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Downhole Fluids Laboratory

Jefferson Creek
Chevron Energy Technology Company
Houston, Texas, USA
Myrt (Bo) Cribbs
Chevron North America
Houston, Texas
Chengli Dong
Oliver C. Mullins
Houston, Texas

Reservoir fluids rarely occur as simple liquids and gases filling monolithic structures.
Their generation, migration and accumulation are affected by various processes
that result in complex fluid compositions and distributions. In the past, failure to
account for the complexities of the reservoir and its fluids has often resulted in costly
production problems and disappointing results. Recent developments in formation
testing and sampling technologies provide asset teams with a downhole laboratory to
measure in situ fluid properties and gain insight into reservoir connectivity.

Hani Elshahawi
Shell International Exploration & Production
Houston, Texas
Peter Hegeman
Sugar Land, Texas
Michael OKeefe
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Kenneth Peters
Mill Valley, California, USA
Julian Youxiang Zuo
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Oilfield Review Winter 2009/2010: 21, no. 4.
Copyright 2010 Schlumberger.
For help in preparation of this article, thanks to Richard
Byrd, Martin Isaacs and Michelle Parker, Sugar Land; and
Dietrich Welte, Aachen, Germany.
Fluid Profiling, InSitu Density, InSitu Family, InSitu Fluid
Analyzer, InSitu Fluorescence, InSitu pH, InSitu Pro,
MDT and Quicksilver Probe are marks of Schlumberger.
1. For information on fluid sampling and DFA:
Betancourt S, Davies T, Kennedy R, Dong C, Elshahawi H,
Mullins OC, Nighswander J and OKeefe M: Advancing
Fluid-Property Measurements, Oilfield Review 19, no. 3
(Autumn 2007): 5670.
Betancourt S, Fujisawa G, Mullins OC, Carnegie A,
Dong C, Kurkjian A, Eriksen KO, Haggag M, Jaramillo AR
and Terabayashi H: Analyzing Hydrocarbons in the
Borehole, Oilfield Review 15, no. 3 (Autumn 2003): 5461.
2. Hydrocarbons are defined as organic compounds
comprising hydrogen and carbon. The simplest form is
methane [CH4]. The most common hydrocarbons are
natural gas, oil and coal. Petroleum, a form of hydrocarbon, is a term generally applied to liquid crude oil.
3. Muggeridge AH and Smelley PC: A Diagnostic Toolkit to
Detect Compartmentalization Using Time-Scales for
Reservoir Mixing, paper SPE 118323, presented at the
SPE International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference,
Abu Dhabi, UAE, November 36, 2003.


Organic material in source rocks is converted

into the oil and gas that migrate into reservoirs.
Variations in the composition of the original
organic matter and the processes that occur during migration and accumulation of petroleum
fluids often increase their compositional complexity. Once in place, reservoir fluids can
equilibrate, yet still exhibit large compositional
gradients. Frequently, however, fluids are in disequilibrium, disrupted by processes such as biodegradation, multiple reservoir fluid chargings
and seal breach. Downhole fluid analysis measurements, some of which have recently been
introduced, can help resolve the complexity of
these fluids at near-reservoir conditions. Armed
with these data, asset managers can make
informed decisions long before incurring huge
expenses associated with field development and
installation of production facilities.
Although field development plans depend on a
thorough understanding of in situ properties,
knowledge of the fluid characteristics alone is
insufficient to maximize recovery. In particular,
undetected barriers to fluid flow can create
enormous problems for operators. For example,
because pressure equilibration across sealing barriers can occur over geologic time, this equilibration does not prove flow communication in
production timescales. Failure to account for reservoir architectural complexity has often resulted
in costly mistakes. New downhole fluid analysis

(DFA) technologies are available that enable identification of reservoir compartmentalization and
connectivity, along with fluid heterogeneities.
To determine the fluid properties required for
effective reservoir development, engineers use
DFA techniques extensively.1 Although fluid
properties are derived from a number of sensors,
optical spectroscopy, based on visible and nearinfrared (Vis-NIR) light, is the foundation of DFA
measurements for hydrocarbons.2 The technique
utilizes the light-absorption properties of fluids
as well as light scattering from different materials to identify fluid composition (C1, C2, C3-5, C6+
and CO2), gas/oil ratio (GOR), relative asphaltene content and water fraction. Other DFA measurements and capabilities include determination
of pH and resistivity (if the fluid is water), index
of refraction, fluorescence and live-fluid density.
Prior to the availability of DFA measurements,
operators collected a limited number of samples,
sent them to a laboratory and, after an often
lengthy period of time, received a report describing the reservoir fluids. Without real-time analysis
to establish the extent of fluid complexity, analysts often presumed fluid simplicity. Although the
typical outcome was a simplified evaluation
program, which initially appeared to be costeffective, it came at the expense of adequate
understanding of reservoir complexities. Too
often the result was increased total project costs.
With real-time DFA, the complexity and cost of

Oilfield Review

the fluid analysis program are matched to the

complexity of the fluid column. This improvement
in sampling and testing efficiency enables operators to detect fluid complexity and resolve questions arising from the downhole information.
Fluid complexities occur for many reasons.
Kerogen, the major global precursor of petroleum, consists of selectively preserved, resistant,
cellular organic materials (algae, pollen, spores
and leaf cuticles) and degraded residues of
biological organic matter (amorphous material).
The conversion from kerogen and the migration
of fluids from source rock to reservoir rock impact
fluid properties and composition. In addition,
reservoir-scale fluid complexity can be caused by
differences in temperature, pressure, gravity,
biodegradation, phase transitions and reservoir
charging history.

Winter 2009/2010

During early deepwater development, much

of the interest in fluid composition measurements focused on flow assurance into the wellbore, through pipelines and within production
facilities. However, it became evident that even
more-significant problems occur in the reservoir.
Consequently, the emphasis of fluid analysis has
shifted to the reservoir, where knowledge of in
situ fluid properties has considerable bearing on
well placement, reservoir development, completion strategies and surface-facilities design.
Using the downhole laboratory provided by
DFA sensors, reservoir engineers quantify fluid
properties with an accuracy that approaches that
of surface-laboratory measurements. The advantage of DFA is that fluid properties are measured
under reservoir conditions. Unlike equivalent

measurements in a surface laboratory, engineers

can repeat, validate or use measurements to
explain reservoir heterogeneities. A surface laboratory can repeat measurements, but only on the
same sample. Moreover, DFA employs the same
tool, time, temperature, calibration and technical
operatorbut with different fluidsfrom one
DFA station to the next.
DFA measurements can also enable identification of reservoir compartmentalization, which is
defined as lack of free-fluid flow between different
regions of a field over production timescales.3 Flow
units within a reservoir can range from massive to
minute, and effective drainage during production
requires that the well contact as many compartments as is economically feasible. Because compartments are a major cause of reservoir
underperformance, some experts suggest that this


Kerogen maturation
CO2, H2O
Wet gas
Dry gas
No hydrocarbon

Type I

Hydrogen/carbon ratio


Type II


Type III

Type IV




Oxygen/carbon ratio

> Kerogen conversion to hydrocarbons. The Van Krevelen

diagram classifies kerogen types by crossplotting ratios of
oxygen and hydrogen to carbon. During the maturation
process, kerogen is thermogenically converted to
hydrocarbons. The evolutionary paths of increasing maturity
(green arrows) indicate the type of hydrocarbons generated
from each kerogen source type. Additional early-stage
by-products of the conversion process are water and CO2.

is the biggest problem facing deepwater operators similar portrayals, have given the general public
the impression that oil lies in vast lakes below
in terms of strategic reservoir development.4
This article reviews the creation and migra- the Earths surface, awaiting the adventurous oil
tion of reservoir fluids, including reservoir charg- companys drill bit to pop in and drain the oil, like
ing, and the resulting effects on fluid properties. sucking soda through a straw. The petroleum
Compositional gradingthe smooth and contin- technologist harbors no such illusion, underuous variation of fluid properties with depthis standing that hydrocarbons trapped within the
discussed, along with methods to detect
Review pore spaces of reservoir rocks must be coaxed
from their hiding places through exacting effort
compartmentalization. Also described
Autumn 09
developments using asphaltene equilibrium
disFluidsLab Fig. 1 and time-tested methodologies.
1 professionals, however, there is
tribution as an indicator of reservoir
connectivity.5 Case studies from the deepwater Gulf of often a simplistic view of the oil or gas in a reserMexico, the North Sea and offshore Africa dem- voir. Although it is recognized that oil is not found
onstrate the application of new sampling meth- in a subsurface lake, many in the industry consider a reservoir as something akin to a large
ods and technologies.
porous container filled with homogeneous fluids.
Reservoir architectural heterogeneity and fluid
Fluid Complexity
Outside the oil and gas industry there are signifi- compositional complexity not only exist in nature
cant misconceptions about the habitat of hydro- but are the rule rather than the exception. This is
carbons in nature. Perhaps such works as Jules especially true in deep reservoir structures where
Vernes Journey to the Center of the Earth, or time and natural forces create ideal conditions
for such heterogeneity.


