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Jincai Zhang

*

Shell Upstream Americas, USA

a r t i c l e i n f o

Article history:

Received 30 July 2012

Accepted 15 April 2013

Available online 25 April 2013

Keywords:

Pore pressure prediction

Effective stress

Porosityedepth relationship

Overpressure

Compaction disequilibrium

Compressional velocity and transit time

Unloading

a b s t r a c t

Abnormal pore pressures, mostly overpressures, exist in many sedimentary formations. The over-

pressures deteriorate drilling safety, causing borehole inux, kicks, and even blowout, if the pressures are

not accurately predicted prior to drilling. Highly anomalous overpressures may also induce instability

and reactivation of faults, causing fault weakness. Formation overpressures are primarily generated by

compaction disequilibrium, which is often recognized by higher than expected porosities at a given

depth and the porosities deviated from the normal porosity trend. Based on this mechanism, the paper

proposes a new generalized theoretical model for porosityedepth relationship for both normally com-

pacted and abnormally compacted formations, i.e., f f

0

e

cZse =sn

. This model leads to a new method

for calculating effective stress and pore pressure in subsurface formations using porosity and

compressional velocity. A new relationship of the transit time and depth has also been derived which

extends the existing model (Chapmans model). It demonstrates that the sonic/seismic travel time and

effective stress have an exponential relationship (i.e., Dt Dt

m

Dt

ml

Dt

m

e

cZse=sn

).

Stress unloading caused by formation uplift has a different path compared to compaction/loading

curve of the stress and velocity, thus a different compaction constant. This causes a smaller effective

stress and lower porosity than those in the loading case; i.e., unloading causes pore pressure increase.

Effective stress and pore pressure calculations accounting for unloading are also proposed. Field data in

several petroleum basins are analyzed and verify the theoretical relationship between effective stress

and sonic transit time. Lab experimental data in sonic velocity and effective stress in both loading and

unloading cases also verify the proposed effective stress and velocity relationship. Case study in an oil

eld is presented to examine the proposed model for pore pressure analysis in subsalt formations.

2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

1.1. Under-compaction and abnormal pore pressure

Pore pressures in subsurface formations vary from hydrostatic

pressures (normal pore pressures) to severe overpressures (more

than double of the hydrostatic pressures). Overpressures exist in

many geologic basins in the world. If this abnormal overpressure is

not accurately predicted before drilling and while drilling, it can

greatly increase drilling risks and incidents. For examples, in

deepwater of the Gulf of Mexico, incidents associated with pore

pressure and wellbore instability accounted for 5.6% of drilling time

in non-subsalt wells, and 12.6% of drilling time in the subsalt wells

(York et al., 2009). The abnormally high pore pressures also caused

serious drilling incidents, such as the uid kicks and well blowouts

(Skalle and Podio, 1998; Holand and Skalle, 2001). Therefore, pore

pressure prediction is critically important for drilling planning and

operations in oil and gas industry. Abnormally high pressures also

induced geologic hazards and disasters, such as weakness in faults

(e.g., Bird, 1995; Tobin and Saffer, 2009) and mud volcanoes (Davies

et al., 2007; Tingay et al., 2009).

Overpressures can be generated by many mechanisms, such as

compaction disequilibrium (under-compaction), hydrocarbon

generation and gas cracking, aquathermal expansion, tectonic

compression (lateral stresses), mineral transformations (e.g.,

smectiteeillite transition), and hydrocarbon buoyancy (Swarbrick

and Osborne, 1998). The major reason of abnormal pore pressure

is caused by abnormal formation compaction (compaction

disequilibrium). When sediments compact normally, formation

porosity is reduced at the same time as pore uid is expelled.

During burial, increasing overburden stress is the prime cause

of uid expulsion. If the sedimentation rate is slow, normal

* Now with Hess.

E-mail address: zhangjincai@yahoo.com.

Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect

Marine and Petroleum Geology

j ournal homepage: www. el sevi er. com/ l ocat e/ marpet geo

0264-8172/$ e see front matter 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2013.04.007

Marine and Petroleum Geology 45 (2013) 2e11

compaction occurs, i.e. equilibriumbetween increasing overburden

and ability to expel uids is maintained (Mouchet and Mitchell,

1989). This normal compaction generates hydrostatic pore pres-

sure in the formation. When the sediments subside rapidly, or the

formation has extremely low permeability, uids in the sediments

can only be partially expelled, and the remained uid must support

all or part of the weight of overburden sediments. This causes

abnormally high pore pressure. In this case the porosity decreases

less rapidly than it should be with depth, and formations are under-

compacted or in compaction disequilibrium. The compaction

disequilibrium is often recognized by higher than expected po-

rosities at a given depth and the porosities deviated from the

normal porosity trend. Therefore, pore pressure can be calculated

from the formation porosities.

1.2. Hydrostatic pore pressure

Normal pore pressure is the hydrostatic pressure caused by the

column of pore uid from the surface to the interested depth. For

formations with normal uid pressure, the pore pressure follows

the hydrostatic pressure gradient. The magnitude of the pressure is

proportional to the depth below the surface and to the density of

the uid in the pores. That is, the pressure is the same at the same

depth within the uid with a uniform density if the uid is static.

