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A Petrophysical Technique to Estimate Archie Saturation Exponent (n);

Case Studies In Carbonate and Shaly-Sand Reservoirs IRAQI Oil Fields

Mazin Mohlab Al-Hilali, Baker Hughes; Mohammed Jawad Zein Al-Abideen, University of Kirkuk & Tyumen State
Oil and Gas University; Femi Adegbola, Weidong Li, Baker Hughes; Antwan Mahran Avedisian, University of

Copyright 2015, Society of Petroleum Engineers

This paper was prepared for presentation at SPE Annual Caspian Technical Conference & Exhibition held in Baku, Azerbaijan, 46 November 2015.
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Archies assumption of saturation exponent equal 2 is valid only when the reservoir and the core are strongly water wet,
the saturation exponent has been proven by many researchers, its strongly related to the reservoir wettability, pore-size
distribution and displacement history and it can vary between 2 to 10 in value.
Determination of fluid saturations from electric well logs adopts a calculation procedure, which is highly sensitive to
several parameters one in a particular saturation exponent (n). An accurate determination of initial oil in place in the early life
of reservoirs or an evaluation of a developed reservoir is requires high accuracy water saturations (Sw) values.
This paper presents innovative petrophysical workflow using water saturation, true resistivity and reservoir total porosity
values as inputs data; the geological zonation is critical; each selected zone will be cross-plotted to evaluate cementation
exponent through Pickett plot and the irreducible water saturation factors using Sw-Phi crossplot. The mathematical derivation
was done to develop a relation between the true formation resistivity (Rt) and the reservoir porosity in the irreducible water
saturation intervals to predict saturation exponent utilizing the crossplot.
Case studies from three different giant oil fields located in the south of IRAQ have been selected to represent various
applications scenarios of carbonate and shaly-sand oil-bearing formations to test the applicability of the proposed model.
Each field has a different set of data and requires a special treatment, varied from special and convectional core analysis,
pressure test and NMR to only fullset of wireline data.
A quality verification for Archie saturation exponent n values has been done quantitatively with core analysis and
qualitatively with in-situ and/or core wettability.
The proposed model success to evaluate saturation exponent for the studied reservoirs and show convergence with the
verification methods.
It is concluded that the developed petrophysical workflow of this study provides a significant contribution to the
determination of water saturation exponent (n) in simplified-robust way and consequently leads to better water saturation (Sw)
estimation values, and it can be applied in any carbonate or shaly-sand reservoirs worldwide.

Background Review
Historically, cementation exponent (m) was the lucky parameter in Archie equation thats accounted for most studies and
researches; by the introduction of Pickett Plot(6) to estimate m from the wireline measurements of resistivity and porosity,
m gets more popular as variable can be estimated by crossplot, while the saturation exponent n (and even the tortuosity


factor a) stays a preferred -not-touch parameter unless there are some core measurements that give a different value from
two ( n=2.).
The lab Work of SWANSON(1) and the extended work by Worthington and Nadia(9) show an unrecognized variation in
n that can induce errors of more than 10 s.u. in the petrophysical evaluation of water saturation, indicators of a departure
from classic Archie-type behavior are fine grains, poor sorting, surface roughness, mineral overgrowths, grains with an
internal effective porosity, presence of vugs, discontinuous porosity, oil wetting, shaliness, fresh formation waters, and a
supercritical concentration of conductive minerals.
The wettability of the rock system considered one of the most important reservoir characteristic which as early(7) as 1950s
figured its effect on n values, Donaldson and Siddiqul(2) studied the effect of changing wettability on sandstone samples
showing n values variation between 1.5 and 8.5 for the same formation and there is a linear relationship which exists
between wettability and the saturation exponent for a given rock. The slope of the line appears to be the function of the
petrophysical properties of the rock; they recommend that the wettability analysis should be included in a well-logs
Wettability measurements from cores have many uncertainties(3, 11, 13) related to the practice of transferring the samples
from the formation to the lab which may lead to wettability alteration during core cutting operations and sample preparation,
additional laboratory issue includes surface adsorption equilibrium, optimal interface-ageing time, if a smooth surface is used
it will not account for the rock surface roughness, the biggest disadvantage of the laboratory methods is that of scaling to entire
reservoir extent downhole condition; Adding up, all of these processes are time-consuming.
Consequently there is a necessity for a technique to evaluate in-situ wettability is desired, as it explains that the type of
rock wettability is an essential factor to validate the n values, the in-situ wettability quantification is considered an industry
acceptable procedure day-after-day, there are two trends in in-situ wettability quantification by wire-line measurements that
are mostly followed:

