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Bottomhole Sampling Training (Cased Hole)

This training section is divided into the following topics:

Operational Guidelines

Quality Control of Bottomhole samples

Validating Gas Condensate Samples

On-Site Evaluation of BHS

Bottomhole Samplers

Single-Phase Bottomhole samplers

SRS Applications

Sample Transfer

Non-Reactive Reservoir Samplers

DST Conveyed Sampling Tools

Operation Guidelines
After the well has been conditioned the choice lies between recovering the
sample with the well shut-in or with the well flowing at a bleed rate. The most
common route is the flowing the well at as low a stabilised rate as possible to
guarantee that fresh and not aged reservoir fluid fills the bottomhole sampler.
Sampling with the well shut-in should be used only in the marginal cases where
flow even at a bleed rate causes the pressure to drop below saturation
pressure. The shut-in period is dependent on the productivity of the well and can
vary between 2-3 hours for a high productivity well and up to over 72 hours for a
low productivity one.

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Well Shut-in


If the well is shut-in, it is recommended that a pressure-temperature survey be

run to locate any fluid interfaces in the wellbore. The sampler should be
positioned well in the oil-zone and as close as possible to the lowest point passed
by all fluid entering the well. Fluid entering from the perforations during the shutin period flows under increasing back pressure improving thus the possibilities
that after the maximum pressure is achieved the oil will be gas saturated.


Pb Po il>Pb


Pw i

Reservoir Zone

Shut-in well - Using pressure gradient to identify sampling depth

In extreme cases, the static water column may be so far up the wellbore that the
all the overlying oil is at a pressure below Pb despite the fact that the reservoir
pressure is above Pb. Representative bottomhole sampling would not therefore be



Poil <Pb

Pw i

Reservoir Zone

In a Shut-in well the oil zone can be below its Pb

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Well Flowing
The objective is to stabilise the well at a low flow rate. It is recommended to
verify the stability over a period of four hours. The stable conditions of flow can
be checked by the:

stabilised surface gas and oil flow rates

stabilised well head pressure

stabilised flowing bottom hole pressure Pwf

Running in the Hole

Bottomhole sampling tools are run in strings of anything from a

minimum of 3 to a maximum of 8 tools with generally the only
limitation being the length of the of the lubricator section and
strength of the wireline.

The sampling depth should be as close as possible to the perforated

zone to avoid having a large pressure difference between the
reservoir and the sampling depth.

A clock operated sampler should be at the sampling depth about

half an hour before the programmed sampling time and can be
recovered about fifteen minutes afterwards.

A minimum of three representative samples, to allow meaningful

consistency checks, should be taken and sent to the laboratory for a
complete PVT analysis.

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Quality Control of Bottom Hole Samples
For samples taken at the same conditions, the best way to ensure their validity is
to measure and compare the following data:

Opening pressures of the samplers @ ambient T

Volume of sample @ ambient T

Determination of bubble point @ ambient T in the sample cylinder

after transfer.

All being well, these figures should be within 2%. The bubble point determination
is performed in the cylinder after transfer because, unlike the sampling tools, the
sample cylinders have an internal sample agitation system.
It is of the utmost importance that the sample be agitated while measuring the
pressure changes as no agitation will result in a lack of sharp compressibility
change and therefore in arbitrary bubble point measurement with an error which
could be as much as 50%. It will also affect the reproduction of the pressure
curve and therefore the validity of comparing a duplicate sample.
The pressure-volume plot below is of a bottomhole oil sample. The pressure is
recorded together with the cumulative volume of water that was displaced from
the sample bottle at each step. No agitation of the sample was performed.
4 000
3 500

Pressure (psig )

3 000

2 500

2 000

1 500

1 000














Determination of Bubble Point Pressure - Without Sample Agitation.

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The pressure volume plot below corresponds to the same procedure except that
the sample was mixed for several minutes at each step so that the sample could
reach a reasonably stable equilibrium.
This oil sample example clearly shows how the lack of agitation can result in
wrong and arbitrary field apparent bubble point pressure estimation.


Pressure (psig)






Volume of recovered oil (cm 3

Determination of Bubble Point Pressure - With Sample Agitation

Validating Gas Condensate Samples

The dew point pressure of a gas condensate can not be measured by observing
the change in the fluids compressibility because the appearance of the first
droplets of condensate does not influence the value of the overall compressibility.
For the time being the determination of the saturation pressures of gases can only
be performed in a fully visual PVT cell back at the laboratory. For gas condensate
samples, therefore, the quality control is limited only to the comparison of the
bottomhole sampler opening pressures values.