Thus, the hydrostatic pressure can be calculated using the following

equation:

p

n

r

f

gh (1)

where p

n

is the hydrostatic pressure; g is the acceleration due to

gravity; r

f

is the uid density; and h is the vertical height of the uid

column, as shown in Figure 1.

The equation (Eq. (1)) indicates that the hydrostatic pore pres-

sure depends highly on uid/water density in the formation. While

the density of water is a function of water salinity, temperature, and

content of dissolved gases (Chillingar et al., 2002); therefore, there

is a general variation in the hydrostatic pressure gradient (r

f

g) at

different locations due to different water densities. For instance, the

average hydrostatic pressure gradient is usually taken as 0.465 psi/

ft (1.074 kg/cm

3

) in the Gulf of Mexico, and this corresponds to

water with a salinity of 80,000 parts per million (ppm) of sodium

chloride at 77

F (25

C) (Dickinson, 1953).

1.3. Relationship of effective stress, overburden stress, and pore

pressure

Terzaghis or Biots effective stress law (Terzaghi et al., 1996;

Biot, 1941) is the fundamental theory for pore pressure prediction.

The effective stress and pore pressure in vertical direction in one-

dimensional condition can be expressed as following (Biot, 1941):

s

e

s

V

ap (2)

where p is the pore pressure, s

V

is the overburden or vertical stress,

s

e

is the vertical effective stress; a is the Biots effective stress

coefcient.

In normal pressure case, from the above equation the normal

effective stress and normal pore pressure have the following

relationship:

s

n

s

V

ap

n

(2a)

where s

n

is the normal vertical effective stress; p

n

is the normal or

hydrostatic pressure.

The effective stress can be obtained by correlating to petro-

physical and geophysical data of formations (e.g., resistivity logs,

seismic and sonic travel time/velocity). When effective stress and

overburden stress are known, the pore pressure can be calculated

from Eq. (2).

It is commonly assumed that the in-situ stress includes three

mutually orthogonal principal stresses; i.e., vertical, maximum

horizontal and minimum horizontal stresses (s

V

, s

H

, s

h

). However,

it is further assumed that the formation compaction is mainly

caused by the vertical/overburden stress and formation under-

compaction is primarily related to the vertical stress (e.g.,

Chapman, 1983; Osborne and Swarbrick, 1997). Therefore, the pore

pressure caused by compaction and under-compaction can be

calculated from Eq. (2) when one knows vertical and effective

stresses.

Vertical stress is generated by the weight of the overlying for-

mations; hence, it can be obtained by integrating bulk density logs.

Therefore, vertical stress can be calculated by the following

equation:

s

V

r

w

gz

w

g

_

z

zw

r

b

zdz (3)

where r

b

(z) is the formation bulk density as a function of depth; r

w

is the density of sea water for offshore drilling; z is the depth from

the sea level; z

w

is the water depth, for onshore drilling z

w

0.

The bulk density can be obtained fromwell logging. However, in

most cases the shallow density log data are not available. Empirical

equations can be used to estimate the shallow density. Analyzing

the observed depthedensity curve in density measurements of

shales in northern Oklahoma, Athy (1930) proposed the following

equation to interpolate shallow formation bulk density:

r

z

r

0

A

m

_

1 e

bZ

_

(4)

where r

z

is the density at the depth of Z, in g/cm

3

; r

0

is the for-

mation density of the surface; A is the maximum density increase

possible (A

m

r

m

r

0

and A

m

1.3 in Athy, 1930); r

m

is the matrix

density or the grain density of the rock; b is the tting constant.

When the bulk density data (r

z

) are available at certain depths, by

tting the density curve to Eq. (4), the shallow density (r

0

) can be

obtained from Eq. (4).

Another method to calculate shallow formation density is

Millers near surface or mudline density correlation, which can be

expressed as follows (Zhang et al., 2008):

r

s

r

m

1 f

s

r

w

f

s

(5)

where r

m

is the average density of the sediment grains (typically

2.68 g/cm

3

for shales); r

w

is the density of the pore water (typically

Piezometric surface

p h g

f f

=

h

Ground surface

Piezometric surface

p h g

f f

pp =

h

Ground surface

Confined aquifer

Figure 1. Schematic cross-section showing the hydrostatic pressure caused by water

column in a subsurface formation (aquifer).

J. Zhang / Marine and Petroleum Geology 45 (2013) 2e11 3

1.03 g/cm

3

); f

s

is the shallow porosity and can be calculated from

the following empirical equation:

f

s

f

a

f

b

e

kd

1=N

(6)

where f

a

f

b

is the mudline porosity, d is the shallow depth below

mudline, and k and N are empirically determined parameters that

provide a reasonable t to the data; in the Gulf of Mexico, typically

f

s

0:35 0:35e

0:0035d

1=1:09

; d is in ft.

