than 50 md, contains natural fractures and/or is found with orientation, consistent with recommendations made in the
an underlying 200-600 md aquifer. The fracture-parting literature22-24. Produced water was disposed of into the high
pressure is low, which makes it difficult to flood the reservoir energy “D” zone through the nearby 1-A vertical well.
at sufficiently high injection rates. Operators usually inject
above the fracture-parting pressure in an attempt to get Tests on the horizontal injection well provided useful
sufficient injectivity and the result is often unfavorable, as the information. An injection rate of 2000 barrels of water per day
water tends to channel through the fractures and bypass a (BWPD) was achieved on vacuum or at a zero surface
significant amount of oil. Fracture stimulation treatments in injection pressure. However, a step-rate test using a
injection wells often result in an interconnection with the bottomhole pressure sensor indicated that a slope change in
lower aquifer while stimulation treatments in producing wells the pressure/rate chart occurred at 0.35 psi per ft. It appeared
often lead to excessive water production. Development of that this represented the fracture-parting pressure being
small patterns with closer well spacing can lead to improved exceeded at a pressure less than the hydrostatic head of water,
recovery, but the economics are negatively impacted due to making it necessary to limit the injection rate to below the
the cost of drilling the additional wells. critical injection rate at which the apparent parting occurred.

Wolco Pilot. An injection profile survey determined that all of the

injected water was leaving the wellbore within the area of the
Grand’s first horizontal waterflood project, the Wolco curve. The tendency to preferentially flow out of the heel of
Pilot, was supported by the DOE and is summarized here. For the injector is consistent with industry experience23,24.
additional details refer to earlier technical papers1-3. However, during the drilling of the curve circulation was lost,
suggesting that fractures may have also played a role.
The objective of the Wolco project was to demonstrate that
a horizontal waterflood could recover a significant amount of The horizontal waterflood project was successfully drilled
oil from a portion of the reservoir that had not been previously and performed as expected from the standpoint of total fluid
flooded. Vertical well logs from the early 1980s indicated a injection and withdrawal. Both the productivity index and the
thick, continuous sand with 50%+ oil saturation, making the injection index exceeded original estimates, however, the oil
pilot appear suitable. Although the pilot area had not been production response was disappointing. New horizontal well
previously flooded it was located adjacent to an area that had logs indicated that the principal cause for the poor response
been. The pilot was also located close to an area of the was an oil saturation that was greatly below the original
reservoir that contains a high-energy, lower member of the projections determined by the 1980s logs.
Bartlesville formation. That zone, referred to as the “D” zone
is characterized by high porosity and permeability in the The pilot configuration was revised, as shown in Fig. 5b.
several hundred millidarcy range, while the target zone above The horizontal injection well was shut-in and each of the
it, the “C” zone, has lower porosity and permeability. horizontal producing wells was plugged back and new laterals
were drilled in the opposite direction. The horizontal
producing wells were drilled in the top of the formation (Fig.
2c-2) which contained a thin rim of oil. A new pilot was
therefore created, consisting of the two horizontal producing
laterals and the 1-A vertical disposal well completed in the
high permeability “D” zone. Most of the produced water is
6 SPE 99668

entering the “D” zone and providing the pressure support for approximately 25 BOPD was being produced at a watercut of
the upward movement of oil toward the horizontal producing approximately 98.5% from the eight producing wells. In this
wells. area, the high permeability “D” zone has a thickness ranging
from a few feet up to 30 ft while the “C” zone it above ranges
While drilling the new horizontal producers, the drilling from 40 to 100 ft.
returns together with openhole well logs indicated that the oil
saturation is not uniform throughout the horizontal lateral. The Water has been over-injected into this quarter-section for
fluid returns to the pit further indicated that oil and water years, with an injection-withdrawal ratio of approximately 2.
saturations can change rapidly as the horizontal lateral is This practice has led to the pressurization of the reservoir in
drilled. These rapid changes suggest that the reservoir is the area surrounding the quarter section which was confirmed
compartmentalized and much more complex than considered by fluid level tests run in some of the peripheral wells.
in the geological and simulation studies. Such observations Because of the extreme contrasts of permeability within the
reinforce the merits of horizontal wells because of their ability reservoir, most of the injected water is presumed to have
to penetrate a large portion of the reservoir with a single flowed through the “D” sand, causing much of the oil in the
wellbore. upper portion of the reservoir to be bypassed. The horizontal
wells were drilled to recover this bypassed oil.
The new Wolco pilot has been successful, with producing
rates that have averaged 15 barrels of oil per day (BOPD). An Simulations studies indicated that horizontal producing
economic project has been achieved, even with oil saturations wells drilled near the top of the Bartlesville sand would be
and rates below expectations. The current high oil prices have highly productive as a result of unswept oil saturation and
been a key factor in this success. good reservoir pressure. Sensitivity cases indicated:

