Petroleum Reserves Definitions
Reserves derived under these definitions rely on the integrity, skill, and judgment of the evaluator and are affected by the geological complexity, stage of development, degree of depletion of the reservoirs, and amount of available data. Use of these definitions should sharpen the distinction between the various classifications and provide more consistent reserves reporting.
Reserves are those quantities of petroleum which are anticipated to be commercially recovered from known accumulations from a given date forward. All reserve estimates involve some degree of uncertainty. The uncertainty depends chiefly on the amount of reliable geologic and engineering data available at the time of the estimate and the interpretation of these data. The relative degree ofuncertainty may be conveyed by placing reserves into one of two principal classifications, either proved or unproved. Unproved reserves are less certain to be recovered than proved reserves and may be furthersub-classified as probable and possible reserves to denote progressively increasing uncertainty in their recoverability.
The intent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and World Petroleum Council (WPC, formerly World Petroleum Congresses) in approving additional classifications beyond proved reserves is to facilitate consistency among professionals using such terms. In presenting these definitions, neither organization is recommending public disclosure of reserves classified as unproved. Public disclosure of the quantities classified as unproved reserves is left to the discretion of the countries or companies involved.
Estimation of reserves is done under conditions of uncertainty. The method of estimation is called deterministic if a single best estimate of reserves is made based on known geological, engineering, and economic data. The method of estimation is called probabilistic when the known geological, engineering, and economic data are used to generate a range of estimates and their associated probabilities.
Identifying reserves as proved, probable, and possible has been the most frequent classification method
and gives an indication of the probability of recovery. Because of potential differences in uncertainty,
caution should be exercised when aggregating reserves of different classifications.
Reserves estimates will generally be revised as additional geologic or engineering data becomes
available or as economic conditions change. Reserves do not include quantities of petroleum being held in inventory, and may be reduced for usage or processing losses if required for financial reporting.
Reserves may be attributed to either natural energy or improved recovery methods. Improved recovery
methods include all methods for supplementing natural energy or altering natural forces in the reservoir to
increase ultimate recovery. Examples of such methods are pressure maintenance, cycling, waterflooding,
thermal methods, chemical flooding, and the use of miscible and immiscible displacement fluids. Other
improved recovery methods may be developed in the future as petroleum technology continues to evolve.
Proved reserves are those quantities of petroleum which, by analysis of geological and engineering data, can be estimated with reasonable certainty to be commercially recoverable, from a given date forward, from known reservoirs and under current economic conditions, operating methods, and government regulations. Proved reserves can be categorized as developed or undeveloped.
If deterministic methods are used, the term reasonable certainty is intended to express a high degree of confidence that the quantities will be recovered. If probabilistic methods are used, there should be at least a 90% probability that the quantities actually recovered will equal or exceed the estimate.
Establishment of current economic conditions should include relevant historical petroleum prices and associated costs and may involve an averaging period that is consistent with the purpose of the reserve estimate, appropriate contract obligations, corporate procedures, and government regulations involved in reporting these reserves.
In general, reserves are considered proved if the commercial producibility of the reservoir is supported by actual production or formation tests. In this context, the term proved refers to the actual quantities of petroleum reserves and not just the productivity of the well or reservoir. In certain cases, proved reserves may be assigned on the basis of well logs and/or core analysis that indicate the subject reservoir is hydrocarbon bearing and is analogous to reservoirs in the same area that are producing or have demonstrated the ability to produce on formation tests.
The area of the reservoir considered as proved includes (1) the area delineated by drilling and defined by fluid contacts, if any, and (2) the undrilled portions of the reservoir that can reasonably be judged as commercially productive on the basis of available geological and engineering data. In the absence of data on fluid contacts, the lowest known occurrence of hydrocarbons controls the proved limit unless otherwise indicated by definitive geological, engineering or performance data.
Reserves may be classified as proved if facilities to process and transport those reserves to market are
operational at the time of the estimate or there is a reasonable expectation that such facilities will be
installed. Reserves in undeveloped locations may be classified as proved undeveloped provided (1) the
locations are direct offsets to wells that have indicated commercial production in the objective formation,
(2) it is reasonably certain such locations are within the known proved productive limits of the objective
formation, (3) the locations conform to existing well spacing regulations where applicable, and (4) it is
reasonably certain the locations will be developed. Reserves from other locations are categorized as
proved undeveloped only where interpretations of geological and engineering data from wells indicate
with reasonable certainty that the objective formation is laterally continuous and contains commercially recoverable petroleum at locations beyond direct offsets.
