Abstract

Changes with gravity over time have proven to be valuable for inferring subsurface density changes associated with production from oil and natural gas reservoirs. Such inferences allow the monitoring of moving fluid fronts in a reservoir and provide an opportunity to optimize production over the life of the reservoir. Our group began making time-lapse seafloor gravity and pressure measurements in 1998. To date, we have surveyed six fields offshore Norway; we have made three repeat surveys at one field and one repeat survey at another. We incorporated a land-gravity sensor into a remotely operated seafloor housing. Three such relative gravity sensors mounted in a single frame are carried by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to concrete benchmarks permanently placed on the seafloor. Reference benchmarks sited outside the reservoir boundaries are assumed to provide stable fiducial points. Typical surveys last from a few days to a few weeks and cover from 8 to 80 benchmarks, with multiple observations of each. In our earliest surveys, we obtained an intrasurvey repeatability of approximately 20μGal, but recently we have been achieving 3-μGal repeatability in gravity and approximately 5mm in benchmark depth (deduced from simultaneously recorded ambient seawater pressure). We attribute the improved precision to several operational factors, including the use of multiple gravity sensors, frequent benchmark reoccupation, precise relocation and orientation of the sensors, repeated calibrations on land, and minimization of vibrational and thermal perturbations to the sensors. We believe that high-precision time-lapse gravity monitoring can be used to track changes in the height of a gas-water contact in a flooded reservoir, with a precision of a few meters.

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