The following lessons were learned from this project. • The horizontal lateral should be placed in the top of
the zone with the toe a reasonable distance from the
• Oil can migrate over a period of years due to regional vertical injectors.
pressure gradients.
• High oil recovery can be achieved with multiple
• High injection rates can be achieved in horizontal horizontal wells in different locations. However,
injection wells; however, diagnostic testing is needed interference effects ultimately reduce recovery if too
to determine the fracture-parting pressure and to many horizontals are used or if located too close to
assess the flow distribution around the lateral. each other.

• Because the horizontals are drilled from below the • Oil recovery is higher with longer laterals due to
bottom of the casing, it is relatively inexpensive to greater exposure to the formation and the tendency to
plug back an ineffective lateral and drill a new one encounter more compartments of higher oil saturation.
from the vertical wellbore, reinforcing the merits of
using a short-radius drilling system. The simulations indicate that oil is recovered by the action
of the water pushing the oil upward toward the pressure sink
• The Bartlesville sandstone reservoir proved to be quite created by the horizontal lateral. The simulations assumed that
heterogeneous, with strong evidence of compartment- the flow of fluids within the reservoir is controlled by the
alization that tends to isolate parts of the reservoir matrix, although in reality, fractures may also be influencing
resulting in low recovery rates. the flow to an unknown degree.

• The favorable results being achieved by the current Wells 325 and 328 were originally drilled and completed
pilot configuration indicates the viability of a in 1914 and were re-entered and drilled horizontally. As
horizontal well application in a reservoir containing an shown in Fig. 6, the two laterals are located close to one
oil rim over a high permeability zone. another. They have responded favorably, with a combined
production of approximately 40 BOPD and 600 BWPD,
Avant Field. although the close proximity of the wells will likely result in
interference effects over the long term.
This project, located to the east of the Wolco pilot project,
demonstrates how the drilling of horizontal laterals in the Well 55 has not responded favorably to date. Good oil
upper portion of a pressured up reservoir containing a high saturation in the “C” zone was indicated on the logs; however,
permeability lower zone can lead to significant oil production. the well produces a large volume of water. Although the
source has not yet been identified, it is speculated that fracture
An isopach map of the “D” sand in the southwest quarter communication with a water source, possibly an offending
of section 19 is shown in Fig. 6. For approximately 20 years, injection well, is the cause.
water has been injected into the seven vertical injection wells
at a rate of over 4000 BWPD. At the initiation of this project, The following lessons were learned from this project:
SPE 99668 7

geometry that exposes more of the oil column to the wellbore

• The favorable results being achieved indicate the and also reduces the tendency for coning.
viability of a horizontal well application in a pressured
up reservoir containing a high permeability zone at the It has been difficult to define the geology in portions of the
base of the pay. Using vertical injection wells and reservoir where there have been few penetrations of the sand.
horizontal producing wells appears to be effective. Because of this, some of the horizontal wells were drilled too
close to the water/oil contact and have not been successful.
• The Bartlesville sand appears quite heterogeneous, as
indicated by the extreme contrasts in permeability, The following lessons were learned from the project.
variability in thickness, compartmentalization, and the
apparent influence of natural fractures. • Recovery can be increased by the use of horizontal
wells in reservoirs containing moderately heavy oil
Bird Creek Field. underlain by water.

