Monitoring of Oil Production Related Surface Movements

Reliable Assessment of Displacement Phenomena at the Burghan oilfield with TerraSAR-X

Airbus Defence and Space experts conducted a measuring campaign using data acquired by the high-resolution radar satellite TerraSAR-X to monitor Burghan oilfield in Kuwait. Significant surface subsidence of approximately 10 millimetres per year in the main production centre was detected.

Kuwait Oil Reserves are the Fourth Largest in the World

Oil field Kuwait

Kuwait’s proven oil reserves are estimated at 96.5 billion barrels produced from 1,600 oil wells, making up approximately 8% of the worlds total reserves. The most important oil field of the country is the Greater Burghan area, widely considered to be the world's second largest oil field.

The extraction of oil / gas can cause surface movements due to the reduction of pore pressure. It has been demonstrated in the past that oil production in the Burghan and Minagish oilfields in Kuwait result in significant subsidence.

Monitoring the Burghan Oilfield with TerraSAR-X

Surface uplifts or subsidence can be detected in the range of millimetres by applying spaceborne radarinterferometry techniques.

Airbus Defence and Space experts conducted a measuring campaign using data acquired by the high-resolution radar satellite TerraSAR-X to monitor Burghan oilfield in Kuwait. 16 TerraSAR-X StripMap scenes at 3m ground resolution were selected from an available data stack over the target area covering a time period between January 2008 and February 2011. These datasets were processed using the Small Baseline Subset (SBAS) radarinterferometric approach.

Surface Displacements of up to 10mm

Surface Movement Map Burghan Oilfield, Kuwait

Surface displacement map for Burghan oilfield including selected time series of displacements. The orange highlights significant surface subsidence in the main production centre of the oilfield of approximately 10mm per year.

The outcome of the study demonstrates significant surface subsidence of approximately 10 millimetres per year in the main production centre of Burghan oilfield (visualised by the orange colour scale in the graphic).

Further subsidence can be observed in the northern part of the oilfield related to oil production but also to settlements on smaller dump sites. In the North-Eastern part of the observed area also non-linear uplift patterns can be observed, which may have been caused by varying water flooding measures.

The potential of TerraSAR-X data for the monitoring of surface movement phenomena in this oilfield can be evaluated as very high: a dense coverage of pixels for which surface movement information can be derived is observable (coloured pixels in the figure). Furthermore, linear structures like roads, fences and electric power lines proved to be suitable for the derivation of surface motion information. The latter is unique for the TerraSAR X sensor thanks to its high spatial resolution.
 

Timely and Reliable Information for the Oilfield Management

Surface Displacement Map Burghan oilfield to geological structure

Surface Displacement Map for Burghan oilfield in Kuwait related to the geological structure of the relevant Mauddud Structure.

Monitoring surface displacements with TerraSAR-X data provides the oilfield management with timely and reliable information about subsidence or uplift occurrence in the oilfield area. The high spatial resolution of the information allows for the detection of smaller surface displacement phenomena, which are generally more linked to shallow sources (e.g. failure of water injection wells and related uplift in the surrounding area).

The large scale pattern of the surface movements is closely linked to the geological structure of the deep reservoir (see figure on the right) and its monitoring is thus useful for instance for the identification of pressure compartments.

A frequent update of the surface movement status is ensured due to the high temporal sampling of the displacements which - with TerraSAR-X - can be in an interval of 11 days. As such, also upcoming movement phenomena related to the production can be detected quickly and countermeasures can be implemented in order to save time and costs (e.g. shut down of a failing injection well) and ensure safe operation of the oilfield.
 

Key Benefits of TerraSAR-X-based Surface Movement Monitoring

  • Timely and reliable information about subsidence or uplift occurrence in the oilfield area
  • Valuable information for the oilfield management regarding the performance of production and stimulation wells (Enhanced Oil Recovery) and for the identification of well failures.
  • Better management of potential risks for infrastructure
  • Detection of upcoming movement phenomena quickly facilitating the timely implementation of countermeasures

[1] Petrat, L., and Al-Enezi, A., 2006: “Monitoring Oil Field-Induced Subsidence Using Satellite-Based Radarinterferometry”, in proceedings of GEO 2006 Middle East Conference and Exhibition, 27-29 March 2006, Manama, Bahrain

Oilfield Monitoring with TerraSAR-X