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The Depletion Drive Mechanism

This driving form may also be referred to by the following various terms:

  • Solution gas drive
  • Dissolved gas drive
  • Internal gas drive
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In this type of reservoir, the principal source of energy is a result of gas liberation from the crude oil and the subsequent expansion of the solution gas as the reservoir pressure is reduced. As pressure falls below the bubble-point pressure, gas bubbles are liberated within the microscopic pore spaces. These bubbles expand and force the crude oil out of the pore space as shown conceptually in Figure below.

Reservoir pressure

The reservoir pressure declines rapidly and continuously. This reservoir pressure behavior is attributed to the fact that no extraneous fluids or gas caps are available to provide a replacement of the gas and oil withdrawals.

Water production

The absence of a water drive means there will be little or no water production with the oil during the entire producing life of the reservoir.

Gas-oil ratio

A depletion-drive reservoir is characterized by a rapidly increasing gas-oil ratio from all wells, regardless of their structural position. After the reservoir pressure has been reduced below the bubble- point pressure, gas evolves from solution throughout the reservoir. Once the gas saturation exceeds the critical gas saturation, free gas begins to flow toward the well bore and gas-oil ratio increases. The gas will also begin a vertical movement due to the gravitational forces, which may result in the formation of a secondary gas cap. Vertical permeability is an important factor in the formation of a secondary gas cap.

gas oil ratio

gas drive reservoir

Ultimate Oil Recovery

Oil production by depletion drive is usually the least efficient recovery method. This is a direct result of the formation of gas saturation throughout the reservoir. Ultimate oil recovery from depletion-drive reservoirs may vary from less than 5% to about 30%. The low recovery from this type of reservoirs suggests that large quantities of oil remain in the reservoir and, therefore, depletion-drive reservoirs are considered the best candidates for secondary recovery applications.

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