The relationship of pore pressure, overburden stress and effec-

tive stress is illustrated in Figure 2, assuming a 1. Figure 2 shows

that the pore pressure in deep formations is much higher than the

hydrostatic (normal) pressure, hence overpressures exist. Figure 2

also shows when pore pressure and overburden stress are known,

the effective stress can be easily calculated in each post-drill well.

This effective stress can be correlated to petrophysical and

geophysical properties of the formations (e.g., resistivity, velocity,

porosity) and thus be applied for pre-drill pore pressure prediction

in new wells in a similar area.

1.4. Overview of effective stress and pore pressure prediction from

compressional velocity

It should be noted that the pore pressure prediction methods

are based on the rock properties in shales, and the pore pressures

obtained from these methods are the pressures in shales. For the

pressures in sandstones, limestones or other permeable formations,

the pore pressure can be obtained by either assuming that the shale

pressure is equal to the sandstone pressure or using uid ow

model (centroid method) (Dickinson, 1953; Traugott, 1997; Yardley

and Swarbrick, 2000; Zhang, 2011) to do calculation. In addition,

the pore pressure around a wellbore is affected by stress redistri-

bution near wellbore wall due to drilling perturbations (Zhang

et al., 2003; Zhang and Roegiers, 2005). Therefore, the pore pres-

sure in this paper is designated to the far-eld pore pressure, where

the drilling effect is negligible.

1.4.1. Hottmann and Johnsons method

Hottmann and Johnson (1965) made pore pressure prediction

using shale properties derived from well log data. They indicated

that porosity decreases as a function of depth for analyzing acoustic

travel time (or transit time) in Miocene and Oligocene shales in

Upper Texas and Southern Louisiana Gulf Coast. This porositye

depth relationship represents the normal compaction trend as a

function of burial depth, and uid pressures exhibited within this

normal trend are the hydrostatic. If intervals of the abnormal

compacted formations are penetrated, the resulting porosity or

travel time data points diverge from the normal compaction trend.

They concluded that porosity or transit time in shale is abnormally

high relative to its depth if the uid pressure is abnormally high.

Analyzing the data presented by Hottmann and Johnson (1965),

Gardner et al. (1974) proposed the following equation for pore

pressure calculation:

p

f

s

V

a

V

bA

1

B

1

lnDt

3

=Z

2

(7)

where p

f

is the formation uid pressure (psi); s

V

is the overburden

stress (psi); a

V

is the normal overburden stress gradient (psi/ft); b is

the normal uid pressure gradient (psi/ft); Z is the depth (ft); Dt is

the compressional sonic transit time (ms/ft); A

1

and B

1

are the

constants, A

1

82776 and B

1

15695.

The compressional transit time is the inverse of the compres-

sional interval velocity and can be expressed in the following form:

v

p

10

6

Dt

(8)

where v

p

is the compressional interval velocity in ft/s; Dt is the

compressional transit time in ms/ft.

1.4.2. Eatons method

Eaton (1975) presented the following empirical equation for

pore pressure gradient prediction from sonic compressional transit

time:

P

pg

OBG

_

OBG P

ng

_

Dt

n

=Dt

3

(9)

where P

pg

is the formation pressure gradient and equal to the pore

pressure divided by the true vertical depth; OBG is the overburden

stress gradient; P

ng

is the hydrostatic pore pressure gradient; Dt

n

is

the transit time or slowness in shales at the normal pressure; Dt is

the transit time in shales obtained from well logging.

This method is applicable in some petroleum basins (e.g., Sayers

et al., 2002), but it does not consider unloading effects. This limits

its application in geologically complicated area, such as formations

with uplifts. To apply this method, one needs to determine the

normal transit time (Dt

n

).

1.4.3. Modied Eatons method

Zhang (2011) proposed modied Eatons method by using

depth-dependent normal compaction trend line:

P

pg

OBG

_

OBG P

ng

_

_

Dt

m

Dt

ml

Dt

m

e

cZ

Dt

_

n

(10)

where Dt

m

is the compressional transit time in the shale matrix

(normally 65 ms/ft); Dt

ml

is the transit time in the mudline (nor-

mally 200 ms/ft); Z is the depth below the mudline; c is the

compaction constant; n is the exponent, and normally n 3.

The normal compaction trend (Dt

n

) in this modied Eatons

method decreases exponentially with depth as follows:

0

2000

4000

6000

8000

10000

12000

14000

16000

18000

20000

0 2000 4000 6000 8000 1000012000140001600018000

D

e

p

t

h

K

B

T

V

D

(

f

t

)

Stress, pressure (psi)

Overburden stress

MDT

Hydrostatic pressure

pore

pressure

0.465psi/ft

Sea floor

Effective stress

normal

pore pressure

Figure 2. Pore pressure, overburden stress and effective stress versus the true vertical

depth (TVD) in a deepwater well in the Gulf of Mexico. The MDT points are the

measured formation pore pressures from the borehole.