As a sedimentary basin matures, the processes

that affect hydrocarbon generation, migration and
accumulation result in complex fluid compositions. Understanding the complexity of hydro
carbon distributions in a reservoir begins at the
source rock. Of the estimated 6 1015 tons of
organic matter found in the Earths crust, 95% is in
the form of kerogen.6 It is from this building block
that most hydrocarbons are generated.
Kerogen consists of plant remains, such as
algae, spores, higher plant debris, pollen, resins
and waxes.7 Thermal maturation of kerogen
expels fluids, such as oil and gas, and leaves
behind a solid, mature form of kerogen (left).
Type I kerogens are rather uncommon. They
are oil prone and are made up of mainly algal and
bacterial remains. The kerogen in the lacustrine
Green River Shale, found in the central USA, is an
example of this group. Comprising a mixture of
terrigenous and marine sources, Type II kerogens
may be prone to oil or gas depending on the temperature and proportions of constituents. Gasprone Type III kerogens are composed of woody
terrigenous source material. Many North
American and European coals contain Type III
kerogen. The hydrocarbon gas from this kerogen
type is dominated by methane but may also contain ethane, propane, butane and pentane. Type IV
kerogen, dead carbon, has almost no potential for
hydrocarbon generation and commonly consists of
recycled organic matter that has undergone previous burial and maturation.8
As kerogen-rich source rock is buried and
compacted, increased temperature and pressure
convert the organic material into petroleum
through catagenesis. Migration of the fluids into
permeable rocks is controlled by three primary
parameters: capillary pressure, buoyancy and
hydrodynamics.9 As fluids charge into the reservoir, they may be significantly out of equilibrium
(next page, top right).10 For example, if the fluids
enter a reservoir via a high-mobility path such as
a fault, then poor fluid mixing takes place. Over
geologic time, through molecular diffusion and
gravity segregation, fluid equilibrium of the
hydrocarbons can be established. Light gases will
rise to the highest level in the reservoir, water
generally fills the lowest level, and hydrocarbons
of various densities are distributed in between.
With rare exceptions, kerogen Types I and II
are required for generation of liquid hydrocarbons. In the initial stages of conversion at low
heat, heavy oils are created and can be preserved
as asphalt or tar deposits. Increased temperature
leads to generation of lighter oils, often cracked
from early-stage heavy oils. There is, however, a

Oilfield Review

4. Mullins OC: The Physics of Reservoir Fluids: Discovery

Through Downhole Fluid Analysis. Sugar Land, Texas:
Schlumberger (2008): 43.
5. Asphaltenes are organic materials consisting of
aromatic and naphthenic ring compounds along with
peripheral alkanes and contain small quantities of
nitrogen, sulfur and oxygen molecules. They exist
as a colloidal suspension in oil. Asphaltenes can be
problematic in production whenever they precipitate
as a result of pressure drop, shear (turbulent flow),
acids, solution CO2, condensate charging, mixing of
incompatible crude oils or other conditions that break
the stability of the asphaltic suspension.
6. Welte DH: Organischer Kohlenstoff und die Entwicklung
der Photosynthese auf der Erde, Naturwissenschaften
no. 57 (1970): 1723.
7. Tissot BP and Welte DH: Petroleum Formation and
Occurrence. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1984.
8. Peters KE and Cass MR: Applied Source Rock
Geochemistry, in Magoon LB and Dow WG (eds):
The Petroleum SystemFrom Source to Trap. Tulsa:
AAPG, AAPG Memoir 60 (1994): 93119.
9. Welte DH and Yukler MA: Petroleum Origin and
Accumulation in Basin EvolutionA Quantitative
Model, AAPG Bulletin 65, no. 8 (August 1981): 13871396.
10. Equilibrium, in this article, is defined as a condition
in which fluids are stable and modest changes in
conditions result in modest changes in fluid properties.
In contrast, metastable conditions are those in which
modest changes may produce dramatic changes in
fluid properties.
11. Grunau HR: Abundance of Source Rocks for Oil and
Gas Worldwide, Journal of Petroleum Geology 6, no. 1
(1983): 3953.

Winter 2009/2010

Cap rock
Lighter oil
Medium oil
Heavier oil
Oil window, lowtemperature limit

source rock
source rock
source rock

> Stainforth charge history model. According to the Stainforth model, charge
history determines hydrocarbon distribution. In the early stage, low-maturity
source rock (left) generates heavier oil, medium-maturity source rock
(center) produces lighter oils along with gas and, finally, high-maturity
source rock (right) generates light oil and gas. Lighter fluids rise to the top
of the reservoir and push down fluids that migrated earlier. The extent of
dissolved gas (as reflected in the GOR) in the hydrocarbon column is
controlled by pressure and temperature. In this model the fluids are not in
equilibrium. Whether the reservoir fluids attain equilibrium is a function of
parameters such as vertical permeability and thermal gradients. (Adapted
from Mullins, reference 4.)

Hydrocarbons generated

temperature limit to oil generation. When the

temperature exceeds the upper limit of the oil
windowin excess of approximately 150C
[300F]condensate and wet gas result. At
higher temperatures, through a more extreme
thermal process termed metagenesis, less complex gases are generated, and methane gas eventually becomes the primary hydrocarbon
produced (below right).
In contrast to the limited window for oil
generationrestricted to certain kerogen types
and a specific temperature rangenatural gas
originates under a variety of conditions. It is generated from all source rocks and across a broad temperature range. During diagenesis (early burial),
anaerobic microorganisms can convert sourcerock organic matter into methane. During catagenesis and metagenesis, significant amounts of
natural gas are produced.11
The maturation process lends itself to potentially complex fluid columns and compositional
gradients. The natural forces of gravitational buoyancy and solubility can create asphaltene gradients in the fluid column. Gravity drives the less
dense hydrocarbons, especially gas, to the top of
the reservoir. Because asphaltenes are not soluble
in gas, the presence of a large GOR gradient results
in an asphaltene gradient with higher concentrations at a lower point in the column.
Transport processes of both convection and
diffusion may also be active. Unlike diffusion,

Biogenic methane

Wet gas and

Dry gas

Oilfield Review
Autumn 09
FluidsLab Fig. 2 Oil,
All kerogen types
Types l and ll Fig. 2

CO2, H2O
Increasing depth and temperature
Immature zone



Oil window

Gas window

> Hydrocarbon maturation. Early-stage hydrocarbon creation occurs in

immature source rock in a process of diagenesis, whereby organic
materials are buried, compressed and undergo chemical alteration.
Bacterial diagenesis can also occur through anoxic microbial conversion of
organic material to methane. As temperatures rise above 50C with deeper
burial, microbes die off and catagenesis predominates. This process is
similar to the high-temperature cracking and distillation in oil refineries,
where heavy oils are converted to lighter petroleum products, but can
occur at much lower temperatures over geologic time. Metagenesis is a
later phase of hydrocarbon generation, occurring above 150C, in which
organic materials and previously generated petroleum are converted into
natural gas, predominantly methane, at higher temperatures.


convection requires a sufficient thermal gradient, or inverted density gradient, to effect change
in the fluid distribution.
These normal processes commonly result in
gravitationally ordered fluid gradients progressing upward from heavy oils, medium oils, light
oils, condensate, wet gas, lighter gas and finally
to methane. However, nonequilibrium conditions
often existeven given geologic timescales for
fluids to equilibrate. Fluid mixing processes in
the reservoir may be extremely slow. The added
effects of tectonism, faulting and reservoir heterogeneity contribute to complicated fluid distributions. The processes acting on reservoir fluids
can preserve a nonequilibrium condition.

Power cartridge



InSitu Fluid
Analyzer module

Hydraulic module

Probe tool

analyzer module

> The MDT tool. The InSitu Family service is

delivered downhole by the MDT tool. Along
with the InSitu Fluid Analyzer module are the
Quicksilver Probe tool for quick fluid-sample
cleanup, dual pumpout modules for flowing
sample- and guard-probe fluids and a samplebottle module. Recovered samples are used for
surface-laboratory analysis of reservoir fluids.


