Producing Light Oil from a Frozen Reservoir [electronic resource] : Reservoir and Fluid Characterization of Umiat Field, National Petroleum Reserve, Alaska
- Washington, D.C. : United States. Dept. of Energy, 2012.
Oak Ridge, Tenn. : Distributed by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, U.S. Dept. of Energy.
- Additional Creators:
- University of Alaska (System)
United States. Department of Energy
United States. Department of Energy. Office of Scientific and Technical Information
- Umiat oil field is a light oil in a shallow, frozen reservoir in the Brooks Range foothills of northern Alaska with estimated oil-in-place of over 1 billion barrels. Umiat field was discovered in the 1940’s but was never considered viable because it is shallow, in the permafrost, and far from any transportation infrastructure. The advent of modern drilling and production techniques has made Umiat and similar fields in northern Alaska attractive exploration and production targets. Since 2008 UAF has been working with Renaissance Alaska Inc. and, more recently, Linc Energy, to develop a more robust reservoir model that can be combined with rock and fluid property data to simulate potential production techniques. This work will be used to by Linc Energy as they prepare to drill up to 5 horizontal wells during the 2012-2013 drilling season. This new work identified three potential reservoir horizons within the Cretaceous Nanushuk Formation: the Upper and Lower Grandstand sands, and the overlying Ninuluk sand, with the Lower Grandstand considered the primary target. Seals are provided by thick interlayered shales. Reserve estimates for the Lower Grandstand alone range from 739 million barrels to 2437 million barrels, with an average of 1527 million bbls. Reservoir simulations predict that cold gas injection from a wagon-wheel pattern of multilateral injectors and producers located on 5 drill sites on the crest of the structure will yield 12-15% recovery, with actual recovery depending upon the injection pressure used, the actual Kv/Kh encountered, and other geologic factors. Key to understanding the flow behavior of the Umiat reservoir is determining the permeability structure of the sands. Sandstones of the Cretaceous Nanushuk Formation consist of mixed shoreface and deltaic sandstones and mudstones. A core-based study of the sedimentary facies of these sands combined with outcrop observations identified six distinct facies associations with distinctive permeability trends. The Lower Grandstand sand consists of two coarsening-upward shoreface sands sequences while the Upper Grandstand consists of a single coarsening-upward shoreface sand. Each of the shoreface sands shows a distinctive permeability profile with high horizontal permeability at the top getting progressively poorer towards the base of the sand. In contrast, deltaic sandstones in the overlying Ninuluk are more permeable at the base of the sands, with decreasing permeability towards the sand top. These trends impart a strong permeability anisotropy to the reservoir and are being incorporated into the reservoir model. These observations also suggest that horizontal wells should target the upper part of the major sands. Natural fractures may superimpose another permeability pattern on the Umiat reservoir that need to be accounted for in both the simulation and in drilling. Examination of legacy core from Umiat field indicate that fractures are present in the subsurface, but don't provide information on their orientation and density. Nearby surface exposures of folds in similar stratigraphy indicate there are at least three possible fracture sets: an early, N/S striking set that may predate folding and two sets possibly related to folding: an EW striking set of extension fractures that are parallel to the fold axes and a set of conjugate shear fractures oriented NE and NW. Analysis of fracture spacing suggests that these natural fractures are fairly widely spaced (25-59 cm depending upon the fracture set), but could provide improved reservoir permeability in horizontal legs drilled perpendicular to the open fracture set. The phase behavior of the Umiat fluid needed to be well understood in order for the reservoir simulation to be accurate. However, only a small amount of Umiat oil was available; this oil was collected in the 1940’s and was severely weathered. The composition of this ‘dead’ Umiat fluid was characterized by gas chromatography. This analysis was then comp...
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