Reserves which are to be produced through the application of established improved recovery methods are included in the proved classification when (1) successful testing by a pilot project or favorable response of an installed program in the same or an analogous reservoir with similar rock and fluid properties provides support for the analysis on which the project was based, and, (2) it is reasonably certain that the project will proceed. Reserves to be recovered by improved recovery methods that have yet to be established through commercially successful applications are included in the proved classification only (1) after a favorable production response from the subject reservoir from either (a) a representative pilot or (b) an installed program where the response provides support for the analysis on which the project is based and (2) it is reasonably certain the project will proceed.
Unproved reserves are based on geologic and/or engineering data similar to that used in estimates of proved reserves; but technical, contractual, economic, or regulatory uncertainties preclude such reserves being classified as proved. Unproved reserves may be further classified as probable reserves and possible reserves.
Unproved reserves may be estimated assuming future economic conditions different from those
prevailing at the time of the estimate. The effect of possible future improvements in economic conditions and technological developments can be expressed by allocating appropriate quantities of reserves to the probable and possible classifications.
Probable reserves are those unproved reserves which analysis of geological and engineering data suggests are more likely than not to be recoverable. In this context, when probabilistic methods are used, there should be at least a 50% probability that the quantities actually recovered will equal or exceed the sum of estimated proved plus probable reserves.
In general, probable reserves may include (1) reserves anticipated to be proved by normal step-out
drilling where sub-surface control is inadequate to classify these reserves as proved, (2) reserves in
formations that appear to be productive based on well log characteristics but lack core data or definitive
tests and which are not analogous to producing or proved reservoirs in the area, (3) incremental reserves
attributable to infill drilling that could have been classified as proved if closer statutory spacing had been
approved at the time of the estimate, (4) reserves attributable to improved recovery methods that have
been established by repeated commercially successful applications when (a) a project or pilot is planned
but not in operation and (b) rock, fluid, and reservoir characteristics appear favorable for commercial
application, (5) reserves in an area of the formation that appears to be separated from the proved area by
faulting and the geologic interpretation indicates the subject area is structurally higher than the proved
area, (6) reserves attributable to a future workover, treatment, re-treatment, change of equipment, or
other mechanical procedures, where such procedure has not been proved successful in wells which exhibit similar behavior in analogous reservoirs, and (7) incremental reserves in proved reservoirs where an alternative interpretation of performance or volumetric data indicates more reserves than can be classified as proved.
Possible reserves are those unproved reserves which analysis of geological and engineering data
suggests are less likely to be recoverable than probable reserves. In this context, when probabilistic methods are used, there should be at least a 10% probability that the quantities actually recovered will equal or exceed the sum of estimated proved plus probable plus possible reserves.
In general, possible reserves may include (1) reserves which, based on geological interpretations, could possibly exist beyond areas classified as probable, (2) reserves in formations that appear to be petroleum bearing based on log and core analysis but may not be productive at commercial rates, (3) incremental reserves attributed to infill drilling that are subject to technical uncertainty, (4) reserves attributed to improved recovery methods when (a) a project or pilot is planned but not in operation and (b) rock, fluid, and reservoir characteristics are such that a reasonable doubt exists that the project will be commercial, and (5) reserves in an area of the formation that appears to be separated from the proved area by faulting and geological interpretation indicates the subject area is structurally lower than the proved area.
Reserve Status Categories
Reserve status categories define the development and producing status of wells and reservoirs.
Developed: Developed reserves are expected to be recovered from existing wells including reserves behind pipe. Improved recovery reserves are considered developed only after the necessary equipment has been installed, or when the costs to do so are relatively minor. Developed reserves may be subcategorized as producing or non-producing.
Producing: Reserves subcategorized as producing are expected to be recovered from completion intervals which are open and producing at the time of the estimate. Improved recovery reserves are considered producing only after the improved recovery project is in operation.
Non-producing: Reserves subcategorized as non-producing include shut-in and behind-pipe reserves. Shut-in reserves are expected to be recovered from (1) completion intervals which are open at the time of the estimate but which have not started producing, (2) wells which were shut-in for market conditions or pipeline connections, or (3) wells not capable of production for mechanical reasons. Behind-pipe reserves are expected to be recovered from zones in existing wells, which will require additional completion work or future recompletion prior to the start of production.
Undeveloped Reserves: Undeveloped reserves are expected to be recovered: (1) from new wells on undrilled acreage, (2) from deepening existing wells to a different reservoir, or (3) where a relatively large expenditure is required to (a) recomplete an existing well or (b) install production or transportation facilities for primary or improved recovery projects.
Approved by the Board of Directors, Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Inc., and the Executive Board, World Petroleum Council (WPC), March 1997