J. Zhang / Marine and Petroleum Geology 45 (2013) 2e11 4

Dt

n

Dt

m

Dt

ml

Dt

m

e

cZ

(10a)

1.4.4. Mann and Mackenzies effective stress model

Mann and Mackenzie (1990) presented the following effective

stress and porosity equation for sedimentary basins:

3 3

0

C

c

log

10

_

s

0

=s

0

0

_

(11)

where 3 is the void ratio, and 3 f/(1 f); f is the porosity; 3

0

is the

void ratio near the surface; s

0

is the effective stress; s

0

0

is the

reference effective stress, and calculations are started at 1 m below

the surface of the sediment where s

0

0

7800 Pa; C

c

is a lithology-

dependent constant, and C

c

0.43 for shale.

1.4.5. Bowers method

Bowers (1995) calculated the effective stresses from measured

pore pressure data and overburden stresses (refer to Eq. (1)) and

analyzed the corresponded sonic velocities from well logging data

in the Gulf of Mexico slope. He proposed that the sonic velocity and

effective stress have a power relationship as follows:

v

p

v

ml

As

B

e

(12)

where v

p

is the compressional velocity at a given depth; v

ml

is the

compressional velocity at the mudline (normally 5000 ft/s); s

e

is

the vertical effective stress; A and B are the parameters calibrated

with offset velocities versus effective stress data.

The effective stress and compressional velocity do not followthe

loading curve if formation uplift or unloading occurs, and a higher

than the velocity in the loading curve appears at the same effective

stress. Bowers (1995) proposed the following empirical relation to

account for unloading effect:

v

p

v

ml

A

_

s

max

s

e

=s

max

1=U

_

B

(13)

where s

e

, v

p

, v

ml

, A and B are as before; U is a parameter;

s

max

v

max

v

ml

=A

1=B

; s

max

and v

max

are estimates of the

effective stress and velocity at the onset unloading.

1.4.6. Millers method

Pore pressure can be also obtained from Millers sonic velocity

method in the following equation (Zhang et al., 2008):

p s

v

1

l

ln

_

v

m

v

ml

v

m

v

p

_

(14)

where p is the pore pressure; v

ml

is the interval velocity of sedi-

ments in the mudline; v

m

is the sonic interval velocity in the ma-

trix; l is an empirical parameter for calibrating the model (normally

0.00025).

1.4.7. Tau model

Dutta (2002) proposed the following relationship that relates

the transit time to effective stress:

s

e

1

k

1

ln

_

f

0

Ds

1=x

_

_

Ds

1=x

1

__

(15)

where Ds Dt/Dt

m

; Dt is the compressional transit time; Dt

m

is the

transit time in the matrix; f

0

is the porosity at Z 0; k

1

is a coef-

cient; and x is an acoustic formation factor dependent on

lithology.

A transit time dependent pore pressure prediction method was

presented through introducing a Tau variable into the effective

stress equation (e.g., Lopez et al., 2004; Gutierrez et al., 2006; Zhang

and Wieseneck, 2011):

s

e

A

s

s

Bs

(16)

where s

e

is the effective stress; A

s

and B

s

are the tting constants; s

is the Tau variable, and s (C Dt)/(Dt D); Dt is the compres-

sional transit time either from sonic log or seismic velocity; C is the

constant related to the mudline transit time; and D is the constant

related to the matrix transit time.

2. Effective stress, porosity and pore pressure relationships

2.1. Effective stress and porosity relationship

It has been veried that porosity decreases exponentially as

depth increases in normally-compacted formations, as described in

the following equation (e.g., Athy, 1930; Mondol et al., 2007). This is

the normal compaction trend in porosity.

f

n

f

0

e

cnZ

(17)

where f

n

is the porosity in the normally-compacted formation; Z is

the depth below the mudline; c

n

is the normal compaction con-

stant; f

0

is the porosity in the mudline; f

0

(r

m

r

0

)/r

m

(Rubey

and Hubbert, 1959); r

m

is the grain density of the rock; r

0

is the

bulk density of the surface or the mudline.

It is commonly accepted that formation porosity and effective

stress have the following relationship (e.g., Rubey and Hubbert,

1959; Dutta, 2002; Flemings et al., 2002; Peng and Zhang, 2007;

Tsuji et al., 2008):

f f

0

e

as

e

(18)

where a is the stress compaction constant.

Eq. (18) indicates that porosity is a functionof the effective stress;

therefore, pore pressure can be estimated from formation porosity.

Figure 3 illustrates the formation under-compaction and over-

pressure fromporosity prole. For a normallycompacted formation,

porosity should decrease exponentially as depth increases (as

described by Eq. (17)), where the formation has normal pore pres-

sure. When the porosity is reversal, the under-compaction occurs

and overpressure generates. The starting point of the porosity

reversal is the topof under-compactionor topof overpressure. Inthe

formation with under-compaction, porosity and pore pressure are

higher than those in the normally compacted section.

