The introduction of formate-based drilling muds successfully addressed drilling challenges related to barite-weighted muds. The muds exhibited peculiar petrophysical properties that adversely affected log interpretation. First, the mud present inside the borehole and surrounding the tool required different environmental corrections; secondly invading mud-filtrate present inside the formation was difficult to account for. Because of the higher density, lower hydrogen index, and high gamma-ray readings associated with Na/K formate-based drilling fluids, for example, petrophysical analysis typically resulted in inaccurate mineralogy and pessimistic porosity and permeability estimates. Such estimates were also strongly dependent on the extent of invasion by the mud.
Two new approaches were developed to address these long-standing challenges in gas-bearing siliciclastic and carbonate sequences. Logging-while-drilling (LWD) time-lapse data acquisition makes it possible to track changes in log measurements between a first (drill) pass and a second (wipe) pass as mud filtrate invades the formation. In a first approach, these changes reflect the contrast in petrophysical properties between the mud filtrate and the displaced native formation fluids, and can be used to estimate the unknown petrophysical properties of such mud filtrate. In a second, geometric approach, the different measurements are considered to represent different axes in measurement space, and then the axes are rotated to reduce the number of rotated measurements affected by invasion to just one. This measurement is then discarded, and the remaining rotated measurements are used.
In all, up to six different petrophysical models from two different wells were compared. The results indicate a step change in petrophysical analysis in case of Na/K formate-based drilling fluids. They demonstrate how it is possible to build a robust but remarkably simple petrophysical model using only rotated nuclear measurements, with all of the following characteristics. The model is extremely stable as compared to more complex models. It requires neither knowledge of the Na/K formate mud-filtrate characteristics, nor knowledge of its volume. It does not require resistivity input, but consistently reproduces similar saturations when compared with models using resistivity as input. Data from the drill- and the wipe-pass produced identical results, independent of formation invasion.
Petrophysical analysis of well log data involves defining the petrophysical properties of the various minerals and fluids present underground, including the drilling fluids. Typically, some of these petrophysical properties are measured, whereas others are computed using established models, or calibrated against core, mud logging, formation testing and formation fluid sampling data.