In-situ wettability estimation by Repeated Tester Pressure Data utilizing wire-line; the theoretical bases have been
introduced by Desbrandes and Gualdron(11) utilizing Repeated Formation Tester (RFT) and further field example with
extended work to include oil based muds done by Emilio and Nicola(3).


In-situ wettability estimation my NMR log, extensive work done by Looyestijn(14) to establish a Wettability Index
from T2 values, recent research by Segun and Weidong(13) patent new way to understand the mix-wettability system
and establish a Wettability Index function based on direct measurement from NMR log.

Mathematical Derivation and Procedure

Based on Archie equation, the derivation was done which can be used to calculate the saturation exponent (n) (Initial
unpublished work of this derivation done by Mazin Al-Hilali(8); the theoretical base can be derived as follows: The Archie's
equation for reducible water levels is:
(Sw)n = a.Rw/m.Rt


Archie's equation for irreducible water levels is:

(Swi)n = a.Rw/m.Rtirr


In 100% water bearing formation (Sw=1.0), the equation (1) will be:
1 = a.Rw/m.Rt a.Rw = m.Rt


BUCKLES(12) observed that the multiplicand of the water saturation and the porosity for the levels the fall on the parabola
in Sw versus will have a constant value; in other words:
C = ( Swi)


Coates and Dumanoir(5) concluded from studies of core analysis that the assumption of n=m in irreducible water levels is


fair, so by using their observations and substituting them in equation (2), the following is gained:
( Swi)n= a.Rw/Rtirr


Substituting equation (5) in an equation (3) yields:

n Swin= m.Rt/ Rtirr (Swin.Rtirr).n-m= Rt


Taking the logarithm of both sides in equation (6) and rearranging it, leading to get the following equation:
Log(Rt) = Log(Swin.Rtirr) + (n-m) Log()


Equation (7) is a straight line equation on log-log scale with Rt on y-axis and on x-axis; the intercept is (Swin.Rtirr) with a
slope of (n-m). The importance of this plot is to find n as m is known from Pickett plot; it must be noted that as the derivation
of equation (7) depends on irreducible levels, so only the levels of irreducible water saturation will be plotted on it; of course
this needs further work to detect the levels of irreducible water saturation; as stated by BUCKLES(12) this can be done by
plotting Sw against porosity in a linear scale and drawing a hyperbola from the minimum water saturation and select the levels
that fall on this parabola which represents the irreducible water saturation levels. The proposed procedure is simplified in the
Flowchart of Fig. (1).
Select Formation or SubFormation

Input Sw, Rt and

Use Pickett plot to get m

Plot Sw vs. to define the irreduciblewater levels

Plot Rt vs. for the irreducible-water

levels points only and get the slop (n-m)

n = slop - mPickett


Zone ?



