Seeking Ways To Produce More Oil by Doing Better Fluid Imaging

Arrays of electromagnetic sensors developed by GroundMetrics allow it to observe where fluids are in formations and also tell oil from water, based on the fact that salty water is a better conductor of electricity. Source GroundMetrics.

Electromagnetic (EM) images of oil and water in the ground are likely to be seen on the computer screens of a lot more engineers as a result of a collaboration between Halliburton and GroundMetrics.

The small San Diego company will gain the international marketing presence of the giant service company, which will be working with it to better integrate EM with other downhole data to better model and simulate what is going on in a reservoir.

The companies are imaging different aspects of a reservoir, potentially offering a more complete view of how the fluids and the rock interact.

Halliburton gathers and integrates an array of seismic and logging data that define the shape and makeup of the formation. GroundMetrics’ equipment uses EM energy to measure where fluids are concentrated, and can tell oil, water, and gas apart because they respond differently.

Exploration teams rely on a growing range of subsurface information to model what is going on in the ground.

“Generally clients do not just use electromagnetic. They combine it with seismic, production data, temperature logs, and all sorts of data sets,” said Jeff Symington, executive vice president of operations for GroundMetrics.

The EM data are delivered in a format that facilitates combinations with other measures. The partnership with Halliburton is looking for ways to tease better information out of these combinations.

“Collaborating with GroundMetrics accelerates and deepens our ability to provide operators with greater subsurface insight of their reservoirs,” said David Topping, vice president of wireline and perforating for Halliburton. “The technologies and expertise we’re bringing together can play a significant role in helping our customers reduce exploration and development costs and increase oil production.”

Oil and gas companies have been using EM imaging to better understand what is left in older fields. It has been used to track where waterfloods have swept reservoirs and what has been left behind. An aging field from GroundMetrics showed why one infill well was a dry hole and pointed to an opportunity nearby to extend it, according to a company case study.

A GroundMetrics crew member installs a sensor system at an oil field in North Dakota. The company deploys clusters of four sensors, a data recorder, a battery, and a WI-Fi station for quality control monitoring to build its arrays. Source: GroundMetrics.


Users have ranged from the Middle East to North Dakota in a range of fields. It has been used in unconventional fields to track where the water injected during fracturing flows, showing it can travel outside the lines in the design.

A survey used to map carbon dioxide injected into a Texas field to see where it flowed compared to the plan to enhance oil recovery there was described in a GroundMetrics paper (SPE 179588). The survey used 101 surface receiver locations, each with a cluster of four receivers, covering a 3-sq-mi area. A variety of EM signals were created by running an electric current produced by a gas-powered generator through different casing.

GroundMetrics is hoping this deal “opens a lot of doors for us,” and finds ways to “leverage the technology to do new things,” Symington said.

As for what new things, Symington said they “cannot disclose the projects we are working with them on.”

Seeking Ways To Produce More Oil by Doing Better Fluid Imaging

Stephen Rassenfoss, JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor

14 June 2017



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