Chemical Engineering
Biosci. Biotech. Res. Comm. 10(1): 132-136 (2017)
Simulation study of controlling water coning in oil
reservoirs through drilling of horizontal wells
Abdolreza Dabiri*, Mohammad Afkhami Karaei and Amin Azdarpour
Department of Petroleum Engineering, Marvdasht Branch, Islamic Azad University, Marvdasht, Iran
Oil production is affected by the reservoir pressure, where the higher the reservoir pressure, the higher the production
rate. In most cases, water is also produced with oil, which can cause several negative issues. In oil wells, after a short
period of oil production, early water production will cause serious decrease in oil production. Actually water coning
is an event in which water and oil surfaces will move simultaneously to the well perforation. This event, if occurs in
a well, will affect the well production and will increase the costs. Consequently, the production life of the well will
be shortened. This paper presents the results of simulation study of an under saturated oil reservoir with no primary
gas cap present in the reservoir with oil API gravity of 35. The feasibility of water coning remedy through drilling
new horizontal and vertical wells was investigated using ECLIPSE software. The simulation results showed that water
production rate is increased with increasing the oil production rate from the reservoir. In addition, water coning was
signi cantly reduced with drilling new horizontal and vertical wells. However, horizontal wells found to be more
effective than the vertical wells. The oil production rate increased with horizontal wells while water production rate
decreased signi cantly.
*Corresponding Author:
Received 17
Dec, 2016
Accepted after revision 17
March, 2017
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One of the permanent problems in oil and gas produc-
tion from reservoirs is undesirable water production.
Fluids have a high tendency to  ow through highly
permeable regions those are generally found due to
natural non-uniformity of reservoirs. This problem of
water production is especially serious in reservoirs with
active water drive and even may cause stoppage of oil
or gas production from such reservoir. Water produc-
tion in gas wells will kill the well, because it doesn’t
have the ability to carry water to the surface. In the
oil wells, on the other hand, this increases the cost
of water-oil separation and maintenance in surface
Dabiri, Karaei and Azdarpour
Table 1. Petro-physical properties of
the reservoir
Snark Reservoir characteristic
0.04425(layer 1)Porosity
0.01485(layer 2)
0.0406(layer 3) (ave.)
0.02955(layer 4) (ave.)
0.037(layer 5) (ave.)
2455(layer 1) (ave.)PermX (md)
11(layer 2)
825.26(layer 3) (ave.)
20(layer 4) (ave.)
1300(layer 5) (ave.)
2455(layer 1) (ave.)PermY (md)
11(layer 2)
825.26(layer 3) (ave.)
20(layer 4) (ave.)
1300(layer 5) (ave.)
11(layer 1) (ave.)PermZ (md)
1.09(layer 2)
71(layer 3) (ave.)
50.44(layer 4) (ave.)
84(layer 5) (ave.)
equipment. In more serious situations it may cause
stoppage of production and so huge amounts of oil to
remain unproduced in the reservoir (Zaitoun and Kohler,
1999, Faber, 1999, Hongyin and Peimao, 2000; Ji et al.,
2012; Song et al., 2013; Chuanzhi et al., 2014).
During geological eras, the reservoir  uids have been
settled under an equilibrium static pressure. The attempts
to produce oil from the reservoir, will result in a pressure
decrease around the reservoir. If the exerted drainage
pressure is greater than pressure difference between oil
and water or oil and gas cap, water or gas will also be
driven into the well. In a classic description, a uniform
oil layer has a layer of water below itself or a gas cap
above and a vertical well inside it. The oil-water or oil-
gas interface  ows toward the well making a conical
shape; so it is called water coning or gas coning (Dietz,
1975, Zaitoun and Kohler, 1999, Hachinson and Kemp,
2010; Hasan et al., 2013; Ansari and Johns, 2013; Wu
et al., 2014; Fan et al., 2015).
Water or gas coning is one of the most complicated
problems in oil production, which is a function of rock
and reservoir  uid properties. The created cone may be
stable or unstable. There are different solutions in order
to control or eliminate water coning; one solution is
decreasing production rate and one another is drilling a
horizontal wells. The former can prevent or delay water
coning, but also may make production process unpro t-
able in many situations. On the other hand, by drilling
a horizontal well long enough we can achieve minimum
drainage pressure. Although in this situation too pro-
duction rates may be low, because of long length of the
well, higher production rates are available. Therefor by
horizontal wells, it is possible to increase production rate
in low (drainage pressure) i.e. though tendency to water
coning is minimum, high production rates are predict-
able by horizontal wells (Hachinson and Kemp, 2010;
Duan et al., 2011; Bahadori and Nouri, 2012).
Since 1980 the technology of horizontal oil wells has
been resulted in a new attention to the reservoirs with
high risk of water coning, the wells those were actu-
ally push aside. Drilling horizontal wells is started in
1927. However, they are seriously employed since 1980.
Horizontal wells are used in oil production from res-
ervoirs with low thickness, naturally fracture reservoir,
formations with the risk of water or gas coning, heavy
oil reservoirs and low permeable gas reservoirs (Dietz,
1975; Elgibaly et al., 2016; Wang et al., 2016; Razavi
et al., 2017).