This project demonstrates the application of horizontal • A good understanding of reservoir geology is critical
wells to improve recovery in a reservoir where moderately to insure that horizontal wells are properly placed
heavy oil is underlain by water. Water coning frequently within the reservoir.
occurs in vertical wells due to the unfavorable mobility ratio
between the oil and water. The use of horizontal wells to West Savonburg Field.
reduce the effects of water coning is one of the applications
discussed by Joshi6. Another horizontal well project has been initiated in the
Manson Lease, West Savonburg Field, Allen County, Kansas
The Bird Creek Field, discovered in 1904, produces from as a joint venture between Grand and Verde Oil Company.
both the Bartlesville sandstone and the underlying Tucker
sand. The Tucker sand, located about 70 ft below the The project is being conducted in a Pennsylvanian sand
Bartlesville, has been the principal target for the application of known locally as the Tucker reservoir, located at depth of
horizontal well technology. The Tucker sand is characterized approximately 800 ft. The reservoir has an average thickness
by an average porosity of 18%, a permeability of of 25 ft, an average porosity of 21%, and an average
approximately 300 md, and an oil viscosity of 52 cp at permeability of 300 md. The oil viscosity is 70 cp at reservoir
reservoir temperature. The thickness of the oil column is temperature. Primary recovery from the field with wells on 5-
controlled by the structure and the oil is underlain by water. acre spacing was approximately 5.5% of the OOIP. The low
Current reservoir pressure is 115 psi. oil recovery is attributed to the shallow depth and
corresponding low pressure, the high oil viscosity, and an
Conventional vertical wells produce 2-3 BOPD at a 98 inefficient solution gas drive mechanism.
percent water cut. Water coning occurs rapidly, even though
the wells are completed in the oil column, as shown in Fig. 7a. A polymer flood was conducted in 2000-03 on an 80 acre
Conventional waterflooding of such reservoirs is difficult due tract in the Manson Lease. The rationale for using polymers
to the strong tendency of injected water to flow principally was to increase oil recovery by improving the mobility ratio.
through the water-bearing portions of the reservoir. The polymer flood project produced an oil recovery of
approximately 3.3% of the OOIP, which was below
The basic procedure in the Tucker Sand is to drill expectations.
horizontal producing wells in the crest of the formation where
the oil column is the thickest, as depicted in Fig. 7b. A horizontal waterflood project was considered on the
Reservoir pressure is maintained by the injection of produced basis of the potential for improved sweep efficiency (Fig. 3)
water within the water column away from the horizontal wells. and the successful field demonstrations with moderately
A total of seven horizontal wells have been drilled to date. viscous oil reservoirs in Grand’s Bird Creek Field, the North
Some of these were new wells, while the rest were old Sea11 and the North Slope15. In the West Savonburg Field, the
Bartlesville wells that had been deepened and used for the moderate oil viscosity, high oil saturation, and pressured-up
horizontal laterals in the deeper Tucker formation. The laterals condition were positive contributing factors in deciding to
have been in the 300-400 ft range. evaluate the application of a horizontal waterflood.
Simulation studies indicated that a 5-well project would be
Reservoir simulation studies were conducted to determine effective in increasing the producing rates and recovery from
the critical design parameters needed for success. These the field. There were concerns about the large amount of water
studies indicated the need to place the lateral as high as and polymer already injected in the lease, but the relatively
possible within the oil column and to provide pressure low oil recovery indicated that considerable oil saturation still
support. The longer horizontals produce oil at higher rates. existed within the reservoir. Fig. 8 provides a conceptual
layout of the wells, consisting of two relatively short
In this project, the successful horizontal wells are horizontal injection wells and three horizontal producing
producing 15 BOPD at an oil cut of approximately 25%. This wells. The plans to drill the wells in a TTH orientation are
increased oil rate and oil cut are attributed to the horizontal consistent with industry recommendations22-24.
8 SPE 99668

DOE = Department of Energy

The initial well was drilled to a length of approximately WAG = water-alternating-gas
350 ft. A pressured up condition was encountered during the
CO2 = carbon dioxide
drilling, with the well flowing at the rate of 100 barrels of
fluid per day. A fracture was intersected during the course of TTH = Toe-to-Heel
drilling, which initially produced oil at high rates but later CDA = curve drilling assembly
turned to water. It appears that the fracture is connected to OOIP = original oil in place
nearby injection wells.

