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Acoustical Imaging and Mechanical Properties of Soft Rock and Marine Sediments Progress Report: April-June 2001

Description: Mechanically weak formations, such as chalks, high porosity sandstones, and marine sediments, pose significant problems for oil and gas operators. Problems such as compaction, subsidence, and loss of permeability can affect reservoir production operations. For example, the unexpected subsidence of the Ekofisk chalk in the North Sea required over one billion dollars to re-engineer production facilities to account for losses created during that compaction (Sulak 1991). Another problem in weak formations is that of shallow water flows (SWF). Deep water drilling operations sometimes encounter cases where the marine sediments, at shallow depths just below the seafloor, begin to uncontrollably flow up and around the drill pipe. SWF problems created a loss of $150 million for the Ursa development project in the U.S. Gulf Coast SWF (Furlow 1998a,b; 1999a,b). The goal of this project is to provide a database on both the rock mechanical properties and the geophysical properties of weak rocks and sediments. These could be used by oil and gas companies to detect, evaluate, and alleviate potential production and drilling problems. The results will be useful in, for example, pre-drill detection of events such as SWF's by allowing a correlation of seismic data (such as hazard surveys) to rock mechanical properties. The data sets could also be useful for 4-D monitoring of the compaction and subsidence of an existing reservoir and imaging the zones of damage. During the second quarter of the project the research team has: (1) completed acoustic sensor construction, (2) conducted reconnaissance tests to map the deformational behaviors of the various rocks, (3) developed a sample assembly for the measurement of dynamic elastic and poroelastic parameters during triaxial testing, and (4) conducted a detailed review of the scientific literature and compiled a bibliography of that review. During the first quarter of the project the research team ...
Date: July 1, 2001
Creator: Scott, Thurman E., Jr.; Abousleiman, Younane & Zaman, Musharraf

Acoustical Imaging and Mechanical Properties of Soft Rock and Marine Sediments Progress Report: April-June 2002

Description: During the sixth quarter of this research project the research team developed a method and the experimental procedures for acquiring the data needed for ultrasonic tomography of rock core samples under triaxial stress conditions as outlined in Task 10. Traditional triaxial compression experiments, where compressional and shear wave velocities are measured, provide little or no information about the internal spatial distribution of mechanical damage within the sample. The velocities measured between platen-to-platen or sensor-to-sensor reflects an averaging of all the velocities occurring along that particular raypath across the boundaries of the rock. The research team is attempting to develop and refine a laboratory equivalent of seismic tomography for use on rock samples deformed under triaxial stress conditions. Seismic tomography, utilized for example in crosswell tomography, allows an imaging of the velocities within a discrete zone within the rock. Ultrasonic or acoustic tomography is essentially the extension of that field technology applied to rock samples deforming in the laboratory at high pressures. This report outlines the technical steps and procedures for developing this technology for use on weak, soft chalk samples. Laboratory tests indicate that the chalk samples exhibit major changes in compressional and shear wave velocities during compaction. Since chalk is the rock type responsible for the severe subsidence and compaction in the North Sea it was selected for the first efforts at tomographic imaging of soft rocks. Field evidence from the North Sea suggests that compaction, which has resulted in over 30 feet of subsidence to date, is heterogeneously distributed within the reservoir. The research team will attempt to image this very process in chalk samples. The initial tomographic studies (Scott et al., 1994a,b; 1998) were accomplished on well cemented, competent rocks such as Berea sandstone. The extension of the technology to weaker samples is more difficult but potentially ...
Date: November 18, 2002
Creator: Scott, Thurman E., Jr.; Abousleiman, Younane & Zaman, Musharraf

Acoustical Imaging and Mechanical Properties of Soft Rock and Marine Sediments Progress Report: January-March 2001

Description: The oil and gas industry has encountered significant problems in the production of oil and gas from weak rocks (such as chalks and limestones) and from unconsolidated sand formations. Problems include subsidence, compaction, sand production, and catastrophic shallow water sand flows during deep water drilling. Together these cost the petroleum industry hundreds of millions of dollars annually. The goals of this first quarterly report is to document the progress on the project to provide data on the acoustic imaging and mechanical properties of soft rock and marine sediments. The project is intended to determine the geophysical (acoustic velocities) rock properties of weak, poorly cemented rocks and unconsolidated sands. In some cases these weak formations can create problems for reservoir engineers. For example, it cost Phillips Petroleum 1 billion dollars to repair of offshore production facilities damaged during the unexpected subsidence and compaction of the Ekofisk Field in the North Sea (Sulak 1991). Another example is the problem of shallow water flows (SWF) occurring in sands just below the seafloor encountered during deep water drilling operations. In these cases the unconsolidated sands uncontrollably flow up around the annulus of the borehole resulting in loss of the drill casing. The $150 million dollar loss of the Ursa development project in the U.S. Gulf Coast resulted from an uncontrolled SWF (Furlow 1998a,b; 1999a,b). The first three tasks outlined in the work plan are: (1) obtain rock samples, (2) construct new acoustic platens, (3) calibrate and test the equipment. These have been completed as scheduled. Rock Mechanics Institute researchers at the University of Oklahoma have obtained eight different types of samples for the experimental program. These include: (a) Danian Chalk, (b) Cordoba Cream Limestone, (c) Indiana Limestone, (d) Ekofisk Chalk, (e) Oil Creek Sandstone, (f) unconsolidated Oil Creek sand, and (g) unconsolidated Brazos river ...
Date: April 1, 2001
Creator: Scott, Thurman E., Jr.; Zaman, Musharraf & Abousleiman, Younane

