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1. Introduction to Formation Overview
2. Borehole Environment
3. Rock and Fluid Properties
4. Laboratory Measurement
Additional Sources
Additional Sources

Formation Evaluation



Well logging provides a way to measure formation properties using instruments that are
run into the borehole at the end of a wireline, the end of a drill string, or the end of
coiled tubing. The resulting well log provides a continuous record of a physical property
such as spontaneous potential, resistivity or density, plotted as a function of depth.

For wireline logging, the data recording equipment is located on the surface, and is
connected by steel armored electrical cable to the logging instrument in the hole.

Logs can also be obtained as the well is being drilled, using instruments embedded into
drill collars near the base of the drill string. Depending on the service used, this
technique is referred to as Measurements While Drilling (MWD), Logging While Drilling
(LWD) or Formation Evaluation While Drilling (FEWD). Communication between the
instruments in the drill string and the surface recording equipment is established by
means of pressure pulses in the mud, through a technique known as mud pulse
telemetry. These pulses are generated by a mechanical device near the drill bit, and
are transmitted through the mud before being detected by pressure transducers, which
are decoded at the surface.


Formation evaluation covers a wide array of measurement and analytical techniques.

Although our emphasis tends to focus on wireline logging techniques and log analysis
methods, these are far from the only tools available to the petrophysicist. In addition
to such key parameters as porosity, permeability, and saturation, a range of other
parameters are provided by core, fluid, and log analysis. These parameters are
essential for the other geo-disciplines such as geology and geophysics, as well as
production and reservoir engineering. Examples for wireline logging and some of the
uses of wireline logs are shown in the table below.

Table 1: Determination of Reservoir Parameters and Their Uses

Parameter Derived from Used for

Acoustic velocity Sonic logging tool Seismic time to depth conversion

Lithology Density,Neutron, Geological interpretation

Gamma ray tools
Reservoir delineation

Rock strength Density and sonic Mud weight, fracture strength,
tools and sand production calculations

Cement bond Sonic tool Zonal isolation

Chemical rock Pulsed neutron tool Lithology characterization and

composition saturations

Well logs are central only in the sense that they are recorded in practically all
wellbores, and are directly relatable to all other parameters available from the
associated sciences. For example, a geophysicist needs borehole measurements to
determine a time-depth relationship, and a petrophysicist needs core analysis to
properly define log response. However, a thin section or scanning electron microscope
(SEM) photo of a rock sample are of little direct help to the interpretation of a seismic
section, nor is a vertical seismic profile (VSP) especially helpful in determining relative
permeability. All these measurements are, however, pertinent to the complete task of
defining reservoir limits, storage capacity, hydrocarbon content, productivity and
economic value.

It is the task of the Log Analyst to ascertain which type of rock was penetrated, and
whether this rock contains producible hydrocarbons as shown in the table below.

Table 2: Objectives of a Petrophysical Interpretation.

LOCATE: reservoir
DETECT: fluid content
fluid type : gas / oil / water
EVALUATE: lithology
mechanical properties
gross / net reservoir thickness
capillary properties
salinity of the water
original hydrocarbon saturation
residual hydrocarbon saturation
percent oil/gas/water
reservoir pressure


Obviously, the well data obtained at the surface, solely through cuttings and
hydrocarbon shows, cannot provide information on all parameters listed in the previous

table. Additional logging data provided by the petrophysical measurements are
required, as listed below.

Table 3: Petrophysical Evaluation Data Sources.


drill cuttings, mud shows

sidewall samples, cores or core slices

production tests, formation wireline samplers

drill-stem tests



acoustic -waves sonic velocities

acoustic impedance

gamma / gamma scattering electron density

photoelectric cross section

thermal neutron density hydrogen density

thermal neutron decay thermal neutron cross section

neutron activation elemental concentrations

natural gamma radiation Curie / Bequerel / API / REM

spontaneous potential membrane potential

electromagnetic waves 35 Hz -20 kHz electric resistivity / conductivity

100 Mhz-2 GHz dielectric permitivity

nuclear magnetic proton resonance free hydrogen index

spin lattice relaxation time

The first group of data gives direct "physical" information by means of rock and
reservoir fluid samples. The second group of data is composed of wireline logging and
MWD measurements.

Note that no log measurement listed in the table above provides direct quantitative
information of the parameters that we want to know, such as porosity, permeability,
and hydrocarbon saturation. This is both the beauty and the curse of Petrophysics.
Many (petro)physicists have spent long hours searching for universal relationships
between the measured physical quantity and the desired reservoir parameter. A striking

example is the relation between water saturation and the resistivity of a porous shaly
sandstone. More than 30 different relationships have been proposed in the last half-
century. All have their own limited applicability, sometimes restricted to only one
reservoir, and none can claim universal validity. In most cases the relationships contain
several "constants" that can only be found by measuring the physical properties
accurately under controlled conditions on rock samples in the laboratory. These
laboratory analyses provide the calibration data required for a meaningful
interpretation of the wireline logs.

The task of the Petrophysicist is to find within the multitude of measurements and
relationships those that best answer the questions concerning the location of
reservoirs, and the volumes of producible fluids. The petrophysicists often have to
devise their own relationships and then combine the responses of several logs to come
up with an adequate answer.

Petrophysicists of course do not work in isolation. If one applies empirical relationships,

it is essential to use as many constraints as possible. Data and interpretations from
other disciplines provide these constraints to ensure that the petrophysical evaluation
is meaningful.

The environment of deposition provided by geologists; seismic stratigraphy from

geophysicists; fluid types provided by production engineers; and reservoir distribution
data provided by reservoir engineers, should all be honored by the Petrophysicist to
avoid erroneous interpretations. This exchange of data and interpretations is a cyclic
process, and only the synergy of different disciplines can create a comprehensive
"image" of the subsurface that will characterize it with sufficient accuracy to make a
reliable and economic development plan.


The ultimate goal of formation evaluation is to help determine the size of a reservoir,
the quantity of hydrocarbons in place, and the reservoir's producing capabilities. The
initial discovery of a reservoir lies squarely in the hands of the exploration department,
using seismic, gravity and magnetics studies, and other geologic tools. Formation
evaluation presupposes that a reservoir has been located, and is to be defined by
drilling the least number of wells possible. Enough data should be gathered from those
wells to extrapolate reservoir parameters field-wide, and to arrive at realistic figures
for both the economic evaluation of the reservoir and the planning of the optimum
recovery method. Formation evaluation offers a way of gathering the data needed for
both economic analysis and production planning.

What, then, are the parameters that the manager, the geologist, the geophysicist, and
the reservoir and production engineers need? Which of these can be provided by
seismic, by coring, by mud logging, by testing, or by conventional wireline logging?

Magnetic and gravity geophysical surveys are generally regarded as reconnaissance
tools, delineating sedimentary basins in which oil and gas reservoirs are found. As a
subsequent exploration step, surface seismic provides the first coarse images of
prospective zones, with a resolution of some 100 feet. Despite the fact that 3-D seismic
can presently show "direct hydrocarbon indicators", only a wellbore can unambiguously
prove the presence and productivity of a hydrocarbon reservoir. Moreover, to obtain a
resolution of less than one foot, measurements with instruments run in the borehole,
and analysis of rock samples cut from the borehole are required. These activities are
grouped under the heading of log and core analysis. The broader scope of Formation
Evaluation covers the following processes:

Wireline Logging

Mud Logging

Logging While Drilling


Wireline Testing

Production Testing

Pulse testing

Drill Stem Testing

Cross-Well Electrical and Seismic surveys

Vertical Seismic Profiling

Single Well Seismic

To place the various disciplines in perspective, we will present the overall problem of
formation evaluation in terms of orders of magnitude. If one meter is taken as a unit of
measurement, then each formation evaluation technique can be placed in order, as
shown in the table below.

Table 4: Formation evaluation perspective

Order of Magnitude
Formation Evaluation Technique Purpose of Data

106 Satellite imagery

Gross Structure
105 Basin geologic studies

104 Seismic, gravity, magnetics

103 Borehole gravimeter, Ultra-long Local Structure

spacing electric logs

102 Drillstem tests

Productivity and
101 Wireline formation tests

100 Full-diameter cores

Local Porosity,
10-1 Sidewall cores, Most conventional
well logs, Measurements While Permeability, and

10-2 Micro-focused logs, core-plug


10-3 Local
Cuttings analysis (mud logging) Hydrocarbon

10-4 Core analysis Rock Properties

10-5 Rock and Clay

X-ray mineralogy

10-6 Scanning electron microscope Micropore

(SEM) structure

Comparing Scales
Thus, formation evaluation techniques cover at least 12 orders of magnitude. Equally
far-ranging are the physical principles employed to make the basic measurements.
Another way of viewing the vast spread is to consider the frequency employed by the
measuring processes available, as described by the table below.

Table 5: Range of Physical Principles Used in Formation Evaluation

Measurement Frequency, Hz Measurement Type

10 E+09 Dielectric (EPT)

10 E+07 Dielectric (DCL)

10 E+04 Induction, Acoustic

10 E+02 Laterolog, Seismic

10 E+10 Old Electric Logs

10 E-04 Step-Rate Well Testing

10 E-08 to E-09 Material Balance

Few other sciences require, or use, such a wide range of measurement techniques over
such a wide range of physical dimensions. These techniques are used to determine the
parameters that are essential to calculate the hydrocarbon volumes originally in place
(STOIIP or GIIP), and the quantities that can be produced (reserves), as illustrated in
the table below.

Table 6: Reservoir Quantities Required and Their Corresponding Reservoir Parameters.


Storage capacity Hydrocarbon

Volume in Place
Fluid pore-fill saturation (Sw)
gross volume
gas: GIIP)

Hydraulic Conductivity Permeability (k) Producible

Affinity between fluids and Capillarity (Pc)
rock (Reserves)

The gross rock volume, porosity, and hydrocarbon saturation are combined to calculate
the volumes of oil (STOIIP) and gas (GIIP) originally in place. These static parameters,
together with permeability and capillarity, govern the volume of hydrocarbons that
could be produced. However the volume that is actually produced is not only
dependent on geological and technical parameters but also on oil price and unit
development cost. The prediction of this volume, called oil or gas "reserves" can
therefore significantly change over time.


The objective of log interpretation depends very much on the user. Quantitative
analysis of well logs provides the analyst with values for a variety of primary
parameters, such as:


water saturation, fluid type (oil/gas/water)



From these, many corollary parameters can be derived by integration (and other
means) to arrive at values for:


reserves (the recoverable fraction of hydrocarbons in-place)

mapping reservoir parameters

But not all users of wireline logs have quantitative analysis as their objective. Many of
them are more concerned with the geological and geophysical aspects. These users are
interested in interpretation for:

well-to-well correlation

facies analysis

synthetic seismograms

regional structural and sedimentary history

In quantitative log analysis, the objective is to define

the type of reservoir (lithology)

its storage capacity (porosity)

its hydrocarbon type and content (saturation)

its producibility (permeability)

Data For All Disciplines

Geophysicists need to know critical time-depth relationships in order to calibrate
conventional seismic and VSP surveys. Geologists need to know the stratigraphy, the
structural and sedimentary features, and the mineralogy of the formations through
which the well was drilled. Reservoir engineers need to know the vertical and lateral
extent of the reservoir, its porosity (the nature of the porosity) and permeability, fluid
content, and recoverability. The production engineers need to know the rock
properties, potential zones of overpressure, and need to assess sanding and associated
problems, and recognize the need for secondary recovery efforts or pressure
maintenance. Once the well is in production, they also need to know the dynamic
behavior of the well under production conditions and be able to diagnose problems as
the well ages. Engineers also need to know formation injectivity and residual water
saturation to plan waterflooding and monitor waterflood progress when it is
operational. The manager needs to know the vital inputs to an economic study -the
original petroleum hydrocarbons in place, recoverability, cost of development and,
based on those factors, the profitability of producing the reservoir.

Log measurements, when properly calibrated, can give the majority of the parameters
required by all these professionals. Specifically, logs can provide either a direct
measurement or a good indication of:

porosity, both primary and secondary (fractures and vugs)


water saturation and hydrocarbon movability

hydrocarbon type (oil, gas, or condensate)


formation (bed) dip and strike

sedimentary environment

travel times of elastic waves in a formation

From this data, it is possible to obtain good estimates of the reservoir size and the
petroleum hydrocarbons in place.

Logging techniques in cased holes can provide much of the data needed to monitor
primary production and also to gauge the applicability of waterflooding and to monitor
its progress when activated.

In producing wells, logging can provide measurements of:

flow rates

fluid type


residual oil saturation

From these measurements, dynamic well behavior can be better understood, remedial
work can be planned, and secondary or tertiary recovery proposals can be evaluated
and monitored.

In summary, when logging is properly applied, it can help to answer a great many
questions from a wide spectrum of special interest groups on topics ranging from basic
geology to economics. Of equal importance, however, is the fact that logging by itself
cannot provide answers to all formation evaluation questions. Coring, core analysis, and
formation testing are integral parts of any formation evaluation effort.

The amount spent on running wireline logs, cutting cores, evaluating the logs, and
analyzing the core samples depends very much on the total cost of the well, the
importance of the data (do we get another chance to collect similar data in another
well?) and the risks involved in obtaining the data (can we afford to loose the well if a
logging tool gets stuck?). The evaluation costs usually amount to 6 -12 % of the total
well cost. For an offshore exploration well drilled from a floating rig in deep water, the
total well cost can easily be 20 million dollars. Maximizing the information obtained
from this "one time" effort is essential. Evaluation costs for such ventures can reach
several million dollars.


