Origin of the Electric Potential Observed in Wells
- W.M. McCardell (Humble Oil and Refining Co.) | W.O. Winsauer (Humble Oil and Refining Co.) | M. Williams (Humble Oil and Refining Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- February 1953
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 41 - 50
- 1953. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 5.3.4 Integration of geomechanics in models, 5.6.1 Open hole/cased hole log analysis, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 4.3.4 Scale, 5.1 Reservoir Characterisation, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 1.11 Drilling Fluids and Materials, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion
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The mechanism by which an electrical potential difference is developed between two salt solutions separated by shale is shown to be a consequence of the electrical double layer of the shale surfaces. A mathematical derivation is presented to show the dependence of the potential on the shale characteristics and on the concentration of the salt solutions. The equations developed describe adequately the potential-concentration behavior of a long shale core. The equations also describe the variation of potential of sand-shale mixtures with variation of clay content. Ion adsorption is an important factor in the development of the surface charge on the shale, and electrical resistivity and ion transference number data are employed to estimate the increase of surface charge with concentration. Since the potential is shown to be dependent on the characteristics of the particular system, water salinities estimated from the potential log by previously proposed methods may be low in some cases.
That the electric well log exists today may be attributed to the ingenuity of the Schlumberger brothers, who adapted to the logging of wells techniques which were originally developed as surface prospecting methods for the location of ore bodies. Empirically, it was found that the potential curve of the electric log usually gave values for clean sands which were negative with respect to the values for shales. It was suggested that the potential was responsive to porosity. It was postulated, in explanation, that the potential was the sum of a streaming potential, which differed for sands and shales, and of an "electro-chemical" potential of undetermined origin.
Mounce and Rust in 1943 showed that the streaming potential is small in most cases and that the potential is generated by a process in which shale and a salinity difference play essential parts. Dickey, in the same year, concluded that the potential is dependent upon adsorptive properties of reservoir rock.
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