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Micro CT Scanning

High-resolution scans

CT scanning is commonly used in core analysis to examine full-diameter core, slabbed core, and core samples, to look for bedding features, fractures, cements, and heterogeneities. The resolution of the medical (and similar) scanners used is sufficient to show these coarse features but can generally not show individual grains, pores, micro-fractures, voids, and fine features. Micro-CT scanning utilises a different class of scanner that can show a significantly-greater level of detail; dependent upon sample size scanned features significantly smaller than 1µm in size can be revealed.

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Mud cake structure (core sample has been removed from field of view)

High-resolution Micro-CT scans can be used for a wide range of applications in areas such as formation damage, core analysis, special core analysis, petrophysics, NMR, reservoir geology, reservoir modelling, and digital rock typing. The images and data sets produced can show features of the samples scanned such as grain size and shape, pore size and network, cements and mineralogy, and potentially visualise fluids and saturation.

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Sand grains partially blocking apertures of a wire wrap screen

Formation Damage test interpretation

A key application for Micro-CT scanning is to add value to formation damage laboratory testing by aiding interpretation and reducing risk to operators. Current techniques, such as scanning electron microscopy and thin section, are commonly used to understand what has happened within core samples during testing, and provide valuable data. These analyses, by their nature, are destructive to core samples and are unable to examine the entire volume of a core sample in a timely or cost-efficient manner. This means that utilising current techniques alone has an element of risk associated with the potential to miss damaging mechanisms, as well as there not being the possibility to show distribution of damage in the entire sample.

Micro-CT scanning provides a high-resolution and non-destructive method of augmenting and improving interpretation using a process that COREX has developed called “difference mapping”. Details of the technique, along with a case study, can be found in paper SPE 165110-MS “Use Of Micro-CT Scanning Visualisations To Improve Interpretation Of Formation Damage Laboratory Tests Including a Case Study From The South Morecambe Field”, presented at the 2012 SPE European Formation Damage Conference. The technique is used to visualise change in 2D planes or produce a 3D map showing the distribution of change throughout the sample. These 3D flythroughs of samples are highly visual and provide an excellent way of understanding what has happened during testing, even for those not familiar with laboratory techniques and procedures.

The difference map technique has generated revealing data and has been very popular with operators due to its ability to unambiguously illustrate change and, alongside permeability data and current interpretative techniques, significantly add to test value by improving interpretation and understanding of results. Drilling mud-cake structure and clean-up, depth of drilling mud constituent infiltration, filtrate retention, depth of zone of “significant damage”, effectiveness of treatment fluid, and distribution of clay fines migration within samples.

MicroCTscan
After test screen coupon with open and occluded apertures

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