In practice, the order in which formation evaluation methods are used tends to follow
the previously discussed Order-of-Magnitude table, i.e., from macroscopic to
microscopic. In this table, if one meter is taken as a unit of measurement, then each
formation evaluation technique can be placed in order, as shown in the table below:

Table 1: Formation evaluation perspective

Order of Magnitude Formation Evaluation Purpose

(meters) Technique of Data

106 Satellite imagery

Gross Structure
105 Basin geologic studies

104 Seismic, gravity, magnetics

103 Borehole gravimeter, Ultra- Local Structure

long spacing electric logs

102 Drillstem tests Productivity and

101 Wireline formation tests

100 Full-diameter cores

Local Porosity,
10-1 Sidewall cores, Most
conventional well logs, Permeability, and
Measurements While Drilling

10-2 Micro-focused logs, core-plug


10-3 Cuttings analysis (mud Local Hydrocarbon
logging) Content

10-4 Core analysis Rock Properties

10-5 Rock and Clay

X-ray mineralogy

10-6 Scanning electron Micropore

microscope (SEM) structure

Thus a prospective structure might first be detected by aerial photography, then later
defined by seismic, gravity, and/or magnetics studies. Most wellbores are monitored as
they are being drilled, by mudlogging and/or measurements while drilling (MWD), and
sometimes cores are cut. Once the well has reached a prescribed depth, wireline logs
are run and sidewall core samples are often taken. Subsequent to logging, an initial
analysis of mud log shows, together with initial MWD log analysis, may indicate zones
that merit examination either by the wireline formation tester or by drillstem testing.
Should such tests prove the formation to be productive, more exhaustive analyses will
be made of all available data, including core analysis. The whole process is summarized
in the table below.

Table 2: Formation evaluation overview

Phase Activity Formation Evaluation Methods

Exploration Define structure Seismic, gravity, magnetics

Drilling Drill well Mud logging, coring, penetration,

Measurements While Drilling

Logging Log well Openhole logs

Primary Log analysis and Sidewall cores, vertical seismic

Evaluation testing profile, wireline formation testing,
drillstem testing

Analysis Core analysis Laboratory studies, surface gamma


Feedback Refinement of Log calibration by core analysis

seismic model and results and seismic calibration from
log analysis log analysis results

Exploitation Producing Material balance analysis


Secondary and Water injection or Production log analysis
Tertiary gas injection and Flood efficiency analysis
Recovery production logging Micro-rock property analysis

Abandonment Economic Openhole logs

decisions Material balance analysis
Production log analysis


Mud logging, more precisely referred to as hydrocarbon mud logging, is a process

whereby the circulating mud and cuttings in a well are continuously monitored as the
well is being drilled. This process involves physical examination and description of the
cuttings, as well charting various drilling parameters. A typical mudlogging unit will
contain a variety of sensors, such as:

Flame Ionization Detector (FID) for measuring gas volume (gas samples are
drawn out of the mud above the before it reaches the shale shaker.)

Gas Chromatograph for measuring light and heavy gas components: C1-C2-
C3-C4, etc.

Blue light for detecting fluorescence given off by oil in the cuttings
(cuttings samples are collected at the shale shaker)

Rate of Penetration (ROP) recorder, which plots a drill rate curve that can
be correlated against SP or Gamma Ray curves from offset wells.

Weight on Bit indicator

Mud Pit Level detector -used as a safety precaution to indicate if the well
might be flowing.

The combined analysis of all such measurements provides an indication of the rock type
and its fluid content. The sundry measurements are displayed on a log as curves or
notations as a function of depth.

Not all wells are logged in this manner. Development wells, for example, normally are
drilled and then logged by wireline logging tools only. In contrast, wildcat wells are
nearly always monitored by the mud-logging process, followed by wireline logging. The
advantages of mud logging include the availability on a semi-continuous basis of actual
formation cuttings analysis (which, in turn, gives immediate indications of rock type
and hydrocarbon presence) and the ability to predict drilling problems (such as
overpressure) before they become unmanageable.


A number of methods can be used to cut cores in a wellbore. Conventional cores are
cut using a special core bit, and are retrieved in a long core barrel. Using this method,
the recovered core sample may undergo physical changes on its journey from the coring
depth to the surface, where it will ultimately be analyzed. More sophisticated coring
mechanisms are able to conserve either the orientation, the pressure, or the original
fluid saturations of the rock sampled. An awareness of these changes and sampling
methods is essential for understanding core analysis results.

Other coring methods have been devised to obtain additional rock samples after the
well has been drilled, but before it has been cased. These methods require wireline
tools that cut core plugs from the sides of the wellbore. It should be realized that many
of the parameters required to correctly interpret openhole wireline logs can only be
determined from accurate core analysis. Thus, the major role that coring plays in field
development can not be overemphasized.


Openhole logging provides the great meeting place for all formation evaluation
methods. Only through openhole logging can a continuous record of formation
properties such as porosity, water saturation, and rock type be obtained. In particular,
wireline logs can record formation self potential, electrical resistivity, conductivity,
bulk density, natural and induced radioactivity, hydrogen content, and elastic
properties. Most wells drilled for hydrocarbons are logged with these types of

Unfortunately, the full potential of the logs may not always be utilized, or the logs may
be incorrectly analyzed. This is caused either by a lack of training on the part of the
analyst or a lack of understanding of where wireline logs fit in relation to the other
formation evaluation tools.

All too often, logs are seen as an end in themselves and are considered in isolation.
This presentation should encourage the reader to take a broader view of log analysis in
the context of overall formation evaluation, and ultimately, in the context of field

Figure 1: Interrelationships between Formation Evaluation Methods illustrates the

formation evaluation picture and the central role of openhole logging and log analysis.

Figure 1

Measurements While Drilling (MWD)

Increasingly, formation properties are being measured at nearly the same instant the
formation is drilled by using special drill collars that house measuring devices. These
MWD tools are particularly valuable in deviated offshore wells where wellbore path
control is critical, and where immediate knowledge of formation properties is vital for
evaluating pressure and choosing casing points. Additionally, MWD measurements are
less susceptible to downhole environmental effects such as washout and invasion
because the measurements are made behind the bit soon after the hole is drilled.

Until the 1970's, measurements with instruments that were embedded into drillpipe
were limited to weight on the bit with strain-gauges, and directional data with
magnetic devices. These two were later augmented with a simple Geiger-Mller
gamma-ray counter. The need to measure resistivity, density and neutron porosity
during drilling became acute as highly deviated and horizontal wells were drilled in
larger numbers. In such wells, it has usually proved to be very difficult (and often
impossible) to run wireline tools into the hole, because the high deviation angle
decreases the pull of gravity that would normally move the tool to TD. Running tools at
the end of drillpipe is a costly, time consuming and often risky practice. For this
reason, Measurement While Drilling (MWD) is an attractive alternative.

During the 1980's MWD tools equivalent to the gamma-gamma density; the neutron
scattering porosity; and simple lateral resistivity wireline tools were developed. These
sensors could be inserted in recesses in special drill collars. Moreover, newer tools like
the electromagnetic wave propagation resistivity, and bit resistivity tools were
developed, and have no wireline equivalent. The instruments are either powered by a
generator connected to a mud-motor, or by batteries. The measurements are either
stored in a memory downhole or transmitted via pressure pulses in the mud to the




After drilling through a permeable formation, generally a filtrate-invasion process begins. If
the pressure in the mud column exceeds formation pressure, then fluid from the mud will
move into the formation (provided it is porous and permeable), leaving a deposit of mud
cake on the borehole wall. The radius of invasion typically ranges from 0 to 4 feet around
the borehole, and in a few cases, can even move out to 8 feet or more. The shape of the
invaded zone is often assumed to be cylindrical around the borehole, and is also assumed to
contain water with a conductivity equal to that of the mud filtrate conductivity. (The mud
filtrate conductivity can be measured on the surface, after running a mud sample through a

Figure 1: Borehole Invasion Profile and Corresponding Symbols illustrates a simplified

model of an invasion profile.

Figure 1

The flushed zone is defined as the zone around the borehole where the pores are 100%
filled with mud filtrate. The transition zone contains a mixture of mud filtrate and original
formation fluids. The virgin zone contains only original formation water and/or
hydrocarbon saturation.

The flushed zone is important because it affects the readings of certain logging tools and
because it forms a reservoir of mud filtrate to be recovered on a drillstem test before
formation fluids are recovered. The lateral extent of the flushed zone and the invaded zone
are not generally known. For this reason, additional resistivity measurements, with
different depths of investigation, are required to help delineate these zones and
compensate for their effect on many downhole measurements.

Depending on the type of mud used (oil-or water-base) and the relative values of the mud
filtrate resistivity Rmf and formation water resistivity Rw, the invasion process may produce
a radial resistivity profile that increases or decreases with distance from the borehole
wall.Figure 2 : Radial Resistivity Profile as a Function of Mud Type and Formation Content
illustrates what may be expected in a number of cases.

Figure 2

It is important to distinguish between the resistivity of the fluid within the pore space and
the resistivity of the rock-fluid system itself. The terms used in the following table should
be well known to everyone involved in well log evaluation work.

Name of Zone Dimension Fluid Content Fluid/Water Resistivity Rock Resistivity

Bed h -- -- --

AdjacentBed -- -- -- Rs

Mud Mud


Figure 1: Borehole Invasion Profile and Corresponding Symbols illustrates a simplified
model of an invasion profile. The various symbols used to describe these zones within the
borehole environment are listed below:

Figure 1


Rt - Resistivity of the formation in the virgin zone, ohm-m

Rxo - Resistivity of the flushed zone, ohm-m

Rs - Resistivity of the shoulder (adjacent) beds, ohm-m

Rm - Resistivity of the mud, ohm-m

Rmc - Resistivity of the mudcake, ohm-m

Rw - Resistivity of 100% formation water, ohm-m

Rmf - Resistivity of 100% mud filtrate, ohm-m


Sw - Water saturation in the virgin zone, fraction of pore volume in, %

Sxo -Mud filtrate saturation in the flushed zone, %


dh - Diameter of the hole, m

di - Diameter of the flushed zone, m

dj - Diameter of the flushed and transition zones together, m


h -Height of the bed being logged , m

hmc - Thickness of the mudcake, m



Petrophysics can be considered the study of rock-fluid systems. For this reason, it is
particularly important that the log analyst be aware of the way in which rocks and
fluids interact in both static and dynamic situations if they are expected to perform any
sort of petrophysical analysis on a reservoir.

Although logging measurements are made under static reservoir conditions, the
prediction of reservoir behavior under dynamic flow conditions can only be made if the
physics of fluid flow is understood. The objective of this discussion, therefore, is to
equip the analyst with sufficient information so that log response can be related to
reservoir performance, which is what really counts, rather than to just static reservoir
content. Ideally, the reader will come away with a better understanding of why some
reservoirs with low water saturation produce with high water cut, while others with
much higher computed water saturation produce water-free hydrocarbons.


A reservoir rock is one that has both storage capacity and the ability to allow fluids to
flow through it; i.e., it possesses both porosity and permeability. Porosity (void spaces)
can develop between grains of sediments as they are laid down. This is the case for
intergranular porosity in sandstone reservoirs. Porosity can also develop when
chemicals react with rocks after they have been deposited (these chemical reactions
often take place as a result of exposure to groundwater). Typically, his solution-type
porosity is found in carbonate reservoirs. Porosity also develops in the form of fractures
induced by the stresses of tectonic movement. Although at first not intuitive, porosity
does not necessarily guarantee permeability. For example, Swiss cheese is highly porous
but impermeable because the void spaces are not inter-connected.


Before we delve deeper into rock-fluid systems, it is important to understand the

concepts of porosity, saturation, and permeability. We will study these terms in
greater detail later, but for now, we offer the following definitions.

Porosity is defined as the ratio of the void space in a rock to its bulk volume. There are
two components to a porous rock system: the grain volume Vg and the pore volume Vp.
The sum of the two gives the bulk volume Vb.

Vb = V g + V p
Porosity is thus the ratio of Vp to Vb,


Porosity can be calculated in a number of ways; for example,

Vb Vg VP
Vg V G V P

Deriving a value of porosity depends on the mechanism of the porosity-measuring

device and knowledge of any two of the three volume fractions.

Once the pore volume is known, it becomes easier to understand the amount of any one
fluid or gas that occupies this volume. The volume of this fluid, divided by the volume
of pores in which the fluid or gas resides, is defined as the fluid or gas saturation. Since
total saturation must always add up to 100%, the following equation may easily be


Where Sw is the water saturation in percent, So is the oil saturation in percent and Sg is
the gas saturation in percent.

In any hydrocarbon-bearing reservoir, the pore space may be occupied by oil, water,
gas (air is a gas), or a combination of these constituents. Depending on wettability,
most reservoirs that produce hydrocarbons generally contain a thin water film coating
the rock matrix surfaces around the parameter of the pores. Given such a system, the
hydrocarbons will occupy the center areas of these pores. This is illustrated in Figure 1:
A Three Phase, Water-Wet, Hydrocarbon Bearing Reservoir.

Figure 1

Permeability is defined as the ability of a porous system to allow fluids to flow through
it. Provided flow is laminar, Darcys relation can be used to define permeability, k, in
terms of flow rate, Q, area, A, length, L, pressure differential, , and fluid viscosity,

If only one fluid is present in the pore system, this relation defines absolute
permeability i.e., a rock property that is independent of the fluid that is flowing
through it. If Q is in cc/sec, A is in cm2, \L is in atmospheres/cm, and
centipoise, then k is in Darcies. One Darcy converts to 0.9869 x 10 -12 m2 or,
approximately, 1 square micron. The practical unit is the milliDarcy, abbreviated mD,
equal to 1/1000 of a Darcy.

