Formation evaluation experts usually have little difficulty in interpreting wireline logs to assess the type of reservoir fluid (oil/gas/water) in sand-shale sequences. This assessment is usually accomplished by a combination neutron-density tool that detects low hydrogen and low electron densities typical of gas zones, and the repeat formation tester (RFT), which uses both the pressure gradient and sample acquisition techniques to evaluate reservoir fluid. In the Niger Delta, however, many of the sands exhibit a poor neutron-density response to gas, and RFT testing has been largely eliminated because poor hole conditions commonly result in stuck tools. Oil fingerprinting of residual hydrocarbons from sidewall core extracts can provide an independent means of identifying reservoir fluid type.

In conjunction with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, we completed numerous chromatographic analyses on solvent extracts of sidewall core samples from various wells in the Mefa field, offshore west Niger Delta. Oil fingerprints of sidewall core extracts clearly reflect the type of hydrocarbons in the reservoir. Fingerprints of oil-saturated sands are typical of topped (C15+) whole oils, whereas fingerprints of hydrocarbons extracted from the gas-dominated sands show an abbreviated hydrocarbon distribution more typical of gas condensates. Fingerprints of extracts from water-productive intervals show a further abbreviated signature, suggesting that higher molecular weight hydrocarbons did not migrate into these intervals. These signatures are distinct and intact despite poor sample preservation due to prolonged storage of up to 3 yr.

Additional applications of this technique include the reevaluation of older wells that lack modern wireline measurements, but have sidewall or conventional core material available, and in thin or low-permeability sands that may not yield definitive RFT or wireline-log responses. Application potential for this technology is worldwide and includes the Gulf Coast of the United States, Canada, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.

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