The effective stress can be obtained from Eq. (18) in the

following form:

s

e

1

a

ln

f

0

f

(19)

The effective stress at normal pressure condition can also be

obtained fromEq. (18), inwhich the porosity is the normal porosity,

a condition that formations are normally compacted, i.e.:

f

n

f

0

e

an

s

n

(20)

s

n

1

a

n

ln

f

0

f

n

(21)

Combining Eqs. (19) and (21), we have the following equation

for porosity and effective stress:

s

e

s

n

a

n

a

ln f

0

ln f

ln f

0

ln f

n

(22)

J. Zhang / Marine and Petroleum Geology 45 (2013) 2e11 5

Substituting Eq. (17) into Eq. (22), we obtain the following

constitutive relationship between effective stress and porosity:

s

e

s

n

ln f

0

ln f

cZ

(23)

where c is the generalized compaction constant. Therefore, from

Eq. (23) the porosity in both normal compaction and under-

compaction cases can be written in the following generalized form:

f f

0

e

cZs

e=s

n

(24)

In normal compaction condition (s

e

s

n

), the above equation is

simplied to Eq. (17). Therefore, this new equation extends Athys

porosity equation (Athy, 1930) to a generalized form which is

applicable for both normally compacted and under-compacted

formations.

2.2. Pore pressure prediction from porosity

A number of models are proposed for pore pressure prediction

from porosity (e.g., Heppard et al., 1998; Flemings et al., 2002;

Holbrook et al., 2005; Schneider et al., 2009). From Eq. (23) by

noticing s

e

s

V

ap and s

n

s

V

ap

n

, the following relationship

of pore pressure, overburden stress and porosity can be derived:

p

_

s

V

s

V

ap

n

ln f

0

ln f

cZ

__

a (25)

where p is the pore pressure; s

V

is the overburden stress; p

n

is the

normal pore pressure, f

0

is the porosity in the formation of the

mudline; Z is the depth below mudline; c is a constant and can be

obtained from the normal compaction porosity trend line. a is the

Biot effective stress coefcient, and f a 1; it is conventionally

assumed a 1 in the geopressure community.

0

Porosity

Top under-compaction

Under-compaction

Normal compaction

Pressure

V

n

p

p

n

e

Top overpressure

Overpressure

Normal pressure

Figure 3. Schematic porosity (a) and corresponding pore pressure (b) in a sedimentary basin. The dash porosity prole in (a) represents normally compacted formation. In the

overpressured section the porosity reversal occurs (solid line) and the porosity is larger than that in the normally pressured section.

0

2000

4000

6000

8000

10000

12000

14000

16000

18000

20000

0 4000 8000 12000 16000 20000

D

e

p

t

h

(

f

t

B

M

L

)

Pressure (psi)

Hydrostatic-8.65 ppg

Measured pore pressure

0

2000

4000

6000

8000

10000

12000

14000

16000

18000

20000

40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 200

D

e

p

t

h

b

e

l

o

w

m

u

d

l

i

n

e

(

f

t

)

t (s/ft)

Figure 4. Measured pore pressures and corresponding shale transit time versus depth below the mudline in the studied basins without uplift. (a) measured pore pressures and

hydrostatic pressure (with a gradient of 8.65 ppg); (b) measured sonic transit time in shale and the normal compaction trend line (NCTL, the thicker dash line calculated from Eq.

(10a)).

J. Zhang / Marine and Petroleum Geology 45 (2013) 2e11 6

The advantage of the proposed model in Eq. (25) is that the

pressures calculated from porosity are dependent on depths.

3. Theoretical model of effective stress and transit time/

velocity

3.1. Theoretical relationship of effective stress, transit time and

depth

From Wyllie equation (Wyllie et al., 1956), the porosity in the

interested depth (f) and the porosity in the mudline (f

0

or f

ml

) can

be written as the following equations:

f

Dt Dt

m

Dt

f

Dt

m

(26)

f

0

Dt

ml

Dt

m

Dt

f

Dt

m

(27)

where Dt is the compressional transit time; t

m

is the transit time in

the matrix; t

ml

is the transit time in the formation of the mudline; t

f

is the transit time in the uid of the pores.

Substituting Eqs. (26) and (27) into Eq. (23), we can obtain the

relationship of effective stress and transit time in the following

form:

s

e

s

n

cZ

ln

Dt

ml

Dt

m

Dt Dt

m

(28)

Or

Dt Dt

m

Dt

ml

Dt

m

e

cZs

e=s

n

(29)

In normal compaction case (s

e

s

n

) Eq. (29) becomes the

following form:

Dt Dt

m

Dt

ml

Dt

m

e

cZ

(10a)

This is the normal compaction trend for normal pressure case.

That is, in normal compaction case Eq. (29) simplies to Chapmans

model (Chapman, 1983, P.50, Eq. (3.8)). Therefore, Eq. (29) extends

the Chapmans transit timeedepth relationship to both normally

compacted and under-compacted formations.

