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The Effect of Decrease in Porosity with Depth on Oil and Gas Reserves in Sandstone Reservoirs: Abstract
Geologists and engineers have frequently made the premise that the amount of gas in place per unit volume increases as greater depths are penetrated, because of the attendant higher reservoir pressures. In order to test the validity of this premise, a study was made of the effect of depth of burial upon the other variables in the standard formula used to calculate the amount of oil and gas in place.
Sandstone porosity data were obtained for more than 17,000 samples of conventional cores, including samples from 101 fields of South Louisiana. A curve constructed from these data demonstrates that the amount of void space per unit volume available for the accumulation of oil and gas decreases with increasing depth. This decrease in porosity, 1.285 per cent of total volume per 1,000 feet of burial, is the most important single factor controlling the amount of oil or gas in place per unit volume of sandstone reservoir rock. Exploration and development management should be conscious of the diminishing returns to be anticipated as greater depths are explored.
Porosities associated with abnormally pressured reservoirs were studied, as was the incidence of abnormally pressured reservoirs in South Louisiana as a function of depth burial. The porosities of the abnormally pressured reservoirs, averaged by 1,000 foot depth increments, fit a straight line plot of porosities from all reservoirs.
It appears to be a reasonable hypothesis that the observed decrease in sandstone porosities with depth provides the mechanism creating the abnormal pressures so frequently encountered in oil and gas reservoirs of South Louisiana.
Acknowledgments and Associated Footnotes
1 Atwater, Cowan & Assoc., New Orleans
Copyright © 2006 by the Tulsa Geological Society