Identification of fault and top seal effectiveness through an integration of hydrodynamic and capillary analysis techniques
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Fault and top seal effectiveness has proved to be a significant risk in exploration success, and creates a large uncertainty in predicting reservoir performance. This is particularly true in the Australian context, but equally applies to exploration provinces worldwide. Seals can be broadly classified into fault, intraformational, and top seal. For geological time-scale processes, intraformational and top seals are typically characterised by their membrane seal capacity and fracture threshold pressure. Fault seals are typically characterised by fault geometry, juxtaposition, membrane seal capacity, and reactivation potential. At the production time scale, subtle variations in the permeability distribution within a reservoir can lead to compartmentalization. These are typically characterised by dynamic reservoir models which assume hydrostatic conditions prior to commencement of production. There are few references in the seals literature concerning the integration of hydrodynamic techniques with the various aspects of seal evaluation. The research for this PhD thesis by published papers includes: Methodology for characterising formation water flow systems in faulted strata at exploration and production time scales; a new theory of hydrodynamics and membrane (capillary) seal capacity; and case study evaluations demonstrating integrated multidisciplinary techniques for the evaluation of seal capacity (fault, intraformational and top seal) that demonstrate the new theory in practice. By incorporating hydrodynamic processes in the evaluation of total seal capacity, the evidence shows that existing shale gouge ratio – across fault pressure difference (SGR-AFPD) calibration plots need adjustment resulting in the calibration envelopes shifting to the centre of the plot.This adjustment sharpens the predictive capacity for membrane seal analysis in the pre-drill scenario. This PhD thesis presents the background and rationale for the thesis topic, presents each published paper to be included as part of the thesis and its contribution to the body of work addressing the thesis topic, and presents related published papers that are not included in the thesis but which support the body of published work on the thesis topic. The result of the thesis is a new theory and approach to characterising membrane seal capacity for the total seal thickness, and has implications for an adjusted SGR-AFPD calibration to be applied in pre-drill evaluations of seal capacity. A large portion of the resources and data required to conduct the research were made available by CSIRO and its associated project sponsors including the CO2CRC.
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