Well Postmortem – Is a Dry Hole Really Dry



Basically, a well postmortem is carried out in order to find out as to why there is no producible hydrocarbon in a well despite the existence of favorable geological factors and convincing hydrocarbon shows either during drilling or based on well evaluation of E-logs. Subsequently, result of the postmortem can then be used to determine strategy for the next exploration/appraisal plan. A well postmortem often come up with findings that geologically the well is not really dry but was either considered as dry or inconclusive due to non-geological related factors. This paper describes methods, case studies and implication of a well postmortem. Postmortem procedures applied in this study consist of Mudlog review, Pressure Analysis of drilling and testing data, Geochemical analysis of laboratory results as well as test result verification using chloride matching analysis and test curve review. All procedures are complemented by log analyses of case studies. Mudlog review of oil and gas shows derives conclusiveness of the reservoir content. It is noted that the first occurrence of C3 + indicates either the penetrated section starts to enter early mature window for oil generation or, hydrocarbon has migrated to shallower section. Moreover, the occurrence of C4 and C5 in may also be considered as oil fraction indicator. Oil show characters also give direct clues to hydrocarbon type such as blooming means possible oil with gas accumulation. Pressure analysis combined with hydrocarbon shows, help to understand the relationships of overbalance with formation damage, of overpressure/subnormal pressure and hydrocarbon column as well as to determine possible hydrocarbon column. Test result verification is crucial especially in concluding the conclusiveness of a tested zone. There are practical clues in test verification, such as water salinity analysis which often misinterpreted as formation water, pressure chart that shows characters of formation damage or tight formation. Geochemical analyses results of well cuttings and/or fluids from well testing -if available- are also key elements in a well postmortem, as it can influence the validity of inconclusiveness of a test. Determination of early oil generation will also be discussed in order to understand how to get ‘the most likely depth interval of early oil generation’ within a certain area by simply cross plotting Vitrinite reflectance against Oil Production Index. Results of postmortem evaluations of three areas may potentially change the chance-of-success ratio from 14% to 86% in Central Sumatra Basin Highs, from 50% to 86% in Jambi Sub-Basin, and from 23% to 63% in South Sumatra Mountain Front. Immediate implication of postmortem result is, the originally considered inconclusive wells may in fact turn out to be candidates for re-entering, re-test or even re-drill with minimum cost and effort to possibly give new reserve or even increase in oil production.


Author : Andang Bachtiar, Yudi S. Purnama, Bayu Nugroho, Maradona Mansyur