Content of PetroWiki is intended for personal use only and to supplement, not replace, engineering judgment. SPE disclaims any and all liability for your use of such content. In the context of injectors, tracers are chemicals placed in the flow stream of an injector to determine that the water takes from an injector to the producing wells.
In certain situations, it is necessary to obtain a reliable measurement for connate water saturation (Swc) in an oil reservoir. The single well chemical tracer (SWCT) method has been used successfully for this purpose. The SWCT method has been used successfully for this purpose in six reservoirs. The SWCT test for Swc usually is carried out on wells that are essentially 100% oil producers. The procedure is analogous to the SWCT method for Sor, taking into account that oil is the mobile phase and water is stationary in the pore space.
Even with a properly designed single well chemical tracer (SWCT) test, interpreting the data requires judgment calls, and typically, simulation, to arrive at a final estimation of residual oil. Tomich et al. report one of the earliest SWCT tests, which was performed on a Frio Sandstone reservoir on the Texas Gulf Coast. The results of this test are used here to demonstrate the details of SWCT test interpretation for an ideal situation. The test well in the Tomich et al. report was in a fault block that had been depleted for several years. Because of the natural water drive and high permeability of the sand, the formation was believed to be near true Sor.
A passive tracer that labels gas or water in a well-to-well tracer test must fulfill the following criteria. It must have a very low detection limit, must be stable under reservoir conditions, must follow the phase that is being tagged and have a minimal partitioning into other phases, must have no adsorption to rock material, and must have minimal environmental consequences. The tracers discussed in the following sections have properties that make them suitable for application in well-to-well test in which dilution volumes are large. For small fields in which the requirement with respect to dilution is less important, other tracers can be applied. Figure 1.1 – Production curve of S14CN compared with the production curve of HTO in a dynamic flooding laboratory test (carbonate rock) (after Bjørnstad and Maggio). There are no possibilities for thermal degradation, and it follows the water closely. The 36Cl- is a long-lived nuclide (3 105 years), and the detection method is atomic mass spectroscopy rather than radiation measurements. The disadvantage is that the analysis demands very sophisticated equipment and is relatively time consuming. For mono-valent anions, the retention factors (see Eq. 6.2) are in the range of 0 to -0.03, which means that such tracers pass faster through the reservoir rock than the water itself (represented by HTO). A compound such as 35SO42- may be applied in some very specific cases but should be avoided normally because of absorption. Some anionic tracers may show complex behavior. Radioactive iodine (125I- and 131I-) breaks through before water but has a substantially longer tail than HTO. Both a reversible sorption and ion exclusion seem to play a role here. Cationic tracers are, in general, not applicable; however, experiments have qualified 22Na as an applicable water tracer in highly saline (total dissolved solids concentration seawater salinity) waters. In such waters, the nonradioactive sodium will operate as a molecular carrier for the tracer molecule. Retention factor has been measured in the range of 0.07 (see Eq. 6.2) at reservoir conditions in carbonate rock (chalk). Wood reported the use of 134Cs, 137Cs, 57Co, and 60Co cations as tracers.
Use of several types of production logs in combination can provide important information, often quite cost effectively, for diagnosing a gas kick encountered during drilling. An example is discussed below. During the coring of a gas sand at 15,000 ft, a pressure kick occurred, gas pressure was then lost at the surface, and mud was added periodically to keep the drillpipe full. These logs were run to identify the flow path of a likely underground blowout. At 15,000 ft, the noise log (Figure 1a) exhibits a nearly "dead-well" noise level, indicating no activity (i.e., no fluid movement).
Scanning a series of samples laid out on the counter allows the logger to get a good overview of trends, to highlight sample differences that may be the result of quality variation or contamination, and to help identify bed boundaries. Individual samples are then examined under a low-power stereomicroscope (10 to 50X) with either ample natural light or a lamp with a "blue" light or blue filter. Proper illumination is required so that the true colors of the sample constituent minerals are not distorted. Digital image capture of select samples adds significantly to the end-of-well documentation.
In situations in which two different waters are being mixed, it is desirable to measure the amounts of each in the mixed stream. If the capability exists, it is desirable to look at each constituent to see if it undergoes any phenomenon other than simple mixing. This can be a powerful technique for detecting water/rock reactions that can lead to formation damage. The fundamental concept is that mixing two waters should result in the volume-weighted average of each constituent of the two original waters, unless some chemical or biological reaction occurred. This is essentially similar in appearance to a binary phase diagram, with the endpoints of the line defined by the concentrations of the constituent in each of the water streams being mixed.
The first SWCT test for Sor was run in the East Texas Field in 1968. Patent rights were issued in 1971. Since then, numerous oil companies have used the SWCT method. More than 400 SWCT tests have been carried out, mainly to measure Sor after waterflooding. The SWCT method has gained considerable recognition over the past few years because of increasing interest in the quantitative measurement of Sor. Some experts consider the SWCT test to be the method of choice because of its demonstrated accuracy and reasonable cost. A reliable in-situ measurement of Sor simultaneously defines the target for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and allows estimation of the potential bypassed (mobile) oil in the field. This moveable oil is the target for infill drilling and/or flood sweep efficiency improvements.
Simple analytical interpretation of single well chemical tracer (SWCT) is possible if one assumes uniform oil saturation, negligible hydrolysis during injection and production and assuming similar dispersion for all reservoir layers. In complex reservoir settings, including multilayer test zones, drift, cross-flow etc., reservoir simulation tools, capable of handling the hydrolysis reaction are commonly applied (Jerauld et al., 2010; Skrettingland et al., 2011). In practice, coupled flow and chemical reaction simulators (see e.g. CMG, 2010; and UTCHEM, 2000) are used. Such coupled simulations are CPU-demanding enough that execution time may be an issue, especially when small grid-size are applied to avoid numerical smearing.
The drilling conditions described above have led to the following practices, which are reasonably uniform, in the geothermal drilling industry. Bits Because of the hard, fractured formations, roller-cone bits with tungsten-carbide inserts are almost universally used for geothermal drilling. The abrasive rocks mean that bit life is usually low (50 to 100 m), but many bits are also pulled because of bearing failures caused by rough drilling and high temperature. Much research and development in hard-rock PDC bits is under way,  so it is possible that these bits will come into wider use in geothermal drilling. Tubulars Because of the low-value fluid (steam or hot water), geothermal wells must produce large fluid volumes and so tend to be larger diameter than oil/gas wells; typical geothermal production intervals are 219 to 340 mm in diameter.