Time-lapse seismology has proven to be a useful method for monitoring reservoir fluid flow, identifying unproduced hydrocarbons and injected fluids, and improving overall reservoir management decisions. The large magnitudes of observed time-lapse seismic anomalies associated with strong pore pressure increases are sometimes not explainable by velocity-pressure relationships determined by fitting elastic theory to core data. This can lead to difficulties in interpreting time-lapse seismic data in terms of physically realizable changes in reservoir properties during injection. It is commonly assumed that certain geologic properties remain constant during fluid production/injection, including rock porosity and grain cementation. We have developed a new nonelastic method based on rock physics diagnostics to describe the pressure sensitivity of rock properties that includes changes in the grain contact cement, and we applied the method to a 4D seismic data example from offshore Australia. We found that water injection at high pore pressure may mechanically weaken the poorly consolidated reservoir sands in a nonelastic manner, allowing us to explain observed 4D seismic signals that are larger than can be predicted by elastic theory fits to the core data. A comparison of our new model with the observed 4D seismic response around a large water injector suggested a significant mechanical weakening of the reservoir rock, consistent with a decrease in the effective grain contact cement from 2.5% at the time/pressure of the preinjection baseline survey, to 0.75% at the time/pressure of the monitor survey. This approach may enable more accurate interpretations and future predictions of the 4D signal for subsequent monitor surveys and improve 4D feasibility and interpretation studies in other reservoirs with geomechanically similar rocks.

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