Aker BP Measures Bubblepoint Pressure Downhole and Collects Single-Phase Samples from Mudstone

Published: 09/18/2019

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Fluid sampling challenges

Obtaining clean samples of undersaturated crude oil near its bubblepoint from undercompacted, weak, low-permeability mudstones in the presence of miscible mud filtrate invasion poses a daunting challenge.

Pressure drawdown must be tightly controlled to avoid both formation erosion and fluid phase transitioning while flow rates must support sufficient cleaning and minimize the risk of tool sticking. The borehole geometry and relatively shallow reservoir depth limit the volume of crude oil that can be allowed into the mud system, further increasing the importance of efficient cleanup.

Image of case study in which Aker BP uses Ora platform to measure bubblepoint pressure downhole and collect single-phase samples from mudstone.
When the pressure drops below saturation pressure, optical density rises and indicates scattering. The saturation pressure at the bubblepoint can be read directly from the plot.
Image of case study in which Aker BP uses Ora platform to measure bubblepoint pressure downhole and collect single-phase samples from mudstone.

What was tried first

Legacy fluid-sampling attempts in this environment failed to produce representative samples. Even the lowest achievable flow rates generated excessive pressure drawdown, causing fluid phase transitioning and formation erosion that resulted in tool plugging. The lack of conclusive data on reservoir fluid behavior limited confidence in both formation evaluation and reservoir flow simulation.

What Schlumberger recommended

The new Ora intelligent wireline formation testing platform has integrated pumps that each precisely manage flow rates from 0.1 to 60 cm3/s. This extended low-flow-rate capability and the platform's large inlet flow area can be employed to control pressure drawdown during cleanup pumping, ensuring sustainable single-phase flow at optimized flow rates. Controlled flow can also be used after sampling to slowly decompress the fluid in the platform's sampling flowline while recording its temperature, pressure, optical density, and density to enable real-time downhole bubblepoint determination.

What Aker BP achieved

Controlled downhole decompression of the crude oil pumped into the flowline at a sampling station in the well enabled real-time measurement of its bubblepoint pressure to within 0.4 bar [6 psi] of that measured in the laboratory. Focused sampling and tight control on flow rates provided the first clean samples from the reservoir, finally enabling confident fluid characterization.

Norway, Europe, Offshore

Aker BP proved the presence and mobility of light crude oil in a complex mudstone reservoir offshore by efficiently acquiring single-phase samples through focused flow despite the challenging formation properties. The Ora intelligent wireline formation testing platform’s capability for pumping controlled flow rates enabled the measurement of bubblepoint pressure and conducting accurate, real-time downhole fluid analysis.

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