The initial production data indicates an oil rate of 10

BOPD and a water rate of 100 BWPD. The project is in the
Metric Conversion Factors
early phases of evaluation. Additional wells will be drilled
contingent upon the longer-term response of the initial well.
bbl X 1.589 873 E – 01 = m3
ft X 3.048 E – 01 =m
inch X 2.54 E + 00 = cm
md X 9.869 233 E – 04 = m2
Successful field demonstrations of horizontal well technology psi X 6.894 757 E + 00 = kPa
have been conducted, including two projects in a light oil
reservoir containing an underlying high permeability zone and
one project in a reservoir containing moderately heavy oil
underlain by water. A fourth project in a moderately heavy oil References
reservoir is currently under evaluation.
1. Westermark, R. V.; Dauben, D.; Robinowitz, S.: “Enhanced
The two major factors contributing to success include (1) Oil Recovery with Horizontal Waterflooding, Osage County,
reservoir evaluation studies to determine the suitability of a Oklahoma”, SPE 89373, presented at the 2004 SPE/DOE
Fourteenth Symposium on Improved Oil Recovery, Tulsa,
project and (2) a reliable, low cost method for the drilling of
OK, April 17-21, 2004.
short-radius horizontal wells.
2. Westermark, R. V.; Schmeling, J.; Dauben, D.; Robinowitz,
Numerous reservoir simulations and field experience S.; Weyland H. V.: “Increased Production Results From Pilot
indicate that: Horizontal Waterflood in Osage County, Oklahoma”, SPE
94094. presented at the 2005 SPE Production and Operations
• In a waterflood operation, horizontal wells should be Symposium, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, April 17-19, 2005.
aligned parallel to the principal fracture orientation to
maximize the amount of oil that can be displaced 3. Westermark, R. V.; Robinowitz, S.; Weyland, H. V.:
through the matrix. “Horizontal Waterflooding Increases Injectivity and
Accelerates Recovery”, World Oil V 225, No 3, pp 81-82,
• Horizontal producing wells should be placed in the March 2004.
portion of the sand where the oil saturation is the
highest. 4. Taber, J. J.; Seright, R. H.: “Horizontal Injection and
Production Wells for EOR or Waterflooding”, SPE 23952,
• Pressure support is needed to sustain the production presented at the 1992 SPE Permian Basin Oil and Gas
Recovery Conference, Midland, Texas, March 18-20, 1992.
from a horizontal producing well.
5. Joshi, S. D.: “Horizontal Well Technology”, published by
•Horizontal injection wells should be drilled in a toe- PennWell, Tulsa, OK, 1991.
to-heel orientation with horizontal producing wells to
counter the tendency of injected fluids to flow from 6. Joshi, S. D.: “Cost/Benefits of Horizontal Wells”, SPE
the heel of the injector toward the heel of the 83621, presented at the SPE Western Regional/AAPG
producer. Vertical or shorter length horizontal Pacific Section Joint Meeting held in Long Beach,
injectors should be located toward the toe of the California, May 19-24, 2003.
horizontal producer.
Nomenclature 7. Huang, W. S.; Kaetzer, T. R.; Bowlin, K. R.: “Design and
Performance of a Horizontal Well Waterflood Project in New
md = millidarcy Hope Shallow Unit, Franklin County, Texas”, SPE No
24949, presented at the 67th Annual SPE Technical
BOPD = barrels of oil per day [m3/d oil] Conference, 1992, Washington, D. C.
BWPD = barrels of water per day [m3/d water]
8. Huang, W. S.; Kaetzer, T. R.; Bowlin, K. R.: “Case History
psi = pounds/square inch
of a Horizontal Well Waterflood Project – New Hope
cp = viscosity Shallow Unit, Texas – An Update”, presented at the
SPE = Society of Petroleum Engineers Canadian SPE/CIM/CANMET International Conference on
SPE 99668 9

Recent Advances in Horizontal Well Applications, Calgary, Bay”, SPE 39628, presented at the SPE/DOE Improved Oil
Alberta, Canada, March 20-23, 1994. Recovery Symposium. Tulsa Oklahoma, April 19-22, 1998.

