A new LWD ultrasonic imager for use in both water- and oil-based muds uses acoustic impedance contrast and ultrasonic amplitude measurements to obtain high-resolution structural, stratigraphic and borehole geometry information. Following extensive testing in the Middle East and the US, this paper presents results from the first European deployment of the new 4.75-in. high-resolution ultrasonic imaging tool.
An ultrasonic transducer, which operates at high frequency, scans the borehole at a high sampling rate to provide detailed measurements of amplitude and traveltime. A borehole caliper measurement is made, based on the time of arrival of the first reflection from the borehole wall. A second measurement detects formation features and tectonic stress indicators from the change in signal amplitude. The amplitude of the reflected wave is a function of the acoustic impedance of the medium. Resulting impedance maps have sufficient resolution to detect sinusoidal, non-sinusoidal and discontinuous features on the borehole wall.
Breakouts, drilling-induced fractures, and tensile zones were used for stress direction determination. Breakout identification was obtained both from amplitude images and oriented potato plot cross sections derived from traveltime measurements.
The orientation of natural fractures is parallel at the maximum stress direction, indicated by drilling-induced fractures and tensile zones. The World Stress Map confirms the maximum stress direction determination.
It was also possible to detect certain key-seat zones and investigate borehole conditions to prevent issues during the subsequent casing job.
The new LWD ultrasonic imaging technique represents an important alternative to density and water-based mud resistivity imaging, which has several limitations. Unlike the resistive imaging LWD tool that is very sensitive to standoff, the higher tolerance of the ultrasonic imaging tool enables the amplitude and traveltime ultrasonic images to contain fewer unwanted artifacts.
Warot, Gregory (Weatherford) | Wallace, Shawn (Weatherford) | Mostafa, Hassan (Weatherford) | Elabsy, Eslam (Weatherford) | Di Tommaso, Davide (Weatherford) | Abdelkarim, Aly (Weatherford) | Ciuperca, Constantin-Laurian (Weatherford)
Increased development of naturally and hydraulically fractured unconventional reservoirs from horizontal wells, drilled with oil-based muds, has created a need for high-resolution logging-while-drilling (LWD) borehole imaging tools capable of resolving fractures in this borehole environment. A new LWD ultrasonic borehole imager has been developed and tested to meet this need.
Borrowing from wireline ultrasonic imaging technology, a 250 kHz piezo-electric transducer was adapted to an LWD drill collar. The single transducer serves as both transmitter and receiver: transmitting an ultrasonic pulse, and measuring both the amplitude and two-way travel time of the acoustic reflection from the borehole wall. The LWD tool takes advantage of drill string rotation making a 360-degree scan of the borehole with a single fixed transducer. Finite element modeling and laboratory testing in artificial formations and a large limestone block were used to determine the spatial resolution of the image, as well as the sensitivity to downhole acquisition variables such as standoff, tool eccentricity, and mud attenuation. Prototype tools were then field tested in several horizontal wells to verify the functionality and image resolution under actual drilling conditions.
The borehole images from horizontal wells in unconventional and conventional reservoirs in the Middle East and the UK verified that tool responded as designed. These images, recorded in both oil-based and water based muds, revealed open and cemented natural fractures, drilling induced fractures and borehole breakout, fine-scale bedding, and other textural geological features such as vugs and stylolites. A variety of drilling-related borehole artifacts were also observed, including keyseats, stabilizer impressions in the borehole wall, tool marks from a rotary steerable tool, and gouges made by the bit rotating off bottom. The amplitude image proved more sensitive to fractures, bedding, and other geological features, while the travel time image, combined with input mud compressional velocity, provided a 360-degree borehole caliper image, showing the borehole size and shape.
Although high-resolution LWD electrical imagers have been available for years, these can only operate in conductive, water-based, muds. As most horizontal wells in both conventional and unconventional reservoirs are now drilled with oil-based muds, the development of a high-resolution ultrasonic imager capable of identifying natural and hydraulic fractures, fine-scale bedding, secondary porosity, and other small scale features in wells drilled with oil-based muds fills an important gap in LWD technology.