The relationship between permeability and porosity depends on rock type. In general,
the log of permeability is linear with porosity for a given rock type; however, the
precise relationship is found only through direct measurements of representative rock
samples. Figure 2: Permeability/Porosity Relationships shows some of these trends.

Figure 2


Initially, most sediments are laid down in water--either in river and lake beds
(continental); in deltas and along shore lines (transitional); or on the continental
shelves (marine), as illustrated in Figure 1: Interrelationships of Depositional
Environment. Eolian dune sediments, deposited by wind instead of water, are an
exception to this rule.

Figure 1

Later in geologic time, after the reservoir rock has been buried, hydrocarbons migrate
into the reservoir. Gravity segregates gas, oil, and water into different layers, with gas
accumulating above oil, and oil over-lying water. In the absence of any rock, gas, oil,
and water would form distinct layers with sharp contacts between each phase. In the
reservoir, however, the contact lines between gas, oil, and water become blurred.

Within the reservior, the distribution of these fluids is affected by rock-fluid

interactions, which in the static situation is dominated by two forces: gravity and
interfacial tension. To understand the positions of oil / water and oil / gas contacts, it
is important to grasp the concepts of Wettability, Interfacial Tension and Capillary
Pressure, described below.


If a liquid is placed in contact with a solid, the surface of the liquid will tend to
contract to its minimum surface area. However there may also be an attractive force
between the liquid and the solid. This force is variable, and depends on the affinity
between the liquid and the solid (Figure 2: Wettability of Water on a Glass Surface).

Figure 2

The angle
the contact angle.

A solid is said to be wet by a liquid if the contact angle is less than 70o.

The liquid is intermediate-wetting if the contact angle is from 70o to 110o

The liquid is designated as non-wetting if the angle is greater than 110o.

Complete wetting of the solid by the liquid is achieved for = 0o, and complete non-
wetting (theoretically)
with = 180 .

The significance of reservoir rock wettability can be illustrated with a few examples:

In water-wet rock, the affinity between the water and the rock is much larger than the
affinity between the rock and the oil. Consequently, if both water and oil are present
in significant quantities within the pores of the rock, the water will be distributed as a
film that clings tightly to the pore surface. In contrast, the oil will contract in globules,
and will be found in the middle of the pores as depicted in the left part of Figure 3:
Distribution of the Water in a Water-Wet and Oil-Wet Reservoir.

Figure 3

If the affinity between the rock and the oil is larger than the affinity between rock and
water, the opposite situation will be found. The rock will be covered with an oil film,
and the water will be found in the middle of the pores, as shown in the right hand part
of the above illustration.

Most reservoirs are assumed to be water-wet. The left-hand illustration shows the
effect of wettability on the fraction of the oil volume that can eventually be produced.
For example, if the oil originally occupied 80 % of the pore volume, it would have
formed a continuous phase despite having been pushed to the middle of the pores by
the water that clings to the rock.

When production causes the oil saturation to be reduced to, say 25%, the oil will
become the discontinuous phase, and will be restricted to isolated globules surrounded
by water. The water phase then becomes continuous, and can still flow, but the oil
volume cannot be reduced further by primary production mechanisms, such as pressure
depletion and water drive. Injection of chemicals or gas will be required to reduce the
surface tension between the water and oil, thereby mobilizing the oil left behind during
the primary production phase.


Surface tension at a gas-liquid interface results from an imbalance in the

intermolecular (van der Waals) forces at the surface. This imbalance causes the surface
molecules to experience a net pull directed into the bulk of the solution ( Figure 4,
Part A: Intermolecular Forces and Surface Tension).

Figure 4

Consequently, energy is required to increase the surface area of an interface. This

explains why droplets and bubbles spontaneously minimize their surface area by
creating a spherical shape. This force per unit length is referred to as surface tension.

Surface tension can be demonstrated by considering a soap film in a rectangular metal

or glass frame. One side of the rectangle can be moved over a distance dx and the
force F required for this displacement can be measured, as depicted in Part B of the
above graphic. At equilibrium, a force balance gives:

[E-1] F = 2 l



= surface tension, force per unit length, N/m

l = length of the rectangle wire, m

F = force excerpted on the wire, N

Soap Bubble

This time, instead of a soap film, consider a hemispherical soap bubble sitting on a
plane liquid surface ( Figure 5: Visualization of the Surface Tension of a Soap Bubble).

Figure 5

At equilibrium, the surface tension acting along the periphery of the circle (2
the soap film down. This force must be balanced by excess pressure pushing the soap
film upwards. In order to have no net force on the liquid of the bubble, this upward
force must be equal to the force acting downwards:

[E-3] 2r = r2 P
This results in:

[E-4] F = 2. .l


equation [E-4]. However the interfacial tension is directed along the interface which
tube ( Figure 6: Capillary Tube).

Figure 6

The tension component that lifts the column of water is therefore equal to cos( )
parallel to the capillary axis. Equation [E-4] can be modified to read:

[E-5] 2. . cos ( .)
p = p1 p 2
Equation [E-5] defines the capillary pressure in terms of the radius of the tube. It is this
pressure difference which causes the rise of a wetting liquid in a capillary. This can

explain the affinity of water to a tube made of glass. The water literally creeps up the
tube and drags due to its internal cohesion with other water molecules.

If the two fluids are air and water, the following relationships are apparent:

[E-6] p = Pc ( water air ).g.h

Where air and water are the densities of air and water respectively; h the height of
liquid rise, g the acceleration of gravity, and Pc the capillary pressure.

Equation [E-6] can be rearranged to find the height h of the capillary rise.

[E-7] Pc
( water air ).g
In combination with equation [E-6] we obtain for this air/water/solid system:

[E-8] 2. . cos ( )
r. g. ( water air )
Because surface tension, contact angle and densities are constant for given fluids, it is
apparent that the height to which the water will rise is inversely proportional to the
radius of the tube.

If air were replaced by oil, similar reasoning leads to the relation:

[E-9] 2. . cos ( o / w )
r. g. ( water oil )
Note that the contact angle of the air/water combination is now replaced by o/w, the
contact angle of the oil/water system. For a very wide tube (r approaches infinity) both
h and Pc will be equal to zero. The water level, which will then be the same inside and
outside the tube is called the Free Water Level.

Capillary Pressure In Reservoir Rock

Reservoir rock contains numerous pores of different sizes (radii). If a rock was
extremely homogeneous with a constant pore size r we could apply Equation E-9 to
calculate the capillary rise h, because interfacial tensions (IFT) and contact angles of
various fluid/solid systems are known from laboratory measurements. The values
contained in the table below are commonly used for this approximation. In this table,
is the interfacial tension, and remember that 1 dyne/cm = 0.001 N/m or 1 mN/m

Table 1: Interfacial Tensions and Contact Angles of Various Fluid/Solid Systems

System cos() (dyne/cm) cos()

air/fresh water/solid 0 1 72 72

air/saline water/solid 0 1 83 83

oil/water/solid 0 1 35 35

kerosene/brine/solid 0 (30) 1 (0.866) 50 (48) 50 (42)

air/kerosene/solid 0 1 24 24

toluene/brine/solid 0 1 38 38

air/mercury/solid 40 for air 0.766 480 368

Real rocks, however, most likely have a distribution of pore radii, which must be
considered to accurately predict capillary rise. Let us assume we have a rock sample
containing pores of only three different sizes: small, medium and large. Since Pc and h
are inversely proportional to the pore radius, the fluid distribution will be as shown in
Figure 7: Schematic Representation of Capillary Pressure in Reservoir Rock.

Figure 7

This is for a gas/water/solid system, in which we only show one capillary of each class.

The pressure difference between the water and the gas gradients in the height versus
pressure cross-plot, at the levels of the three menisci in the capillaries is equal to Pc.
Figure 8: Displacement of Water by Oil and Corresponding Capillary Pressure Curve
shows the same sample bearing 100% water.

Figure 8

If we wish to displace water by oil we must exceed the capillary pressure for each pore
size. Let us assume the values of the radius r to be: 10 Pc = 1, 2 and 4
psi respectively.

If we further assume that the number of pores (straight capillaries) is equal for each
size, we may plot the pore volume of each size against the required injection pressure
Pc. The value of Pc required for initial displacement is called the initial displacement
pressure at the 100% water level. If the sample has a continuous distribution of tubes,
the right-hand side the above graphic evolves into a capillary pressure curve, as
depicted in Figure 9: Capillary Pressure Curve.

Figure 9

Now let's use the above concepts to describe water saturation within the transition
section of a reservoir containing oil and water.


Figure 10(Pressure -saturation plot) shows a reservoir that is divided into three
sections. The section at the top is mainly oil, the section at the bottom is all water,

and the transition section in the middle shows ever-increasing amounts of water as
depth increases. Plotted on the right-hand side of the Figure is a curve of water
saturation, together with a plot of the pressure of the fluids in the pore space.

In order to understand the shape of the water saturation curve within the transition
zone, consider the classical experiment of a small glass tube held in a beaker of water
(Figure 11: Capillary tube).

Figure 11

A capillary tube of radius r is found to support a column of water of height h. If the

density of the air is a and the density of the water is w, then the pressure differential
at the air-water contact is simply ( w - a)h. This pressure differential acting across the
cross-sectional area of the capillary is exactly counterbalanced by the surface tension,
T, of the water film acting around the inner circumference of the capillary tube. If, at
the water-glass interface, the contact angle is , then at equilibrium we have:

[E-10] 2rT cos = (w - a)h r2

[E-11] Force = Pressure Area
By simplifying and rearranging this expression we have:

[E-12] F = 2 l

We see that the smaller r is, the larger h becomes.

Translating this laboratory observation into terms of reservoir fluids, we can see that
water can be drawn up into what would otherwise be a 100% oil column by the capillary
effect of the small pores present in the rock system. We can equate the air in our
experiment with oil, water with water, and the tube with pore throats. Thus the
following factors control the maximum height, h, to which water can be raised:

the surface tension, T, between the two phases (here oil and water)

the contact angle, , between the wetting fluid (water) and the rock

the radius of the pore throats (r)

the density difference between the phases (w -o in this case)

Given these factors, it is simple to predict the length of a transition zone in a reservoir.
Reservoirs with large pore throats and high permeability have short transition zones,
and the transition zone at a gas-oil contact is shorter than that at an oil-water contact
simply because of the interphase density differences involved (Figure 12: Pore size,
saturation, and permeability).

Figure 12

Since a pore system is made up of a variety of pore sizes and shapes, no single value of
r can be assigned to one reservoir. Depending on the size and distribution of the pore
throats, certain available pore channels will raise water above the free-water level.
The water saturation above the top of the transition zone will thus he a function of
porosity and pore-size distribution.

In a water-wet system, water will wet the surface of each grain or line the walls of the
capillary tubes. At the time that oil migrates into the reservoir, the capillary pressure
(Pc) effects are such that the downward progress of oil in the reservoir is most strongly

resisted in the smallest capillaries. A distinct limit to the amount of oil that can be
expected to fill the pores will then be reached. Large-diameter pores offer little
resistance (Pc is low because r is big). Small-diameter pores offer greater resistance (Pc
is high because r is small). For a given reservoir, o and w determine the pressure
differential that an oil-water meniscus can support. Thus, the maximum oil saturation
possible is controlled by the relative number of small and large capillaries or pore
throats. This maximum possible oil saturation, expressed in terms of water saturation,
translates into a minimum possible water saturation, and this is referred to as the
irreducible water saturation, Swi.

Shaly, silty, low-permeability rocks with their attendant small pore throats
tend to have very high irreducible water saturations.

Clean sands of high permeability have very low irreducible water


Figure 13 (Porosity-permeability plots) illustrates this important concept by comparing

capillary pressure curves for four rock systems of different porosity and

Figure 13

Saturation Level Definitions
In water-wet rock the following definitions can be formulated:

Free Water Level (FWL)

For a very wide tube (r approaches infinity) both capillary rise and pressure differential
will be equal to zero. The water level, which will then be the same inside and outside
the tube is called the FWL. This is annotated in the capillary pressure curve of Figure 9
(Capillary Pressure Curve), and is the point where Sw=100% and Pc=0.

Free Oil Level (FOL)

The Free Oil Level can be obtained by measuring reservoir pressures with a wireline
formation tester. The FOL is located at the transition between the gas-bearing and oil-
bearing part of the reservoir. For practical purposes, it can be considered to be the
GOC (Gas Oil Contact) in the reservoir.

100% Water Level

The 100% Water Level is found where hydrocarbons start from the bottom up to occupy
pore space in a water-wet reservoir. This is not the same level as the FWL, because a
threshold pressure has to be overcome before hydrocarbons fill the pore space.

Oil Water Contact (OWC) or Gas Water Contact (GWC)

Definitions that the OWC or GWC are the levels above which water-free oil and gas are
produced are difficult to verify, because they involve numerous production tests. For
practical reasons the 50% oil or gas saturation levels are often taken instead. This is
usually accurate for high permeability reservoirs. A second definition is the OWC or
GWC are the deepest depths where oil or gas respectively are encountered (similar but
not identical to the 100% Water Level), based on log analysis.

Connate Water Saturation / Irreducible Water Saturation

The connate water saturation refers to the smallest water saturation that can be
reached in a water-wet reservoir at the top of the oil column. The connate water is
immovable, and will form a film on the grains. Increasing the capillary pressure does
not decrease the connate water saturation.