Another contributor to nonequilibrium conditions is biodegradation, which occurs at the oil/

water contact (OWC). Biodegradation results
from the metabolic conversion of saturated
hydrocarbons, primarily by methanogenic and
sulfate-reducing bacteria in anoxic conditions.
Preferential removal of alkanes at the OWC by
biodegradation yields an increased asphaltene
concentration causing large, nonequilibrium
viscosity gradients. The OWC may change with
subsequent charging of the reservoir or with seal
leaks, but biodegradation remains active only
below about 80C [175F]; above this temperature the microbes are no longer viable. Among
other effects, biodegradation raises oil viscosity,
lowers API gravity, increases asphaltene and sulfur content, and increases concentrations of metals.12 Biodegradation can exert major control over
the quality of the oil as well as its producibility.13
Biodegraded oil may be found as a mix of oils.
For example, primary oil arrives first, is
biodegraded, and is followed by oil from
subsequent reservoir charges. The secondary oils
may be unaffected, appearing after biodegradation has ceased, creating spatial variations in
fluid properties.
In addition, biogenic or thermogenic gas
may override existing oil in the reservoir, move
updip and disrupt the existing reservoir fluid
gradients.14 The GOR of the primary oil changes
with this influx, creating compositional variations.15 Detection of these gradient disruptions
from charging and recharging may indicate the
presence of compartments, a topic to be discussed later.
Ultimately, rather than an open container
filled with layers of water, oil and gas, the reservoir is a complex architectural structure containing mixtures of fluids. There is no single tool to
identify these complexities, and engineers create
completion strategies and reservoir development
plans using data from many sources. DFA measurements, however, have proved highly effective
as a tool for understanding both reservoir fluids
and architectural complexity.
Application-Driven Innovation
Wireline formation testing tools (WFTs) first
appeared in the 1950s as a means to retrieve fluid
samples for surface analysis. Laboratory testing
of these samples was hampered by contamination, particularly with filtrate from the drilling
fluid, and by alteration of the fluids during the
sampling and transfer process. Successive tool
generations led to the development of moreadvanced tools, such as the MDT modular
formation dynamics tester, which incorporated

innovations such as multiple chambers, the ability to pump fluid into the wellbore before capturing a sample, improved accuracy and resolution,
a variety of probe styles, dual-packer assemblies
and focused sampling to significantly reduce
mud-filtrate contamination (below left). The
MDT tool is also the primary platform for fluid
property measurements.
Reservoir engineers need accurate assessment of fluid properties for reservoir evaluation,
flow assurance, reservoir simulation and modeling, facilities design, production strategies,
reserves calculations and recovery estimates.
Early sampling methods sometimes yielded suboptimal results. Relatively few samples were used
with simplistic fluid models to explain fluid distributions in the reservoir. In addition, engineers
resorted to analytical methods to correct laboratory measurements for phase changes and mudfiltrate contamination, which often led to
erroneous fluid characterization. This limitation
has been partially overcome by the ability to
pump contaminated fluids from the formation
prior to sample initiation.
The MDT tools pumpout module is used to
flow reservoir fluids into and through the tool.
This enables reduction of filtrate contamination
to obtain nearly virgin native fluids, as determined through the DFA measurements, as well as
the acquisition of reservoir fluids in sample bottles carried in the tool. One such operation in
Kuwait pumped 2,100 liters [555 galUS] over a
66.5-hour interval to acquire uncontaminated
samples. Although the volume of moved fluid is
considerable, this is not an efficient method if
multiple samples are needed or if DFA fluid
profiling with multiple test points is the goal.
A focused-sampling probe, added to the MDT
tool in 2006, greatly improved wellsite efficiency,
allowing the timely acquisition of fluid samples
free or nearly free of mud-filtrate contamination.16 Using a concentric sampling arrangement
and two synchronized pumps, the Quicksilver
Probe tool acquires uncontaminated samples in a
much shorter time frame (next page, top). An
outer guard ring extracts fluidsprimarily filtrate and contaminated formation fluidsthat
enter the probe peripherally. Fluid flowing
through the central probe quickly transitions
from filtrate-contaminated fluids to formation
fluids of acceptable quality for in situ fluid property measurements.
Low-contamination fluids are quickly available for downhole analysis and more samples can
be taken in a reasonable time frame. Tool sensors
and fluid analysis capabilities have also advanced

Oilfield Review

Contamination level

Contamination level

Conventional Probe Tool

Acceptable sample

Quicksilver Probe Tool

Acceptable sample



Main probe
Guard probe

> Quicksilver Probe focused-sampling tool. Concentric intake flow areas of the Quicksilver Probe tool are connected to independent pumps in the MDT tool
(right). The outer, or guard, probe extracts filtrate and continues to pump during sampling to keep contaminated fluids from migrating to the main probe. In
addition to lower levels of sample contamination (graph, right), this assembly can produce acceptable samples more quickly than conventional probe
assemblies (left).

to the point that fluid properties can be recorded

and evaluated while the tool is still in the well.
Because of this, sample recovery to the surface is
not always necessary. In addition, engineers can
create a Fluid Profiling log throughout the reservoir interval from laboratory-quality measurements acquired at downhole conditions.

Light source

Fluorescence detector

Pressure and
density sensor

Fluid flow

The Downhole Laboratory

Most major service companies have some form of
downhole fluid analysis service. Each company
has chosen specific methods to analyze the fluids,
including optical absorption and magnetic resonance. The InSitu Family sensors in the MDT tool
provide the following measurements:
hydrocarbon fluid composition (C1, C2, C3-5
and C6+)
gas/oil ratio
CO2 concentration
color (and relative asphaltene content)
pH (for water samples)
live-fluid density and viscosity
oil-base mud (OBM) contamination
pressure and temperature (at sample depth).
However, the basic method for fluid analysis
is optical spectroscopy from the InSitu Fluid
Analyzer module (bottom right).17 Optical spectrometers measure light absorption at different
wavelengths for fluids passing through the sensor

Winter 2009/2010


array Review

Space for
future sensor


Autumn 09
> Downhole
fluids laboratory.
As fluid moves through the MDT tool, the InSitu Fluid Analyzer service
acts as a portable fluids laboratory. Two spectrometers measure light-absorption properties of the fluid
ORWIN09/10-FluidsLab Fig.5
as well as its color. Fluorescence sensors provide retrograde condensation detection and can
differentiate oil type when the fluids are in an emulsion. The pH of water samples is measured by
injecting a pH-sensitive dye into the flow stream (not shown) and detecting the color change. Pressure,
temperature and resistivity sensors acquire data as fluid flows through the tool. A live-fluid density
sensor is located in the flowline, and a second sensor can be placed in the probe assembly as well.

12. Connan J: Biodegradation of Crude Oils in Reservoirs,

in Brooks J and Welte DH (eds): Advances in Petroleum
Geochemistry, vol. 1. London: Academic Press (1984):
13. Mullins, reference 4: 26.
14. Biogenic methane can be differentiated from
thermogenic methane by stable carbon isotope ratios.
15. Mullins, reference 4: 52.

16. For more on focused-probe sampling: Akkurt R,

Bowcock M, Davies J, Del Campo C, Hill B, Joshi S,
Kundu D, Kumar S, OKeefe M, Samir M, Tarvin J,
Weinheber P, Williams S and Zeybek M: Focusing
on Downhole Fluid Sampling and Analysis, Oilfield
Review 18, no. 4 (Winter 2006/2007): 419.
17. For more on optical spectroscopy: Crombie A, HalfordF,
Hashem M, McNeil R, Thomas EC, Melbourne G and
Mullins OC: Innovations in Wireline Fluid Sampling,
Oilfield Review 10, no. 3 (Autumn 1998): 2641.
Betancourt et al, reference 1.


