Portable Technology Brings the Laboratory to the Well Site
Pfau, Ken; Oliver, Guy; Plant, Lucy J.
A key challenge associated with shale play exploration and production involves understanding the reservoir characterization in order to effectively manage a cost-effective development program.
Until recently, due to a lack of real time solutions for reservoir characterization, operators working in the shale plays had to treat them as homogeneous spacing fracing stations equally down the well and treating every zone in exactly the same way in the hope that the production profile will meet plan. Now, however, portable technologies such as portable SEM's have been introduced to the wellsite in order to deliver laboratory type reservoir measurements directly from cuttings data.
These portable technologies give operators the ability to accurately report rock chemistry, mineralogy, and lithology along with textural and rock property information (grain size, porosity) in real time, within 30 minutes of a sample arriving at the surface.
Real time access to this detailed reservoir information can benefit the operator by enabling them to more optimally position lateral well bores; more tactically position artificial fracture points based on rock properties; improve well management; and use the measured mineralogical dataset to improve petrophysical log-based calculations.
In a 2011 field test Forest Oil Corporation successfully tested a portable well site SEM system on a vertical and lateral well pair in the Wolf Camp play, Permian Basin West Texas. A vertical pilot well and horizontal well were drilled successfully and key formations of the Permian, focusing on the Wolfcamp Shale Formation were sampled and analyzed. Over a 10-week period, more than 600 samples were collected, analyzed and interpreted at the well site in real-time.
The real-time mineral information helped identify formations tops and variations within formations as well as generating additional rock properties data on brittleness versus ductility providing Forest Oil with additional mineralogical-based data to assess the artificial fracture capability over the entire length of the lateral target interval. This additional data allowed Forest Oil to ‘tactically frac' the target interval based on mineralogy and, when combined with petrophysical attributes, elastic properties of the rocks. Tactical fracing may lead to a reduction in operating expenses as the number of contributing fracing stations may be reduced.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90163©2013AAPG 2013 Annual Convention and Exhibition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 19-22, 2013