EcoFlex Service Identifies Subtle Mineralogical Differences in Clay-Rich Legacy Cuttings for Maersk

Published: 03/22/2016

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Improve wellsite characterization

Maersk Oil Angola wanted to more accurately identify formation tops and mineralogical changes at the wellsite. In an effort to increase certainty and improve mineralogical characterization, Maersk actively sought a more advanced surface logging technique.

Analyze cuttings with laboratory-quality precision

Schlumberger recommended the EcoFlex service, a modular service that provides near-real-time analysis using high-resolution digital microscopy (HRDM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and X-ray fluorescence (XRF). By determining the mineralogical and geochemical structure of cuttings in near-real time, the rigsite service helps operators maximize the value of formation evaluation, support operational decisions, and minimize risk.

X-ray diffraction (XRD) component of the EcoFlex service quantifying mineralogy.
This example of automatic mineralogical quantification performed by Schlumberger proprietary XRD software shows good match between the raw and reconstructed diffractograms, demonstrating that all minerals present in the samples were identified.
X-ray diffraction (XRD) component of the EcoFlex service quantifying mineralogy.
In this screenshot of EcoFlex service proprietary software, the XRD diffractogram has been deconvoluted to show the contribution of each mineral.
Log provided by the EcoFlex service.
The EcoFlex service detected mineralogical variances in the claystone above and below the reservoir interval that were undetected by gamma ray and shallow resistivity logs. Despite the exclusion of samples from the reservoir sand interval, the EcoFlex service successfully identified the top reservoir using measurements of quartz content.

Provided laboratory-quality measurements in near-real time

Maersk’s subsurface team decided to conduct a trial of the EcoFlex service’s HRDM and XRD devices on legacy cuttings to confirm the possibility of achieving laboratory-quality mineralogical analysis at the wellsite.

For the trial, the subsurface team selected cuttings from a well drilled seven years prior in the Chissonga Field offshore Angola. Clay-rich samples from the claystone above and below the top reservoir sand were chosen because LWD gamma ray and resistivity logs from this interval had a static response.

The team specifically wanted to determine if the EcoFlex service could identify any difference in the character of the claystone and identify formation tops. The selected samples were rich in clays and excluded reservoir sand samples. Despite this additional challenge, the EcoFlex service successfully provided lithofacies information that showed good correlation with laboratory analysis of core samples.

From the shallowest sample provided, the clay composition was shown to be unchanging for 310 m [1,017 ft]. At that point and over the next 120 m [394 ft], the EcoFlex service identified a decrease in illite and muscovite and an increase in kaolinite that were not detected by LWD gamma ray or resistivity logs. At 430 m [1,410 ft] from the shallowest sample, measurements from the EcoFlex service showed an increase in quartz, which is associated with the top reservoir.

Based on analysis from the EcoFlex service, Maersk determined that the results were comparable to whole-rock XRD laboratory analysis of core samples. As a result, Maersk identified the EcoFlex service as a wellsite technology superior to conventional mud logging.

Angola, Africa, Offshore

Challenge: Identify an advanced surface logging technology for resolving uncertainty in geological formation characterization and improving mineralogical mapping.

Solution: Characterize lithology with laboratory-quality precision using the EcoFlex multifactor cuttings evaluation-while-drilling service at the rig site.


  • Provided measurements that closely correlated with core sample analysis data. 
  • Identified a decrease in illite and muscovite and an increase in kaolinite with depth, which were not evident on LWD gamma ray and resistivity logs. 
  • Detected an increase in quartz with depth, successfully identifying the top reservoir sand.
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