Heavy oil

Optical density

Medium oil


Light oil




Wavelength, nm



Grating spectrometer

Filter array spectrometer

> Optical density of fluids from spectroscopy measurements. The InSitu Fluid Analyzer tool incorporates
two optical spectrometers: a filter array spectrometer that covers a frequency range from 400 to 2,100 nm
and a grating spectrometer that focuses on a narrow range of 1,600 to 1,800 nm where reservoir fluids
have characteristic absorptions that reflect their molecular structures. The frequency of visible light is
about 500 nm, and NIR light ranges from 750 to 2,500 nm. Oilfield fluids have specific spectral optical
density (OD) characteristics that are functions of the frequency of light passing through them. Visible
(Vis) light is best suited for distinguishing relative asphaltene content. The NIR spectrum is useful for
water detection, distinguishing water from oil and identifying the type of oil. Optical spectroscopy was
originally introduced to determine sample quality, especially the transition from OBM filtrate to
reservoir fluids during sampling. OBM filtrates do not contain asphaltenes or significant dissolved gas.
Thus, OBM filtrates are differentiated from crude oil using asphaltene concentration determined from
OD of visible light measurements. Dissolved gas content from NIR measurements is an additional
sample quality indicator.

and can distinguish between water, gas, crude oil

and OBM filtrate (above). Introduced originally
to monitor contamination, downhole spectroscopy measurements have undergone a number of
advances. The current tool includes two spectrometersfilter array and grating array. Both
spectrometers share the same optical cell, but
they cover different wavelength ranges and provide complementary functions. Wavelengths of
the 20 channels in the filter array cover the visible and near-infrared spectrum (Vis-NIR) range
from 400 to 2,100 nm. These channels indicate
the color and molecular vibration absorptions of
the fluid and show the main absorption peaks of
water and CO2. The sensor also detects color
change for the pH measurement. The grating
spectrometer has 16 channels that focus on the
NIR spectrum of 1,600 to 1,800 nm where reservoir fluid has characteristic absorptions that
reflect molecular structure. For oilfield fluids of
interest, much of the information is found in the
NIR spectrum.18
Color, ranging from very dark in heavy crudes
to clear or very light for gas condensates, is used to
distinguish oil types. The term color should not be
confused with hue, such as red, green or blue.
These more exotic colors are produced when


crude oils are observed in background light that

induces some fluorescence, and light absorption
creates a variety of colors. In fact, a blue crude oil
has been produced for many years in the Gulf of
Mexico; its blue color is due to strong fluorescence
under illumination (next page, top left). Measured
properly, crude oils are typically brown, and coloration refers to degree of brown absorption.
One use of coloration is to determine contamination of Oilfield
fluid samples
Reviewfrom OBM filtrate, which
contains little
to no09asphaltene and thus has little
color. TheFluidsLab
degree ofFig.7
contamination is determined
Fig. time
7 while
by monitoring
the increase in color over
the MDT tool pumps fluid from the tested interval
through the DFA module. In addition to having
little color, OBM filtrate generally has negligible
dissolved gaslow GORwhereas most native
oils have appreciable amounts of dissolved gas.
During pumpout, sampled fluids transition from
low to high GOR, indicating that the level of contamination decreases while the percentage of
native oil increases. Useful for contamination
determination, the GOR measured downhole,
before temperature and pressure effects occur, is
also an important in situ fluid property.

Sample contamination is only one aspect of the

optical spectroscopy measurement. Molecules
interact with electromagnetic waves, such as
those in the visible and NIR spectrum, as a function of their complexity. Oils that are high in
asphaltenes and resins are darker and more
absorptive than simpler hydrocarbons.
In the NIR range, light absorption excites
molecular vibration in a manner that is analogous to exciting other mechanical oscillators,
such as a guitar string. Maximum absorption
occurs at characteristic frequencies that are a
function of the molecular structure of the hydrocarbon. Methane [CH4]the simplest hydrocarbon, with a unique hydrogen/carbon ratiohas a
distinct spectral signature. Ethane is composed
of two CH3 groups (the methyl group) and has a
different signature. Most hydrocarbon gases are
dominated by their CH3 chemical group. In contrast, liquid hydrocarbons are dominated by the
CH2 chemical group (the methylene group).
The spectral signal is used to differentiate methane and ethane from other gases and liquids.
Carbon dioxide [CO2] has its own characteristic
frequency of excitation and can be identified
from InSitu Fluid Analyzer data.

Oilfield Review

> Blue crude. The blue coloration of this unusual

variety of Gulf of Mexico crude oil is caused by
strong fluorescence under ambient light from a
high concentration of perylene, a polychromatic
hydrocarbon. Typically, oils are brown, and their
color, as measured by optical spectroscopy, is
their degree of brownness.

As the molecular complexity of hydrocarbons

increases beyond ethane, the frequency signature
is more complex. Thus, the group comprising
propane, butane and pentanethe C3-5 groupis
combined for analysis. Liquid hydrocarbons
include the hexane and heavier hydrocarbons
the C6+ group.
Optical absorption of water covers a broad
spectrum in the NIR range and overlaps many of
the hydrocarbon peaks. The presence of water
can mask
fluids, especially CO2, from
Autumn 09
the detector.
Fig. 8
results from the
ORWIN09/10-FluidsLab Fig. 8
aromatic fraction of crude oils, and its color and
intensity are characteristics of the oil type
(above right). Ultraviolet (UV) light and fluorescence have been used by the oil industry for many
years. At one time a black light, or UV light, was
common on wireline logging units, primarily for
core analysis and detection of trace amounts of
hydrocarbon in formation fluid samples when
mostly filtrate was recovered. Mud loggers still
use black lights to detect fluorescence in cuttings.

Winter 2009/2010

> Hydrocarbon fluorescence. Chromophores are molecules that absorb

light; fluorophores, a subset of chromophores, absorb light and then
fluoresce. For crude oil, virtually all chromophores and fluorophores have
some aromatic carbon. Graphite is an aromatic carbon in large ring systems
and is correspondingly black. In the visible light spectrum, light-absorbing
heavy oils appear dark, and lighter oils have less color because they absorb
less light (top). Under UV radiation (bottom), the heavy oils produce a dull,
reddish brown fluorescence. Light oils appear blue and produce
fluorescence with greater intensity. Being clear, the lightest oil absorbs little
visible light and some UV radiation, and thus fluoresces, but at a low level.

The InSitu Fluorescence sensor allows the in sample acquisition of heavy oils because the
measurement of fluorescence to be made down- asphaltenes in the oil act as a surfactant for both
hole. Although it retains some of the early appli- formation water and water-base mud (WBM)
Oilfield Review
cations, this sensor offers new utilities, including filtrate. When these emulsions form, significant
Autumn 09
fluid-phase detection and oil typing.FluidsLab
One applicaFig. 9 light scattering occurs, making optical density
tion of the fluorescence measurement
Fig. 9 difficult to interpret. In the labodetection of retrograde condensation, also known ratory, centrifuges and chemicals are used to
as retrograde dew, a condition that can occur demulsify the liquids and analyze the oil portion.
upon pressure reduction with each stroke of the This approach is not always successful nor is it an
pumpout tool.19
option downhole.
The fluorescence measurement, however,
A recent innovation using fluorescence is
fluid typing in emulsions.20 Emulsions often form unlike the optical density measurement, is rela18. Mullins, reference 4: 74.
19. Retrograde condensation is the formation of liquid
hydrocarbons in a gas when the pressure drops
below the dewpoint pressure. It is called retrograde
because some of the gas condenses into a liquid under
isothermal conditions instead of expanding or vaporizing

when pressure is decreased, as would be the case for a

single-phase fluid.
20. Andrews AB, Schneider MH, Caas J, Freitas E, Song YQ
and Mullins OC: Methods for Downhole Fluid Analysis
of Heavy Oil Emulsions, Journal of Dispersion Science
and Technology 29, no. 2 (February 2008): 171183.


