Evaluating Oil Shale by Log Analysis
- S.R. Bardsley (Skyline Oil Co., U. Of Utah) | S.T. Algermissen (Skyline Oil Co., U. Of Utah)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- January 1963
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 81 - 84
- 1963. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 5.1.1 Exploration, Development, Structural Geology, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 5.6.1 Open hole/cased hole log analysis
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Induction, nuclear and sonic well-logging methods were employed in a Green River formation oil-shale analysis and evaluation study conducted in northeastern Uintah County, Utah. The physical and chemical properties of an oil-shale section, previously cored and assayed by conventional methods, were used to evaluate the response of the various logs. The logging program was designed to measure variable properties of oil shale which relate to oil-yield potential in order that a relationship between assay-oil yield and log-determined properties could be identified, thereby permitting a direct determination of yield potential from logs alone. All of the major oil-shale zones and section markers are recognizable on the logs used in the study. The relationship between the response of the Density and Sonic logs and the assay-oil yield in gallons per ton was sufficient to permit the derivation of equations expressing the relationships. These equations can be used to determine the potential oil yield in gallons per ton of an oil-shale zone or section. The Neutron log response distinguishes the rich oil-shale intervals from the lean intervals, but does not appear to permit establishment of a quantitative relationship. The Gamma-Ray and Induction logs indicate only a qualitative relationship to oil-shale yields. Logging oil shale by Gamma-Gamma Density and/or Sonic logging methods will permit a fast, economical and accurate means of evaluating the potential yield of oil-shale deposits.
Considerable sums of money have been allocated to Green River formation oil-shale evaluation during the past years by both private enterprise and Federal and state governments. The result of the work accomplished to date is commendable, but the task of fully exploring and evaluating one of the world's greatest reserves of potential energy for economical exploitation is enormous and much information is still needed. Present methods of evaluation consist primarily of sampling and assaying the oil shale for potential yield. The data received are excellent, but are both costly (inasmuch as it requires funds specifically allocated for the evaluation purpose) and time-consuming (as each representative sample must be assayed in the laboratory by specially trained personnel). At the present time, the Green River formation oil-shale province is one of the most active areas in the Rocky Mountain region for exploratory oil and gas drilling. This activity could play a twofold role and serve the function of spear-heading many oil-shale evaluation programs, as it could provide both cutting samples for assaying, geophysical data and modern well logs. This paper deals with a recent study conducted on Green River formation oil shale in which the application of induction, sonic and nuclear well logs to oil-shale evaluation was tested and proved.
THEORY AND DEFINITIONS
Oil shale may be described as siliceous marlstone, rich in solid organic matter called "kerogen". Kerogen is only slightly soluble in organic solvents, but it will decompose and yield oil vapors and gas when heated to destructive distillation temperatures at about 800 F. The mineral constituents of Green River formation oil shale are found in essentially uniform proportions with one another. The dominant types are, in the general order of abundance, dolomite, calcite, feldspars and quartz. Kerogen is also essentially uniform in its composition, and is about 80 per cent carbon and 10 per cent hydrogen by weight. The ratio of kerogen to the mineral constituents determines the richness or potential yield of the oil shale. This ratio also determines the total physical and chemical properties of the rock and provides a basis by which oil-shale -richness may be determined from well logs. Because Green River formation oil shale was deposited in a lacustrine environment, the lithology is laterally consistent over wide areas. The vertical section consists predominantly of thin bands of alternating rich and lean oil shale which have been described by Bradley as varves. The varves are occasionally broken by thin bands of volcanic ash and tuff and by zones of lean vugular oil shale. The effect that the thin non-oil shale beds and vugular zones would have on the well log analysis was a prime concern in the study. To cope with this possible problem, the logs used in the study were of two types: (1) logs believed to respond favorably to those properties of oil shale which are dependent upon the kerogen-to-mineral ratio, these logs being the Gamma-Gamma Density log, the Sonic log and the Neutron log; and (2) logs that would respond to lithologies and properties within the oilshale section not associated with yield that might result in anomalous responses by the yield-measuring logs. Logs of the second type were the Gamma-Ray log, the Induction log and the Caliper log.
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