A Novel Magnetic Permeability Sensor System to Determine Geologic Permeability In Situ

R. Adams, J.M. Felix Servin, W. Wang, M. Deffenbaugh
Aramco Services Company,
United States

Keywords: formation, reservoir, permeability, mutual inductance, nanoparticle, image, electromagnetic, magnetic, geology, hydrocarbon


Oilfield reservoir models simulate movement of oil, gas and brine downhole. These simulations determine where to locate wells in the reservoir, how quickly to produce from wells throughout the reservoir, and where to inject other fluids to help sweep out hydrocarbons from the reservoir. The accuracy of these models depends primarily on how accurately the geologic permeability throughout the reservoir is known, and where high geologic permeability barriers are located. Despite their importance for optimizing oil and gas production, accurate measurements of geologic permeability are difficult to obtain. Typical measurements are performed ex-situ with samples taken from the subsurface and measured in laboratory tests. This process is time-consuming, costly, and may not be representative of the behavior of the reservoir in a downhole environment. A system is in development, which images geologic permeability of the reservoir in situ downhole. Colloidal magnetite fluid with high magnetic permeability is injected from the surface into the subsurface formation. The magnetite nanoparticles were synthesized by a wet-chemical method and surface-functionalized to enhance their colloidal stability in reservoir conditions. The magnetic fluid will travel into the formation some distance ∆R, where the distance ∆R is a function of the geologic permeability of the formation. A sensor is deployed downhole, which measures the radial distribution of magnetic permeability surrounding the tool. By comparing the magnetic permeability radial distribution surrounding the sensor before/during/after fluid injection, the system is able to directly measure geologic permeability of the surrounding formation in situ. It is important to note that changes to the distribution of magnetic permeability can only be caused by the movement of the magnetic permeability doped fluid, as naturally occurring downhole fluids are non-magnetic and thus do not alter the distribution of magnetic permeability of their own accord. The sensor determines the surrounding magnetic permeability of the formation by measuring the mutual inductance between solenoid coils axially distributed along a downhole tool. As the magnetic permeability of the material surrounding the solenoid coils increases, the mutual inductance between coils increases. Eddy current effects on mutual inductance measurements can be minimized by reducing the interrogation frequency of the measurement, such that fluid conductivity changes have no effect on the measurement of interest. The radial responsivity of mutual inductance is a function of axial separation between pairs of coils. Thus, measuring mutual inductance across multiple pairs of coils enables the system to map the radial distribution of magnetic permeability surrounding the sensor. A prototype sensor system was built with an arrangement of solenoid coils distributed axially. Radial distribution of magnetic permeability surrounding the tool was calculated by inverting mutual inductance measurements across multiple coil pair axial distances and multiple interrogation frequencies. The prototype sensor system was deployed into a fixture with radial distributions of magnetic permeability. Measurements at baseline and various arrangements of the radial permeability distribution of the fixture were acquired. and compared with analytical analysis of the test arrangements.