Optical density

Fluorescence intensity














Wavelength, nm

Optical density








Wavelength, nm









Wavelength, nm

> Fluorescence measurement and emulsions. Surface laboratories use centrifuges and chemical agents to break down emulsions
and measure properties of the native hydrocarbons. NIR measurements from six heavy-oil emulsion samples are shown before
(top left) and after (bottom left) attempts at demulsification. Emulsion Samples D, E and F exhibit strong light scattering, which
produces a shift in their optical densities. There is also a noticeable water peak after 2,200 nm. Samples B (yellow) and D (green)
have different spectral signatures as emulsions, yet the oil portions are similar after demulsification based on their optical
characteristics. Downhole optical spectroscopy measurements have no provision for demulsification. However, the fluorescence
measurement spectrum is unaffected by the emulsion (right), and the responses are identical to those of demulsified oils (not
shown). Fluorescence spectra of Samples B and D clearly indicate the oils in the emulsion are similar in type, which is not
apparent in the optical spectroscopy data from emulsified samples. (Adapted from Andrews et al, reference 20.)

tively independent of the state of the emulsion

and gives a qualitative indicator of oil type
(above). This is particularly useful in identifying
compositionally graded fluids in heavy-oil reservoirs, such as those affected by biodegradation,
without the requirement of pumping to obtain an
emulsion-free sample.21
Another important property of reservoir fluids
is water pH. The pH of water is used for predicting
scaling and corrosion potential and for petrophysical evaluation, and it can also contribute important information about reservoir connectivity.22
The measurement concept is similar to that of
classroom experiments, in which the color change
in litmus paper indicates the pH of a liquid. For
the InSitu pH measurement, a colorimetric dye is
injected directly into the flow stream where the
optical spectrometer detects the color change.
Making the measurement downhole is important
because irreversible changes can occur when
water samples are brought to the surface for laboratory testing. The measurement not only reflects
the condition of the water at formation temperature and pressure, but also includes the effects of


hydrogen sulfide [H2S] and CO2. Typically, these

gases are flashed and missing when water is analyzed at surface conditions. Errors in measurement caused by precipitation of pH-altering
solids, which can occur at lower temperatures,
are also overcome.
The InSitu pH measurement has proved useful in differentiating WBM filtrate from connate
water. Filtrate from WBM systems is generally
basic, with a pH range from 8 to 10, and formation
waters are usually more acidic. In the past, resistivity of the
fluid Review
was used to identify formation
water, butAutumn
this method
09 is not effective when the
of the WBM
10 is similar to that of
the connate
waters. Engineers useFig.
the 10
pH sensor
to detect fluid transitions and contacts.
The conventional method for determining
fluid transitions and contacts is plotting MDT
pressure data versus depth. Although this method
is widely used, its precision depends on the ability to measure true formation pressure. Pressuregradient plots may be affected by the number and
spacing of pressure points, measurement accuracy, depth accuracy and freedom from external

perturbations that include supercharging, tool

movement and tool seal failures. In addition, it
is often difficult to establish pressure gradients
in layered reservoirs with varying permeability,
formations containing viscous oils and rocks of
low permeability.23
The InSitu Density measurement overcomes
many of the limitations inherent in pressure
plots. Live-fluid density data are acquired from
two independent sensors, one placed in the sample probe and the other located in the flowline.
Profiling the fluid density quantifies the variations in fluids versus depth.
Compartmentalization, sealing elements and
barriers to flow can be identified from abrupt
changes in fluid properties. The accuracy and
resolution of the data make it possible to compare fluids from different wells within a field,
establishing connectivity or lack thereof. The
InSitu Density sensor can be placed in the fluid
analyzer section as well as in the Quicksilver
Probe tool, providing independent confirmation
of the measurement.24

Oilfield Review

Channel 0
InSitu Fluid




Excess Pressure


10 0

gAPI 150 0

% 100 0
% 100

Channel 1


Depth, ft

Last Read Pressure

Live-Fluid Density


1.2 5

10 0


0.8 10

Contamination Fluorescence
6.5 0


0.5 0.01










> InSitu Pro software with real-time analysis. Field engineers can perform quality control checks of field data in a format that offers a clear representation
of downhole fluid and reservoir properties using InSitu Pro software. Pressure plots provide fluid gradients and transitions, and an excess-pressure plot is
also available (Track 1). Fluid compositional gradients from pressure data can be observed along with fluid analysis (Tracks 3 and 4) at true depth. Additional
InSitu Fluid Analyzer measurements are shown at depth for easy reference. This software can be used to process postacquisition data and generate
comprehensive interpretation reports.

Schlumberger engineers have also developed

the InSitu Pro software to integrate data from the
InSitu Family sensors, providing both real-time
analysis and postacquisition processing (above).
These real-time capabilities help identify anomalous readings, fluid contacts and potential reservoir heterogeneity. With this intuitive application,
the engineer can develop a deeper understanding
of the reservoir fluids as well as identify connectivity problems related to reservoir architecture.
Data integration, based on a recognized equation-of-state (EOS) model with fluid property corrections, allows real-time modification of the
testing and sampling program while the MDT tool
is still in the well.25 Indications of compartmentalization can be validated before completing the
well and performing extensive well tests.
Although the measurement capabilities of the
InSitu Family system continue to expand, there is
still no single sensor or tool that can supply reservoir engineers with all the information needed to
efficiently develop and produce hydrocarbons
from a reservoir. These measurements must be

Winter 2009/2010

integrated with drilling data, reservoir models,

production tests and time-dependent analyses to
arrive at the best course of action.
On Alaskas North Slope, just 35 mi [55 km] east
of the prolific Prudhoe Bay field, lies the Badami
oil field. Discovered in 1990 and brought online in
1997, the field is estimated to contain more than
120million bbl [19.1 million m3] of recoverable
reserves. The excitement of this major discovery
was quickly extinguished after production, which
briefly peaked at 18,000 bbl/d [2,860 m3/d] in

Oilfield Review

21. Mullins,Autumn
reference 09
4: 139.
22. Raghuraman
B, OKeefe
M, Eriksen KO, Tau LA,
VikaneO, Gustavson G and Indo K: Real-Time Downhole
Fig. 11
pH Measurement Using Optical Spectroscopy,
paper SPE 93057, presented at the SPE International
Symposium on Oilfield Chemistry, The Woodlands,
Texas, February 24, 2005.
23. OKeefe M, Godefroy S, Vasques R, Agenes A,
Weinheber P, Jackson R, Ardila M, Wichers W,
Daungkaew S and De Santo I: In-Situ Density and
Viscosity Measured by Wireline Formation Testers,
paper SPE 110364, presented at the SPE Asia Pacific
Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition, Jakarta,
October30November 1, 2007.

1998, plummeted to 1,350 bbl/d [214 m3/d]. The

field was eventually mothballed in August 2003,
and subsequent attempts to restart operations
two years later were unsuccessful.26 After spending more than US $300 million in development
costs, the operating company representatives
cited one major problem: The reservoir is more
highly compartmentalized than initially thought,
thus preventing the oil from flowing between the
zones targeted for production.27 This is just
one example of the high cost of recognizing
compartmentalization after field development
has commenced.
24. OKeefe et al, reference 23.
25. An equation of state is useful in describing the
properties of fluids and mixtures of fluids. These
mathematical relationships describe the state of matter
under a given set of physical conditions, in this case
hydrocarbons at pressure and temperature.
26. Nelson K: Back to Badami, Petroleum News 10, no. 23
369854151.shtml (accessed November 11, 2009).
27. BP Will Postpone Restarting Badami Oil Field,
Anchorage Daily News, September 1, 2009, http://
(accessed November 11, 2009).


Gamma Ray

Formation Fluid Pressure

gAPI 100 8,400


Optical Density

Fluorescence Intensity

9,200 0.5

3.5 0.12




True vertical depth, ft







> Identifying compartments. Pressure data show several disconnected sand intervals (Track 2). Large
pressure differentials between Points C and D indicate lack of connectivity. DFA stations and fluid
samples were taken at six depths: Points A through F. DFA color analysis (Track 3) shows distinct
differences between zones, as do the fluorescence data (Track 4). Components with more color have a
higher optical density and should be at the bottom of the interval. Their presence higher in the column
suggests compartmentalization. Varying intensity levels of fluorescence indicate different oil types.
The lack of continuity and gradient disruption strongly imply many small disconnected compartments,
which ultimately led to abandonment of the well by the operator.

The term compartmentalization covers a

variety of conditions that include continuous
sealing barriers from sedimentary features, sealing faults, discontinuous sand lenses, pressure
communication in the absence of flow communication and regions of low permeability that
inhibit fluid flow.28
A discontinuous fluid distribution is indicative of a disruption of the normal fluid gradients
that result from primary and secondary migration

Oilfield Review

of fluids during the hydrocarbon maturation process. This situation is further complicated by
nonuniform temperature gradients; by reservoir
restructuring during burial, uplift and erosion;
and by other hydrodynamic events. If these
processes cease, the fluids will return to their
steady-state condition over geologic time. The
absence of a continuous fluid gradient implies
nonequilibrium fluid distribution and possible