In water-wet rock, the sequence of levels from the bottom up is the FWL, followed by
the shallower 100% Water Level, and then the OWC or GWC at the shallowest depth. In
oil-wet rock, the OWC can be located deeper than the FWL. In some cases, the
reservoir has a mixed wettability: oil-wet in the upper part of the oil leg and water-wet
in the transition zone and in the water leg.


Porosity can be loosely characterized by the interstices of the rock, where no matrix is
present. The porosity is that fraction of total rock volume which is filled with water,
gas, or oil. The material of a reservoir rock may range from very loose unconsolidated
sand to a very hard, dense sandstone, limestone or dolomite. The cement that fills the
pores and binds the grains together may consist of silica, calcite, or clay. This mixture
of matrix material, cement, and pore filling clays can create a large range of porosity
values and porosity types.


The two components of a porous rock system can be expressed as the grain volume Vg
and the pore volume Vp. The sum of the two gives the bulk volume Vb.

Vb = V g + V p
Thus, the porosity is the amount of pore space expressed as a fraction of the total

Vb Vma





Vma Vp


= porosity, as a fraction of bulk volume

Vp = pore volume

Vb = total or bulk volume

Vgr = volume of matrix materials

Deriving a value of porosity depends on the mechanism of the porosity-measuring

device and knowledge of any two of the three volume fractions.

Porosity Units
Porosity is expressed as a fraction of the bulk volume of the rock. The normal
convention in reservoir engineering is to express porosities in percentage units; e.g., a
porosity of 0.3 is referred to as 30% porosity. However, another term frequently used is
porosity unit, or P.U. By using a unit rather than a percentage, a lot of confusion is

avoided. For example, in comparing a 20 P.U. sandstone with a 25 P.U. sandstone, the
latter is 5 P.U. higher than the former. This negates the confusion caused by saying one
is 5% (or 25%) better than the other.


The porosity of sedimentary rocks is a function of many variables including grain shape,
size, orientation, and sorting. These variables all help to determine rock texture. If all
the grains are of the same size, then sorting is said to be good. If grains of many diverse
sizes are mixed together, sorting is said to be poor. The packing of the grains also
influences rock porosity (Figure 1: Packing of Spheres). For a given sorting, porosity is
independent of grain size. For example, if spheres of diameter d are packed in a cubic
lattice arrangement, the porosity can be calculated by the following method.

Figure 1

Given a unit volume, n3 spheres are packed n to a side with a diameter, d. The total
volume is (nd)3 d/2)3, so the volume occupied
by n3 spheres is (4/ nd/2)3. Thus the porosity is,

4 nd
(nd) 3 ( ) 3
3 2
This equation simplifies to (1 -
the term d cancels out and is not a determining factor.

Cubic packing is not an efficient way to store spheres in a box. Nature seeks more
compact packing mechanisms, such as rhombohedral packing, which produces a
porosity of 25.95% (versus 47.64% for cubic packing).

Porosity decreases as grain sorting becomes poorer. This is because intergranular pores
of a given grain size may be occupied by ever smaller grains.

Apart from the mechanics of how sand grains are packed is the question of how their
compaction changes as a function of the depth of burial. Porosity decreases with
increasing depth in a predictable manner. This may be estimated using the following

o e depth/
Where is a compaction constant for a particular geologic area. This association
generally fits most normally pressured reservoirs; i.e., the log of porosity is linear with
depth. For example, if o, the porosity at surface, is 45% and depth is in feet, then a
typical value of might be 12,000, resulting in a porosity of 12.9% at 15,000 feet and
8.5% at 20,000 feet.


Although the porosity of a formation is commonly defined as the volume of the pore
space divided by the volume of the rock containing the pore space, this definition of
porosity ignores the question of whether the pores are interconnected or not. Swiss
cheese, for example, is quite porous but has very low permeability because the void
spaces are not interconnected. Intergranular porosity that is interconnected is defined
as effective porosity. Pores that are blocked in some way (by clay particles, silt, etc.)
contribute to the ineffective porosity. Thus a preferred definition provides total
porosity T as the volume of the pores divided by the volume of rock, and effective
porosity e as the volume of interconnected pores divided by the volume of rock. Figure
2: Definitions of Total and Effective Porosity illustrates this concept.


While porosity is a static property of a rock, permeability is a dynamic one. The

permeability of a rock is a quantitative measure of the ease with which the rock
permits the passage of fluids propelled by a pressure gradient. This process of fluid
transport may be simplistically modeled by assuming the rock pore structure consists of
a series of small tubes or capillaries. Poiseuilles law expresses the flow through such a
cylindrical tube:

.r 4 .P
8 . . L


Q = volumetric velocity, cm3/s

r = radius of tube, cm

P = pressure difference, dyne/cm2

= dynamic viscosity in poise (gram/sec . cm

L = length tube in cm


Provided the flow is laminar, Darcys relation can be used to define permeability k, in
terms of flow rate, area, length, pressure differential, and fluid viscosity, such that,



k = permeability,

Q = flow rate,

A = area,

L = length,

P = pressure differential, and

= fluid viscosity


The relationship between permeability and porosity depends on rock type. In general,
the log of permeability is linear with porosity for a given rock type; however, the
precise relationship is found only through direct measurements of representative rock
samples. Figure 1: Permeability / Porosity Relationships shows some of these trends.

Figure 1


Permeability is a geometrical property and is therefore dependent on rock properties

such as composition, texture and fabric. If composition is assumed to be essentially
constant, then texture is the dominant factor. There are many semi-empirical
relationships between permeability and the textural properties, such as grain size,
sorting and porosity. The relation by van Baaren (1979) has given useful results for non-
shaly sandstones:

[E-1] k 10.D dom.C-3.64. m3.64


k = one-phase permeability (mD)

Ddom = dominant grain size (micron) from cutting inspection with a


C = a constant derived from the sorting observed with a

microscope (see table below)

= porosity, fraction of bulk volume; derived from well log

m = cementation factor (see table below)

The constant "C" (used in the equation above) is affected by sorting, as shown in the
following table.

Table 1: Relation of "C" to Sorting and Dominant Grainsize (D dom)

Degree of Sorting C Ddom.max./Ddom.min.

extremely well to very well sorted 0.70 2.5

very well to well sorted 0.77

well sorted 0.84 3.5

well to moderately sorted 0.87

moderately sorted 0.91 8

moderately to poorly sorted 0.95

poorly sorted 1.00

As mentioned earlier, the cementation factor m is affected by consolidation, as shown

in the following table.

Table 2: Relation of Cementation Factor, m, to Consolidation of Sands and Sandstones

Degree of Consolidation Cementation Factor Cementation Factor

(Atmospheric) (In-Situ)

shallow, very unconsolidated sands 1.2 1.2

unconsolidated sands 1.4 1.6

unconsolidated to friable sands 1.5 1.7

friable sandstone 1.6 1.8

hard to friable sandstone 1.7 1.9

hard sandstone 1.8 2.0

very hard sandstone 2.0 2.2

The relation expressed by the equation above enables permeability data to be obtained
during initial field development, before a core is cut and analyzed in the laboratory (a
process that can take several weeks). The relation can in principle be applied within
hours of logging the well, and therefore uses readily available data sources such as

cuttings, and/or sidewall samples, together with the porosity derived from well logs.
For more information on the cementation factor m, see Porosity and Formation Factor.

Field example
When permeability is plotted versus porosity on double logarithmic paper, a straight
line is often found (provided the cementation factor, grain size and sorting are
constant). In Figure 2 (Permeability versus Porosity), the permeabilities measured on
core samples are plotted versus the porosities and compared with the relation (straight
line) derived using equation [E-1].

Figure 2

The average grain size used in the relation for the clean sandstone in the above graphic
is 250 microns, and for the cementation factor, m, is 1.8.


One of the purposes of the mud column is to maintain an overpressure in the borehole
with respect to the fluid pressure in the reservoir rock. As a result, water will filter
from the mud into the rock. The invading mud filtrate will displace part of the oil in
the rock around the well bore, and will create an invaded zone as depicted in Figure 3:
Invasion Profile in a Reservoir. In this graphic, di1 and di2 are the diameters of invasion
of a high-and a low-porosity sandstone (SST) layer respectively; dh is the borehole

Figure 3

Solid (clay) particles contained in the mud will be deposited along the borehole wall
opposite permeable zones, and will form a mud-cake with a permeability that is much
lower than the permeability of the invaded reservoir rock. The rate of mud filtrate flow
into the formation will be controlled by the low permeability of the mud cake. It will
be in first approximation independent of the permeability of the various layers, except
of course when the permeability is close to zero.

The distance into the reservoir rock that the invasion will progress in a given time
period is therefore governed by the rock porosity and not by the magnitude of the
permeability. The depth of invasion in a low porosity rock is consequently deeper than
in a high porosity (larger storage capacity) rock.


A number of methods have been described in the literature to derive permeability from
logs. In this section, only the methods that are used on a routine basis are discussed.
During exploration or appraisal, cores are taken across the reservoir section of interest.
Porosities can often be derived with a high degree of accuracy from the wireline logs
when a correlation with the porosities measured on core samples is made. In turn
permeabilities measured on core samples can usually be related to porosities, provided

the relation is restricted to one sedimentological unit. The following symbols are used
in the equations that describe these relations:


k = Permeability, mD

= Porosity in fraction of bulk volume, %

Swirr = Irreducible water saturation as a fraction of the pore volume, %

Permeability as a Function of Porosity

Depending on the environment of deposition, core permeabilities can often be
correlated with the core porosities. These relations have the following layout:

[E-2] [C C .log( )]
k 10 1 2
[E-3] [C C . ]
k 10 1 2
C1 and C2 are constants that are determined by regression analysis on permeability /
porosity data pairs.

A crossplot of permeability versus porosity is used to determine the most appropriate

relation, which in turn can be applied to find permeabilities in uncored intervals from
porosity log values.

Permeability from Porosity and Irreducible Water Saturation

Equations E-2 and E-3 use only the porosity of the reservoir. This approach is not unique
because rocks with the same porosity can have widely different grain sizes, and
therefore a wide range of permeabilities. Reservoirs with large grains will have a higher
permeability than small-grained reservoirs. If the reservoir contains the maximum
amount of oil, the irreducible water volume will cling to the grain surfaces, provided
the rock is water wet. For a reservoir that consists of small grains, the grain surface
area will be much larger than for a reservoir composed of large grains. The irreducible
water saturation (Swirr.) is in that case a measure of grain size, and also an indication of
permeability. The following equation by Wyllie and Rose is one of the many found in

[E-4] k [100. 2 .(1 Swirr ) / Swirr ]2

When cores are available, it is worthwhile to derive the constants from core


Before we discuss resistivity well logging, it is important to learn how electricity flows
into a formation, and to know which components of the formation permit or prevent
the flow of electricity. In this discussion, we will first start by describing conductivity
and its relation to resistivity.


Electricity can pass through a formation only because of conductive water contained
within the formation. With a few rare exceptions, such as metallic sulfide or graphite,
dry rock is a good electrical insulator. But perfectly dry rocks are very seldom
encountered in the subsurface; water is in their pores or absorbed in their interstitial
clay, therefore subsurface formations have finite, measurable resistivities.

In general, reservoir rock consists of two types of components:

Non-Conductive Components

Rock matrix (with a few exceptions like clays and ore bodies)


Fresh water

Conductive Components

Salt water

Some rock minerals such as shales, siderite, pyrite

Conductivity is in most cases controlled by the following properties of the water phase:

Porosity (), the amount of pore volume per unit bulk volume

Water Saturation (Sw), the fraction of the pore volume occupied by water

Water Conductivity (Cw)

Water conductivity, in turn, is a function of the salinity of the water, as

well as the pressure and temperature conditions in the reservoir.


Ohms law states that the potential difference (V) between two points on a conductor
is equal to the product of the electrical current flowing in the conductor (I ), and the
resistance of the conductor (R). Practical units of measurement are, respectively, the
volt, the amp, and the ohm. Expressed as an equation, the relationship is


Volts = Amps Ohms

The resistance of a material is its ability to impede the flow of electrical current. Well
logging, however, is more concerned with the resistivity, rather than the resistance, of
a rock. Resistivity is a measure of the electrical resistance of a specific amount of a
substance. In this case, resistivity is numerically equivalent to the voltage required to
cause one amp to pass through a cube of face area one-meter square. This concept is
illustrated in Figure 1: Definition of the Ohm-Meter

Figure 1

To obtain that "specific resistance" R of a rock, the resistance r is multiplied by the

rocks surface area A and divided by its length L. Specific Resistance, more commonly
referred to as resistivity, is defined as:

R r Volt m 2 / A m Ohm m

The unit of resistivity is the ohm-meter2/meter, and abbreviated as m2/m or m.

When discussing formation resistivities, it is common to say "this is a 25-ohm sand"

rather than to say "this sand has a resistivity of 25 ohms meters squared per meter." So

the field jargon, when talking about resistivity logs, is to say "ohm" when "ohm m 2/m" is
really meant.


Conductivity is the reciprocal of resistivity.

A substance with infinite resistivity (empty space) has a conductivity of zero, and a
substance with low resistivity has high conductivity. Conductivity is expressed in mhos
per meter (mho/m). In other words, the inverse of the ohm is the mho. In the metric
system, the unit of conductivity mho/m is known as S/m (Siemens/m). On wireline logs,
conductivity is usually expressed in a finer measurement of millimhos per meter
(mmho/m), where 1000 mmho/m = 1 mho/m.