3.2. Effective stress and velocity relationship from well logging data

Well logging data in several Tertiary and Jurassic petroleum

basins of offshore Gulf of Mexico and U.S.A. onshore elds were

analyzed to determine sonic velocity/transit time and effective

stress relationship (published data can be found in Jones, 1969;

Bowers, 1995; Issler, 1992; Flemings et al., 2002; Nelson and Bird,

2005; etc.). The downhole measured pore pressure data ranging

from normal pressures to overpressures were analyzed, as shown

in Figure 4a. The sonic transit time (slowness) at each data point of

the measured pore pressure was carefully picked from the nearest

shale and plotted in Figure 4b. The normal compaction trend line in

the transit time was calculated from Eq. (10a) using Dt

ml

203 ms/

ft, Dt

m

60 ms/ft, and c 0.00021 ft

1

. Figure 4 shows that the

overpressure corresponds to a higher transit time (or slower ve-

locity) compared to the normal transit time-depth trend. Figure 4b

also shows that the transit time does not always decrease mono-

tonically with depth. In the shallow depth with a normal pore

pressure, the transit time follows the normal compaction trend line

(NCTL fromEq. (10a)). When the formation is overpressures (under-

compacted), the transit time reversal occurs (Fig. 4b); i.e., the

transit time increases as the depth increases. Therefore, the pro-

posed relationship in Eq. (29) can better describe the transit timee

depth behavior in both normally compacted and under-compacted

cases.

In order to correlate the transit time to effective stress, the

vertical effective stresses are rstly calculated from Eq. (1) by

assuming a 1 using the pore pressure data shown in Figure 4,

while overburden stresses are obtained from integrating bulk

density log data using Eq. (3). Then, the effective stresses and cor-

responding sonic transit time are plotted versus depth, shown in

Figure 5. The measured data in those petroleum basins plotted in

Figure 5 indicate an exponential relationship between the vertical

effective stress (s

e

) and compressional transit time (Dt):

Dt Dt

m

175:49e

0:000267Zs

e=s

n

(30)

where Z is the depth belowthe mudline in ft; s

e

and s

n

are in psi; Dt

and Dt

m

are in ms/ft. Eq. (30) can be expressed as the following

general form:

Dt Dt

m

Me

kZs

e=s

n

(31)

where M and k are the tting constants. This relationship veries

the proposed theoretical solution (i.e., Eq. (29)).

Plotting the data with formation uplift (unloading case) to

Figure 5, it shows that the unloading curve is different from the

original compaction/loading curve, as shown in Figure 6. The

unloading occurs along a atter effective stress-transit time path

than the initial compaction/loading curve. This unloading curve

still denes an exponential relationship between the vertical

effective stress and compressional transit time, but it is atter and

with a different compaction constant (Fig. 6). Figure 7 plots the

effective stress and the compressional velocity converted from the

transit time of the same data shown in Figure 6. Figure 7 shows the

loading and unloading curves of the velocities having very different

trends.

3.3. Experimental results of effective stress and velocity in loading

and unloading cases

An experimental study of compaction effects on the acoustic

velocity in soils was conducted with a conventional triaxial cell

apparatus at the University of Mississippi (Lu et al., 2004). In the

y = 175.491175e

-0.000267x

R = 0.912911

0

20

40

60

80

100

0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000

t

t

m

(

s

/

f

t

)

( e/ n)*Zbml (ft)

DT-DTm

Expon. (DT-DTm)

Figure 5. Vertical effective stresses versus sonic transit time (DT or Dt) in the studied

basins without uplift (with normal pore pressure gradient of 8.65 ppg and Dt

m

60 ms/

ft); Z

bml

is the depth below the mudline in ft.

J. Zhang / Marine and Petroleum Geology 45 (2013) 2e11 7

experiments, the device was modied to measure the velocity of a

compressional wave propagating through a soil sample during

triaxial compressive tests. Three soil samples taken from sites in

Sharkey, Neshoba, and Marshall Counties, Mississippi were com-

pacted vertically to simulate compaction processes. The compres-

sional wave velocity in the axial direction was measured along with

the measurement of the stress-strain response with different

conning stresses during both loading and unloading cases (Lu

et al., 2004). We plot the vertical effective stresses and acoustic

P-wave velocity responses in the soil compaction (loading) and

unloading processes based on the data provided by Dr. Lu (2011).

The compressional wave velocities and travel time in the

compaction test for Neshoba soil/clay are shown in Figures 8 and 9.

The acoustic velocities increase or travel time decreases as the

effective stress increases in the compaction stage. The acoustic

velocity during the unloading test does not recover to its original

loading path and decreases sharply with the change in the effective

stress. The reloading path follows approximately an opposite di-

rection of the unloading path. The unloadingeloading cycle forms a

clockwise loop representing a hysteresis for the acoustic velocity.

The acoustic behavior resumes its normally consolidated line after

passing the point where the unloadingereloading cycle starts. The

same results are in other tests, such as Sharkey clay (Lu et al., 2004).

Due to unloading, the relationship of the effective stress and the

velocity does not follow the loading curve, and a higher velocity

exists than the velocity in the loading curve at the same effective

stress. The experimental results in loading and unloading cases are

consistent to the eld data (Figs. 6 and 7) and the derived effective

stress and transit time relationship (Eq. (29)).