28. Muggeridge and Smelley, reference 3. Autumn 09

33. Elshahawi H, Mullins OC, Hows M, Colacelli S,
Flannery M, Zou J and Dong C: Reservoir Fluid Analysis
29. Muggeridge and Smelley, reference 3. FluidsLab Fig. 12
as a Proxy for Connectivity in Deepwater Reservoirs,
30. Elshahawi H, Hashem M, Mullins OC and
Fig. at12the SPWLA 50th Annual Logging
The Missing LinkIdentification of Reservoir
Symposium, The Woodlands, Texas, June 2124, 2009.
Compartmentalization Through Downhole Fluid
34. For more on asphaltenes: Akbarzadeh K, Hammami A,
Analysis, paper SPE 94709, presented at the SPE
Kharrat A, Zhang D, Allenson S, Creek J, Kabir S,
Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, Dallas,
Jamaluddin A, Marshall AG, Rodgers RP, Mullins OC
October 912, 2005.
and Solbakken T: AsphaltenesProblematic but
31. Mullins OC, Rodgers RP, Weinheber P, Klein GC,
Rich in Potential, Oilfield Review 19, no. 2
Venkataramanan L, Andrews AB and Marshall AG:
(Summer 2007): 2243.
Oil Reservoir Characterization via Crude Oil Analysis
35. Mullins OC: The Modified Yen Model, Energy &
by Downhole Fluid Analysis in Oil Wells with Visible
Fuels (January 19, 2010),
Near-Infrared Spectroscopy and by Laboratory Analysis
10.1021/ef900975e (accessed January 29, 2010).
with Electrospray Ionization Fourier Transform Ion
Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry, Energy &
36. Mullins, reference 35.
Fuels 20 (2006): 24482456.
37. Tahiti, Gulf of Mexico, USA, http://www.offshore-technology.
32. Muggeridge and Smelley, reference 3.
com/projects/tahiti/ (accessed November 30, 2009).


In a normal burial sequence, later-stage hydrocarbon generation produces lighter hydrocarbons

that rise until they encounter a sealing element.
The anomalous presence of lighter or lower density fluids at a point lower than expected in the oil
column suggests stacked reservoirs or vertical
compartmentalization. Discontinuous distribution
of asphaltenes is also an indicator of compartments. In particular, increased concentrations of
asphaltenes higher in the oil column indicate the
presence of a sealing barrier (left). These dense
asphaltene particles tend to sink, not float, in a
single hydrocarbon column.
The consequences of undetected compartmentalization are reduced drainage efficiency
and flow. With early identification of the degree
and complexity of compartmentalization, engineers can design appropriate development
schemes to mitigate its impact. They can also
make better-informed decisions related to production facilities and reservoir economics.30 In
some cases, developing heavily compartmentalized reservoirs may be uneconomical, at least
with current technology and pricing.31
In the past, compartments were usually identified by well testingdrillstem tests (DSTs)
and extended well tests. In deep water DSTs can
become impractical, with costs approaching
those of drilling a new well. Environmental
issues from potential spills are also a concern.
The most conclusive detection method is longterm production surveillance, but this may come
too late for mitigation.32 These hurdles to identifying compartmentalization are being addressed
today through DFA Fluid Profiling techniques.33
Before the availability of DFA, reservoir engineers looked at pressure communication to assess
compartmentalization and connectivity. This
approach is better suited to detecting isolated or
unconnected pockets in producing fields. In virgin
reservoirs there may be no pressure differential
between unconnected elements. Relying on pressure differentials can also be misleading because
compartments may have pressure communication
in geologic time without flow communication in
production time. A recent development in fluid
analysis uses asphaltene concentration to indicate
connectivity and flow communication.
Unlocking Reservoir Connectivity
Colloidal Nanoaggregates
Asphaltene in oil is an example of a colloida
mixture of one substance dispersed within another.
Commonly consisting of an aromatic carbon core
with peripheral alkane substituents, asphaltenes
make heavy oils heavy and give oil color.34

Oilfield Review

Asphaltene molecules readily combineor

aggregateinto small particles called nanoaggregates, which are often their dominant form in
crude oils. At high concentrations, nanoaggregates can further combine to form clusters
(right). Both the nanoaggregates and clusters
are found as colloidal dispersions in crude oil.35
Fluids specialists use color from DFA measurements to estimate the concentration of asphaltenes
in reservoir fluids. Similarities in color can then be
used to identify compositionally similar fluids from
different locations within a reservoir. This information is being used to infer flow connectivity and
understand reservoir architecture.
Asphaltene gradients are used to understand
fluid distribution in a reservoir, and they can
occur as a result of GOR gradients. A characteristic of low-GOR fluids is that they can dissolve (or
disperse) large amounts of asphaltenes. HighGOR fluids can dissolve very little asphaltene;
methane, the simplest alkane, dissolves no
asphaltenes. In addition, gravity segregation
tends to concentrate asphaltenes at the base of a
fluid column; the magnitude of this effect is
strongly influenced by the size of the asphaltene
particles. Both GOR and gravity work to concentrate asphaltenes at the lowest point in the reservoir, while thermally driven entropy tends to
disperse the asphaltenes.
Sealing barriers or flow restrictions disrupt
the movement and migration of fluids and, as a
consequence, segregate fluids with different
asphaltene concentrations. The presence of a
discontinuous asphaltene concentration laterally
or vertically within the reservoir explicitly
indicates a boundary to fluid flow.
If the asphaltene gradient is the same across
a reservoir, and especially if it is in equilibrium,
connectivity is implied because it takes geologic
time and fluid movement to establish an
equilibrated asphaltene gradient. Sealing barriers all but preclude equilibrium distributions
of asphaltenes.
It is now possible to model the distribution of
asphaltenes within a reservoir once the asphaltene colloidal particle size has been determined.36
This requires not only accurate measurement of
the relative asphaltene concentration, but also an
accurate measurement of GOR vertically and
laterally in the reservoir.
The InSitu Fluid Analyzer service provides
measurements with sufficient resolution and
accuracy to compare fluids across a reservoir.
These data may then be incorporated into an
equation of state (EOS) to model the asphaltene
distribution. If the measured gradient fits the

Winter 2009/2010

Asphaltene Molecule



Clusters of Asphaltene

> Asphaltene molecular structures. Asphaltenes (left) can take many forms
but are characterized as aromatic rings (green) with alkane chains. The
rings may be fused, meaning they share at least one side. The rings may
also contain heteroatoms such as sulfur, nitrogen, oxygen, vanadium and
nickel. The molecule on the left contains a nitrogen [N] heteroatom.
Asphaltene molecules form nanoaggregates (center) in oils. High
concentrations of nanoaggregates form clusters (right) in heavy oils.

EOS model, connectivity is indicated. The ability

of DFA to link asphaltene concentrations to
connectivity was demonstrated by a multiwell,
multiyear study in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico
Tahiti field.
Asphaltenes, Colloids and Equilibrium
Located approximately 190 mi [300 km] south of
New Orleans, and in a water depth of 4,200 ft
[1,280 m], the Tahiti field discovery well was
drilled in 2002. With a total depth of 28,411 ft
[8,660 m], the well epitomizes the potential risks
and rewards of deepwater exploration, encountering more than 400 ft [122 m] of net pay.

Subsequent appraisal wells found net-pay intervals in excess of 1,000 ft [300 m]. Data from what
was at that time the worlds deepest successful
well test indicated a single-well production rate
greater than 30,000 bbl/d [4,800 m3/d].37
The reservoir consists of several stacked
Miocene turbidite sand intervals buried beneath
an 11,000-ft [3,353-m] thick salt canopy. After
the initial discovery two appraisal wells with
sidetracks were drilled, and extensive pressure
data, DFA data and fluid samples were acquired
for the producing intervals (below). The two primary sand layersthe M21A and M21Bare in
different pressure regimes, and pressure testing

Oilfield Review
Autumn 09
FluidsLab Fig. 13
ORWIN09/10-FluidsLab Fig. 13

and appraisal wells


> A geologic model showing the upper and lower horizons of the Tahiti field. The steeply dipping beds
of the deepwater Tahiti field, whose sands are shown here in this 3D facies model, lie beneath an
11,000-ft-thick salt canopy. Allochthonous salt buoyancy caused the field to tilt. Since the reservoir is
not a rigid body, tilting the field results in faulting. The biggest risk factor in field development is whether
these faults are transmissive and thus contribute to reservoir connectivity. Seismic models cannot
provide this information, but DFA data have proved beneficial in identifying connectivity within the field.


ity, reservoir engineers have focused on the

properties of sampled fluids.
Data from 14 DFA sample stations in the
M21 sands were analyzed in the study.38 Downhole
and laboratory measurements show undersaturated black oil with GORs ranging from 550 to
650 ft3/bbl [99 to 117 m3/m3]. Geochemical fingerprinting from gas chromatography confirmed
pressure-data results: The M21A samples are
similar to but distinct from those recovered from
the M21B sand. The DFA data indicated an
asphaltene compositional gradient, as revealed
by an increase in fluid color with depth, in both

M21A data
M21A model
M21B data
M21B model
M21A North data
M21A North model


Depth, ft

indicated these two main sand layers are compartmentalized (below).