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On-Site Evaluation of BHS
Depending on the importance of the sampling and the time available at the
wellsite a more thorough evaluation can be performed on the samples than the
blind QC tests described above. This could involve:

determination of bubble points @ Tres

determination of GOR, liquid and gas densities & composition

full FPE wellsite PVT analysis

FFA liquid chromatography to fingerprint fluids and determination of

oil-based mud contamination.

Bottomhole Samplers
Wireline conveyed bottomhole samplers, whether run on electric wireline or
slickline, are the most common and effective sampling tools because they can be:

accurately positioned in front of or just above the perforations

recovered for validation before abandoning the well

be easily combined with P & T recorder gauges

rerun if large or additional sample volumes are required

Nearly all the bottomhole samplers run today are of the positive displacement
type, which allows the sample to be transferred into a cylinder at surface without
the use of mercury.
These samplers are run in the hole closed and when they reach the sampling
depth, they are activated, either by a mechanical or electronic clock after a
preset delay, or via a signal sent from surface. Reservoir fluid then slowly
displaces a piston into the sample chamber at a constant reservoir pressure that is
regulated by displacement of a clean synthetic oil through a very small choke.
When sampling is complete the tool is automatically closed typically trapping a
600cc sample at Tres & Pres.

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Single-phase Bottomhole Samplers
Conventional positive-displacement samplers almost always allow the formation
of a second hydrocarbon phase in the sample after the reservoir fluid has entered
the tool. This should be avoided, as the recombination of the phases prior to
transfer cannot always be achieved.
As these samplers are retrieved from the well, there is a pressure change in the
sampled fluid due to the drop in surrounding temperature. This pressure drop is
the result of the thermal contraction of the fluid in the fixed volume of the sample
The following example using typical values demonstrates the order of magnitude
of the expected pressure drop.
600 cm3 of an oil with thermal expansion factor of 0.75*10-3 F-1 and isothermal
compressibility factor of 25*10-6 psia-1 is trapped at 3890 psia and 220oF. The
tool is brought at the surface and before the sample is transferred it attains the
temperature of 80oF. Calculations show that we would expect a contraction of the
volume of the chamber of 0.35% and a contraction of the volume of the oil of
9%. It is calculated that the opening pressure of the sampler at the surface would
be, depending on the oils bubble point pressure, between 2000-2500 psia, i.e.
well below the sampling bottom hole pressure and very likely inside the twophase region.
A conventional sampler with diphasic fluid at the surface requires procedures to
recombine the sample into a single liquid phase by recompressing and agitating
the mixture before it is transferred to a transportation cylinder.
In addition, if in the live reservoir oil significant amounts of asphaltenes are in
colloidal suspension, the drop of the pressure below the fluids bubble point
pressure can cause irreversible flocculation of these macromolecules, which will
then be left in the sample chamber.

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Single-phase Reservoir Sampler (SRS)
To address these problems the Single-phase Reservoir Sampler (SRS) was
developed. This tool has a special chamber containing nitrogen, which is used to
pressure-compensate the sample during recovery. The sample is kept monophasic
by maintaining it either above bubble point or reservoir pressure depending on
the well conditions and analysis requirements.
The attached diagram illustrates the SRS operating procedure.




Running Postion

Start Sampling

Complete Sampling and

Close Chamber

Pressure Compensation

N itrogen c harge on surfac e primes t he pressure

Regulat or valv e opened by cl oc k

c ompensating fluid

Buff er fluid passes to ai r chamber

Sample chamber full of reservoi r fluid

rel easi ng pressure compensati ng fluid

F loating pi ston moved by i ngress of reservoir

Fl oat ing pist on acts on cl osure devic e

A s tool is retreived temperature drops and

f lui d

Fi xed pi st on moves int o sample chamber i solating

sample shrinks

the sample

A preset pressure is maintained on the sample

Mech anica l/

M ec hanic al loc king dev ice ensures t ool cannot

by the pressure compensat ing f lui d

Elec tr ic al C lo ck


Preset pressure i s determi ned by ni trogen

Sample ports closed

M echanic al c loc k sets opening time of regulator
v alve

A s c losure i s c ompleted spool valv e opens

c harge pressure pri or to runni ng

Air C ha mber

Reg ulator Va lve

Closure Device

Floa tin g Piston

Sam pling Por ts

Fixed Piston

Spo ol v alve

Reser voir Flu id

Bu ffer Fluid

Comp ensating Fluid

N itro gen

SRS Operating Procedure

The SRS is a very reliable tool and has now been run on over 2,500 occasions
for over 60 operators with an average success rate of on 97%. The sampler is
extremely robust and has been successfully deployed in a wide range of hostile
well environments.

