Waterflooding oil fields is a technique of secondary recovery that, in the Appalachian basin, has produced significant quantities of oil unobtainable by primary recovery and which has allowed operators a degree of control over their production. Waterflooding continues to contribute to oil production volumes in New York and Pennsylvania and if high oil prices remain the norm will likely be practiced by operators well into the future.
The first recorded “accidental” occurrence of waterflooding took place in Pennsylvania in 1876 with fresh water. By the early 1920s what was once an illegal practice was made legal in both New York and Pennsylvania, because of the increase in production efficiency that it afforded by leaving less oil “wasted” in the reservoir. Primary recovery of oil ranges from 5-25% of oil-in-place. Ultimate recovery following waterflooding varies from about 25-50% of oil-in-place.
The geometries of spacing water injection wells with respect to oil production wells have changed over the years as operators experimented to determine the number and spacing of injection-to-producing wells to maximize efficiency and recovery. Currently the 5-spot method is the most commonly used spacing motif in waterflooded fields of the northern Appalachian basin.
Best practices for waterflooding an oil field require knowledge of the reservoir geology and petrology as well as the properties of the oil and water native to the reservoir and of the water introduced to the reservoir through injection. Modern best practices also require obtaining state and federal oil and injection well permits. In New York and Pennsylvania the EPA has primacy in the permitting of injection wells. Under EPA’s UIC regulations (Underground Injection Control) oil field injection wells are considered Class II Enhanced Recovery Wells. Currently there are approximately 18,200 wells recorded as serving or having served as Enhanced Recovery wells in New York and Pennsylvania. Most of these were drilled long before the EPA became involved in their oversight. Wells used as disposal wells for oil field wastes are another type of Class II UIC well. There are only a handful of these latter wells in New York and Pennsylvania though interest in constructing more of these is increasing.
This presentation will review the development of waterflooding in New York and Pennsylvania, its effects on production, techniques, requirements, and some of its environmental impacts.
Cary Kuminecz has over 34 years’ experience as a petroleum geologist. He received a Master’s Degree in Geology from Indiana University and has previously worked for Exxon Corporation, National Fuel Gas Company and its subsidiary, Seneca Resources Corporation. In the Appalachian basin Cary has worked on oil gas plays ranging in age from Cambrian to Upper Devonian and in scale from prospect-to-regional scope.
Cary is an AAPG Certified Petroleum Geologist and a licensed Professional Geologist (Pennsylvania). In addition Cary has been a lecturer and adjunct instructor at several colleges, teaching courses in Geology, Ecology, and Math. He holds a Lifetime Teaching Certificate in Secondary Earth Science/General Science from the State of Indiana.
Currently, Cary is owner and president of StratResources Geologic Consulting, LLC; providing stratigraphic analysis and prospect generation/evaluation services for the oil and gas industry and landowners in the Northeast.
Meeting sponsor: SJB Services