Conductivity (C) =


Given an infinite isotropic homogeneous medium containing a spherical electrode that

emits a current (I ) radially in a spherical distribution (see Figure 2: Electrical Logging

Figure 2

the voltage drop between any two concentric spherical shells with radii and +
can be determined in the following manner:

dV = I dr

where dV is the voltage drop, I is the current, and dr is the resistance between the two
shells. If the resistivity of the medium is R, then

dr R
4 2

dV I R
4 2

Integrating this equation from = A to = M, the equation to determine the value for
Vm becomes

R 1 R
Vm I I
4 A 4AM

where Vm is the measured voltage at some point a distance M from the current

electrode A, and R is the formation resistivity .

This ideal derivation does not fit the real world for two reasons. First, a borehole is
required in order to introduce an electrode into the formation, and, second, no
formation is infinite and homogeneous. Over the years, many improvements have been
made to this simple, but inadequate, method of measuring formation resistivity.

Typical Resistivities
Typical formation resistivities range from 0.2 ohm-m to 1000 ohm-m. Soft formations
(shaly sands) range from 0.2 ohm-m to about 50 ohm-m. Hard formations (carbonates)
range from 100 ohm-m to 1000 ohm-m. Evaporates (salt, anhydrite) may exhibit
resistivities of several thousand ohm-m. Formation water, by contrast, ranges from a
few hundredths of an ohm-m (brines) to several ohm-m (fresh water). Seawater has a
resistivity of 0.35 ohm-m at 75 F.


Determining the resistivities of a given segment of the formation is not always a

straightforward task. Drilling disturbs the equilibrium in the distribution of water and
hydrocarbon saturations that is determined by the interaction of gravity and capillary
forces in the undisturbed reservoir. As mud filtrate invades permeable formations, the
conductivity in the invaded zone changes. The shape of this zone is often assumed to
be cylindrical around the borehole, and to contain water with conductivity equal to
that of the mud filtrate. This is illustrated in Figure 3: The borehole and surrounding
environment. The latter value can be measured on the surface from mud samples.

Figure 3

In an impermeable rock such as shale, invasion does not occur. In a permeable rock,
the flushed zone is defined as the zone around the borehole where the pores are 100%
filled with mud filtrate. The transition zone contains a mixture of mud filtrate and
original formation fluids. The virgin zone contains only original formation water and/or
hydrocarbon saturation. It is these reservoir conditions as they exist in the virgin zone
that are of direct interest to the petrophysicist. Measurement of virgin reservoir
conditions, however, is very difficult due to the influence of the altered zones.
Furthermore, the lateral extent of these altered zones is not generally known, making
compensation a difficult task due to the effects of the altered zones. For this reason,
additional conductivity measurements, with different depths of investigation, are
required to help delineate these different zones and correct for their effect on many
downhole measurements.


In this section, we will briefly look at some important relationships that arose from
Archie's pioneering investigation of electrical properties in water-and oil-bearing rocks
during the 1940s.


Conductivity is zero for a clean rock sample that has a pore network in which the entire
pore space is occupied by air (C=0). This is because no conductive material is present.
When the pores of the rock are completely filled with conductive water (Figure 1:
Formation Resistivity Factor Relation) having a conductivity Cw, the rock becomes
conductive, and the conductivity increases to the value C0.

Figure 1

(Standard terminology uses the symbol C0 to refer to a sample 100% saturated with

Because the current can only flow through the water within the rock pores, the value of
C0 is controlled by

the conductivity of the water in the pore space (Cw) and

the tortuosity of the rock pores (severity of curvature and size of pore
necks in the pore network).

For a particular rock core sample, the ratio of Cw over C0 is constant, and is called the
formation factor, F. The value of F is always larger than 1.

[E-1] CW

First Archie Equation

Let us now consider samples that are each 100% saturated with water having
conductivity Cw, but which have different porosities and pore geometries. The larger
the amount of water per unit bulk volume in the sample, the higher the conductivity C0
of the sample will be. Thus for a fixed pore water conductivity the following
observations can be made:

The conductivity C0 increases with increasing porosity for the same


The pore geometry is a function of lithology and texture, and describes how
the pores are connected. A sample containing pores that are very tortuous
or ill-connected will have a lower conductivity than a sample that is less
tortuous, with pores that are well-connected, provided that both samples
contain water with the same conductivity.

When cores are taken in a reservoir, the porosity and the formation resistivity factor
can be measured on a number of samples. By plotting the porosities and the formation
resistivity factors on double logarithmic paper, a strait line relationship is often
obtained, as shown in Figure 2: Porosity versus Formation Resistivity Factor). This
relationship, which is determined empirically in the laboratory, can be expressed as

Figure 2

[E-2] F = -m

Where: m is the cementation factor or the lithologic exponent, and is the porosity

In the Middle East, the pores in some carbonates are almost not connected despite the
fact that the formation has high porosity. These rocks have very low C0 values, and C0
is dominated by tortuosity. The cementation factor in these carbonates can have values
as high as 5. For the majority of hydrocarbon reservoirs, the cementation factor
fortunately lies between 1.5 and 2.5, and can be estimated in the table below.

Relation of Cementation Factor, m, to Consolidation of Sands and Sandstones

Degree of Consolidation Cementation Factor Cementation Factor


shallow, very unconsolidated sands 1.2 1.2

unconsolidated sands 1.4 1.6

unconsolidated to friable sands 1.5 1.7

friable sandstone 1.6 1.8

hard to friable sandstone 1.7 1.9

hard sandstone 1.8 2.0

very hard sandstone 2.0 2.2

Measuring the Value of m

The most reliable method to obtain m values is from laboratory measurements of
samples when cores are available.

Laboratory measurements performed on plugs cut from cores.

For each plug the porosity and the conductivity C0 of a sample 100% water saturated
with water of conductivity Cw, is measured. The m values calculated with equation [E-
2] will differ slightly from sample to sample, even for a very homogenous sand. The m
values are therefore averaged for the final evaluation.

Water-bearing reservoirs

When the hydrocarbon column in a reservoir overlies a water leg, it is possible to

determine the m factor from wireline logs alone. The density log provides porosity
values, while the rock conductivities C0 are derived from resistivity logs. The formation
water conductivity Cw can be obtained via the spontaneous potential (SP) log. The m
factor can then be calculated using the First Archie Equation because , Cw and C0 are


Fluid saturations for the most part are adequately measured by log analysis techniques,
provided that formations are clean and connate waters are saline. Problems arise with
shaly formations and fresh-water-bearing formations. Other methods of saturation
determination are available from proper coring and subsequent core analysis
techniques. Mud logging can provide a qualitative measure of oil and gas saturations.

Archie pioneered investigation of the electrical properties of water-and oil-bearing

rocks in 1942. To follow the development of his experimental observations, we need to
examine the electrical behavior of electrolytes and water-filled rocks, which we'll
explore below.


Connate waters range in resistivity from about 1/100 of an ohm-m up to several ohm-
m, depending on the salinity and temperature of the solution.

Effect of Salinity on Resistivity
The resistivity of the formation water, Rw is an intrinsic property of the water and is a
function of its salinity and temperature. The higher these two variables, the more
conductive the water and the lower its resistivity. The salinity effect on conductivity
depends, in turn, on the type and concentration of ions in solution. The salt most
frequently encountered in formation water is sodium-chloride (NaCl). Other salts like
calcium-chloride (CaCl2) may also be present. The effect of other ions is normalized to
an equivalent NaCl concentration with conversion factors commonly found in chart-
books offered by each individual logging company. Salinities are expressed in gram/liter
or Parts Per Million (ppm) NaCl equivalent.

The relation between salinity in ppm and gram per liter (g/L) is:

X1 1000

In which:

X1 is the salinity in ppm

X2 is the salinity in g/L

sol is the solution density in g/L of the brine.

The resistivity of a solution can be determined with standard graphs or equations when
the temperature and salinity (in equivalent NaCl ppm) are known.

The value of Rw is required in order to determine water saturation by quantitative

analysis of porosity and resistivity logs.


The ability of a rock to conduct electricity is due entirely to the ions in the water found
in its pore spaces. Figure 1 shows a cube of rock with a system of cylindrical tubes
drilled through it.

Figure 1

If the cylindrical "pores" are filled with water of resistivity Rw, their total area is A, and
their individual length is L, we can estimate that the resistivity of the total rock system
is proportional to Rw L/A. By definition, the resistivity of water-bearing porous rock
systems is R0.

If the area A is small, there is a small conductive path per length L and the resistivity of
the rock system is high. Conversely, if A is large, the resistivity is low. It can be seen
that A is proportional to the porosity itself. Thus we may write:

Ro = f (Rw, )

Electrical Formation Factor

The method Archie used to arrive at the functional form of the above relationship was
simple. He took a number of cores of different porosities and saturated each one with
brines of different salinities.

He measured the resistivity of the water (Rw) at each brine salinity, and then measured
the resistivity of the 100% water-saturated rock system, Ro. When the results were
plotted, Archie found a series of straight lines for cores of different porosities having
slope F, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2.

Archie determined that the relationship between Ro and Rw is as follows:

Ro = FR

Archie conducted many experiments that showed that this formation factor is related
to porosity in a predictable manner. Our simple tubular model of Figure 1 bears little
relationship to the tortuous paths that pores actually take. The factor L (the length of
the tubular pore) grows longer as the tortuosity of the pore system increases.

By definition, the formation factor is the ratio of Ro /Rw; i.e., the ratio of the resistivity
of a rock sample that is 100% saturated with water to the resistivity of the water itself.
Archie found that laboratory-measured values for F could also be related to the
porosity of the rock by an equation of the form:

F = a / m

Where a is the tortuosity factor and m is the cementation exponent. The values of a
and m are experimentally determined constraints; a is usually close to 1 and m is
usually close to 2 in porous formations (Figure 3: Generalized F-to- ).

Figure 3

In grossly oolicastic packs, the cementation exponent m can range as high as 3 in value.

Three commonly used formation-factor-to-porosity relations:

F = 1/2 (compacted formations and chalky rocks

F = 0.62/2.15 (Humble formula for soft formations and sucrosic rocks)

F = 0.81/2 (simplified Humble formula for sands -created to eliminate the fractional
cementation exponent)

For a wet formation, we may combine the F to relationship with the definition of F,
and arrive at the equation:

Rw = Ro/F = Ro m/a


The combination of the equations





C0=Cw m

This expresses the conductivity of a sample (C0) as a function of cementation exponent

(m) and porosity ( a conductivity Cw. By replacing
some of the water with hydrocarbons, the conductivity will decrease. The initial value
C0 (at Sw=1.0) decreases to a value Ct as shown in Figure 4: Conductivity Symbols.

Figure 4

By convention, the conductivity of the reservoir rock containing a mixture of

hydrocarbons and formation water is called Ct (true conductivity). The value of Ct
(water and hydrocarbon in the pore space) is lower than C0 (only water in pore space)
and, the ratio C0/Ct is therefore indicative of the water saturation. This ratio is, by
definition, the resistivity index, I which is always larger than 1.

Second Archie Equation

The relationship between the resistivity index and the water saturation is established
experimentally. Conductivity C0 is measured on samples, properly cleaned, evacuated,
and saturated with water. The water saturation is decreased stepwise by flushing with
oil. After equilibrium is reached at each step, the conductivity Ct is measured again.
The value of Sw at each step is calculated from the volume of the expelled water and
porosity. For clean homogenous samples, these data points plotted using double
logarithmic axes usually produce a linear trend. The relationship between the ratio of
C0 and Ct which forms the resistivity index, I, can be written as follows:

I S w n

Where n represents the slope of the linear trend on the double logarithmic plot, and is
called the saturation exponent. The majority of measured values range from 1.6 to 2.4,

and a value for n equal to 2 is often assumed when core measurements are not


Archies experiments showed that the saturation of a core could be related to its
resistivity, or, taking it a step further, that the saturation of a clean formation could he
expressed in terms of its true resistivity: He was able to determine that the fractional
water saturation, Sw, was equal to the square root of the ratio of the wet formation
resistivity, RO to the formation resistivity, Rt. That is:

S 2W

In a more generalized form this equation can be written as:

Sn o
w R

where n is the saturation exponent. Laboratory experiments have shown n = 2.0 in the
average case.

Since Ro = F Rw, the water saturation equation can also be written

Swn = F Rw/Rt,

where n the saturation exponent is often assumed to be 2 (Figure 5: Sw as a Function of

R0/Rt and n).

Figure 5

Archies classical relationships work well in clean formations. However, they perform
poorly in shaly formations, in formations that contain metallic minerals and when
connate water is fresh. This is due to the fact that Archies model assumes the
electrolytes in the pores to be the only conductive path. This is not the case when
other rock constituents such as clay provide an additional conductive path, which will
complicate any evaluation based on Archies formulas.


Combining the above equations results in the Archie equation:

C t m SW n C W

It should be noted that of the five parameters required for the Sw evaluation:

The porosity and true conductivity Ct are measured independently

with wireline logs

The formation water conductivity Cw is determined in a water-

bearing zone via water samples or using the spontaneous potential
(SP) log.

The cementation exponent m and saturation exponent n preferably

come from core analysis.

