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ADVANCED MUD LOGGING:


FROM ARCHIES DREAM TO REALITY

Ton Loermans

Mazen Kanj

Charles Bradford

Ton Loermans is a Petroleum Engineering Consultant


with the Reservoir Engineering Technology Team (RETT)
of the Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Technology
Department (E&PETD) of Saudi Aramco. He studied
mechanical engineering and physics and in 1980 obtained
his MS with honors from the Eindhoven University of
Technology. For the next 19 years Ton worked in various
functions and countries for the Shell Group and two years
at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
Ton is an expert in Petrophysics and Formation
Evaluation. He joined Saudi Aramco in 2002.
Mazen Y. Kanj is a Petroleum Engineer with the RETT
of the E&PETD of Saudi Aramco. Mazen holds a BE
(1988) and ME (1990) from the American University of
Beirut and a PhD (1995) from the University of Oklahoma.
He is an expert in geomechanics and applied soft computing
(artificial intelligence) methodologies. Mazen was a Senior
Research Scientist at the Poromechanics Institute of the
University of Oklahoma, Norman. He also taught
Engineering and Rock Mechanics and Numerical Methods
for Engineers at the same University. He has authored over
30 technical papers and is a member of the SPE, AAAI, and
ASCE. Dr. Kanj is also an invited member of the
Poromechanics Committee of the Engineering Mechanics
Division of the ASCE. He joined Saudi Aramco in 2003.
Bradford is an engineer in Saudi Aramcos Reservoir
Description Division (RDD) in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
Prior to joining RDD he worked in various positions in
Schlumberger for 14 years. He has a BS degree in
Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota
and is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers
(SPE) and Society of Petrophysicists & Well Log
Analysts (SPWLA).

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Fig. 1. Impression of what a future Quick Look petrophysical evaluation, based solely on AML data before other data has been acquired, might look like.

ABSTRACT
Advanced Mud Logging (AML) has been named Archies
Dream since AML will fulfil what must have been Archies
dream. That is: obtain high resolution rock parameters as
quickly as (wireline) logs. Until recently, the idea of
obtaining quantitative petrophysical parameters from mud
logging seemed a dream. But the reality is that AML is now
moving towards continuous, real-time determination of
rock and fluid parameters from drill cuttings, drilling
parameters and mud (gas) returns, in aid of well evaluation
and reserves calculation.
The value of (to a large extent conventional) mud logging
for hydrocarbon productivity prediction is already
significant, confirming that mud gas measurements, if
properly analyzed, provide very valuable information for
production testing decisions.
Through application of rock typing techniques and rock
catalogues, reasonable electrical and other parameters,
which normally require elaborate core measurements, can
be obtained in real-time mode from cutting descriptions.
16 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY SUMMER 2005

Tests on a method for direct permeability measurement


on cuttings confirm the potential for this method for many
circumstances.
Micro and nano indentation techniques are being tested to
provide rock mechanical properties also from drill cuttings.
As the techniques to determine several of the key
parameters are becoming more firmly established, AML is
entering the stage of actually providing a significant input
for a complete formation evaluation.

INTRODUCTION
Archies laws and other saturation models which cater for
shaly formations allow a sound quantification of
hydrocarbons in place by coupling formation resistivity with
some rock parameters. There is a major discrepancy between
the sampling increments and timely availability of the logderived parameters on the one hand and the sparse and time
consuming laboratory measurements which are needed to
establish the required rock parameters on the other hand.
This problem has hampered petrophysical interpretations in

drilling param.

x
x
x

nano indent.

micro mud losses

image anal. / PNM

x
x
X
x

NMR on cuttings

direct perm. on cuttings

cutt. cap crves

x ray ct scanning

mini por, gr.dens

"conv." core anal.meth.

elemental spectroscopy

X
X
X

fluid inclusions

x
X
X
x

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rock typing

net reservoir ind.


fluid contacts
fluid type
fluid properties
mineralogy
bulk density
grain density
porosity
electr. params
Swi
cap curve
saturation, Sh
perm. - matrix
perm. - fract./high k
rel.perms
mechanical param.

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mass spectr.

8/5/05

gas chromatogr.