9. Hall, S. D. “Multi-Lateral Horizontal Wells Optimizing a 5- 21. Vicente, R.; Sarica, C.; Ertekin, T.: “A Numerical Model
Spot Waterflood”, SPE 35210, SPE Permian Basin Oil and Coupling Reservoir and Horizontal Well Flow Dynamics:
Gas Recovery Conference, Midland, Texas, 1996, pp 535- Transient Behavior of Single-Phase Liquid and Gas Flow”,
543. SPE/CIM 65508, presented at the 2000 SPE/CIM
International Conference on Horizontal Well Technology,
10. Hall, Scott D.: “Multilaterals Convert 5-Spot Line Drive Calgary, Alberta, Canada November 6-8, November 2000.
Waterflood in SE Utah”, SPE 48869, presented at the 1998
SPE International Conference and Exhibition in China, 22. Popa, C. G.; Chipea, M.: “Improved Waterflooding
Beijing, China, November 2-6, 1998. Efficiency by Horizontal Wells”, SPE 50400, presented at
the 1998 SPE International Conference on Horizontal Well
11. Lach, J. R.: “Captain Field Reservoir Development Planning Technology, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, November 1-4, 1998.
and Horizontal Well Performance”, OTC 8508, 1997
Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, Texas, May 5-6, 23. Popa, Constantin; Turta, Alex T: “Waterflooding by
1997. Horizontal Injectors and Producers”, SPE 78989, presented
at the 2002 SPE International Thermal Operations and Heavy
12. Ferreira, Horacio; Mamora, Daulat D.; Startzman, R. Oil Symposium and International and Horizontal Well
A.:”Simulation Compares 5-Spot to Horizontal Wells for Technology Conference, Calgary, Alberta, November 4-7,
Waterflood”, Petroleum Engineer, November 1998, pp 43- 2002.
24. Zhao, Litong; Turta, Alex: “Toe-To-Heel Waterflooding:
13. Kelkar, M. C.; Liner, C.; Kerr, D.: “Integrated Approach Field Scale Numerical Simulation Study”, SPE 89380,
Towards the Application of Horizontal Wells to Improve presented at the 2004 SPE/DOE Fourteen Symposium on
Waterflooding Performance”, Final Report, DOE/BC/14951- Improved Oil Recovery, Tulsa, Oklahoma, April 17-21,
16, October 1999. 2004.

14. Mohanty, Kishore K.: “Development of Shallow Viscous Oil 25. Ye, Liangmiao; Kerr, Dennis: “Sequence Stratigraphy of the
Reserves in North Slope, Final Report, DE-FC26- Middle Pennsylvanian Bartlesville Sandstone, Northeastern
01BC15186, December 2004. Oklahoma: A Case of an Underfilled Incised Valley”, AAPG
Bulletin, Vol. 84, No. 8, August 2000, pp 1185-1204.
15. McGuire, P. L.; Redman, R. S.; Jhaveri, B. S.; Yancey, E.;
Ning, S. X.: “Viscosity Reduction WAG: An Effective EOR
Process for North Slope Viscous Oils”, SPE 93914,
presented at the 2005 SPE Western Regional Meeting, Irvine,
CA, March 30-April 1, 2005.

16. Collier, F. B.; Sharma, A. K.; Stewart T. L.; Pickett, S. L.:

“Application of Horizontal Wells in Waterflood
Optimization at the North Central Levelland Unit in Cochran
and Hockley Counties, Texas”, 42nd Annual Southwestern
Petroleum Short Course Association, April 19-20, 1995, pp

17. Dollens, Kimberly B.; Larson, Dana C.; Anthony, Terry L.;
Howell, David A.; Jones, Tim A.: “The Redevelopment of a
Mature Waterflood Through the Application of Horizontal
Multilateral Drilling Technology in Preparation for Tertiary
CO2 WAG Operations”, May 15-18, 1999.