In the calculations leading to water saturation S w, each input parameter adds to the
overall uncertainty. The Sw will be too high if:

the saturation exponent n is estimated too high

the cementation m exponent is estimated too high, or

the porosity

Interpreting Petrophysical Data

When a formation is above the transition zone, i.e., at irreducible water saturation, the
product of and Sw is a constant. Variations of porosity are normal on a local scale,
caused both by changes in the depositional environment and by subsequent diagenesis.
If porosity is reduced locally, either a greater proportion of the pore throats are small,
or there are simply fewer pore throats. Either way, the mean radius r is smaller; thus
Pc is larger and more water can be held in the pore maintaining the constant wi

This has a practical application. After a zone has been analyzed on a foot-by-foot basis
for porosity and water saturation, a plot of versus Sw reveals the presence or absence
of a transition zone.

Figure 6 -Sw Crossplot on Logarithmic Grids shows such a plot on log-log paper.

Figure 6

Here, the points at irreducible saturation plot on a straight line, and the points in the
transition zone plot to the right of the irreducible line.

Reservoirs may be characterized by the wi product, and this knowledge can be used
as a basis for predicting production characteristics. For points not at irreducible
saturation, a certain degree of water production is to be expected, depending on the
mobility ratio, (kwo/kow), for the particular fluids present. Note that in a low-
porosity, low-permeability formation, surprisingly high water saturations can be
tolerated without fear of water production. Conversely, in others with good porosity
and permeability, even with moderate values of Sw, water production can be expected
- a fact that is often overlooked.

Figure 2


Porosity may develop in a formation by a variety of mechanisms. Where pores are

uniformly distributed throughout the bulk rock, the porosity is referred to as matrix
porosity. Where the only storage space in the rock system is in cracks and fissures in an
otherwise zero porosity matrix, the porosity is referred to as fracture porosity. A third
type of porosity may coexist with either of the other types in the form of vugs, and is
referred to as vuggy porosity.

Matrix Porosity
Matrix porosity is common in sandstone and other granular rock formations. The physics
of the porosity measurement is unaffected by the manner in which the void spaces
were created; i.e., it is not important whether the porosity was originally created by
sedimentation of individual grains or by leaching by acidic solution after deposition.
Thus, individual logging tools cannot tell directly the type or origin of the matrix
porosity in a rock sample. Petrographic analysis of cores is required for that kind of

Fracture Porosity
Fracture porosity is unevenly distributed throughout the rock. It appears normally as
near-vertical cracks, or fractures, whose orientation depends on the azimuth of the
stresses in the formation. Not all logging tools respond to fracture and/or vuggy
porosity in the same manner. Thus, it is sometimes possible to distinguish fracture
and/or vuggy porosity from matrix porosity with judicious use of a combination of
porosity-measuring devices and careful analysis of the results. (A difference in porosity

measurements derived from a Neutron/Density suite and that provided by a Sonic tool
can sometimes be attributed to this type of fracture porosity.)

Vuggy Porosity
Vuggy porosity is most often encountered in limestone formations. It occurs when small
cavities are formed as the rock material passes into solution. Vuggy porosity is most
often a type of ineffective porosity due to the fact that the small cavities are isolated
from each other. If Swiss cheese were a type of rock, it would be characterized as
having vuggy porosity.


Many disciplines meet at a common point when formation evaluation is discussed from
the point of view of elastic waves. Elastic formation properties control the transmittal
of elastic waves through subsurface formations; indeed, the whole science of seismic
evaluation is based on the physics of rock elasticity. Acoustic logging is a localized,
downhole branch of geophysics. By properly combining measurements both from
surface and downhole, a wealth of information can be gathered concerning formation
properties. For example,

acoustic logs and check shot surveys can be used to "calibrate" seismic

combined acoustic and density logs can provide "synthetic seismic" traces

combined acoustic and density logs can deduce formation mechanical

properties, used in turn to deduce
pore pressure, rock compressibility, fracture gradients, sanding problems,

acoustic logs, used in conjunction with other logs, can deduce porosity,
lithology, and fluid saturations

acoustic logs can be used to produce vertical seismic profiles (VSP) that
"see" below the bottom of the well

acoustic tools may be used for cement bond logging in cased holes

Since the elasticity of subsurface formations is basic to all of these measurements and
interpreted answers, it is important to study elastic wave propagation through a


Different types of waves are propagated, depending on whether their medium is

infinite or finite.


Two types of sound waves are propagated in an infinite medium:

Compressional Waves - Compressional (or pressure) waves are longitudinal, that is, the
direction of propagation is parallel to the direction of particle displacement (Figure 1).
Gases and liquids, as well as solids, tend to oppose compression, therefore
compressional waves can be propagated through them.

Figure 1 .

Shear Waves - Shear waves are transverse; that is, the direction of propagation is
perpendicular to the direction of particle displacement (Figure 2).

Figure 2 .

Shear waves can be propagated through solids, owing to their rigidity. On the other
hand, gases (and liquids having negligible viscosity) cannot oppose shearing, and shear
waves cannot be propagated through them. In practice, viscous fluids do permit some
propagation of shear waves, though they become highly attenuated.

Propagation in a finite medium

In a finite medium (such as a borehole), other types of waves are propagated. These
are guided waves, which include:

Rayleigh Waves - Rayleigh waves occur at the mud/formation interface and are a
combination of two displacements, one parallel and the other perpendicular to the
interface. Their speed is slightly less than the shear wave velocity (V Rayleigh is 86% to
96% of VShear). When energy leaks away from the interface as compressional waves
are set up in the mud, the waves are then referred to as pseudo-Rayleigh waves.

Stoneley Waves. Stoneley waves ("tube waves") can travel in the mud by interaction
between the mud and the formation. The amplitude of these low-frequency waves
decays exponentially in both the mud and the formation away from the borehole
boundary. Stoneley wave velocity is lower than mud compressional velocity.

Proper interpretation of measurements using elastic wave data requires an
understanding of the elastic properties of a medium.


The properties derived from testing rock samples in the laboratory, such as measuring
the strain for a given applied stress, are static elastic constants. Dynamic elastic
constants are determined by measuring elastic wave velocities in the material. Acoustic
logging and waveform analysis provide the means for obtaining continuous velocity
measurements and, thus, knowledge of the mechanical properties of the rock in situ.

The speed at which a wave travels through a medium may be expressed in two ways.
Geophysicists think in terms of velocity, i.e., distance traveled per unit of time.
Subsurface formation velocities range from 6000 to 25,000 ft/second. Log analysts think
in terms of time, i.e., the time taken to travel one unit of distance. A convenient unit

change in time. With these definitions in mind, the dynamic elastic constants of a
medium can be expressed as a function of bulk density (b) and travel time for
c s, respectively, as shown in the following


Poissons Ratio Lateral strain 1

2t s / t c 2 1
Longitudinal strain t s / t c 2 1
Applied stress b
G Shear Modulus a
Shear strain t s2

Applied stress
E Youngs Modulus
Normal strain 2G (1 + ) a

Applied stress 1 4
KB Bulk Modulus b a
Volumetric strain t 2 3t 2
c s

CB Bulk Compressibility deformation 1
Applied stress KB


Neutron interactions within the formation or borehole form the basis of operating
principals for a variety of openhole and cased hole tools. For this reason, it is important
to understand elementary physics relating to the way neutrons and their gamma rays

interact with key components in the formation or wellbore. The following lists a
sampling of the breadth of approaches used in logging which take advantage of neutron

The gamma ray log makes counts of natural gamma radiation to indicate
the presence of shales.

The neutron log exploits the slow-down of neutrons resulting from neutron
scattering to estimate formation porosity.

The density log uses attenuation of gamma rays caused by Compton

scattering to estimate formation porosity.

The natural gamma ray spectrometry log counts gamma rays and measures
their energy levels to evaluate specific geochemical components of the
formation, such as potassium, uranium, and thorium.

The Pe log compares gamma ray counts between energy regions dominated
by photoelectric effect and by Compton scattering to determine the
photoelectric absorption index, which is used to ascertain formation

The thermal decay time log uses the rate of thermal neutron absorption to
estimate water saturation in cased holes.

The cased hole gamma spectrometry tool measures the spectrum of capture
gamma rays, given off after the process of thermal neutron absorption, to
estimate the abundance of hydrogen, chlorine, silicon, calcium, iron, and
sulfur for evaluating lithology behind casing.


Before we start our discussion of neutron interactions, we will describe key atomic
components, in order of discovery date.

Electron (discovered 1897) - carries a negative charge, and is the lightest

stable elementary particle. Because of their charge, electrons are stopped
by solid matter of a few centimeters thick.

Alpha particle (discovered 1899) -a particle sometimes emitted by an

unstable nucleus during decay. These particles have much less penetrating
power than beta particles, and can be stopped by a sheet of paper.

Beta particle (discovered 1899) -classed as either positive or negative. The

negative beta, discovered in 1899, is an electron emitted from an unstable
nucleus when one of its neutrons decays to a proton. The positively
charged positron (discovered 1932) is emitted by an unstable nucleus when
its proton decays to a neutron. Except for its positive charge, a

positron is identical to an electron. When a positron and an electron
meet, they annihilate and their masses convert to two gamma rays.
Positrons can be stopped by solid matter a few centimeters thick.

Photon -a quantity of energy emitted in the form of electromagnetic

radiation, such as radio waves, light, x-rays, and gamma rays. The quantum
of electromagnetic energy, generally regarded as a discrete particle having
zero mass, no electric charge, and an indefinitely long lifetime.

Gamma ray (discovered 1900) -a bundle of high frequency, electromagnetic

energy that has no mass, and which travels at the speed of light. Gamma-
rays penetrate farther than most particles.

Proton (discovered 1910) - carries a charge equal to, but opposite that of
an electron. It is about 2000 times more massive than the electron. The
hydrogen nucleus consists of a single proton. Protons, because of their
charge and large mass, are much less penetrating than beta particles.

Nucleus (discovered 1911) -a dense, tightly bound packet of neutrons and

protons. The number of protons, equal to the number of orbiting
electrons in an electrically neutral atom, defines the element and is
called its atomic number (Z). Adding the number of neutrons and
protons gives the atomic weight (A). Most elements occur in different
forms, called isotopes, where A varies and Z remains constant.

Neutron (discovered 1932) -an electrically neutral particle with a mass

approximately equal to that of the proton. The lack of a charge gives it
good depth penetration.


Neutrons are electrically neutral subatomic particles. The mass of a neutron is almost
identical to the mass of a hydrogen atom. Some logging tools use a neutron source
contained within the tool to bombard a formation or cement bond or other such target
with neutrons. As the neutrons bombard their target, they collide with atomic nuclei.
These collisions cause the neutrons to slow down as they lose energy with each
collision. The amount of energy that a neutron loses during a collision is largely
dependant on the relative mass of the nucleus that the neutron hits. Energy loss is
greatest when the neutron strikes a nucleus of equal mass -in particular, a hydrogen

After a series of collisions, the neutron velocity decreases to a level sufficient to be

captured by a nucleus. In some reactions, the collision will cause the nucleus to
become unstable. The unstable nucleus will then give off gamma rays in order to return
to a stable state. Depending on the type of neutron tool, either the gamma rays or the

neutrons themselves will be counted by a detector in the logging tool. We will discuss
this process in further detail below.

Radioactive Sources
Logging tools require the penetrating powers of gamma rays and neutrons to bombard
their targets. A number of gamma ray or neutron sources have been developed for use
in logging tools. These sources can be classified as either chemical sources or electrical

Chemical Sources: Neutron sources, such as americium-beryllium (Am241-

Be9 ) and californium
(Cf ) emit neutrons with mean energies of 4.2 MeV and 2.35 MeV
respectively. Other neutron chemical sources include isotopes of polonium-
beryllium (Po210-Be), radium-beryllium (Ra226Be), and plutonium-beryllium
Gamma ray sources such as cesium (Cs137 ) produce a steady flux of gamma
rays, at 662 keV. Other gamma ray chemical sources include isotopes of
iodine (I131), iridium (Ir192 ), cobalt (Co60), barium (Ba137 ), radium (Ra226 ),
and krypton (Kr85 ).

Electrical Generators: Neutron pulses can be generated downhole by using

a neutron generator or accelerator. This device produces 14-MeV neutrons
by accelerating deuterium ions into a tritium target.

Chemical sources consist of radioactive material encapsulated into pellets that must be
inserted into the logging tool prior to running in the hole. These sources require special
handling procedures and shielding when being transported or stored outside of the
logging tool. The chemical sources generally emit a lower-energy product than the
generator. Neutron generators are electromechanical devices that require high voltages
of 125-130,000 Volts DC to produce neutrons. Because they first require electrical
input, neutron generators are considered safer than chemical sources, which give off
radiation continuously.

Neutron Energy Levels

Neutrons exhibit a broad range of kinetic energies from 0.025 eV to 50 MeV, and are
classified by energy level either as Fast, Epithermal, or Thermal. The table below
shows the range of energy levels that characterizes each neutron state. For the
purposes of this discussion however, the oilfield tools that we are interested in work
within the range listed under the "Typical Energy Level" column, depending on the type
of source used by any particular tool.

Table 1: Neutron states and energy levels


Fast High: > 0.5 1 MeV to 14 Inelastic Scattering

Neutron MeV MeV

Epithermal Medium: > 0.5 >0.5 eV to < Elastic Scattering

Neutron eV <0.5 MeV 100eV

Thermal Low: < 0.5 0.025 eV Thermal Neutron

Neutron eV Capture

At high neutron energies, inelastic interactions dominate. After a few collisions, the
neutron energy is reduced below the threshold for inelastic events. As neutrons slow to
thermal energy levels, capture interactions dominate. Some elements are more likely
to capture neutrons than others, and so contribute more to the capture gamma ray
spectrum. We will discuss this process below.