Lack of connectivity resulting from compartmentalization is a significant risk in deepwater
development because its existence requires
additional wells to contact untapped reserves.
Extremely high well costs can make a project
uneconomical. Because of the thick salt canopy
overlying the Tahiti field, delineating reservoir
architecture and potential compartments from
seismic data is challenging. Moreover, many
sealing barriers are too thin to be visible in seismic data. To understand the reservoir connectiv-


Geochemistry Analysis Based on

High-Resolution Gas Chromatography

Tahiti Field, M21A and M21B Sands

Subsea depth, ft









Formation pressure, psi

M21A sand
M21B sand
M21A sand,
GC 596 1, ST1


Tahiti Field, M21 Cross Section

GC 596 1

GC 640 1

GC 640 1

GC 641 1

GC 640 2

GC 640 2



> Tahiti field, two separate sands. The petrophysical cross section (bottom) of the Tahiti field, developed
from several wells and sidetracks (STs), exhibits considerable heterogeneity. The M21A and M21B
sands are the primary targets and, although similarly pressured, are in two different pressure regimes
(top left). The two primary sands are thus disconnected. The gas chromatography (GC) starplot diagram
(top right) indicates geochemical fingerprints that distinguish M21A crude oils (blue) from those from
the M21B sand (red). Oil from the M21A sand in a subsequent well, drilled in the north area of the field,
had its own GC fingerprint (green), indicating possible separation from the rest of the reservoir.








Optical density at 1,000 nm

> Optical density trends and asphaltene

modeling. The Boltzmann distribution model
predicted color (OD) using a fixed particle size
but with different asphaltene concentrations.
Data from samples and the predictive model
again demonstrate that the M21A (blue) and
M21B (red) are two separate sands. Data from a
subsequent well drilled in the northern area of
the field (green) yields a different trend because
oil from the M21A sand in the northern section
has a lower asphaltene concentration than that
in the south and central regions.



sand bodies. This gradient was corroborated by

laboratory fluids measurements.
For development-well planning, engineers
integrated information from this study to predict
the DFA measurements at proposed well locations. Synthetic Fluid Profiling logs, based on
asphaltene analysis, were generated for a subsequent well and matched the DFA data. This validated the model and verified connectivity within
the sand layers found in the new well. Had there
been no match, DFA stations could have been
reacquired for validation or the geologic model
Oilfield Review
adjusted to account for differences.
Autumn 09
In theFluidsLab
Tahiti field,
17 oil has a low GOR and
is fairly ORWIN09/10-FluidsLab
incompressible. Consequently,
Fig. 17 gravity
determines the asphaltene distribution. In an
EOS the gravity component consists of Archimedes
buoyancy for the asphaltene nanoaggregate in a
Boltzmann distribution. Fluids experts developed
an EOS model based on a fixed asphaltene particle
size, correlating optical density to depth. As an
indication of connectivity, a simple equation was
developed from field data that accounted for the
asphaltene distribution in almost the entire field.

Oilfield Review

Integration Is the Key

The downhole laboratory provides a wealth of
real-time information. But if DFA data are to be
maximally utilized, it is important to treat them
as pieces of a larger puzzle. Reservoir engineers
integrate measured fluid properties with existing
geologic models. Fluid predictions based on EOS
models are either corroborated by the downhole
measurements or the models can be adapted to
fit the data.
For example, in 2002 a North Sea operator
identified a large compositional gradient in a discovery well containing oil and gas.39 DFA technology was fairly new, and the original sampling
program was modified in real time to profile the
complex and depth-variant fluid properties. From
analysis of the data, reservoir engineers picked
the depth of the gas/oil contact (GOC) higher in
the reservoir and moved the oil/water contact
38. Betancourt SS, Dubost F, Mullins OC, Cribbs ME,
Creek JL and Matthews SG: Predicting Downhole
Fluid Analysis Logs to Investigate Reservoir
Connectivity, paper IPTC 11488, presented at the
International Petroleum Technology Conference,
Dubai, December 46, 2007.
39. Gisolf A, Dubost F, Zuo J, Williams S, Kristoffersen J,
Achourov V, Bisarah A and Mullins OC: Real Time
Integration of Reservoir Modeling and Formation
Testing, paper SPE 121275, presented at the SPE
EUROPEC/EAGE Annual Conference and Exhibition,
Amsterdam, June 811, 2009.

Winter 2009/2010

Well Section




Gamma Ray

The first production well encountered black

oil that correlated with the asphaltene concentration predicted from the discovery- and
appraisal-well data (right). This analysis confirms that the asphaltenes are in an equilibrium
distribution in both the M21A and M21B sands.
Consequently, each sand is predicted to have
large-scale connectivity. This prediction was later
confirmed during production.
Distinct asphaltene trends are visible in the
data from the M21A and M21B sands (previous
page, top right). A subsequent well drilled in the
north section of the field revealed a lower concentration of asphaltenes in the M21A sand than
is found in wells drilled elsewhere. There was no
pressure differential within the sand because the
reservoir was at virgin pressure. With almost all
other hydrocarbon properties being equal, the
asphaltene distribution was the primary means
of determining a lack of connectivity between the
northern well and the rest of the reservoir.
Interpretation following reprocessing of the
seismic data confirmed the possibility of fault
separation between the regions (below right).

DFA Channel Data

Measured DFA

Predicted DFA

Measured DFA

Predicted DFA




> Predicting DFA response. The DFA spectrometer measures the optical
density from discrete channels focused on specific frequencies. The OD is
computed from these data and used to quantify oil color. Asphaltenes are
the primary source of this color. Using a modified Boltzmann distribution
equation from nanoaggregate particle-size estimations of the asphaltenes,
engineers developed a predictive color model. This model used DFA data
from the original Tahiti discovery well to predict the response of spectrometer
channels (shown as color bands in Track 3) for oil in a subsequent
development well. The DFA data from the M21A and M21B sands (Track 2)
matched the model, suggesting reservoir connectivity. Recent production
data confirmed this connectivity, validating the original model.

concentration, %


Possible fault

Oilfield Review
Autumn 09
FluidsLab Fig. NEW 16
ORWIN09/10-FluidsLab Fig. NEW 16

> Field-wide asphaltene concentrations. This 3D model of the M21A

reservoir shows asphaltene concentration versus depth that is consistent
with an equilibrium distribution of asphaltenes and indicates reservoir
connectivity in the central and southern clusters of wells. The two well
penetrations in the north show a similar but different distribution, which
could indicate that this area is separated by a fault. A recent seismic
reinterpretation also indicates a possible fault in this orientation.




(OWC) lower than originally modeled (left). The

result was an increased reserves estimate. An
C6+ Water m3/m3
EOS fluid model was later developed from the
DFA data.
0.374 g/cm3
In 2008 the operator drilled an injector well
in the field. Reservoir engineers used the EOS
model from the discovery well to predict pressures, fluid gradients, fluid contacts and DFA log
0.599 g/cm3
response for the new well. Engineers developed a
predictive modeling workflow that integrated
reservoir, EOS and fluid models (next page, top
0.982 g/cm3
right). Both fluid equilibrium and flow connectivity were assumed. When the measured data from
the new well were compared with those from the
Increasing pressure
model, an outlier near the GOC did not match. An
> Vertical compositional gradient in a discovery well. Pressure data and fluid analysis (left) show a
extra station was selected, validating the original
transition from water (blue) to oil (green) to gas (red), indicated by changes in the slope of the line.
Fluid analysis (center) from DFA data shows a gradient with increasing GOR (higher concentration of
fluid model and allowing the erroneous data
C1 and C2-5 gas versus C6+ liquids) from the bottom to the top of the reservoir section. This was
point to be discarded. However, even with this
confirmed by laboratory GOR measurements (right). DFA measurements indicate a compositional
correction, the second well encountered the GOC
gradient in the oil that was not apparent in the pressure data. An equation of state (EOS) was
at a depth that was 18 m [59 ft] higher than
developed from these data to predict the response in subsequent development wells.
predicted, which required further refinement of
the reservoir model.
There were also significant differences
Discovery Well
Development Well
between the predicted composition and the DFA
(left). Analysis of DFA data from a
C1 predicted
point just Cabove
the GOC indicated that slugging
2-5 predicted
during pumpout
was affecting the measurement.
C6+ predicted
measurement caused
C1 calculated
not being accounted
C2-5 calculated
(DFA) Correcting the model for this
C6+ calculated
condition improved the correlation with meaC1 (DFA)
sured data but a discrepancy remained.
C2-5 (DFA)
Geologists believed that the two wells had
C6+ (DFA)
their own separate gas caps but assumed they
shared a common oil reservoir with flow and
pressure communication. The unexpected 18-m
Composition, weight %
Composition, weight %
difference can be explained by two scenarios:
Oilfield Review
lateral disequilibrium or compartmentalization.
Autumn 09Development Well
To distinguish between these two possibilities,
FluidsLab Fig. 19
analysis of the heavy ends, or heavy compoORWIN09/10-FluidsLab Fig. 19
C2-5 predicted
nents, of the fluids was performed. The heavy
C6+ predicted
ends would be mostly unaffected by two different
C1 (DFA)
C1 calculated
GOCs; there is no heavy-end component in the
C2-5 (DFA)
C2-5 calculated
gas. If the sand is in a single compartment, then
C6+ (DFA)
C6+ calculated
the heavy ends should grade continuously across
C1 (DFA)
the reservoir; if the sand is compartmentalized,
C2-5 (DFA)
the heavy ends should show a discontinuous
C6+ (DFA)
change. Data show that the color is generally continuous (next page, bottom right). In addition, the
EOS data suggest equilibrated heavy ends, indi20
Composition, weight %
Composition, weight %
cating connectivity. This has since been con> Equation of state model. Engineers developed an EOS model from the discovery well data (top). The
firmed by production data.
Composition, weight %

