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GEOSCIENCE
TECHNOLOGY REPORT
www.oilandgastechnology.net Issue 1 of 2012

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Electromagnetic impact of
seismic surveys

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Signal processing for sub-basalt imaging
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Optimising production in complex fields
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A new era of ghost free acquisition
repared block of cuttings ready to be analysed in the RoqSCAN system

Revolution in real time


well site rock properties

Oil and gas production form unconventional reservoirs, in particular


shale gas plays, is one of the most rapidly expanding trends in onshore
exploration and production today.

explore the shale gas plays, one of the of the well or reservoir section and are costly
key challenges associated with shale to cut and recover. This is amplified when an

W hen we look at some of the


play exploration and production involves
understanding the reservoir characterisation
operator has no core samples or is limited
by the quality or calibration of the well log
in order to effectively manage a cost- information. In these situations drill cuttings
figures recently released by effective development program. are the only direct observation of particle size,
Traditionally core samples and logs lithology and reservoir character. In long and
the US Energy Information
have been the methods of choice for expensive lateral wells it is critical to make
Administration (EIA) estimating 862 trillion
reservoir characterisation. However, maximum use of all available data, and
cubic feet of technically recoverable shale
analysing drill cuttings has taken on a consequently extrapolating millimetre-scale
gas globally it is easy to understand what the
new importance, not only for reservoir observations in the cuttings for broader
excitement is all about. Indias Directorate
characterisation, but also for directly conclusions can be a powerful tool.
General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) recently
determining the nature of the sequence Besides the limitation of cores and well
announced plans to join the global race to tap
through which the drill bit has penetrated. logs for reservoir characterisation the loss of
unconventional Hydrocarbon resources with
Cores typically cover only a limited part rig time is consequential for the conventional
plans to launch the first bid round for
exploration of shale gas during the 12th Plan
Period (2012-17).
Whilst the upside is evident many
challenges await companies wishing to

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Geoscience Technology Report

coring process (whole core) which may take shifts to provide mineralogy data 24 hours
many days to cut and recover and several a day, seven days a week. Over the ten-
months to analyse in the laboratory. In fact, week test more than 600 samples were
even analysing drill cuttings can take several collected, analysed and interpreted.
weeks of laboratory time before data are During the drilling of Forests vertical pilot
presented to the operator. well, data was collected at least every 30 feet
Companies exploring for shale gas in the over a 6,000 foot interval generating a highly
US are now using new technique that allows quantitative rock properties data set within
drill cuttings can be analysed in real time one hour of the drill cutting returning to
at the well site with a new generation of surface and plotted on a down hole log
portable, ruggedised automated mineralogy (Figure 1). The data has been plotted against
systems, such as Fugros RoqSCAN system, TVD (true vertical depth), GR (gamma ray)
which allow highly detailed analysis of and calliper (left-hand columns).
cuttings to occur on location at the oil and To the right of these are real-time data
gas well site, delivering quantitative analysis generated by RoqSCAN, including bulk
of cuttings properties, such as mineralogy, mineralogy (15 key minerals plotted);
lithology, density and grain size to geologists lithology (8 key lithologies plotted); a suite
within one hour of a cutting sample arriving at of key minerals split out from RoqSCANs
the surface. This enables geologists to better extensive mineral dictionary (>130
understand the rock properties, minerals); mineral ratios; average quartz
Figure 1: Vertical well (above) and
such as rock brittleness, in order to grain size; and finally the RoqFRAC curve.
(below) Figure 2: Horizontal well
refine their completion design for This data was then used in conjunction with
cost-effective hydraulic fracturing. all other collected data to help characterise the
The RoqSCAN unit has been co- target zone for the lateral well and associated
developed by Fugro Robertson & Carl Zeiss, kick-off point and curve build. Key mineral
the worlds first manufacturer of portable assemblages (e.g. apatite, pyrite, dolomite and
scanning electron microscope (SEM) calcite) were identified as increasing or
solutions. The unit consists of a ruggedised decreasing over the target horizon in the pilot
base SEM equipped with energy dispersive x- well. These minerals
ray detectors, a micro analyser and an are good proxies for a marginal marine
electronic processing unit. It combines environment, typical of the Upper
powerful automated analysis with custom and Wolfcamp Shale formation and
fully intuitive software-based oil and gas concentrations of minerals such as apatite
interpretation tools within a single turnkey are generally known to be correlatable.
solution to process vase amounts of chemical In addition, the cuttings analysis
and mineralogical data. system identified a subtle difference in the
mineralogy (increase in carbonate
Wolfcamp application mineralogy) between the upper and lower
The RoqSCAN technology was applied in a Wolfcamp formations, something that
ten-week field test in the Permian Basin, other toolsboth downhole and
West Texas for Forest Oil Corporation. surfacefailed to properly identify.
During the field test, Forest Oil drilled a
vertical pilot well and a long-lateral horizontal Lateral drilling results
well targeting the Wolfcamp Shale in During the drilling of the subsequent lateral
the companys Shannon Estate lease well, cuttings data were collected every 10-
in Crockett County, Texas, USA. 30 feet. On many occasions, and because
The portable automated mineralogy unit of a slower penetration rates, the system
was housed in its own cabin on site together was generating mineralogical data 20-30
with a sample preparation area. Two minutes faster than the measurement-
experienced field technicians worked 12-hour while-drilling tool over the same interval.