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Successful runs








363 95%


379 95%



325 95%



Tool Runs

Success rate









Success Rate (%)

Total runs















Calendar Year

SRS Track Record up to 1998

The SRS sampling system is primarily a single-phase system with a conventional

sampling option. In every case, a single-phase sample is retrieved to surface
whether it is a single-phase or diphasic sample that is required at the PVT
laboratory. If a conventional diphasic sample is required for routine PVT then one
simply transfers the sample into a CSB allowing the sample to go diphasic after
the transfer and performing a bubble point determination in the field.
Transferring the sample to the SSB, the sample can be maintained at an elevated
pressure during transport to the PVT laboratory. The diagram below illustrates the
process and compares it to conventional samplers.

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Single-phase Reservoir Sampler



Conventional Mercury-free Samplers




Retrieve the SRS

from the well.

Retrieve tool from

the well.

Rig-up SRS on
transfer bench &
pressure test.


Rig-up tool on
transfer bench &
pressure test.


Recombine the oil

and gas in the


Keep sample
single-phase ?



Transfer sample to
a Single-phase
Sample Bottle.


Transfer sample to
Sample Bottle.


Create shipping
regulations gas
cap with nitrogen.

30 Determine Pb &
create shipping
cap in sample.


Total 60

Total 60 to 90


Transfer sample to
Sample Bottle.


Determine Pb &
create shipping
gas cap in sample.


Total 120 to 290

Comparison of SRS and Conventional BHS sample handling process

Please refer to attached SRS data sheet for additional technical information.

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SRS Applications
The SRS is a tool with universal application. In exploration well testing, where
time is of the essence and little is known of the reservoir fluid properties, the SRS
provides an attractive option with no risk of time being lost in sample
recombination. This technology has now become the standard requirement in
North Sea well test operations.
One application is bottomhole sampling for asphaltene deposition analysis in oil.
Asphaltenes exist in colloidal suspension in crude oil and can cause severe
processing problems at any point from the formation to the refinery. They are
often not detected at the exploration and appraisal stage with very costly
consequences during production. The identification of asphaltene precipitation
zones as a function of pressure and temperature are of great interest to the
reservoir engineer, but until now it was not possible to take a bottomhole sample
for analysis without loss of pressure and irreversible asphaltene deposition in the
sampling tool. Meaningful asphaltene deposition analysis in oil is only
achievable with a sample, which has been maintained well above bubble point.
It was this requirement which originally provided the thrust for the SRS tool
Water Sampling
Another specific application is bottomhole sampling of water. The cooling effect
as tools are pulled out of the hole leads to a dramatic decrease in sampled water
pressure in conventional bottomhole sampling tools.
Without pressure
compensation, the sample pressure on surface can drop virtually to zero allowing
dissolved gases to be released. If these released gases include CO2, this can lead
to irreversible precipitation and changes in pH which render the sample useless
for laboratory analysis. The SRS system can keep the water sample at a selected
pressure all the way to the laboratory ensuring no gas breakout and subsequent
change in pH. An accurate pH from a representative downhole water sample is
important for prediction and control of scale and corrosion problems.

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Heavy Oil
Recombining heavier crudes in the field can be very difficult if not impossible
and single-phase sampling provides the answer. Operations have included
downhole sampling a 7 API (60/60) oil with a downhole viscosity of over
35,000 cp in the Orinoco tar belt. In this particular case it was the first time in
15 years of operating the field that a true GOR, reservoir viscosity and bubble
point had been measured.
Gas Condensates
The ability of the SRS to maintain the sample above dew point pressure has led to
sampling operations where the client was not able to obtain a representative
sample by any other means. Transfers of gas condensate samples are performed
at Tres.
High Pressure/High Temperature (HPHT) Bottomhole Sampling
The SRS has a strong track record in successfully obtaining bottomhole samples
from high pressure/high temperature reservoirs. A special feature of the SRS is
the high temperature mechanical clock, which has operated in the North Sea at
367 F. The SRS is a true 15,000 psi working pressure tool that is tested to
22,500 psi and independently certified by Bureau Veritas as a pressure vessel.

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Transfer Benches
Transfer benches are designed, as the name suggests, to transfer a sample from
the sampling chamber of the bottom hole sampler into a sample bottle that can
safely be shipped to the PVT laboratory. In order to maintain the quality of the
transferred sample, the transfer must be performed at constant pressure and in
single phase above the bubble point or dew point.





Rig Up

Commence Transf er

Complete Transf er

Create Nitrogen
Gas Cap in SSB

S RS S ampl e

S RS S ampl e

Cham ber

Cham ber

S ingle -phas e

S ingle - phase

S ampl e Bott le ( SS B)

Float ing Pi ston

Sam ple Bot tl e (S S B)

Agi tat ion


N itroge n Pi ston
S RS Ni troge n
Cham be r

Pist on

Ni troge n
Pist on

H igh Pre ssure Pump

High Press ure Pum p

M eas uri ng

Me asuring

Cylinde r

Cyli nder

R eservo ir Fluid

Com pen sa ting Flu id

N itr oge n

Water/G ly co l

SRS Transfer Procedure to SSB

Transfer benches must have a validation manifold to enable a correct

measurement of the bubble point pressure after the transfer is completed. Modern
transfer benches are designed for use with mercury free systems. The Oilphase
transfer bench is known as the Field Transfer Unit (FTU) and the datasheet is
attached with further technical information.

