Introducing E-Core Technology

Wed, 01/25/2012 - 10:50

When the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) holds a convention in order to discuss a new technology, it is normally a sign that the technology will be an important development for the oil and gas industry, says Kevin Dennis, a Manager at DTK Group. This was exactly what happened for new e-core analysis technology. “If the SPE is already setting the trend by talking about this technology, then it means that there will be a large number of experts in all parts of the world eager to try this technology. I do not think it will be long until we start to see e-core analysis cropping up all over the world.”

Three companies in different parts of the world are working to develop e-core analysis technology: Digitalcore in Australia, Numerical Rocks in Norway, and Ingrain in the US. The technology varies slightly from company to company, but the premise remains the same. Using CT scanning and other electronic analysis techniques, the technology examines the rock condition in a well at a microscopic level, and creates a permanent digital record of the geology that can easily be shared and processed. Having digital information on the entire structure of a well, rather than only a few core samples, helps operators make better-informed decisions based on geology. These companies are currently offering both technical e-core services and software packages to the oil and gas industry. Statoil, the Norwegian NOC, has now approved the use of Numerical Rocks e-core technology across the company, a major step forward for proponents of this technology.

It is the computer simulation technology that really makes e-core analysis unique. From the laboratory, e-core analysis companies are able to electronically model the properties of the reservoir rock from either a thin section image or 3D images. Software then creates simulations of fluid flow and pore scale, recreating the natural processes of sedimentary rock formation in a digital format, from sedimentation to compaction and diagenesis. This can then be used to simulate multiphase flow properties in order to obtain capillary pressure curves or assess the relative permeability of the reservoir.

There are differing perspectives on how e-core technology will impact the market for conventional core analysis technologies. While some expect it will one day replace the traditional technique, Dennis is among those who believe that the two technologies will complement each other perfectly. Pointing to the Mexican example of Cantarell, where oil can be produced from 1,800m to 5,000m, Dennis explains that with conventional core analysis, only a few samples are taken from the wells, as physically drilling many samples is cost prohibitive. By taking good cutting samples, e-core analysis can help to fill the gaps between cores, and extend coverage and analysis to the entire spacing. Combining traditional core analysis with e-core analysis would allow geologists to calibrate their readings and bring more accurate information to the operator on well conditions.

John Lawrence, director of DTK Group, hopes that e-core technology will be an important new technique that his company can bring to the Mexican market, particularly given the amount of emphasis Pemex is placing on increasing productivity and examining secondary and tertiary recovery techniques at its wells. “A better understanding of the geology will be key to boosting productivity. This technology, combined with existing core analysis techniques, will help Pemex to achieve this. By understanding the geology of their fields better, Pemex will be able to make better decisions about how to proceed.”