Bombardment, Excitation and Decay

Prior to bombardment, most atomic nuclei reside at their ground state, a condition of
lowest internal energy. A neutron collision involving either inelastic neutron scattering
or neutron absorption will cause the nucleus to become excited, wherein the internal
energy of the nucleus is raised above its ground state to create an unstable nucleus in a
process called activation. Almost immediately after the nucleus becomes excited, the
nucleus will seek a return to its ground state by emitting its surplus energy in the form
of gamma radiation. These gamma rays are known as prompt gamma rays, because they
are emitted so quickly after the nucleus becomes excited.

The process of giving off particulate (proton, alpha or beta) radiation or

electromagnetic (gamma) radiation can cause a nucleus to become unstable and
transform to a nucleus of a different, more stable element. This other daughter
product may initially be excited, but will become less excited through the process of
gamma ray emission -possibly decaying to yet another element. The gamma rays given
off by the daughter product are known as delayed gamma rays, because they are not
observable until the initial, unstable isotope decays. This process of decay is measured
in terms of half-lives, which may span from microseconds to more than a billion years,
depending on the isotope.

Prompt gamma rays are produced through irradiation, while delayed gamma rays are
the product of decay.

Three Basic Neutron Interactions
When a neutron bombards a target nucleus, one of the following three important
interactions takes place. These interactions are controlled largely by the relative mass
of the target nucleus and by the speed of the neutron. The interactions are listed
below, from fastest to slowest.

Inelastic Neutron Scattering - the neutron bounces off the target nucleus
and excites the nucleus into giving off a gamma ray.

Elastic Neutron Scattering - the neutron simply bounces off the nucleus
without causing any excitation or destabilization of the target nucleus.

Neutron Absorption (or neutron capture) -the neutron is absorbed by the

target nucleus, which may cause gamma rays to be emitted, and sometimes
leaves the resultant nucleus in an unstable ground state.

Inelastic Scattering
Inelastic scattering (Figure 1) results from an inelastic collision in which the total
kinetic energy of the colliding particles changes as a result of the collision.

Figure 1

Inelastic scattering can occur when a neutron travels at kinetic energies above 1MeV.
As the fast neutron collides with a nucleus, part of the kinetic energy from the neutron
is transferred to the nucleus as excitation energy, giving the nucleus a higher internal
energy state. Almost instantly, the excited nucleus will emit one or more gamma rays
(called inelastic gamma rays) in order to de-excite back to its previous ground state.
These prompt gamma rays are emitted at energies that are particularly characteristic
of the nucleus of the irradiated element.

Common elements that emit gamma rays resulting from inelastic scatter are: carbon,
oxygen, silicon, and calcium. The energy spectrum of gamma rays is primarily used to
measure the relative concentrations of oxygen (due to water) and carbon (due to
hydrocarbons) in the formation fluids. These concentrations are useful in determining
fluid saturations.

Elastic Scattering

Elastic scattering (Figure 2 ) is sometimes classified as a slowing down interaction.

Figure 2

Elastic scattering can take place regardless of kinetic energy. With each collision, the
neutron loses kinetic energy to the nucleus, but the nucleus remains in its ground state.
Just how much energy will be lost depends on:

the mass of the target nucleus relative to that of the neutron, and

the angle of collision between the neutron and the nucleus:

head-on collisions cause the neutron to lose the maximum amount of


glancing collisions cause the neutron to lose very little energy.

In well logging, the elastic collisions between fast neutrons and nuclei of hydrogen
atoms serve as the predominant interaction through which fast neutrons lose energy
before reaching epithermal or thermal energy levels. More energy will be lost when the
neutron collides elastically with the nucleus of a hydrogen atom, since the hydrogen
nucleus (a proton) has a mass equal to that of the neutron. The rate at which a
formation slows down neutrons is an indicator of the abundance of hydrogen, which is
found primarily in formation fluids, and hence is indicative of porosity. This principle is
employed in all neutron porosity logging tools.

Neutron Capture
Neutron capture (Figure 3) is possible for neutrons of any energy, however it is most
often seen as a slow process that typically occurs after fast interactions have taken

Figure 3

In the most common model, neutrons from the tool are slowed within a few
microseconds by elastic and inelastic scattering to thermal energies -about 0.025 eV.
Once the neutrons are thermalized, they are subject to absorption by the target nuclei.
This absorption, called thermal-neutron capture, may create a new stable isotope or an
unstable isotope with an excited nucleus.

The excited nucleus immediately emits prompt gamma rays (called gamma rays of
capture). These capture gamma rays have unique energies that are characteristic of the
newly formed nucleus. Chlorine, calcium, silicon, hydrogen, and iron are examples of
elements that produce gamma rays from thermal capture.

The gamma spectrometry tool uses the energy spectrum from prompt gamma rays to
identify elements for determining formation lithology. The thermal-neutron decay time
tool measures the rate of thermal-neutron absorption in the formation to indicate the
presence of chlorine. Downhole, chlorine is the most efficient, abundant thermal-
neutron absorber. Chlorine is present mainly in saline formation water. Therefore,
rapid absorption indicates abundant saline water; slow absorption indicates fresh
water or hydrocarbons.

Absorption is possible for neutrons of any energy. The nucleus that absorbs a fast
neutron (typically at kinetic energies higher than 1 MeV), will immediately eject a
proton or other nuclear particle and become an excited, unstable nucleus of a new
element in the process of activation. This process will create daughter products, with

the ensuing emission of delayed gamma rays. The aluminum activation clay tool is used
to detect delayed gamma rays produced from fast neutron interactions.


Gamma rays are photons without mass or charge that are emitted as nuclei change
from an excited state to a lower energy state through transmutations and radioactive
disintegration. The number and energies of emitted gamma rays are distinctive for each
element, and can be used to identify which elements have emitted various gamma rays.
(For example, the potassium isotope (K40) emits gamma rays of a single energy at 1.46
MeV.) The count of distinct gamma rays is proportional to the abundance of the
element that emitted them. Gamma rays interact with matter through either Compton
scattering, or pair production, or photoelectric absorption. Some of these interactions
are roughly analogous to the neutron interactions discussed previously.

When gamma rays pass through a formation, they lose energy as they undergo a number
of Compton scattering collisions with atoms of the formation material. After the gamma
ray has lost enough energy, an atom of the formation will absorb the gamma ray
through photoelectric effect. Thus gamma rays will gradually be absorbed and their
energies will be reduced as they pass through the formation.

Compton Scattering
Compton scattering of gamma rays (Figure 4) is similar to the inelastic scattering of
neutrons described previously.

Figure 4

Compton scattering occurs when a gamma ray with energy in the range of 2 keV to 2
MeV (2000 keV) collides with an electron orbiting around an atom. This collision knocks
the electron out of its orbit, and causes the gamma ray to lose a portion of its energy.

As a result, the frequency of the gamma ray is reduced, and the gamma ray changes
direction according to its energy loss.

The probability of Compton scattering is proportional to a materials electron density,

which in turn, is related to bulk density. This important relationship is exploited in
density logging by bombarding the formation with gamma rays from a Cs 137 source and
measuring the gamma ray flux away from the source.

Pair Production
In this process, a gamma ray collides with a nucleus and is then converted into a pair of
electrically charged particles, being an electron and a positron. (We have previously
stated that a positron is identical to the electron, except that the electron is negatively
charged, whereas the positron is positively charged.) If the gamma ray has enough
energy, it will also knock an electron out of the atoms outermost shell, as seen in
Figure 5 .

Figure 5

The energy threshold for pair production can be predicted through Einsteins equation
relating mass and energy. A gamma ray has more than twice the rest mass energy of an
electron (about 0.51 MeV per electron). Since the electron and positron together have a
mass equivalent of 1.02 MeV, a gamma ray must have at least 1.02MeV to cause pair

Immediately after pair production takes place, the positron and electron disappear in
the process of annihilation, which produces a release of energy approximately equal to
the sum of their masses, such that two 0.51 MeV gamma rays are created.

This process is used in the detection of gamma rays in ionization chambers and Geiger-
Mueller counters.

Photoelectric Absorption
Photoelectric absorption (Figure 6 ) commonly takes place among low-energy gamma
rays, when energies are below about 100keV. When a low-energy gamma ray collides
with an atom, the atom will be able to absorb the gamma ray completely.

Figure 6

Inside the atom, the subsequent addition of energy from the gamma ray will cause one
of the orbital electrons from the atoms nucleus to be ejected. Part of the gamma rays
energy will be used to overcome the energy that binds the electron to the atom; while
the rest of the energy will provide velocity to the recoiling electron.

Though photoelectric absorption tends to affect low-energy gamma rays below 100 keV,
it can also take place when gamma rays of higher energies collide with atoms of higher
atomic numbers.

The process of photoelectric absorption produces electrons that react with phosphors
within a logging tools scintillation detectors. The measure of photoelectric absorption
cross section (Pe), which depends on the number of protons in the atoms of the

formation, is used by some density tools to indicate lithology.


Capture cross sections can be loosely defined as a measure of probability that a neutron
or gamma ray will be captured by an atom. The capture cross section is usually
expressed in terms of the effective area that a given target presents to the incoming
neutron or gamma ray. In logging, we distinguish between capture cross sections as
they relate to neutrons versus gamma rays. Neutron capture cross sections are
measured in barns, sigma units or capture units. Gamma ray capture cross sections are
measured in terms of Pe.

The nuclear capture cross section for neutrons is the effective area within which a
neutron must pass in order to be captured by the nucleus of an atom. The nuclear
capture cross section is a probabilistic value which is measured in terms of barns (a
barn equals 10-24 cm2). This probabilistic value depends on both the nature and energy
of the particle as well as the nature of the capturing nucleus.

The macroscopic capture cross section for neutrons is referred to as sigma

Sigma is defined as the effective cross-sectional area per unit volume of material for
capture of neutrons. The macroscopic capture section of a formation depends on the
number of atoms and their nuclear capture cross sections. Thus, the macroscopic
capture cross section is the sum of the various weighted capture cross sections. The
/cm3 or reciprocal cm (cm-1), and may be measured in
"capture units" or "sigma units." A capture unit = 10 -3 cm-1. The rate of absorption of

For gamma rays, the capture cross section is measured in terms of photoelectric
absorption cross section (Pe), which is related to the atomic number (Z -the number of
neutrons in an element) of the formation. Pe can be expressed in terms of barns per
atom. Pe can also be expressed in terms of U, which is measured in units of barns per
cubic centimeter.

Certain elements or formation constituents are especially important for their

implication regarding formation producibility. Below are capture cross section values
for key elements or constituents found in the formation. Values are given in capture




Fresh 0 ppm NaCl 22.2 c.u.

50,000 ppm NaCl 38.0

100,000 ppm NaCl 58.0

150,000 ppm NaCl 77.0

200,000 ppm NaCl 98.0

250,000 ppm NaCl 120.0


Crude Oil (stock tank) 22.2 c.u.

Reservoir Oil ~ 21.0

Gas at reservoir conditions < 10.0

FORMATION MATRIX Approximate range depending on purity

Sandstone 7-13 c.u.

Dolomite 7-12

Limestone 7-14

Anhydrite 18-21

Shale 30-50


Chlorine 570 c.u.

Hydrogen 200

Nitrogen 83

Potassium 32

Iron 28

Sodium 14

Sulfur 9.8

Calcium 6.6

Aluminum 5.4

Phosphorus 3.9

Silicon 3.4

Magnesium 1.7

Carbon 0.16

Oxygen 0.01


Boron 45000 c.u.

Cadmium 18000

Lithium 6200

Mercury 1100

Manganeses 150

Gamma Ray Spectrometry
A nucleus can only be excited to a certain energy level above its ground state, and each
element has a characteristic set of gamma rays that will be emitted for any given
neutron interaction. These gamma rays are characterized by unique, well-defined
energies of excitation. For each type of neutron interaction, therefore, it is possible
to identify each element by its gamma ray signature, or spectrum, as shown in
Figure 7 .

Figure 7

Since neutron energies from a logging tools neutron source are already known, it is
possible to determine the type of neutron interaction that has taken place. Hence, the
presence of an element can be established by the presence of a set of gamma rays of
characteristic energy. The concentration of that element is related to gamma ray count

The following common elements contribute gamma rays as a result of inelastic scatter
or thermal capture: hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, chlorine, silicon, calcium, iron, and
sulfur. These elements are indicative of the following minerals or fluids:

Element Associated Fluid or Mineral

Hydrogen H2O, Clays Hydrocarbons

Calcium CaCO3, CaMg(CO3)2 CaSO4


Silicon SiO2 Clays
Chlorine NaCl
Sulfur S CaSO4 CaSO4(H2O)2
Iron FeS2 Clays
Carbon CaCO3 CaMg(CO3)2 Hydrocarbons
The gamma ray spectra can be used to estimate abundances of these elements, which
in turn, are used to indicate hydrocarbon saturation, lithology, porosity, salinity and
shaliness of the formation.




Rock samples from such diverse sources as conventional cores, core plugs, sidewall
cores, and cuttings may be suitable for laboratory analysis. This analysis of actual rock
can sometimes be used to correlate and explain log response over the same zones from
which the samples were taken, thus calibrating the remote log response to the physical
core measurement.

Depending on the source of the sample, the type of analysis made may be more or less
sophisticated. Generally, the minimum information obtained from samples will be used
to determine rock type and lithology. When undisturbed rock samples are available it is
usually possible to determine the parameters listed below, of which porosity,
permeability, and fluid types are the most important.