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Field Transfer Unit (FTU)

Sample Transfer
The sample cylinder into which the bottomhole sample is transferred should have
a capacity at least 10% greater than the sample volume to allow the creation of a
gas cap for shipping safety.
When the sample is transferred into a Conventional Sample Bottle (CSB) a gas
cap is created at the end of the bubble point determination by expanding the
sample further until the volume has increased overall by 10%.
When a sample is transferred into a Single-phase Sample Bottle (SSB) the gas
cap is created in a separate nitrogen chamber thus keeping the sample
monophasic all the way to the laboratory.
Due to its high compressibility, the natural gas cap or nitrogen will absorb any
expansion of the liquid phase that can be caused by exposure of the bottle to
higher temperatures during shipment and eliminate the risk of explosion.
Example :
Consider a 500 cm3 bottle full of a single phase oil exhibiting typical values of
thermal expansion and compressibility factors. A change of 30o C of the
temperature of the bottle can cause an increase in the pressure of the container in
excess of 4500 psia!
Please refer to the attached CSB and SSB datasheets for further information.

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Non-reactive Reservoir Sampler
Trace elements such as H2S, mercury or mercaptans are known to react, with the
stainless steel walls of the sampling tools and transportation cylinders. Even after
short period of contact, a significant proportion can be adsorbed on the surface
active points of the metal and they will not be detected at the correct level in the
laboratory analysis.
The Non-Reactive Reservoir Sampler (NRS) has been developed, with the
assistance of oil company research funding, to address this issue. Any SRS in the
bottomhole sample string can be converted into a Non-reactive Reservoir
Sampler, by replacement of all components in contact with the sample.
All sample wetted components in the NRS are constructed from materials and
coatings evaluated during an extensive testing project involving 3000 man-hours
of testing. A sample introduced into the tool with 40ppm of H2S can be recovered
after a typical bottomhole sampling cycle with a level of 38ppm. This compares
with losses of 40% or worse with normal tools constructed from untreated
stainless steel.
Monophasic sampling avoids partitioning of trace components between phases
and allows controlled flashing of the sample to obtain accurate measurements of
H2S in the gas, oil and water phases.
This technology gives the operator the opportunity to avoid flowing the well for
extensive periods during well testing (as long as three days) in order to saturate
the completion and process equipment to obtain stabilised levels of H2S at

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NRS C oated
C hamber

15 Days

SRS Un coated
Ch amber

Comparison of H2S Sample Retention NRS vs. un-coated SRS Chamber

Please refer to NRS data sheet attached for further information.

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DST conveyed Sampling Tools
Tools have been available to capture samples and recover them with the DST
string since the introduction of DST. Their application has been generally limited
to quick and dirty sampling where the objective is to dump the sample at
surface or only as a back up to wireline BHS operations. Current tools such as
the Full-bore Annular Sample Chamber (FASC) are rarely used to recover PVT
Quality samples because they have a reputation of being difficult to transfer and
handle in the laboratory because of their size. In addition, to date, no DST
conveyed samplers could pressure-compensate the sample.
However, the most significant weakness of DST samplers is that one does not
know if a representative sample has been recovered until after the well is killed
and the DST string is pulled out of the hole. It is then too late to recover the
situation if the samples are found to be unrepresentative
Most operators find this risk unacceptable. As long as it is safe and practical to
run wireline they prefer to recover samples on wireline BHS and validate the
samples on surface before abandoning the zone. With the collection of
representative samples often the primary objective of the well test, most petroleum
engineers want the samples in their hands before unsetting the packer.
On the other hand, there are several situations where some operators are
reluctant to run wireline bottomhole samplers. These include:

in HP/HT wells for safety to avoid an high pressure wireline rig up

in heavy oil wells because of difficulty in getting tools down through

high viscosity fluids

in high H2S wells for safety to avoid release of gas during wireline
rig up

in deepwater where moving off location with wire in the hole is

regarded as high risk

where company policy dictates wireline is to be avoided

where there is a risk that the well is not properly conditioned for

To facilitate PVT quality sampling for the above applications a new range of Oilphase
DST Sample Carriers have been developed (SCAR). These use the proven technology of
the Single-Phase Reservoir sampler combined with annulus pressure activated rupture

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