Depth relative to GOC, m

Depth, m

Depth relative to GOC, m

Depth, m

Pressure gradients

calculated values (blue, red and black curves) were compared with the DFA tools C1, C2-5 and C6+
response (blue, red and black symbols). The model was then used to predict fluid composition for the
injector well (bottom). Although the C1 and C2-5 data agree with the model, the DFA C6+ data (green
circles) are considerably different from model predictions above the GOC. Slugging was determined to
be the cause of the discrepancy, and the data were later reprocessed and corrected for this effect.


Oilfield Review
Autumn 09
FluidsLab Fig. 20

Oilfield Review

40. Elshahawi et al, reference 33.

41. OKeefe et al, reference 23.

Winter 2009/2010






Fluid Model


Temperature, K


Station 2 off-trend

EOS Modeling

DFA and Sample

Analysis Results

Well B

Well A

> DFA predictive modeling. Data acquired in the discovery well (bottom right) are combined with
reservoir and EOS models to predict DFA measurements in an injector well drilled at a later date (top).
Because Station 2 did not match the prediction, a fifth station was taken, which matched the predicted
response and confirmed the original model. The off-trend station was judged to be erroneous and
discarded. This is an example of real-time observations suggesting retesting. Without the predictive
model, the erroneous data could have resulted in an incorrect conclusion, such as compartmentalization.


Well A
Well B


True vertical depth, m

Resolving Deepwater Uncertainties

Deepwater plays are becoming more common
and fields are being discovered in areas whose
water depths made them unreachable not long
ago. The risk-reward scenario in deepwater E&P
goes beyond the potential for finding large accumulations of untapped hydrocarbons; it encompasses development decisions that must be made
with limited datasets. Reservoir connectivity is
often the largest uncertainty, and no single measurement can provide a complete solution.40
Pressure gradients have traditionally been
used to confirm connectivity, as well as to compute fluid density and detect fluid contacts. The
success of this technique depends on the number
of data points as well as their locations within the
reservoir column. Discontinuous reservoir sections, thinly laminated sands and supercharging
can distort or confound the interpretation.
Abrupt changes in fluid density within a fluid
column are expected at the OWC and GOC, but
when detected within the oil column, they indicate the potential for compartmentalization.
A new sensor that measures live-fluid density
was employed in an offshore West Africa stackedsand reservoir. The deepwater vertical appraisal
well was drilled in a water depth of 1,000 m
[3,280 ft]. The objectives of the well were to
assess hydrocarbon potential, evaluate fluid
properties, determine fluid contacts and identify
the presence of compositional grading.41 Data
were acquired from an MDT tool equipped with
two InSitu Family sensors. One sensor was
located in the focused-probe assembly and a second was in the InSitu Fluid Analyzer module.

DFA Equivalent
Modeled Compositions

Pressure, psi

DFA Equivalent
Measured Compositions

Integration of data allows predictive testing

of the reservoir to establish connectivity and fluid
equilibrium. Fluids experts developed a sampling
program beforehand from EOS fluid models and
were able to validate results when data initially
deviated from the model. The ability to adjust the
program in real time provides the reservoir engineer with a diagnostic tool for data quality control. In this case, revisiting an anomalous data
point confirmed the original model. Similarly,
analysis of color and asphaltene gradients confirmed reservoir connectivity when initial test
results were inconclusive.



Optical density, model




Oilfield Review
Autumn 09
FluidsLab Fig. 21



Optical density

> Color analysis between wells. Well A color data from DFA measurements (blue dots) follow a
consistent trend, although the deeper points have more color than modeled data predictions (red
curve). The model assumes a fixed asphaltene particle size and outputs color based on asphaltene
concentration. Data from DFA measurements taken from Well B (green) plot on the model trend line at
the top of the reservoir but the deeper data points are above the line. The observation from Well A
data, that fluids in the lower part of the reservoir have more color than expected, is reflected in Well B
data. Although this could be an indication of compartmentalization, it could also be explained by
disequilibrium of the fluids in the reservoir. From production data engineers concluded that the two
wells were not in separate compartments.


Moved Gas

Formation Pressure



Fluid Density


Methane Ethane Hexane


1 0

wt %



100 0 100 0.1


Drawdown Mobility

Bound Water


Clay 1





Station A

Depth, m

Station B

Station C




> Fluid contacts from pressure and InSitu Density data. Fifty-six pressure points were sampled to
construct a pressure profile curve (Track 1). Data indicate fluid changes at 1,798 m and 1,748 m. The
fluid composition data from the InSitu Fluid Analyzer module show oil and gas (Track 2). Stations A, B
and C confirm that the oil density (red triangles) is consistent throughout the oil interval. From this
analysis the operator confirmed the fluid density, quickly identified fluid contacts and developed a
subsequent DST program that validated the DFA analysis.

The pressure-sampling program included 56

pressure pretests along with fluid profiling and
sampling at seven depths across the reservoir
interval. A technique using an excess-pressure
plot indicated pressure communication within
the reservoir and a single producing unit with
compositional grading. Three gradients were
identified, corresponding to water, oil and gas
all in pressure communication (above). A measurement station that included the InSitu Density
sensor was performed at 1,754.5 m [5,756 ft] MD,
which is near the top of the oil zone.
Laboratory PVT analysis of the recovered fluid
from that station yielded an oil density of 0.70 g/cm3.
The InSitu Density sensor measured a density of
0.71 g/cm3. These values compare favorably with
each otherwithin 0.01 g/cm3, the accuracy typical of fluid density measurements made in the controlled environment of a laboratory.
With DFA data that included fluid density, the
operator was able to quickly analyze the fluid
composition, determine fluid contacts and assess


reservoir connectivity. Because the Fluid Profiling

technique revealed no sealing features or potential compartmentalization, the operator was able
to proceed with the original development plan.
Downhole Laboratory of the Future
What began as a means of quantifying sample quality has evolved into laboratory-grade measurements that quantify in situ fluid properties. As the
nature of DFA measurements such as the InSitu
Family service expands, so too have applications.
The future of DFA may take two directions:
LWD-based services and new measurements.
Today, service companies have tools that can proOilfield Review
vide pressure
09 while drilling. Eventually,
of the downhole
Fig. 23 fluids laboratory will
be incorporated
these services,
measurement of real-time fluid properties before
deep invasion of drilling fluids occurs.
New techniques are also in development, such
as an accurate measurement of in situ fluid viscosity and concentrations of other components.

Viscosity, for example, has significant impact on

fluid recovery and therefore field economics.
However, surface measurements of viscosities
often include a host of effects that may render
them inaccurate or invalid. To better understand
the reservoir and maximize production, reservoir
engineers will be able to use viscosity measurements to analyze fluids flowing from the reservoir
before they undergo phase changes due to pressure and temperature variations.
Reservoir development will never be as
simple as inserting a long straw into a lake
of crude oil and sucking it out. For now,
however, the reservoir engineer has an extensive portable laboratory to send downhole and
help unravel the complexity of in situ fluids,
while also helping clarify understanding of
reservoir architecture.

Oilfield Review