18. Hancock, Susan K.: “Project Brings Commercial-Scale CO2

Miscible Flooding to Canada”, Oil and Gas Journal, October
18, 1999, pp 70-75

19. Wier, D. R.; Chimahusky, J. S.; Czirr, K. L.; Hallenbeck, L.;

Gerard, M. G.; Dollens, K. B.; Owen, R.; Gaddis, M.;
Moshell, M. K. : “Design and Implementation of a CO2
Flood Utilizing Advanced Reservoir Characterization and
Horizontal Injection Wells in a Shallow Shelf Carbonate
Approaching Waterflood Depletion”, DOE/BC/14991-23,
Final Report, July 2, 2001.

20. McGuire, P. L.; Redman, R. S.; Mathews, W. L.; Carhart, S.

R.: “Unconventional Miscible EOR Experience at Prudhoe
10 SPE 99668

Table 1

Applications of Horizontal Wells in Waterflooding and

Enhanced Oil Recovery Projects

Depth Perm. API

Field Description Application
(ft) (md) Gravity

New Hope Improved economics and recovery; one

Waterflood in deep, low
Shallow Unit, 7965 2 46 horizontal well can replace several vertical
7,8 permeability reservoirs
Texas wells.

Improved economics and recovery; one

Aneth Field, Waterflood in deep, low
9,10 5400 0.2-5 38 horizontal well can replace several vertical
Utah permeability reservoirs

Acceleration and increase of oil recovery;

Captain Field, Waterflood in moderately
11 2800 8500 19.3 higher injection rates and improved areal
North Sea viscous oil reservoirs
sweep efficiency through mobility control.

Increase of oil recovery; improvement of areal

Immiscible WAG in
West Sak, sweep efficiency by a viscosity reduction WAG
15 3900 50-400 16-23 moderately viscous oil
Alaska process using horizontal injectors and

Levelland Unit,
Increase injectivity and accelerate oil recovery. Miscible WAG in tight, light
Slaughter Field, 4750 1.8 31
16 Reduce need for infill drilling. oil reservoirs

Aneth Field, Increase of oil recovery; increased injection Miscible WAG in tight, light
17 5400 0.2-5 38
Utah rates in miscible CO2 WAG process. oil reservoirs

Weyburn Field, Maximize recovery in CO2 project using various Miscible WAG in tight, light
18 4655 10 28
Canada combinations of vertical and horizontal wells. oil reservoirs

South Cowden
Accelerate recovery in CO2 project; horizontal Miscible WAG in tight, light
Sand Andres 4550 3.7 36
19 injection wells to increase injection rates oil reservoirs
Unit, Texas

Maximize recovery in an enriched gas drive

Prudhoe Bay, Miscible WAG in light oil
20 8800 400 27 project by using a combination of vertical and
Alaska reservoirs
horizontal wells.
SPE 99668 11

Figure 1: Location of Projects

Wolco Avant Field Bird Creek Field West Savonburg Field

Figure 2: Various Well Configurations Used in Horizontal Waterflooding

12 SPE 99668

Figure 3: Comparison of Breakthrough Volumetric Sweep Efficiency for 5-Spot and Horizontal Well Patterns

Figure 4: Density Log Showing Extreme Porosity Contrasts Between “C” and “D” Zones
SPE 99668 13

Figure 5a: Well Configuration in Original Wolco Pilot Figure 5b: Well Configuration in Modified Wolco Pilot

“D” Isopach

Figure 6: Isopach Map of the “D” Sand in the Avant Field Showing the Location of the Injectors, Producers and Horizontal Wells
14 SPE 99668

Figure 7a: Conventional Vertical Well Completion Depicting Water Coning

Figure 7b: Horizontal Well Completion Depicting Reduced Tendencies for Water Coning

Figure 8: Conceptual Layout of Horizontal Wells for the West Savonburg Field