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X
X

X
X
X

x
x
x

x
x

x X **) x
X
X
X
X
X
x *)
x
x

x
x
x

X
x
X

x
X

*) if contact given and if virgin conditions still present


**) if matrix density known

Table 1. AML parameters and methods

With elements of the vision for AML being realized,


petrophysical evaluations will be greatly aided by AML.
Shortly after a formation has been drilled, AML could
provide a Petrophysical Interpretation Log (see Fig. 1),
including tracks for porosity, permeability, fluid content,
fluid contacts (current and paleo), rock mechanical
parameters, quantified mineralogy, and hydrocarbon
saturation for virgin conditions. Furthermore accurate
predictions would be available for parameters, i.e., electrical,
to improve subsequent improvement of the formation
evaluation, including more accurate quantification of
saturation using normal wireline or Formation-EvaluationWhile-Drilling (FEWD) logs.
Note that the fraction of vertical over total number of
wells being drilled continues to decline and horizontal,
multilateral and Maximum Reservoir Contact (MRC) wells
have become the norm. Since coring of these wells is very
uncommon, typically due to a combination of technical and
economical arguments, the need for AML to provide those
parameters which traditionally are established from core
analysis increases.

PA R A M E T E R S A N D T E C H N O L O G I E S

Fig. 2. Porosity from X-Ray CT scanning

many situations where the rock parameters are not known


yet (in a new area) or differ from common values or vary
across zones and wells (in a more mature setting). Archies
Dream therefore can be said to obtain the necessary rock
parameters with a similar sampling increment and at the
same time as the resistivity logs. Advancing the technology of
mud logging is an obvious way toward achieving this dream.
Conventional mud logging, one of the pillars of
petrophysics, has some limitations in terms of (accurate)
quantification of key petrophysical parameters such as
porosity, permeability, electrical and rock mechanical
parameters. New technologies becoming available open the
door to a wealthy new area of applications, providing good
hope that Advanced Mud Logging (AML), will soon indeed
be Advanced Rock Characterization and Hydrocarbon
Indication and Evaluation through Systematic
Determination with Rock and Elemental Analysis Methods
(ARCHIES DREAM)(1).

To achieve the objectives in terms of comprehensiveness of


formation evaluation obtained from AML, a wide range of
parameters must be measured. In table 1 an overview is
given of these parameters along with a number of methods
which can be used for their determination. For most
parameters there are several alternative methods available
and each method has its own strengths and limitations.
More importantly, given the fact that indeed all required
parameters potentially can be established by AML
techniques, the ultimate objectives and vision as presented
before appear realistic.
The potential of X-ray CT scanning to determine accurate
porosity on cuttings has been proven in Saudi Aramcos
R&D Center, using some typical Arab D reservoir samples.
For fragments as small as 3 mm, an accurate porosity was
obtained, perfectly in line with the value for the core plug
from which the cuttings were obtained. (See Fig. 2)(2).
In the graph the results of a large number of
measurements is summarized. Different line codes refer to
different cuttings sizes. The horizontal axis represents the
position in a 2 inch tube filled with cuttings at which the
porosity measurement was made. The true porosity of the
sample was around 28 percent. Measurements on cuttings
smaller than 2.4 mm (orange and purple lines) are clearly
wrong. The results of cuttings between 2.4 and 5 mm (and
larger), however, are correct, proving that the method
works for cuttings as small as around 3 mm.
Obviously, for any method using cuttings to produce

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Fig. 4a. Example of rock typing possible on normal drill cuttings.

quality, either due to a high accuracy of the depth


determination itself, or because in many cases the business
need for high depth accuracy might be limited.
Table 1 shows that for most parameters there are several
alternative AML techniques to obtain them. For the
determination of permeability of fractured or (other) very
high permeability zones, Micro Mud Losses interpretation is
the only AML technique identified so far. Hence this
method becomes more critical for the overall success and it
will be worthwhile to spend some extra effort in further
developing this technique.

HYDROCARBON TYPING AND


P R O D U C T I V I T Y I N D I C AT I O N

Fig. 3. Gas chromatograph results compared to wireline log analysis and an


example of detailed gas chromatograph data analysis from the productive and
non-productive zones.

reliable results the cuttings ought to be representative of the


formation. Fortunately, cuttings will often not be distorted
so badly and i.e., formation fracture porosity will be absent
or very small compared to matrix porosity, such that the
cuttings will be adequate. Similarly, while depth control will
be a challenge in many situations, there will also be many
cases where the available depth control has sufficient

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Gas chromatographs are well established for analysis of the


drilling mud gas. Across the mud logging service industry,
however, there is still some variation in the set up of the gas
liberation system as well as the actual analysis system and
methods to achieve accurate HC identification and
productivity indication. If the best possible methods on
both these, i.e. sample catching and gas analysis, are used,
more often reliable indications on fluid type and
productivity can be obtained (3).
The example in Fig. 3 shows the application of some of
the latest methods available. The quantitative ratio in the
far right log track the quantitative ratio analysis indicated a
productive zone and a gas-water contact at xx150. A
nonproductive zone is identified starting from xx230.
Detailed composition and ratio analysis of the
chromatograph data predicted no productivity for one zone
and gas with good productivity in the other. Subsequent
well testing confirmed both interpretations.
HC analysis, even with the best current day gas
chromatograph and mud de-gassing systems, has some
limitations with the results still being qualitative rather than
quantitative as one of the main issues. To improve on this
two items need to be addressed.