4. Theoretical model of pore pressure calculation from

transit time or velocity and its application

4.1. Pore pressure model without unloading

From Eq. (28) and noticing s

e

s

V

ap and s

n

s

V

ap

n

, we

obtain the following equation to calculate pore pressure (p):

p

_

s

V

s

V

ap

n

cZ

ln

Dt

ml

Dt

m

Dt Dt

m

__

a (32)

where Dt is the measured compressional transit time; Dt

m

is the

transit time in the matrix; Dt

ml

is the transit time in the mudline; c

is the compaction constant and can be determined from Eq. (10a),

0

20

40

60

80

100

0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000

t

t

m

(

s

/

f

t

)

( e/ n)*Zbml (ft)

DT-DTm

Expon. (DT-DTm)

unloading

Figure 6. Relationship between the vertical effective stresses and sonic transit time

with unloading effect in the studied basins.

5000

6000

7000

8000

9000

10000

11000

12000

13000

14000

15000

0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000

V

p

i

n

s

h

a

l

e

(

f

t

/

s

)

( e/ n)*Zbml (ft)

Vp in shale

Expon. (Vp in shale)

unloading

Figure 7. Relationship between the vertical effective stresses and compressional ve-

locities with unloading effect plotted from Figure 6.

500

1000

1500

2000

2500

3000

3500

0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700

A

c

o

u

s

t

i

c

t

r

a

v

e

l

t

i

m

e

(

s

/

m

)

Vertical effective stress (kPa)

Pc=103.4 kPa

Figure 8. Vertical effective stress versus the acoustic travel time in the unconsolidated

undrained test for air-dry remolded Neshoba soils with a conning pressure of

103.4 kPa. Data provided by Lu, 2011.

200

300

400

500

600

700

800

900

1000

1100

1200

0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700

A

c

o

u

s

t

i

c

v

e

l

o

c

i

t

y

(

m

/

s

)

Vertical effective stress (kPa)

Pc=103.4 kPa

Figure 9. Vertical effective stress versus the acoustic velocity in the unconsolidated

undrained test for air-dry remolded Neshoba soils with a conning pressure of

103.4 kPa. Data provided by Lu, 2011.

J. Zhang / Marine and Petroleum Geology 45 (2013) 2e11 8

once the normal compaction trend is known. The advantage of this

model is that the calculated pore pressures are dependent on

depth, and both the effects of the matrix and mudline transit time

are considered.

4.2. Pore pressure model accounting for unloading

Unloading case has a different compaction path, thus, a different

compaction constant (b), as shown in Figures 6, 8 and 10. The

compressional transit time and vertical effective stress in unloading

case have the following relationship (refer to Appendix A for the

derivation):

Dt Dt

m

Dt

ml

Dt

m

e

bcymaxbZs

e=s

n

(33)

where b is the compaction constant in the unloading case; b c if

no unloading occurs, and b > c in unloading case; y

max

is dened in

Figure 10.

The relationship between the effective stress and transit time in

unloading case can be expressed in the following form (refer to

Appendix A for the derivation):

s

e

s

n

bZ

_

b c

c

ln

Dt

ml

Dt

m

Dt

u0

Dt

m

ln

Dt

ml

Dt

m

Dt Dt

m

_

(34)

where Dt

u0

is the transit time at the starting point of the unloading,

as dened in Figure 10.

From Eq. (34) and noticing s

e

s

V

ap and s

n

s

V

ap

n

, we

obtain the following equation to calculate pore pressure in

unloading case:

p

_

s

V

s

V

ap

n

bZ

_

bc

c

ln

Dt

ml

Dt

m

Dt

u0

Dt

m

ln

Dt

ml

Dt

m

Dt Dt

m

___

a

(35)

4.3. Case applications

A Tertiary petroleum basin of subsalt formations in deepwater

Gulf of Mexico, as described in Zhang et al. (2008), is examined to

verify the proposed model for pore pressure calculation. This case

study presents the pore pressure analysis in a post-drill well with

water depth of 3560 ft. The formations are primarily Tertiary shales

and sandstones, and the target zone is located in the Middle

Miocene sandstones. Figure 11 shows a post-drill pore pressure

analysis to examine the proposed pore pressure model. Pore

pressure gradient is calculated from the proposed equation (Eq.

(32)) using Dt

ml

131 ms/ft, Dt

m

73 ms/ft, P

ng

8.75 ppg, a 1,

and c 0.00009 ft

1

. The pore pressure gradient is also estimated

using Eatons resistivity method (Eaton, 1975). Compared to the

measured pore pressure results (MDT) and well inux (uid gain),

the proposed method (Eq. (32)) gives an excellent result in pore

pressure calculation. Also, the pore pressure calculation from the

proposed method gives a better result than the resistivity method.

It should be noted that the mudline transit time needs to be

adjusted Dt

ml

131 ms/ft (instead of 200 ms/ft in conventional cases)

to make a better pore pressure estimation in subsalt formations.

Figure 11 also demonstrates that the pore pressure calculation from

the proposed method can excellently catch the pore pressure

Figure 10. Simplied plot from Figures 6 and 8 showing the relationship between the

vertical effective stress and transit time in loading and unloading cases.

