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The Early History of Formation Evaluation


By the time Schlumberger began commercial ‘electrical coring’ operations in the United States in 1929, the petroleum industry had been in business for 70 years dating back to the 1859 Drake well in Pennsylvania. Wireline logging as we know it today was not available for that early period, but formation evaluation was not necessarily limited to the examination of cuttings. Numerous efforts were made to characterize conditions within the wellbores and understand the nature of producing reservoirs. Oriented cores, fracture detection, directional surveys, and borehole imaging all predated the first wireline logs and helped set the stage for the rapid progress that followed. Many of these innovations originated in the minerals industry, as was also the case for the Schlumberger electrical surveys. Within the first 30 years after the establishment of the wireline logging industry, the physical properties that are measured by most of today's logging tools had been evaluated by service companies and oil company research laboratories. The physical principles were generally understood conceptually by the time SPWLA was formed in 1959, although commercial applications often had to await advances in measurement technology or data processing.