KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 669–678 | Cite as

Geomechanical challenges in petroleum reservoir exploitation

  • Maurice B. DusseaultEmail author


Petroleum geomechanics deals mainly with coupled problems requiring simultaneous consideration of changes in temperature, pressure, stress, and chemical potential (THMC). Major current challenges in this domain include: accurate delineation of in situ physical properties and conditions (T, [σ], p), especially for naturally fractured reservoirs; wellbore wall stability predictions in swelling and fractured shale strata; modeling and monitoring of multiple-stage hydraulic fracturing used for development of resources in low-permeability rocks; controlling or exploiting sand ingress into producing wellbores; predicting subsidence accurately enough so that rational design decisions can be made; mitigating or reducing the incidence of casing shear arising from subsidence or thermal reservoir stimulation; understanding and analyzing thermal production processes in viscous oil reservoirs; monitoring of deformations in and around reservoirs being subjected to complex processes; and, a newer development, using the deep sedimentary basin environment for the permanent and secure disposal of fluid and granular wastes. Given the importance of fossil fuel energy in our industrial societies (>80% of all primary energy provision), the rewards for better engineering are significant.


petroleum geomechanics hydraulic fracturing thermal recovery sand production waste disposal borehole stability 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barker, W. (2009). “Increased production through microseismic monitoring of hydraulic fracturing over a multiwell program.” Proc. SPE ATM, New Orleans, SPE #124877.Google Scholar
  2. Brady, J. L., Hare, J. L., Ferguson, J. F., Seibert, J. E., Klopping, F. J., Chen, T., and Niebauer, T. (2008). “Result of the World’s first 4D microgravity surveillance of a waterflood — Prudhoe Bay, Alaska”. SPE Reservoir Evaluation and Engineering Journal, Vol. 11, No. 5, pp. 824–831.Google Scholar
  3. Collins, P. M. (2007). “The false lucre of low-pressure SAGD.” Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 20–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Doornhof, D., Kristiansen, T. G., Nagel, N. B., Pattillo, P. D., and Sayers, C. (2006). “Compaction and subsidence.” Schlumberger, Oilfield Review, Vol. 18,Issue 3, pp. 50–68.Google Scholar
  5. Dusseault, M. B. (2003). “Coupled thermo-mechanico-chemical processes in shales: The petroleum borehole.” Proc. Int. Conf. on THMC Processes in Geo-Systems, Stockholm, pp. 571–578Google Scholar
  6. Dusseault, M. B. (2007). “CHOPS.” SPE petroleum engineers Handbook, Volume VI, Chapter 5 — Emerging and Peripheral Technologies (EMPT), Ed. Warner HR, p. 40.Google Scholar
  7. Dusseault, M. B. (2008). “Coupling geomechanics and transport in petroleum engineering.” Proc. SHIRMS Int. Conf. Geomechanics, Perth, Australia, p. 21.Google Scholar
  8. Dusseault, M. B., Bruno, M. S., and Barrera, J. (2001). “Casing shear: Causes, cases, cures.” SPE Drilling and Completion Journal, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 98–107.Google Scholar
  9. Dusseault, M. B and van Domselaar, H. R. (1982). “Unconsolidated sand sampling in Canadian and Venezuelan oil sands.” Revista Tecnica INTEVEP, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 165–174.Google Scholar
  10. Farouq Ali, S. M. (2003). “Heavy oil — Ever more mobile.” J. of Petroleum Science and Engineering, Vol. 7, Nos. 1–2, pp. 5–9.Google Scholar
  11. Finol, A. S. and Sancevic, Z. A. (1995). “Subsidence in Venezuela.” Ch. 7 in Subsidence due to Fluid Withdrawal, Developments in Petroleum Science, Chilingarian, G. V., Donaldson, E. C. Yen, T. F. Elsevier Science B. V., Eds. Vol. 41, pp. 337–372.Google Scholar
  12. Han, G., Dusseault, M. B., Detournay, E., Thomson, B. J., and Zacny, K. (2009). Principles of drilling and excavation, Ch. 2 in Y. Bar-Cohen and K. Zacny (Eds.), Drilling in Extreme Environments — Penetration and Sampling on Earth and Other Planets, Wiley — VCH, Hoboken, NJ.Google Scholar
  13. Hilbert, L. B. (2003). “Reservoir compaction, subsidence and well damage.” Ch. 11 in Numerical Analysis and Modelling in Geomechanics, Bull, J.W. (Ed.), Taylor and Francis, Inc., NY, p. 480.Google Scholar