Fig. 1: The Proposed Procedure to calculate n


Case Study #1: Carbonate Formation

Khasib reservoir located in an Oil Field near Baghdad has been selected carbonate case study due to the availability of
Special Core Analysis (SCAL), Dielectric log and fullset log. This formation consists lithologically from limestone and chalky
limestone transforms in its lower part to clayey mudstone. The upper part has decent petrophysical properties and high
hydrocarbon saturation so it gets interest of many in-depth studies in this field.
The porosity was calculated from the Neutron - Density crossplot, the Rt was calculated from the Induction log and Vcl
was calculated from min value method of several clay indicators. Rw estimated from SP and Rwa methods and both show its
value to be about 0.03 ohm.m. The Pickett plot estimation for m and a (Fig. 2) (at Rw=0.03 and n=2) were fit the SCAL
analysis for F-Phi relation (Fig. 3) as show in Table 1.
Table 1: (m) and (a) Estimation
Pickett plot






Fig. 2: Pickett plot for Khasib Formation

The parameters from Pickett plot were used (the SCAL values can be used but we prefer to use the Pickett values to proof
the validity of procedure) to calculate Sw using Archie equations. The clay volume were negligible with inclusive of Effective
Porosity (Phie) as input. The plot of Sw-Phie was constructed (Fig. 4) and Hyperbola line shows the following equation at
irreducible levels:
Sw.Phie = 0.095


The points that laying / near the Hyperbola selected to make the Rt-Phie plot (Fig. 5) to estimate the slope which is equal to
(n-m) and it estimates to be +1.1 subsequently the n value calculated to be 3.04, and this means that the Khasib
reservoir shows Mixed / Oil-Wet tendency.
These results were compared to the wettability SCAL in offset wells (Table 2) which show that Khasib core has a tendency
to behave as Oil-wet reservoir which confirms the high value of n.


Table 2: Wettability SCAL(17)


Phi %

k (md)





















Fig. 3: F- plot from core analysis for Khasib Formation(17)

Fig. 4: Sw- plot from for Khasib Formation

Fig. 5: Rt-Phie plot at irreducible levels for Khasib Formation


Fig. 6: Total HC volume for Khasib Formation Case#1: HC#1 calculated using m and a from Pickett plot and n from the
proposed procedure, HC#2 using fixed parameters of m-n=2, a=1, HC#3 calculated using m= 1.9, a=0.8 based on core lab with n=2,
HC#4 calculated using Dielectric log(18) of variable parameters per each level and HC#5 calculated using Gomez iteration(19,20) for
variable m and a per each level.

Case Study #2: Shaly-Sand Formation

Upper Kirkuk Formation located in an Oil field in Amarah government was selected to represent a Shaly-Sand case study
due to the availability of the Reservoir Characterization Instrument (RCI) repeated pressure data and fullest logs.
This reservoir consists lithologically from high porosity Coarse grained intergranular Sandstone with laminations of
claystone, the selected well have suffered from wall Rugosity and that effected the Density log readings and somewhat effects
the Neutron readings as well, so the Acoustic log was selected as main source for porosity calculation, and for intergranular
porosity with no fractures or vugs this estimation will be sufficient.
The Pickett plot (Fig. 7) was constructed to estimate Rw, a and m with assume n=2, results are show in table 3,
note that only the point of Vshale < 20% was included in the plot.

Table 3: Parameters picked from Pickett plot for Upper Kirkuk

Rw (ohm.m)




These parameters were used in the Stochastic computer interpretation (Fig. 8), the results were shown with the oil zone in
the upper part and the water zone beneath it; the RCI confirms the interpretation results (Fig. 9) and shows clear Oil line (0.34
psi/ft) and Clear water line (0.53 psi/ft), the intercept of these lines identifies the FWL depth; the OWC and FWL depths are
shown in table 4.


Fig. 7: Pickett plot for Upper Kirkuk Formation

The Sw and Effective porosity from the interpretation were used to graph the Buckles plot (Sw vs. Phi) show in Fig. 10;
the irreducible level defined from graph as below:


< Sw.Phie <



All the point constrain between above curves were considered at irreducible level and used to plot Rt vs. Phie (Fig. 11),
giving the values of for n-m to be about 0.35 and consequently a value of n=2.15.
The location of the FWL below the OWC indicates the tendency of a Water-Wet system which support the calculated
value of n. Its worth to mention that the low porosity variation put uncertainty in parameters evaluation for this well.