Figure 11. Pore pressure calculation from the sonic transit time using the proposed method (Eq. (32)) in subsalt formations of deepwater Gulf of Mexico. In this gure, the gamma

ray and shale base lines are shown in the left track; the resistivity (Res) and ltered shale points of resistivity (SHPT Res) are plotted in the second track; the sonic transit time (DT)

and ltered shale points of the transit time (SHPT DT) are shown in the third track; and the calculated pore pressures from the ltered shale transit time (Pp DT) and resistivity (PP

res e1.2) are shown in the right track with comparison to the measured formation pressures (MDT) and mud weights (MWIN).

J. Zhang / Marine and Petroleum Geology 45 (2013) 2e11 9

regression, which is a common phenomenon in some areas of the

Gulf of Mexico.

Figure 12 shows another case application in pore pressure es-

timates in the clastic (non-salt) formations. In this case the sonic

transit time from well logs are used for pore pressure calculations

from modied Eatons method (Eq. (10)) and the proposed method

(Eq. (32)) using the exponential normal compaction trend line (Eq.

(10a)). To determine the normal compaction trend line, the sonic

transit time in shallow section (with normal pore pressure) is t to

the normal compaction line by using Eq. (10a) with parameters of

Dt

ml

205 ms/ft, Dt

m

70 ms/ft, and c 0.00026 ft

1

. The calculated

pore pressure fromthe proposed method (with P

ng

8.5 ppg, a 1,

and c 0.00026 ft

1

) matches the measured pore pressures from

the drill stem tests (DST). To use the Eatons method (Eq. (10)) in

this case, the exponent needs to be adjusted (n 2.4) to match the

measured pore pressure result.

5. Conclusions

Porosity is not only dependent on depth, but also a function of

the effective stress. Porosity does not always decrease with depth;

however, it increases when the increase of the effective stress

with depth is smaller than the effective stress in the normal

compaction condition. Effective stress from porosity and

compressional velocity is derived from compaction disequilib-

rium theory. This theoretical relationship of effective stress and

velocity (or transit time) is veried by eld data and lab experi-

mental results. Theoretical pore pressure-porosity model is pro-

posed for pore pressure prediction in shales based on the

compaction disequilibrium. Using this theoretical model, pore

pressure prediction from compressional velocity (transit time) is

obtained, and unloading case is also considered for pore pressure

calculation. Case study indicates that pore pressure can be accu-

rately obtained from velocity and well logging data using pro-

posed method with necessary calibrations.

Appendix A. Derivation of effective stress in unloading case

The effective stress and transit time in the loading case has the

following relationship (i.e., Eq. (29)):

Dt Dt

m

Dt

ml

Dt

m

e

cZs

e=s

n

(A1)

Based on Eq. (A1) the following relationship between effective

stress and transit time is assumed in the unloading case (Dt

ul

), as

shown in Figure 10:

Dt

ul

Dt

m

Be

bZs

e=s

n

(A2)

where B and b are constants.

Assuming y Z(s

e

/s

n

) as shown in Figure 10, Eqs. (A1) and (A2)

become:

Dt Dt

m

Dt

ml

Dt

m

e

cy

(A3)

Dt

ul

Dt

m

Be

by

(A4)

At the starting point of the unloading where the transit time

reversal starts and the maximum velocity (or the minimum transit

time, Dt

u0

) occurs in the loading curve, we have the following re-

lationships, because the both unloading and loading curves (Eqs.

(A3) and (A4) intercept at the point (Dt

u0

, y

max

). Hence, the

following equations exist:

Dt

u0

Dt

m

Dt

ml

Dt

m

e

cymax

(A5)

Dt

u0

Dt

m

Be

bymax

(A6)

y

max

1

c

ln

Dt

ml

Dt

m

Dt

u0

Dt

m

(A7)

Figure 12. Pore pressure calculation from the sonic transit time using the proposed method (Eq. (32)) and modied Eaton method (Eq. (10)). In this gure, the exponential normal

compaction trend line (from Eq. (10a)) and ltered shale points of sonic transit time (SHPT DT) are shown in the left track, and the calculated pore pressures from the ltered shale

transit time from the proposed method (Pp DT) and modied Eaton method (Pp Eaton) are shown in the right track with comparison to the measured formation pressures (DST).

J. Zhang / Marine and Petroleum Geology 45 (2013) 2e11 10

Substituting Eq. (A5) into Eq. (A6), we obtain:

B Dt

ml

Dt

m

e

bcymax

(A8)

Substituting Eq. (A8) into Eq. (A2), we obtain the transit time as

a function of the effective stress in unloading case:

Dt Dt

m

Dt

ml

Dt

m

e

bcymaxbZs

e=s

n

(A9)

The effective stress can be solved fromEq. (A9) with substituting

Eq. (A7) as following:

s

e

s

n

bZ

_

b c

c

ln

Dt

ml

Dt

m

Dt

u0

Dt

m

ln

Dt

ml

Dt

m

Dt Dt

m

_

(A10)

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