Saturation scale effect on time-lapse seismic signatures

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Abstract

Quantitative interpretation of time-lapse seismic signatures aims at assisting reservoir engineering and management operations. Time-lapse signatures are thought to be primarily induced by saturation and pressure changes. Core-flooding and reservoir flow simulations indicate that a change of the driving forces during dynamic fluid injection gives rise to a varying saturation scale. This saturation scale is yet another variable controlling the time-lapse seismic signal. In this work, we investigate the saturation scale effect on time-lapse seismic signatures by analysing simple modelling scenarios. We consider three characteristic saturation scales, ranging from few millimetres to metres, which may form during gas injection in an unconsolidated water-saturated reservoir. Using the random patchy saturation model, we compare the corresponding acoustic signatures, i.e., attenuation, reflectivity, and seismic gather associated with each saturation scale. The results show that the millimetre saturation scale produces minimum attenuation and the same seismic signatures with those obtained from the elastic modelling. The centimetre saturation scale produces maximum attenuation, whereas the metre saturation scale causes highest velocity dispersion. The analyses of the time shift and amplitude change indicate that ignoring a time-dependent saturation scale can result in biased estimation/discrimination of the saturation and the fluid pressure. In particular, the 4D signal can be strongly affected by the saturation-scale change when the reservoir gas saturation is low and the effective pressure is high. In the presence of an increasing (decreasing) saturation scale during injection, interpreting an observed time shift and amplitude change using the Gassmann model will lead to underestimation (overestimation) of the change in gas saturation and fluid pressure. We show that including the effects of capillarity and residual saturation into the rock physics modelling can potentially reduce the interpretation uncertainty due to the saturation-scale change.

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