Fig. 8: Stochastic Petrophysical Computer Interpretation (Glider) for Upper Kirkuk Formation; show Shaly-Sand formation and Oil
accumulation at the formations top, the OWC Picked at depth of x963m.


Fig. 9: RCI pressure point plot vs. Depth for Upper Kirkuk Formation

Fig. 10: Sw- plot for Upper Kirkuk Formation

Fig. 11: Rt-Phie plot at irreducible levels for Upper Kirkuk Formation

Table 4: Fluid Contacts in Upper Kirkuk Formation


Contact type

Depth (m)

Stochastic Analysis



RCI Analysis




Case Study #3: Carbonate Formation

Rumaila Formation located in an Oil field in Basrah government was selected to represent another carbonate case study
due to the availability of NMR, Reservoir Characterization Instrument (RCI) repeated pressure data and fullest logs.
This reservoir consists lithologically from clean limestone of medium intergranular porosity (Phit < 17% in general) with
few laminations of claystone, no fractures or vugs have been reported, the selected well has a very smooth wall and the
porosity tools readings (PhiN, Rhob and Dt) were used to estimate the porosity; the KTh was a representative to clay changes
and it is used accordingly to estimate the clay volume after borehole corrections.
The Pickett plot (Fig. 12) was constructed to estimate Rw, a and m with assume n=2, results are shown in Table
5, note that only the point of Vshale < 20% was included in the plot.
Table 5: Parameters picked from Pickett plot for Rumaila Formation

Rw (ohm.m)




Fig. 12: Pickett plot for Upper Rumaila Formation

These parameters were used in the Stochastic computer interpretation (Fig. 13) with integration of NMRs BVI, CBW, BVM,
PhieM and PhitM, the results have shown that there are several Oil zones and the lowest one has an active water zone, the RCI
confirms the interpretation results (Fig. 14) and shows clear Oil line (0.33 psi/ft) for the tested intervals and clear water line
(0.46 psi/ft), its noted that the intercept between Oil-Water lines couldnt be established the expected reason that the tested
water zone depth (x350-x400) m has no communication with the upper oil zone.
The Sw and Effective porosity from the interpretation were used to graph the Buckles plot (Sw vs. Phi) as shown in Fig.
15; the irreducible level defined from graph as below:


< Sw.Phie <



All points constrain between above curves were considered at irreducible level and used to plot Rt vs. Phie (Fig. 16),
giving the values of for n-m to be about -0.1 and consequently a value of n=2, indicating a water-wet system
The T2 distribution from NMR log was established for the Oil zones and water zone separately (Fig. 17 & Fig. 18) with
100 ms as general cut-off, the Weidong & Segun Wettability Index (Fig. 13) shows that the main reservoir (at depth of x415
x435 m) is Mixed to Water-Wet which proves the calculated value of n.




Low range porosity variation will put uncertainty on this method.

The factor that effect the Pickett plot will have the same effect on the proposed methods.
There are several wettability indices in the lectures and the researcher is free to use any of them to confirm n values.


Irreducible water saturation

Formation-water resistivity, (ohms.m)
True formation resistivity at Swi level, (ohms.m)
Correct porosity to clay volume
Oil-Water Contact
Free-Water Level
Bulk Volume Inducible
Bulk Volume Movable
Clay-Bound Water
NMR Effective Porosity
NMR total Porosity


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Fig. 13: Stochastic Petrophysical Computer Interpretation (Glider) in integration with NMR log for Rumaila Formation; show clean
limestone formation and Oil accumulation and clear water zone.

Fig. 14: RCI pressure point plot vs. Depth for Rumaila Formation

Fig. 15: Sw- plot from for Rumaila Formation



Fig. 16: Rt-Phie plot at irreducible levels for Rumaila Formation

Fig. 17: T2 distribution for the oil interval (x415-x430 m)

Fig. 18: T2 distribution for the 100% water interval (x460-x481 m)

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