Combining biomarker and bulk compositional gradient analysis to assess reservoir connectivity

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Pomerantz, Andrew E.
Ventura, Gregory T.
McKenna, Amy M.
Canas, Jesus A.
Auman, John
Koerner, Kyle
Curry, David
Nelson, Robert K.
Reddy, Christopher M.
Rodgers, Ryan P.
Marshall, Alan G.
Peters, Kenneth E.
Mullins, Oliver C.
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Compositional grading
Reservoir connectivity
Comprehensive two‐dimensional gas chromatography
Fourier transform mass spectrometry
Ion cyclotron resonance
Electrospray ionization
Hydraulic connectivity of petroleum reservoirs represents one of the biggest uncertainties for both oil production and petroleum system studies. Here, a geochemical analysis involving bulk and detailed measures of crude oil composition is shown to constrain connectivity more tightly than is possible with conventional methods. Three crude oils collected from different depths in a single well exhibit large gradients in viscosity, density, and asphaltene content. Crude oil samples are collected with a wireline sampling tool providing samples from well‐defined locations and relatively free of contamination by drilling fluids; the known provenance of these samples minimizes uncertainties in the subsequent analysis. The detailed chemical composition of almost the entire crude oil is determined by use of comprehensive two‐dimensional gas chromatography (GC×GC) to interrogate the nonpolar fraction and negative ion electrospray ionization Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (ESI FT‐ICR MS) to interrogate the polar fraction. The simultaneous presence of 25‐ norhopanes and mildly altered normal and isoprenoid alkanes is detected, suggesting that the reservoir has experienced multiple charges and contains a mixture of oils biodegraded to different extents. The gradient in asphaltene concentration is explained by an equilibrium model considering only gravitational segregation of asphaltene nanoaggregates; this grading can be responsible for the observed variation in viscosity. Combining these analyses yields a consistent picture of a connected reservoir in which the observed viscosity variation originates from gravitational segregation of asphaltene nanoaggregates in a crude oil with high asphaltene concentration resulting from multiple charges, including one charge that suffered severe biodegradation. Observation of these gradients having appropriate magnitudes suggests good reservoir connectivity with greater confidence than is possible with traditional techniques alone.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2010. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Elsevier B.V. for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Organic Geochemistry 41 (2010): 812-821, doi:10.1016/j.orggeochem.2010.05.003.
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