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STRATEGY TO REDUCE UNCERTAINTIES IN CORE ANALYSIS PROGRAMS THROUGH THE USE OF MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING: A NEW PERSPECTIVE

STRATEGY TO REDUCE UNCERTAINTIES IN CORE ANALYSIS PROGRAMS THROUGH THE USE OF MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING: A NEW PERSPECTIVE

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05/09/2014

 
SCA2002-36 1/12
STRATEGY TO REDUCE UNCERTAINTIES IN COREANALYSIS PROGRAMS THROUGH THE USE OFMAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING: A NEWPERSPECTIVE
 Leslie Randall*, Ken Green*, Douglas Fisher*, Jon Goldman*, Tim Prichard***Alberta Research Council, Calgary, Alberta, Canada**BG Group, United Kingdom
ABSTRACT
Techniques that facilitate the measurement of the spatial distribution of pore structurecharacteristics, particularly if made at the same scale (i.e. over the same representativevolume) as other physical measurements, provide crucial insights regarding theinterpretation of core analysis data. Of the available techniques, Nuclear MagneticResonance (NMR) Imaging or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) provides data that bestaddress this requirement for carbonates. This paper examines why this is the case, thelimitations of the technology and common mistakes that can be made by operators whenseeking to acquire high quality MRI data.We have found that a real advantage to the MRI technique is that it is non-destructive andit is carried out on the same sample volume that the core analysis tests are carried out.Carbonates are ideal candidates for MRI screening because of their low magneticsusceptibility. Due to their complex pore structures, thin-section MRI methods must beused to avoid the “full moon” effect that has been reported by other operators due tovolume averaging the entire core plug. Volume selective magnetic resonance images of carbonate samples reveal the spatial distribution of micro, matrix and vug porosity.Multiple echo time imaging can identify micro-porosity regions of the sample and anestimate of the vug porosity can be made from the binary segmentation of long echo timeimages. Fracture detection and characterization (fluid filled or mineralised / mud damaged)can be carried out quickly and easily. The low magnetic susceptibility of carbonates alsopermits the acquisition of relaxation information at high field. Low field NMR relaxationdata suffers from diffusion and low relaxivity effects that can make prediction of porespace properties difficult. High field NMR data more accurately reflects the true nature of pore space, and can be used to improve the manner in which low field NMR and electricalresistivity logging data are interpreted. The role that MRI can play in displacementexperiments is also examined. By monitoring the displacement of the brine phase by the oilphase, flow anomalies can be detected
 prior 
to the aging step, resulting in a significantsavings of time and money. This directly addresses the question, “Does the core reflect theinterval of interest?” and reduces the uncertainties present in each and every relativepermeability test carried out today.
 
