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Title: Image based characterisation of structural heterogeneity within clastic reservoir analogues
Author: Seers, Thomas Daniel
ISNI:       0000 0004 5369 4405
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2015
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The presence of subseismic scale faulting within high porosity sandstone reservoirs and aquifers represents a significant source of uncertainty for activities such as hydrocarbon production and the geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide. The inability to resolve geometrical properties of these smaller scale faults, such as size, connectivity and intensity, using conventional subsurface datasets (i.e. seismic reflection tomography, wireline log and core), leads to ambiguous representations within reservoir models and simulators. In addition, more fundamental questions still remain over the role of cataclastic faults in the trapping and transfer of mobile geofluids within the subsurface, particularly when two or more immiscible fluid phases are present, as is the case during hydrocarbon accumulation, waterflood operations and CO2 injection. By harnessing recent developments in 3D digital surface and volume imaging, this study addresses uncertainties pertaining to the geometrical and petrophysical properties of subseismic scale faults within porous sandstone reservoirs. A novel structural feature extraction and modelling framework is developed, which facilitates the restoration of fault and fracture architecture from digital rock surface models. This framework has been used to derive volumetric fault abundance and connectivity from a normal sense array of cataclastic shear bands developed within high porosity sandstones of the Vale of Eden Basin, UK. These spatially resolved measures of discontinuity abundance provide the basis for the geostatistical extrapolation of fracture/fault intensity into reservoir modelling grids, which promises the introduction of a much higher degree of geological realism into discrete fracture network models than can currently be achieved through purely stochastic methods. Moreover, by establishing spatial correspondences between volumetric faulting intensity and larger scale features of deformation observed at the study area (cataclastic shear zones), the work demonstrates the potential to relate reservoir equivalent measures of fault or fracture abundance obtained from outcrop to seismically resolvable structures within the subsurface, aiding the prediction of reservoir structure from oilfield datasets. In addition to the derivation of continuum scale properties of sub-seismic scale fault networks, a further investigation into the pore-scale controls which govern the transfer of fluids within cataclised sandstones has been conducted. Through X-ray tomographic imaging of experimental core flood (scCO2-brine primary drainage) through a cataclastic shear band bearing sandstone, insights into the influence that variations in fault structure exert over the intra-fault drainage pathway of an invading non-wetting fluid have been gained. Drainage across the fault occurs as a highly non-uniform and non-linear process, which calls into question the practice of using continuum methods to model cross fault flow. This work has also provided an improved understanding of the role that high capillary entry pressure cataclised regions play in modifying pore-fluid displacement processes within the surrounding matrix continuum. In particular, the high sweep efficiency and enhanced non-wetting phase pore-wall contact relating to elevated phase pressure observed during drainage points towards favourable conditions for wettability alteration within cataclised sandstones. This is likely to negatively impact upon the effectiveness of oil recovery and CO2 sequestration operations within equivalent reservoir and aquifer settings.
Supervisor: Hodgetts, David ; Redfern, Jonathan Sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council ; Total E&P UK
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Reservoir characterization ; Reservoir modelling ; Faults ; Discrete fracture networks ; Clastic reservoirs ; Multiphase flow ; Lidar ; Photogrammetry ; X-ray CT