Fluid saturation


Relative permeability


Capillary pressure

Pore throat distribution

Grain size distribution

Grain density

Mineral composition

Electrical properties

Effects of overburden stress

Sensitivity to fluids

Hydrocarbon analysis

Since most of these rock/fluid system properties are of vital interest to the formation
analyst, it is helpful to learn more about core analysis methods and the application of
their results to log analysis.

Cuttings are usually collected at 2-, 5-, 10-, or 20-feet intervals, and should be properly
tagged and identified as to source depth range. Sidewall cores are usually shot at pre-
selected depths determined from wireline logs. Whole cores are usually cut to drillers
depth, which may be at odds with wire-line logging depths; thus, a good starting point
for whole core analysis is a gamma ray scan of the core. The core is laid out in its
shipping container and moved relative to a gamma ray counter, which records a graph
of natural radioactivity versus distance traveled along the core. This record may then
be compared directly with a wireline gamma ray log. Figure 1 : Comparison of Core
Gamma Scan to Wireline Openhole Gamma Ray Log shows an example.

Figure 1

When cutting conventional cores, it is wrong to assume that the only formations of
interest will be the clean reservoir rocks. Useful data may be extracted from shales as
well, and the temptation to high-grade the core at the wellsite by throwing shale
sections into the outer darkness should be resisted. The core gamma scan, for example,
would be useless if the radioactive section of the core were missing.

Depending on the particular analysis to which the core is to be submitted, either a plug
is cut, or the whole core itself is used. Plugs are 1 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter and 1 to

3 inches long. Whole cores are not normally more than 5 inches in diameter and can be
up to 60 feet long.

Fresh cores are cores cut with water-or oil-base muds preserved without

Native state cores are those cut with lease crude as the coring fluid to
minimize changes in rock wettability.

Restored cores are cleaned and dried prior to testing and then re-saturated
with fluids that presumably have the same properties as the reservoir
fluids. This most often results in a change of the cores original in-situ
wettability and fluid distributions.

Upon retrieval from the wellbore, the cores may be coated in epoxy, jacketed in heat-
shrinkable tubing or metal (for unconsolidated cores), or molded in lucite. This process
is instituted to preserve the core and (hopefully) its fluid contents during transportation
to the lab, so that the core will be more representative of downhole conditions during
laboratory analysis.


Porosity may be measured through a variety of methods, including

borehole gravimetrics

sonic, gamma-gamma density, or neutron logging

core analysis

Each method investigates a different volume of the formation. The borehole gravimeter
samples very large volumes in the order of 10 3 to 106 cubic feet. Wireline logging tools
investigate a much smaller volume, on the order of 1 to 10 cubic feet, depending on
the specific porosity device used. Core analysis investigates much smaller volumes,
ranging from 10-3to 10-1cubic feet. From one extreme to the other is nine orders of
magnitude, so we should not be surprised to learn that porosity estimates using
different tools and techniques do not always agree.


A porous rock system has two components: the grain volume and the pore volume. The
sum of the two gives the bulk volume:

Vb = Vgr + Vp

The porosity is defined as the ratio of the pore volume to the bulk volume, for


Thus porosity can be measured in a number of ways, such as

Provided any two of the three variables are measured, porosity can be deduced. Among
the commonly employed methods of deduction are:

Summation of Fluids

Boyles Law Porosimeter


Wet and Dry Weights

Total Porosity

Summation of Fluids Method

A method in which the volumes of water, oil, and gas are independently measured and
then summed to give Vp. Vb is deduced from the dimensions of the core.

Boyle's Law Porosimeter

A cleaned and dried sample is placed in a sample chamber that has an air pressure P1
(Figure 1, Boyle's Law Porosimeter, Grain Volume Determination).

Figure 1

When the valve that connects the sample chamber with the reference volume chamber
is opened, the air will expand isothermally and equilibrate on pressure P2. We further

assume that the volume of the sample chamber is V, and that the core sample has a
grain volume Vgr. The sample chamber will therefore contain a volume V-Vgr of gas. If
this gas is brought isothermally from pressure P1 to P2 by adding reference volume dV,
we can then apply the Law of Boyle and deduce:

(V - Vma ) P1 (V - Vma dV) P2

From this formula the grain volume, Vgr and the resulting pore volume can be

Application of this technique results in a measurement of the porosity of

interconnected pores only. This means that isolated pores, which are common in
carbonate rocks, will not be accounted for. Additionally, by drying the samples, any
clay present will have lost its water content also leading to an inaccurate porosity

This method employs vacuum extraction and the collection of gas in the pore space. It
is somewhat similar to the Boyles law method but instead measures VP. The Washburn-

Bunting technique has the same disadvantages of the Boyles law method. These are
that the samples are initially dried and only interconnected porosity (effective
porosity) is measured.

Wet and Dry Weight Method

The sample is extracted with a solvent and dried. The bulk volume Vb is then obtained
by a direct measurement of the dimensions or by measuring the displaced volume of a
non-penetrating fluid such as mercury. The grain volume V gr can be determined by
measuring the weight W1 of the dry core sample, then saturating it with a wetting
liquid with density f1 and measuring the submersed weight W2.

W1 W2
The porosity can then be calculated from Vb and Vgr.

Vb Vgr


Total Porosity Measurement

The bulk volume Vb is determined by submerging the sample in mercury as described
under the wet and dry method. The sample is then grinded to decompose it into
individual grains. The matrix volume V ma is determined either by utilizing a
compression chamber, as described under Boyles Law method, or by liquid
displacement. The advantage of this method is that all pore spaces are taken into

account including the isolated pores that are not connected to the pore network. The
porosity is calculated using the relation:

Vb Vma

A side benefit is the estimation of grain density from the knowledge of dry weight and
grain volume. The disadvantage of the method is the physical destruction of the core


Accuracy of core porosity measurements are claimed to be within a half porosity unit
(P.U.). Methods requiring that the core be cleaned and dried are subject to error, if the
core contains hydrated clay material. Heating such a sample in a retort may drive off
water of hydration; the porosity measured thus may be larger than effective porosity.
Use of a humidity-controlled oven to dry samples alleviates this problem.

Porosity measurements from sidewall cores may produce a value that is slightly
different from the average over the zone. For example, if the sidewall core sample is
compacted because of the impact of the hollow bullet on the formation, then the
porosity measurements may be too low. Therefore, sidewall-core porosity values should
be used only in addition to other methods.

Porosity measurements should be "weighted" prior to their use, based on (1) the
method used to obtain them, (2) their anticipated application, and (3) the homogeneity
of the reservoir. A core plug is very localized and core plug porosities may be higher
than whole core porosities if the whole core includes portions of rock of a lower
porosity. The selection of places to plug a whole core is somewhat subjective and
usually the "best-looking spot" is picked. This tendency should be resisted, lest the
core data become so high-graded that they no longer tie to the log. Regularly spaced
core plugs should be taken, regardless of the lithology. These data can then be
processed in a rolling average to mimic the wireline logging tool response, and thus
produce results that can be correlated.

Porosity measurements made from sidewall core plugs can be either higher or lower
than true porosities, depending on the porosity range. This condition is illustrated in
Figure 2 : Comparison of Conventional and Sidewall Core Porosity by the plotting of
sidewall core porosity against conventional core porosity.

Figure 2

In general, low-porosity formations tend to fracture when sidewall core bullets strike
them and hence induce additional pore volume.

By using image analysis or other techniques, porosity measurements may also be made
on sample cuttings as small as a cubic centimeter or less. Such measurements generally
compare to core plug porosities within one P.U


Estimates of permeability can be obtained through:

Pressure buildup from drillstem tests

Pressure drawdown and buildup from wireline repeat formation testers

Log analysis

Core analysis

Again, each method investigates an effective radius different from the others by
several orders of magnitude. In increasing order, these are:

Method Approximate radius (feet)
2 4
DST 10 -10
RFT buildup 10-1 -10
-2 0
RFT drawdown 10 -10
Log analysis 0.1 -5
-2 -1
Core analysis 8 x 10 -3 x 10

It should come as no surprise that these different methods of measurement occasionally

produce conflicting results, especially in a heterogeneous reservoir. When the drilling
process has caused clay swelling in the invaded zone, it should also be expected that
measurements made near the wellbore (logs, RFT tests) will reflect permeabilities that
are lower than true permeabilities. Care must be taken in using the results of
permeability measurements made on cores; they vary, depending on the type of fluid
(air or brine) used for the measurement and the pressure and temperature of the
sample at the time of the measurement (standard or reservoir conditions).


In 1856, Darcy determined permeability experimentally by flowing water through sand-

beds for sanitary purposes. His law extended for different fluids is written as:

[E-1] k.A.P
. L

Q = volumetric fluid velocity, cm3/s

A = surface area perpendicular to flow direction, cm2

P = pressure difference, atmospheres

m = dynamic viscosity of the fluid, cpoise (kg/sec.cm)

L = length, cm

k = permeability, Darcy (1 D=0.986*10E-8 cm2)

A schematic of the principle involved in permeability measurements is shown in Figure

1: Schematic Flow Diagram of Permeameter. A clean, dry sample is placed in a holder;
it must fit snugly and allow no air to bypass along the sides of the sample.

Figure 1

Upstream and downstream pressures are measured to determine the pressure

differential across the core. As the above graphic shows, the calibrated orifice allows
the flow rate in cm3/s to be measured at atmospheric pressure. Note that the device
depicted determines the permeability to air for a sample. Similar devices may use
fluids instead of air by measuring output weight with regard to time instead of using a
calibrated orifice to determine the flow.

Correction for Flowing Medium

Nowadays permeability is, in principle, determined with the same equation Darcy
published back in the nineteenth century. The Ruska permeameter is normally used as
a correction for this measurement when gas is used as the flowing medium. We usually
want to know the permeability of the reservoir rock for fluids, hence for the
determination of water or oil permeability corrections have to be made to the
measured gas permeability. Darcys law is different for gases, because the volume of
gas that passes through the sample is not only dependent on the pressure differential
but also on the absolute pressure itself. When taking the mass flow into consideration
the following equation for gas can be used:

[E-2] _
k.A.P. P
Q atm (20C,1atm)

In which P is the average pressure over the sample expressed in atmospheres, atm.
The other parameters are the same as used in equation [E-1].

Correction for Gas Slippage

In contrast to liquids that cling to the pore walls, gasses are hardly affected by the pore
walls. Gases flow with an almost piston shaped flow profile, while liquids in the laminar
flow regime exhibit a parabolic flow profile with maximum flow in the middle and zero
flow velocity at the pore walls. The higher flow of gas compared to liquids is called gas
slippage. In 1941 Klinkenberg was able to show that by gas slippage at the gas/solid
boundary, measured gas permeability is higher than liquid permeability. He introduced
the following correction:

k a k (1 b / P )


P = mean test pressure of the gas in the pores

ka = apparent or observed permeability with gas

k = liquid permeability

b = Klinkenberg factor

By carrying out measurements at different pressures on the same sample, it is possible

to extrapolate in a plot of ka versus l/P, to the point 1/P =0. At this point the pressure
is infinite and there is no difference between liquids and gases, and thus we find the
true liquid permeability, as depicted in Figure 2: Correcting Air Permeabilities for Slip

Figure 2

The Klinkenberg factor is inversely proportional to the radius of the capillaries and
therefore to permeability. Several investigators have found somewhat different
relationships for different fields (Figure 3: Influence of Klinkenberg Factor on Liquid
Permeability, k). Note that the slip effect is significant below 100 mD.

Figure 3

Correction for Turbulence
At higher flow velocities the flow regime changes from laminar to turbulent. This
means that the liquid particles are not all moving parallel in the same direction but
follow irregular vortexes with an overall resultant movement along the pore axis. The
flow energy provided by the pressure differential is, in this case, not only used for the
movement of the fluid as a whole but also spent on internal movements. These internal
movements can be characterized by the kinetic energy of the fluid (v2). Darcys law
is therefore extended by a term that reflects the flow energy spent on the kinetic
energy of the flowing medium itself. Forchheimer adapted Darcys law as follows:

dP v
. .v 2
dL k

= turbulence factor

= gas density

v = gas velocity

dP/dL = pressure gradient

= fluid viscosity

k = permeability

Some gas producing reservoirs have a high turbulence factor. The result is that the gas
permeabilities measured at the well are lower than the liquid permeabilities measured
on core samples. The turbulence effect is only important for gas production in
reservoirs with a permeability significantly higher than 100 mD.


Although most basic rock properties are measured at atmospheric conditions, in some
cases it is important to make the measurements (especially those of porosity and
permeability) at simulated reservoir conditions. Both rock matrix and pore fluids are
compressible, although matrix compressibility is generally very low. Thus,
measurements at standard conditions give overly optimistic values for and k. Figure 4:
Effects of Net Overburden Pressure on Permeability Measurements illustrates the
effects of net overburden pressure on permeability.

Figure 4

Depending on the type of material tested, reduction of up to 80% can be expected.

Note that permeability is an intrinsic rock property, independent of the fluid in the
pore space.

When it comes to discussing porosity reductions that are the result of changes in
pressure, however, the total rock/fluid system must be considered, since both the rock
matrix and the fluids in the pore space are compressible. Thus, both overburden and
pore pressure come into play. It is not uncommon to find a 10% reduction in porosity
caused by compressibility; e.g., if a sample in the lab measured 20%, the porosity at
depth might be 18%. Lab measurements of oil, water, and rock compressibility can be
made and the exact pore reduction factor deduced if reservoir pore and overburden
stress are known. Other pressure-sensitive parameters include acoustic velocity and
formation factor. It is not uncommon to raise lab-measured values of these parameters
by 20 to 30% in order to compensate for the effects of pressure.