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INTRODUCTION
A considerable amount of literature has been published about the application of MagneticResonance Imaging (MRI) to porous media samples. Articles have discussed the staticimaging of fluids imbibed into porous materials [1-4], the monitoring of fluid displacementprocesses [5-8], the application of the technique to enhanced oil recovery processes [9-12], and the applicability of the technique to the study of formation damage [13-15]. In anumber of cases, the applicability of the MRI pulse sequences is limited, and a paper thatdiscusses the overall suitability of the MRI technique to reduce uncertainty in core analysismeasurements has not been published.The intent of this paper is to summarize the relevance of the MRI technique to reservoircore samples utilizing the technical knowledge we have gained over the past 11 years. Thegoal is to demonstrate the utility of the technique, outline the technical difficulties, andoutline solutions with regards to its implementation in core analysis programs.
EXPERIMENTAL DETAILS
The reader should note that the term Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is the generalterm used to describe magnetic resonance technology, and there are three main forms of the technique which are used by the petroleum industry: (i) NMR Imaging or MRI is usedto determine the spatial distribution of the pore space or distribution of fluids, (ii) NMRrelaxation analysis is used to probe the pore space dimensions of porous media or reservoirrocks either in the laboratory or through the use of logging tools and (iii) NMRspectroscopy is used to determine the structure of compounds. As such, spectroscopyapplications are not discussed in this paper. However, we have found that the NMRspectrum of a brine filled rock sample indicates the magnetic susceptibility of the sample.The NMR line-width, which is the width of the NMR spectral line at the half-height, isused as a measurement of this interaction.The instrumentation used for imaging and relaxation data in this paper consists of ahorizontal bore Bruker Spectrospin Biospec BC 24/30 imaging system operating at a fieldstrength of 2.35 Tesla, in which the frequency for hydrogen detection is 100 MHz. TheNMR magnet is enclosed in a copper shielded room (faraday cage), which eliminates avariety of noise sources and boosts the signal to noise ratio in the images. We have alsofound that adjusting the homogeneity of the main magnet field (shimming) is of the utmostimportance for high quality images.Non-magnetic core holders and a variable temperature unit have been designed to facilitatecore flood experiments at elevated temperatures and pressures (100
°
C and an overburdenpressure of 2000 psi for core plug sized samples). A Bruker X-32 computer system isused for data acquisition and has been interfaced with desktop personal computers. Thedata is initially stored in 32-bit integer format and is converted to floating point to facilitateimage analysis. An image analysis software program has been written for use on PC’s,which permits for comparison of core plug samples and the examination of displacementdata.
 
SCA2002-36 3/12The MRI technique does not detect the rock space nor non-hydrogen containing gases (i.e.nitrogen or carbon dioxide) and is only responsive to fluid imbibed into the pore space of the sample. The Bruker instrumentation can examine samples up to 10 cm in diameter, butwe have found that the best performance arises when examining core plug samples (4 cmin diameter by 10 cm maximum length). For pore space characterisation work, the samplemust be fully saturated with brine, oil, or a combination of the two fluids. MRI is a non-destructive technique and the core samples examined can be used in routine or special coreanalysis studies afterwards. Samples cannot be scanned if contained in metal containers orin aluminium foil / wax.To compare core plug sample images, it is necessary to compensate for receiver gain andsignal averaging. A straightforward algorithm was established, permitting the comparisonof core plug samples. The imaging sequence used is generally a 3d phase-phase encodedvolume selective spin-echo sequence that permits for matrices of 128x128x16. Thenumber of slices can be increased from 16 to 64 with a concomitant increase in thescanning time. The images can be acquired directly from the sample in either a radial orlengthwise direction. The echo time is on the order of 5 ms and the relaxation delaycommonly used for imaging data is 1 second. No attempt was made to eliminate T
2
 relaxation effects from the images. We believe that the images benefit from spin-spinrelaxation effects in that the images become porosity type weighted.“Images” can also be acquired which are one-dimensional saturation profiles. These havethe advantage that they can be acquired quickly, allowing for the monitoring of fluiddisplacement processes. The relaxation delay used for the saturation profile data was 20seconds to permit for removal of spin-lattice effects. No attempt was made to removespin-spin relaxation effects from the profile data. Although not required for monitoring thecore plugs for flow artefacts, MRI profiles were found to be quantitative during standardwaterflood procedures. In addition, we have found by monitoring the relaxationcharacteristics of the oil phase throughout the entire relative permeability experiment thatthe oil T
2
distribution does not appear to change, explaining why the gravimetric resultsagree with the MRI results.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Imaging Of The Pore Space Using a Single Fluid Phase – Screening
One of the first ways in which the MRI technique can be applied to a core analysisprogram is in the screening of samples. Simply put, core samples are a valuablecommodity and some assurance needs to be made that the samples are “representative”and reflect the properties of the interval of interest. From this perspective, the scanning of samples to detect heterogeneities before carrying out special core analysis programs shouldbe of the utmost importance.From an NMR perspective, for the spatial characterization of the pore space or core“screening”, the sample must be saturated with fluid. This means that imaging full diametercore as received from the field is not normally carried out because the reservoir fluids have

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