Electromagnetic Measurements in an Active Oilfield Environment

Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Kimberly A Schramm, David F Aldridge, Lewis C Bartel, Hunter Anne Knox and Chester J Weiss, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM, United States
An important issue in oilfield development pertains to mapping and monitoring of the fracture distributions (either natural or man-made) controlling subsurface fluid flow. Although microseismic monitoring and analysis have been used for this purpose for several decades, there remain several ambiguities and uncertainties with this approach. We are investigating a novel electromagnetic (EM) technique for detecting and mapping hydraulic fractures in a petroleum reservoir by injecting an electrically conductive contrast agent into an open fracture. The fracture is subsequently illuminated by a strong EM field radiated by a large engineered antenna. Specifically, a grounded electric current source is applied directly to the steel casing of the borehole, either at/near the wellhead or at a deep downhole point. Transient multicomponent EM signals (both electric and magnetic) scattered by the conductivity contrast are then recorded by a surface receiver array. We are presently utilizing advanced 3D numerical modeling algorithms to accurately simulate fracture responses, both before and after insertion of the conductive contrast agent. Model results compare favorably with EM field data recently acquired in a Permian Basin oilfield. However, extraction of the very-low-amplitude fracture signatures from noisy data requires effective noise suppression strategies such as long stacking times, rejection of outliers, and careful treatment of natural magnetotelluric fields. Dealing with the ever-present “episodic EM noise” typical in an active oilfield environment (associated with drilling, pumping, machinery, traffic, etc.) constitutes an ongoing problem.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory managed and operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the US Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-AC04-94AL85000.