Formation Evaluation: A Critical First Step

This figure is from paper SPE 181484, “Experimental and Numerical Investigations on Stress Dependence of Sandstone Electrical Properties and Deviations From Archie's Law.”

Not too long ago, horizontal drilling revolutionized the petroleum industry. Emerging logging-while-drilling and geosteering technologies helped bring about multilateral, maximum-contact, and smart-completion wells, allowing reservoirs to be developed and produced much more efficiently and economically. This increased recovery, thus boosting reserves. In the process, formation evaluation plays a critical role in determining whether a producer or an injector is successful.

More recently, efficient mass horizontal drilling and optimized multistage massive fracturing have turned traditionally nonreservoir source rock into sweet spots of energy strategy on a global scale. Production from unconventional reservoirs in the last decade has dramatically changed the petroleum industry, and this movement continues to evolve. Developing unconventional resources demands unconventional thinking, mainly because of the many challenges involved in evaluating tight source rocks. The two fundamental petrophysical properties, pore structure and wettability, are completely different between conventional reservoirs and unconventional source rocks.

What may be next on the horizon?

It is estimated that methane hydrates contain much more gas than shale plays, and, understandably, many countries are keen to explore this vast potential. As per recent news releases, China Geological Survey geoscientists and China National Petroleum Corporation engineers may have made a great technology breakthrough by being able to test significant hydrate-gas production in the South China Sea. If this is sustainable, exploring hydrate gas may be the next game changer for the energy industry. Evaluating hydrate gas formations would not be easy, however, and producing them safely, economically, and in an environmentally friendly way would be very challenging. But, I have high hopes that future technologies will be able to resolve these challenges to produce hydrate gas conventionally so it can be used to improve living standards.

This Month's Technical Papers

Stress Dependence of Sandstone Electrical Properties and Deviations From Archie’s Law

In-Situ Fluid-Composition Analyses Improve Reservoir Management

Improving the Relationship Between Flow-Zone Indicators With Lithofacies

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 182448 The Petrophysics Role of Low-Resistivity Pay Zone of Talang Akar Formation, South Sumatera Basin, Indonesia by Z. Holis, SKK Migas, et al.

SPE 183883 Using Digital Rock Modeling To Estimate Permeability and Capillary Pressure From NMR and Geochemical Logs by Hao Zhang, Baker Hughes, et al.

SPE 183800 An Innovative Approach for Integrated Characterization and Modeling of a Complex Carbonate Reservoir by F. Ben Amor, Schlumberger, et al.

Shouxiang (Mark) Ma, SPE, is a senior consultant overseeing research, technology, and professional development with the Reservoir Description Division of Saudi Aramco. He serves on the Petroleum Engineering Special Core Analysis Council and Technologist Development Program Committee and champions the Logging Excellence Professional Network. Ma was supervisor of the Petrophysical Support and Study Unit, petrophysics adviser at the Upstream Professional Development Center, and petrophysical lead for logging operations. Before joining Saudi Aramco in 2000, he worked at the Exxon Production Research Company, Wyoming Western Research Institute, New Mexico Petroleum Recovery Research Center, and China Yangtze University. Ma has authored or coauthored more than 60 technical papers and holds several patents. He serves on the JPT Editorial Committee and was chairperson of the 2012–13 SPE Formation Evaluation Award Committee. Ma holds a BS degree from China Petroleum University and MS and PhD degrees from New Mexico Tech, all in petroleum engineering. He can be reached at

Formation Evaluation: A Critical First Step

Shouxiang (Mark) Ma, SPE, Senior Consultant, Saudi Aramco

01 August 2017

Volume: 69 | Issue: 8

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