When 4D seismic is not applicable: Alternative monitoring scenarios for the Arab-D reservoir in the Ghawar Field


*E-mail: shivaji.dasgupta@aramco.com


Ghawar, the largest oilfield in the world, produces oil from the Upper Jurassic Arab-D carbonate reservoir. The high rigidity of the limestone–dolomite reservoir rock matrix and the small contrast between the elastic properties of the pore fluids, i.e. oil and water, are responsible for the weak 4D seismic effect due to oil production. A feasibility study was recently completed to quantify the 4D seismic response of reservoir saturation changes as brine replaced oil. The study consisted of analysing reservoir rock physics, petro-acoustic data and seismic modelling. A seismic model of flow simulation using fluid substitution concluded that time-lapse surface seismic or conventional 4D seismic is unlikely to detect the floodfront within the repeatability of surface seismic measurements. Thus, an alternative approach to 4D seismic for reservoir fluid monitoring is proposed. Permanent seismic sensors could be installed in a borehole and on the surface for passive monitoring of microseismic activity from reservoir pore-pressure perturbations. Reservoir production and injection operations create these pressure or stress perturbations. Reservoir heterogeneities affecting the fluid flow could be mapped by recording the distribution of epicentre locations of these microseisms or small earthquakes. The permanent borehole sensors could also record repeated offset vertical seismic profiling surveys using a surface source at a fixed location to ensure repeatability. The repeated vertical seismic profiling could image the change in reservoir properties with production.