Acoustical Imaging and Mechanical Properties of Soft Rock and Marine Sediments Progress Report: January-March 2002

Description: Three major goals were accomplished during this phase. First, a study was completed of the effects of stress-induced changes in anisotropic elastic moduli in sandstone. Second, a new method for measuring the anisotropic poroelastic moduli from acoustic data was developed. Third, a series of triaxial experiments were conducted on unconsolidated sands to identify pressure/stress conditions where liquefaction occurs under high confining pressures. Stress-induced changes in anisotropic Young's moduli and shear moduli were observed during deformational pathway experiments. A new method was made for the acquisition of compressional and shear wave velocities along a series of 3-dimensional raypaths through a core sample as it is subjected to deformation. Three different deformational pathway experiments were conducted. During the hydrostatic deformation experiment, little or no anisotropy was observed in either the Young's moduli or shear moduli. Significant deformational anisotropies were observed in both moduli during the uniaxial strain test and the triaxial compression experiment but each had a different nature. During the triaxial experiment the axial and lateral Young's moduli and shear moduli continued to diverge as load was applied. During the uniaxial strain experiment the anisotropy was ''locked in'' early in the loading phase but then remained steady as both the confining pressure and axial stress were applied. A new method for measuring anisotropic Biot's effective stress parameters has also been developed. The method involves measuring the compressional and shear wave velocities in the aforementioned acoustic velocity experiments while varying stress paths. For a stress-induced transversely isotropic medium the acoustic velocity data are utilized to calculate the five independent elastic stiffness components. Once the elastic stiffness components are determined these can be used to calculate the anisotropic Biot's effective stress parameters, {alpha}{sub v} and {alpha}{sub h}, using the equations of Abousleiman et al. (1996). A series of experiments have been conducted, on ...
Date: April 30, 2002
Creator: Scott Thurman E., Jr.; Abousleiman, Younane & Zaman, Musharraf

Acoustical Imaging and Mechanical Properties of Soft Rock and Marine Sediments Progress Report: July-September 2002

Description: During the seven quarter of the project the research team analyzed some of the acoustic velocity data and rock deformation data. The goal is to create a series of ''deformation-velocity maps'' which can outline the types of rock deformational mechanisms which can occur at high pressures and then associate those with specific compressional or shear wave velocity signatures. During this quarter, we began to analyze both the acoustical and deformational properties of the various rock types. Some of the preliminary velocity data from the Danian chalk will be presented in this report. This rock type was selected for the initial efforts as it will be used in the tomographic imaging study outlined in Task 10. This is one of the more important rock types in the study as the Danian chalk is thought to represent an excellent analog to the Ekofisk chalk that has caused so many problems in the North Sea. Some of the preliminary acoustic velocity data obtained during this phase of the project indicates that during pore collapse and compaction of this chalk, the acoustic velocities can change by as much as 200 m/s. Theoretically, this significant velocity change should be detectable during repeated successive 3-D seismic images. In addition, research continues with an analysis of the unconsolidated sand samples at high confining pressures obtained in Task 9. The analysis of the results indicate that sands with 10% volume of fines can undergo liquefaction at lower stress conditions than sand samples which do not have fines added. This liquefaction and/or sand flow is similar to ''shallow water'' flows observed during drilling in the offshore Gulf of Mexico.
Date: November 18, 2002
Creator: Scott, Thurman E., Jr.; Abousleiman, Younane & Zaman, Musharraf

Acoustical Imaging and Mechanical Properties of Soft Rock and Marine Sediments Progress Report: October-December 2001

Description: During this phase of the project the research team concentrated on acquisition of acoustic emission data from the high porosity rock samples. The initial experiments indicated that the acoustic emission activity from high porosity Danian chalk were of a very low amplitude. Even though the sample underwent yielding and significant plastic deformation the sample did not generate significant AE activity. This was somewhat surprising. These initial results call into question the validity of attempting to locate AE activity in this weak rock type. As a result the testing program was slightly altered to include measuring the acoustic emission activity from many of the rock types listed in the research program. The preliminary experimental results indicate that AE activity in the sandstones is much higher than in the carbonate rocks (i.e., the chalks and limestones). This observation may be particularly important for planning microseismic imaging of reservoir rocks in the field environment. The preliminary results suggest that microseismic imaging of reservoir rock from acoustic emission activity generated from matrix deformation (during compaction and subsidence) would be extremely difficult to accomplish.
Date: January 31, 2001
Creator: Scott, Thurman E., Jr.; Abousleiman, Younane & Zaman, Musharraf