  14. Hohl, D. F., Lopez, J., Bos, R., and Maron, K. P. (2009). “Reservoir surveillance technologies for thermal EOR projects.” Proc. 15th European Sym. on Improved Oil Recovery, Paris, p. 11.Google Scholar
  15. Leading Edge (2007). (numerous articles). “Special section on geomechanics, SEG — Society of Exploration Geophysics.” Leading Edge, Vol. 26, No. 5. (This edition comprises a number of articles germane to the thrust of this paper and is recommended background reading).Google Scholar
  16. Maerten, F. and Maerten, L. (2009). “Paleostress and slip recovery from complex faults geometry using mechanical interactions: application to fracture prediction.” Search and Discovery Article #40439, Posted Aug 2009, p. 29.Google Scholar
  17. Mayuga, M. N. and Allen, D. R. (1970). “Subsidence in the Wilmington Oil Field, Long Beach, California, U.S.A.” In Land Subsidence, L. J. Tison, Ed., Int. Assoc. Sci. Hydrol., UNESCO, pp. 66–79.Google Scholar
  18. Maxwell, S. C. (and five others) (2009). “Monitoring SAGD steam injection using microseismicity and tiltmeters.” SPE Reservoir Evaluation and Engineering Journal, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp. 311–317.MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  19. Nadeem, M. and Dusseault, M. B. (2007). “Geological engineering criteria for deep waste disposal.” Environmental Geosciences, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 61–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Nagel, N. B. (1998). “Ekofisk field overburden modelling.” Proc. SPE/ISRM Eurock’ 98 Conference, Trondheim, SPE#47345, pp. 177–186.Google Scholar
  21. OGJ (2000–2010). “Various news articles on subjects such as Ekofisk subsidence and redevelopment, casing shear, etc.” Oil and Gas Journal. Google Scholar
  22. Ogunsola, O. I., Hartstein, A. M., and Ogunsola, O. (Editors), (2010). “Oil shale: A solution to the liquid fuel dilemma.” American Chemical Society Symposium Series, Oxford University Press, Vol. 1032, 336 pages.Google Scholar
  23. Reed, A. C., Mathews, J. L., Bruno M. S., and Olmstead, S.E. (2002). “Safe disposal of one million barrels of NORM in Louisiana through slurry fracture injection.” SPE Drilling and Completion Journal, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 72–81.Google Scholar
  24. Rothenburg, L., Bratli, R. K., and Dusseault, M. B. (1996). “A poroelastic solution for transient fluid flow into a well.” Unpublished manuscript, 23 pages, available at or from the author.
  25. Science Daily (2009). Solving the chalk mystery to generate billions in additional income for oil industry,, Posted April 25, 2009.
  26. Teatini, P., Ferronato, M., Gambolati, G., Bertoni, W., and Gonella, M. (2005). “A century of land subsidence in Ravenna, Italy.” Environmental Geology, Vol. 47, No. 6, pp. 831–846.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Theis, C. V. (1935). “The relation between lowering of the piezometric surface and rate and duration of discharge of a well using groundwater storage.” Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, Vol. 16, pp. 519–524.Google Scholar
  28. Touhidi-Baghini, A. (1998). “Absolute permeability of McMurray formation oil sands at low confining stresses.” PhD Thesis, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, 339 pages.Google Scholar
  29. Wang, H., Towler, B. F., Soliman, M. Y., and Shan, Z. H. (2008). “Wellbore strengthening without propping factures: Analysis for strengthening a wellbore by sealing fractures alone.” Proc. Int. Pet. Tech Conf., Kuala Lumpur, p. 16.Google Scholar
  30. Yin, S., Towler, B. F., Dusseault, M. B., and Rothenburg, L. (2009). “Numerical experiments on oil sands shear dilation and permeability enhancement in a multiphase thermoporoelastoplasticity framework.” J. of Petroleum Science and Engineering, Vol. 69, Nos. 3–4, pp. 219–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Yin, S., Towler, B. F., Dusseault, M. B., and Rothenburg, L. (2010). “Fully coupled THMC modeling of wellbore stability with thermal and solute convection considered.” Transport in Porous Media, Vol. 84, No. 3, pp. 773–798.CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  32. Yun, T. S. and Santamarina, J. C. (2005). “Decementation, softening, and collapse: changes in small-strain shear stiffness in k 0 loading.” J. Geotech. and Geoenvir. Engrg., Vol. 131, No. 3, pp. 350–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Korean Society of Civil Engineers and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of WaterlooOntarioCanada

Personalised recommendations