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Geoscience Technology Report

Figure 2 is a vertical representation of the length of the lateral section. The real-time time with quantitative data sets available one
collected dataset plotted against measured identification of key rock property indicators hour after the cuttings have arrived at the
depth (MD) and TVD and color-coded (third and good communications between the surface. Cuttings contain a wealth of hard data,
column from the left) for the top vertical section mineralogy and drilling teams helped keep which if captured at the well, can be used to add
(blue), curve build (orange) and lateral section the drill bit on prognosis for the majority of huge value to real-time decision making.
(red). The red dotted line to the right of this the planned 5,000 foot-long lateral. Whether picking key marker horizons,
curve indicates the inclination of the wellbore. In Finally, the real-time curve analysis of casing points or coring points, or using the
addition, the same mineral suites as were these results generated additional rock mineralogy to assist with the positioning of
plotted on the pilot well data summary chart properties data on brittleness versus ductility lateral drilling or to assist with tactical
(Figure 4) are plotted on this chart. to provide the Forest Oil team with additional fracturing, quantitative mineralogical data
Figure 3 is an illustration showing one of mineralogical-based data to assess the collected in real time at the well site is a
the true values of the technology. Mineral formations fracability over the entire length huge step change for the industry.
assemblages, such as pyrite and apatite, of the lateral target interval (Figure 4). A variety of sample types can be
were identified as anomalous spikes in accommodated within the portable cuttings
the target zone of the pilot well and appear Summary analysis system, including washed and
as continuous or repeated concentrations With a portable cuttings analyser on the rig site, unwashed cuttings, conventional diamond
within both the curve section and along the cuttings data can now be acquired in real drill core pieces, core trims (offcuts),
sidewall cores and conventional hand
specimens. Samples are presented to the
system as prepared blocks, a unique
process that takes approximately 15-20
minutes from unwashed cuttings at the
shaker. Applications include:
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allow improved calibration and
interpretation of geophysical wireline logs;
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which preserve textural context and enhance

interpretation and tactical fracturing of lateral wells to

improve well productivity.


Figure 3: Anomalous spikes in Target Zone (mineral
assemblages) and Figure 4: Lateral Section with curve
depicting Brittle versus Ductile Zones (below) In a conventional vertical well the
system quantitatively characterises the
rock properties of drill cuttings in real time,
giving directly measures (not inferred)
mineralogical data. Interpretations of these
data allow the recognition of lithologies,
key correlatable minerals, elemental ratios,
definition of formations and key sequence
stratigraphic surfaces between wells.
Important well and engineering
decisions are directly supported, such as
identifying casing, coring and total depth
horizons and probable penetrations of
reservoir units. The technology is equally
capable in arenaceous and argillaceous

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Geoscience Technology Report

clastics, as well as in carbonate rocks. Once


the pilot hole has been drilled, the RoqSCAN portable automated mineralogy system. By generating
detailed mineralogical characteristics can be lab-quality results in real time in the field, the technology improves
used to fingerprint the reservoir zone to be reservoir characterisation and well bore steering

drilled laterally. And, once lateral drilling is


underway, the continuous mineralogical data
provided by the system can be monitored
to impact well steering decisions. Changes
in geology, such as dip changes, lithology
variations or crossing subseismic faults,
can be identified and acted on. The correct
steering decisions mean longer laterals
and more productive wells.
In horizontal production wells where
mechanical stimulation is required, the
systems software provides the capability
to assist operators with a mineralogical-
based interpretation of brittle-versus-
ductile zones across a target horizon to
aid hydraulic fracture stage positioning
and spacing design along the length of the
well bore. This, combined with a wide
variety of quantitative mineralogy and
elemental ratio data, helps to highlight the
zones of greatest potential brittleness to
help the operator select the optimum
fracturing stations.
The rapid quantitative mineralogical
analysis of drill cuttings at the well site
offers a step change in the amount, type
and quality of rock properties data that can
now be used to support geologically-based
drilling decisions, providing additional value
to the operator and allowing them to drill
and complete wells in the shortest and
most cost effective manner. Q

Acknowledgements
Fugro would like to thank Kenneth Pfau and
Forest Oil Corporation for allowing us to
publish the results of this field test. Results
are reproduced with the permission of The
American Oil & Gas Reporter. For a detailed
review of the Forest Oil Corporation well site
test please see the November 2011 issue of
The American Oil & Gas Reporter
The RoqSCAN technology was applied in a
This article was written by Kenneth ten-week field test in the Permian Basin,
Pfau, Forest Oil Corporation & Dr
Guy Oliver, Fugro Robertson Inc. West Texas for Forest Oil Corporation

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