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Permeability from measurements


on cuttings (mD)

1,000

100

10

0.1

0.01
0.01

0.1

10

100

1,000

Expected (real) permeability (mD)


Fig. 5. First results of permeability measurements on Saudi Aramco cuttings.

rather qualitative) mud gas analysis. Consequently,


reliability of (advanced) mud log HC detection in terms of
productivity prediction will be significantly enhanced;
thereby much reducing uncertainty in the current set up.
Note that for hydrocarbons which do not enter the mud
stream, e.g. tar, mud gas analysis is obviously not suitable.
Instead, measurements on cuttings are to be used. Saudi
Aramco has developed and patented a pyrolysis method
especially suited for tar detection.

ROCK TYPING
From the table given before, it can be seen that rock typing,
with a comprehensive rock catalogue as reference, can
provide several parameters for a quantified petrophysical
analysis. As this method of well site cuttings description is
1,000

First and probably foremost, an improved sample


catching system, which will allow a quantitative approach
by ensuring that the gas stream, which is analyzed at the
surface, is quantitatively linked to the HC volumes
encountered downhole. Second, if at the same time the gas
chromatograph is replaced by a mass spectrometer, a big
step forward in AML HC analysis can be made. Note that
at present there are already at least two commercial systems
employing a mass spectrometer. One may expect results of
these systems to become available in the very near future
and after that a more general introduction across the mud
logging companies.
With the two improvements indicated above, one may
expect a significant step forward in the real
QUANTIFICATION (as distinct from the current still

Permeability from measurements


on cuttings (mD)

Fig. 4b. Impact of AML on formation evaluation.


100

10

0.1

0.01
0.01

0.1

10

100

1,000

Expected (real) permeability (mD)


Fig. 6. Permeability measurement results for Saudi Aramco cuttings arter
improvements in procedures.

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being introduced and the supporting rock catalogues


become populated with more samples, we will see more and
more preliminary evaluation results based on (advanced)
mud log interpretations.
As an illustration of the potential value of rock typing,
(Fig. 4a) the example in Fig. 4b shows the sort of impact
one might find in the saturation calculated using two sets of
electrical parameters. One evaluation is using parameters as
might be available from historical and regional information,
the other one uses parameters obtained from rock typing on
cuttings from the interval in question. The difference is
obvious and it will be clear that in a case like this the
additional information which can be obtained from rock
typing will have a significant business value.

DIRECT PERMEABILITY MEASUREMENT


ON CUTTINGS.
In 2002 a very nice method to measure permeabilities
directly on small amounts of cuttings across a large range of
permeability values was published (4). The method
appeared to provide very good results in several tests
carried out. Following (among others) a rather challenging
test on some Saudi Aramco samples were performed. In Fig.
5 some results of that first Saudi Aramco test are given.
The results displayed in Fig. 5 clearly were not
particularly good. After further discussions between Saudi
Aramco and the technology developer, several improvements
were made in the process and the first results of the new set
up are shown in Fig. 6. As can be seen, there are two sets of
measurements given. And while the results of one set (purple
squares) are still not very encouraging, those of the second
set (blue diamonds) are very good indeed as permeability
measurements on just a few cuttings.
Based on these last tests there is good hope that the
method can indeed also provide reliable permeability
indications using only the small volumes and sizes of cuttings
as might often be available. We expect to be able to identify
and therefore disqualify the elements of the purple set.

R O C K S T R E N G T H P R O P E RT I E S F R O M
M I C R O - A N D N A N O - I N D E N TAT I O N S
Indentation testing is a well known method in material
science. Brinell introduced his hardness testing ball-indenter in
1900, giving indentations up to several mm. Going an order
of magnitude smaller with the advent of new experimental
procedural techniques and testing equipment, contributed
heavily to the recent developments in nanotechnology. It
became possible to investigate the elastic and strength
properties of rocks (and other natural as well as man-made
materials) at the sub-micro scale: Welcome to the nano world!

20 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY SUMMER 2005

N/nm
Unloading Slope Contour
40-60
20-40
0-20

100 m
Fig. 7. Indentation unloading slope contour (density) map. This is an indirect
measurement of the stiffness and the elastic response of one of the sandstone
rock samples using a 100 grid point micro-indentation.

GPa

Hardness Contour
1.5-2
1-1.5
0.5-1
0-0.5

100 m
Fig. 8. 100 grid point micro-indentation hardness density plot. Indirectly, this is
an assessment of the strength of the material (cohesive strength, c, and the
friction angle, q).

