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Shell Nigeria Graduate Training Programme

Petrophysics

15 REPEAT FORMATION TESTER


The repeat formation tester (RFT) is the preferred method for measuring reservoir
pressure in an open hole. This is a Schlumberger wireline tool which can be set
against the borehole wall at selected depths to take a series of spot pressure
measurements. An earlier form of the tool, the formation interval tester (FIT)
operated in a similar way, but could take only a single measurement. The formation
multi-tester (FMT) is the Dresser-Atlas equivalent of the RFT.

PRINCIPLE
A schematic of the RFT tool is shown in Figure 1. A probe is pushed against the
borehole wall at the selected depth by back-up shoes. The probe must pass through
the mudcake coating the borehole wall and achieve a connection with the formation.
A packer (drawn in black) around the probe isolates the probe from the mud
pressure (Pm) in the borehole. At the start of the measurement, the pressure gauge
reads the mud pressure. After closing the equalising valve, a pressure drawdown is
created in the shaded flow lines by retracting pre-test cylinders 1 and 2. As a result
the formation will start flowing through the probe. After both cylinders are fully
retracted (total volume = 20cc) the formation is allowed time (build up period) to
equalise the pressure in the shaded flow lines to the formation fluid pressure (Pf).
The speed with which the formation will equalise the pressure indicates its
permeability.
After the measurement, the tool is pulled free from the borehole wall and the pre-test
chambers flushed ready for the next interval. This tool can make a series of spot
measurements of reservoir pressures in open hole. It can also retrieve one
segregated or two contaminated samples of reservoir fluids in one run.
While a test is in progress there is a continuous surface readout of the pressure. This
can be seen "live" on a small graphic screen or more accurately on a log. Figure 2
shows a typical record of a test carried out on a rather low permeability formation.

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Figure 1. Repeat Formation Tester (RFT) Tool

Figure 2.

ANOMALIES
v If the pressure returns to the (higher) mud pressure the packer failed to isolate
the probe (seal failure).
v In tight (impermeable) formations the pressure of the invasion fluid may not be
disseminated completely (supercharged formation). If this is the case the
recorded pressure will be between the formation and the mud pressure. Figure 3
illustrates the supercharging is phenomenon. In a pressure/depth plot these
(failed) measurements will clearly deviate from the prevailing formation gradient.
Figure 4 shows supercharged pressure points plotting to the right of the straight
line.

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Figure 3. Supercharging phenomenon.

Figure 4.

PRESSURES IN THE SUBSURFACE


Except in oil and gas reservoirs, all pore space in the subsurface is filled with water.
In most cases the pressure (P) in water bearing formation is hydrostatic and its
gradient depends on the density () of the formation water. Pressures recorded in a

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water bearing interval will plot in a pressure/depth plot on a straight line. The slope of
this line determines the water gradient and therefore its density. The water density is
a function of its salinity.
Gradient =

dp
= .g
dD

At the interface of the water and oil columns, the pressure in the oil is equal to the
pressure of the water. This level is called the Free Water level (FWL). The OWC is
slightly above the FWL due to water pulled up by capillary forces. In the oil column
the pressure will follow the (steeper) oil gradient.
At the GOC the pressure in the gas is equal to the pressure in oil. In the gas column
the pressure will follow the (much steeper) gas gradient.
As a result the pressure in the oil and the gas is higher than hydrostatic pressure at
the same depth. This overpressure is contained by the caprock at the top of the
reservoir.

EVALUATION OBJECTIVE
v Determination of reservoir pressures
v Confirmation of the fluid type, evaluated from other logs
v Calculation of the oil and gas densities at reservoir conditions
v Determination of fluid contacts, namely FWL, GOC and GWC
v Indication of the reservoir permeability

EVALUATION TECHNIQUE
v Plot all recorded pressures in a pressure/depth plot.
v Draw straight lines through the points from a reservoir interval.
v If the pressures of reservoir intervals with the same fluid type fall on one line, they
are probably in pressure communication.
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v If the pressures of reservoir intervals with the same fluid type fall on different
lines, they are part of different fluid columns. These columns may have different
contacts.
v The depth where the gradients of the water and the overlying oil column intersect
is the FWL (approximately equal to the OWC).
v The depth where the gradients of an oil column and the overlying gas column
intersect is the GOC.

UNCERTAINTIES IN DETERMINING FLUID CONTACTS


Wireline logs give accurate insight into the fluid distribution in the reservoir, provided
the conditions are favourable. In less ideal conditions, for example shaly reservoir,
alternating thin layers of reservoir and shale, insufficient well penetration, the log
data may not be able to exactly pinpoint the fluid contacts. In such cases limits on
the positions of the fluid contacts are defined. The position of the OWC is bounded
by a "water up to" (WUT), and an "oil down to" (OUT). The GOC position is bounded
by an "oil up to" (OUT), and a "gas down to" (GDT). Examples of these limits can be
seen on the logs in Figure 5.

PRESSURE VERSUS DEPTH


The fluid distribution in the reservoir are determined independently by analysing the
pressure profile across the reservoir interval. Pressure measurements at various
depths are obtained with a Repeat formation tester. These are plotted on a graph of
pressure versus depth to show the pressure gradients through each of the reservoir
fluids, as in Figure 6. The intersection of the oil and water gradients defines the
depth of the free water level (FWL). The intersection of the gas and oil gradients
determines the gas oil contact (GOC). The oil water contact (OWC) lies some
distance above the FWL, depending on the capillary behaviour of the rock and fluids.
The difference in elevation between the OWC (or the gas water contact, GWC) and
the FWL can vary between almost zero in high permeability rock to tens of metres in
low permeability material.

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Figure 5

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Figure 6.

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TUTORIAL
From mudlog and wireline logs, the lithology and fluid type of a sand/ shale interval is
determined. Sand 1 and 2 were found to be fully gas bearing. Sand 3 is fully oil
bearing and sand 4 is water bearing. RFT pressures were recorded in all reservoir
intervals and plotted in the pressure depth plot below.
A) Draw the fluid gradients and confirm the fluid types.
B) Which shale has definitely a sealing capacity?
C) What are the depths of the FWL and the GOC of the oil column?
D) What is the maximum thickness of a possible oil rim under the gas in sand 1,
assuming a similar oil density as seen in sand 3 and the same hydrostatic pressure?

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