The main advantage of horizontal wells from engi-
neering point of view is using a line for production
instead of a point (vertical well). A horizontal well can
produce more  ow than a vertical well in the same  ow-
ing pressure loss, or can have same production rate in
a lower  owing pressure loss. This may delay water
coning in water drive reservoirs. The studies have been
proved that critical production rate of horizontal wells
is 3-20 times greater than that of vertical wells (Giger,
2013; Shahbazi et al., 2016; Razavi et al., 2017).
The reservoir we have studied is an under saturation res-
ervoir without primary gas cap. It is a normal reservoir,
which in 5
layer is in contact with an active aquifer.
The reservoir  uids are water, oil and dissolved gas. The
oil API is 35. Based on geological data, the reservoir has
3 faults. According to these faults, the reservoir has 4
regions one of them is an equilibrium region. The speci-
cations are listed in tables 1 and 2. In this model, the
reservoir is divided in 35, 35 and 5 parts in X, Y and Z
According to the problem type, as investigating water
coning in an under saturation reservoir, the “black oil”
model has been used to simulate the reservoir. Fully-
implicit method has been applied in order to solve equa-
tions because it has better convergence and accuracy
than Impes method in black-oil model. 2 vertical wells
Dabiri, Karaei and Azdarpour
FIGURE 2. Water cut of well number 2 and 10.
FIGURE 3. Oil production rate in well number
1 and 9.
and 2 similar horizontal has been de ned for produc-
tion. According to reservoir history, the production has
been started in 1998.inthis study we are about to antic-
ipate reservoir production of oil and water until 2011
based on well production choices.
At  rst two vertical wells no. 1 and 2 are de ned and
then two horizontal wells no. 9 and 10 are de ned with
exactly the same length as wells 1 and 2 in order to
investigate the behavior of horizontal wells. The well
no. 1 is very early affected by water because it is near
the aquifer and is closed in 7
year of production. In
this case we are trying to delay water  ow toward the
well and well’s closing by means of de ning a horizon-
tal well. Figures 1 to 4 are presenting performance of
horizontal well against vertical. Figure 1 is comparing
(water cut) in horizontal and vertical wells of no. 1 and
9. It can be seen that in vertical well no. 1 water  ows
into the well on day 170 but in horizontal well no. 9 this
doesn’t happen until day 2040.
Figure 2 presents (water cut) in wells no. 2 and 10. It
shows that vertical well no.2 has high (water cut) from
the beginning, but in horizontal well no. 10 it is delayed
until the day 2700. Figure 3 shows the oil production
rate of wells no. 1 and 9. One may  nd that the vertical
well no. 1 is closed after 2616 days and the horizontal
well no. 9 also after 3134 days and this is the effect of
horizontal well.
Figure 4 compares the production of wells no. 2 and
10. It shows that horizontal well no. 10 has more stable
production and produces until the last day but vertical
well no. 2 is closed after 4626 days of production.
Table 2. Reservoir properties
Snark Reservoir characteristic
260Dx (ft) (ave.)
300DY (ft) (ave.)
115DZ (ft) (ave.)
2552 to 3235Tops (ft)
1.0Net to Gross ratio (NTG)
5684Pressure (psia)
260Temperature (F)
0.8268Initial Oil saturation
0.0Initial Gas saturation
0.1732Initial Water saturation
52.86Density (lb/ft3)
FIGURE 1. Water cut of well number 1 and 9.
Dabiri, Karaei and Azdarpour
Water coning during production in oil reservoirs is a
detrimental phenomenon, which can cause several neg-
ative issues. Water coning can be reduced by reducing
the production rate from the reservoir, however several
issues, most importantly economical issues may arise
since the production is lost (Shen et al., 2015; Abdel
Azim, 2016; Wojtanowicz, 2016). One possible remedy
is to drill new horizontal and vertical wells. One of the
main advantages of using horizontal wells over vertical
wells is that the capacity of these wells are much larger
at the same drawdown than the vertical wells. In addi-
tion, the breakthrough time is longer in horizontal wells
than the vertical wells. These advantages make horizon-
tal wells more attractive than the conventional vertical
wells for controlling the water coning during oil produc-
tion (Yue et al., 2012; Li et al., 2013; Yue et al., 2015).
Producing from a new horizontal well reduces the
pressure drop from the well, and this will cause the pro-
duction rate to drop initially. However, because the well
is long, the production rate will increase after a while.
Thus, production rate will increase subsequently with a
minimum pressure drop (Gupta et al., 2012; Ghoreishian
Amiri et al., 2013; Wojtanowicz, 2016; Hou et al., 2016).
Hence, water coning is reduced during oil production
from the reservoirs as it happened in this study, shown
in Figures 1-4.
The main advantage of horizontal wells from engineer-
ing point of view is using a line for production instead
of a point (vertical well). A horizontal well can produce
more  ow than a vertical well in the same  owing pres-
sure loss, or can have same production rate in a lower
owing pressure loss. This may delay water coning in
water drive reservoirs. In horizontal wells, according to
uids interface in the reservoir, it is possible to avoid
early water coning. In Horizontal wells water coning is
delayed in addition to less water cut than vertical wells.
Based on simulation results and discussions, we can say
that critical oil production rate in horizontal wells is
greater than that of vertical wells.
The authors would like to appreciate the Department of
Petroleum Engineering, Marvdasht Branch, Islamic Azad
University, Marvdasht, Iran for the provision of the
laboratory facilities necessary for completing this work.
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