Along this line, core plugs from three sandstone


formations of three different Saudi Aramco oil bearing
reservoirs were investigated through micro- and nanoindentation testing, conducted at the School of Civil
Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT) and in collaboration with the Poromechanics
Institute at the University of Oklahoma. The study has two
objectives: (1) perform a general proof-of-concept analysis
and thus validate against known macro-scale mechanical

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properties of the rocks and (2) set a number of testing


guidelines (that could even be as simple as conducting some
trivial chemical tests directly on the drill cuttings on site)
that should minimize the frequency of coring and
accordingly lead to fewer interruptions of the drilling
operation. Indirectly, the intent of this work is to do nanoengineering on the three rock materials. The ultimate plan is
to attempt to break down the rock to a scale where the
mechanical material properties do not change from one
sandstone type to another, and then attempt to upscale the
response to the macro (i.e. coring, drilling, and field
operations) scale. It will be clear that this cannot be done
by (micro/nano) indentation experiments alone.
Macro/micro/nano mechanical testing is only one single
component of what is itemized below:
1. Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), Environmental
Scanning Electron Microscope (ESEM) and Atomic
Force Microscope (AFM)
2. X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), X-Ray Fluorescence
Spectroscopy (XRF) and Energy Dispersive X-Ray
Spectroscopy (EDX)
3. Ultrasonic Pulse Velocity (UPV)
4. Upscaling (e.g., homogenization theories)
routines/algorithms: needed to bridge and allow
predicting rock responses at different material scales.
This is a critical step in the whole process, as it involves
using information from the three preceding ones.
Figs. 7 and 8 detail a sample micro-indentation testing
performed on a small piece of rock. The grid indentation
surface scaled to only 100mm x 100mm.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION


From the foregoing, it will be clear that there is not only a
significant potential for AML, but that on several fronts the
technologies are becoming mature enough for field
application. Where only a few years ago mud logging
services were mainly qualitative-value and obtaining
accurate porosity and permeability from only cuttings
seemed a dream, we are now close to reaching this goal.
We may expect further development of the various
techniques and a gradual but certain further penetration of
AML in both exploration and development drilling.
Gus Archie (1907-1978), often
considered as the founding father of
petrophysics, published his now famous
laws in the early 1940s. These laws,
based on extensive experimenting,
linked the hydrocarbon saturation of a
clean (= non-shaly) rock filled with a
mixture of oil/gas and water, to a
combination of the following: (1) the formation resistivity

as measured i.e., by normal wireline logs, (2) the resistivity


of the (saline) water in the formation, (3) the porosity,
established either from cores or other logs and (4) two
special rock parameters, the so called cementation and
saturation exponents.
Archies (experimental) laws have survived through the
years as very robust, and some 50 years after their
publication a firm theoretical basis was found for them. In
the 1990s, research to develop more sophisticated saturation
models for complex situations gave some interesting spinoffs. Starting from Maxwells equations (from the 19th
century!) and using so-called effective medium models,
developed by Hanai & Bruggeman in the 1930s (!) it
appeared that Archies laws could be directly derived for the
simple clean sand model that they are based on.
While Archie is world famous for his above mentioned
laws, he spent a considerable part of his career in classifying
rocks and setting up a rock catalogue. The idea being that if
a rock could be classified with sufficient detail based on
simple rock typing criteria, many parameters which require
cores and labor intensive methods to measure them could
be quickly derived by analogy. The presently available rock
catalogue can be seen as a mere follow up to the pioneering
work also done by Archie in this area.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The authors would like to thank all those who have greatly
helped in advancing mud logging, including Mohammed
Abed Hezam, Hilal Waheed, Musharref Husain, Shameem
Siddiqui, James Funk, Gordon Hughes, Mustafa Touati,
Modiu Sanni, and Abdulaziz Al-Kaabi.

REFERENCES
1. Loermans and Touati; Archies dream and beyond:
Advanced Mud Logging (AML); SPE Technical
Symposium, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; June 2003
2. Touati, Siddiqui, Funk, Loermans and Kanj; Porosity
measurements on cuttings from X-ray CT scans: study
highlights; SPE Technical Symposium, Dhahran, Saudi
Arabia; May 2004.
3. H.L. ten Haven, P. Arbin, B. Simon; Total; G. Collo,
Total E.P. Thailand; J.P. le Cann & P. Mulero,
Geoservices; Applications and Limitations of Mud
Logging Gas Data in the Detection of Formation Fluids
and Overpressure: Examples from South-East Asia;
Extended Abstract for Gas Habitats of SE Asia &
Australasia, Jakarta, Indonesia, October 28-30, 1998
4. Egermann, Lenormand, Longeron and Zarcone; A Fast
and Direct Method of Permeability Measurements on
Drill Cuttings, SPE 77563, September 2002.
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