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Lessons From 10 Years of Monitoring With Chemical Inflow Tracers

Fig. 1—PICD rigged up with Perspex pipe for tracer visualization.

Initial development of inflow tracers was designed to provide qualitative information about the location of water breakthrough in production wells. The proof of concept and application for water detection initiated the development of oil tracers for oil-inflow monitoring. The evolution of inflow-tracer-signal interpretation also has provided valuable insight to inflow characterization. A model-based approach to match the measured signals with proprietary models also has been developed.

Unique Chemical Tracers for Reservoir Surveillance

During the past decade, many unique chemical tracers have been designed. The aim of this development has been to obtain many unique signatures with properties as similar as possible. The strategy involved finding families of chemical molecules that had the potential to provide a large number of unique tracers with a small change in the chemical structure. Today, more than 160 unique signatures exist. More than 80 are within one family of oil markers.  

The chemical tracers and the polymer matrix need to be stable and inert at a wide range of well conditions. No applicable accelerated test methods exist for polymer materials, so long-term functionality must be tested in the laboratory with an environment as realistic as possible to estimate inflow-tracer longevities.

Another important feature of these tracers is the concept of the detection limit. To be able to mark production over decades with a limited amount of material placed in the well, the detection limit must be extremely low. The amount of material is limited because of space, cost, or environmental concern. In 2005, the detection limits were parts per billion, while the detection limit today is below parts per trillion and is expected to move toward parts per quadrillion.

This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 187677, “Ten Years of Reservoir Monitoring With Chemical Inflow Tracers—What Have We Learned and Applied Over the Past Decade?” by A.D. Dyrli and E. Leung, SPE, Resman, prepared for the 2017 SPE Kuwait Oil and Gas Show and Conference, 15–18 October. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Lessons From 10 Years of Monitoring With Chemical Inflow Tracers

01 September 2018

Volume: 70 | Issue: 9

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