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. A low power radioactive isotope used to tag water or other fluid for tracing the path of fluid in the reservoir or in a well.
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.
In formations where the pore space is occupied by a stationary gas phase and a mobile water phase, such as in a watered-out gas reservoir, the residual gas saturation (Sgr) may need to be measured in situ. The Sgr also can be determined using a single-well injection/production test method. Sgr measurement involves injecting and immediately producing a suitable volume of water. As the injected water enters the formation that contains residual gas, the water dissolves the gas, becoming saturated at the temperature and pressure in the reservoir. A region of increasing radius around the wellbore is stripped of gas.
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.
The radioactive tracer-logging tool has a reservoir to hold radioactive material and a pump section at the top. For injection-well logging, two gamma ray detectors below the reservoir and pump are preferable. Some tools employ only one detector, but this is less desirable. The tool includes the circuitry to amplify and transmit the detector counts to the surface, for recording. Most natural radioactivity underground is from the decay of isotopes of potassium, thorium, and uranium.
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 single-well chemical tracer (SWCT) test is an in-situ method for measuring fluid saturations in reservoirs. The most common use is the assessment of residual oil saturation (Sor) prior to improved oil recovery (IOR) operations (post-waterflooding). A typical target interval for SWCT testing is shown in Figure 1. The candidate well should be completed only to the watered-out zone of interest (zone at Sor). The water used normally is from the formation to be tested, and often is collected during the initial setup for the test.