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The On-line Mud Logging Handbook

The On-line
Mud Logging
Handbook

Alun Whittaker

by Alun Whittaker

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Geological Evaluation
- Lithology & Mineralogy
Aegis Group
244 Ohio Street
Vallejo, CA 94590-5051
USA
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How many times have you sat a a conference table to discuss a geological or engineering problem and, while boxes and discs of other well
data, logs and samples, sit by, the discussion has resolved around three or four mud logs, laid out along the table or magnet-ed side-by-side
on the white board.
Historically, the mud log became rotary drilling's replacement for the older the driller's log as the composite day-by-day, and foot-by-foot
record of drilling events, progress, and most significant formations penetrated. This is still true, no other log contains the density of data:
more parameters, of more kinds, over longer intervals of the well, than the mud log.
But the geological data on the mud log is not just there for completeness. It also serves, in combination with drilling data, rate of penetration,
and so on, to add interpretation and significance meaning to the gas and oil traces recorded on the log.
Finally, the mud logger is almost certainly the only scientifically trained person available at the well site, all day, every day (24-7, in the
trendy new argot), If a careful, accurate, reproducible chemical or mineralogical test or measurement is required, then who else should be
doing it?
Of course, we have to remember the Golden Rules of Mud Logging (see Chapter 1) and ask whether the need for measurements to be
made on fresh samples, and the value of real-time results outweigh the cost of keeping the equipment at the well site, and time and effort
taken away from other tasks.
Sampling, curation, testing, and evaluation tasks for well cuttings include:
Routine sampling programs and protocols
Sample catching
Sample handling and curation
Mineralogical tests and analyses
Clay maturity and compaction tests for geo-pressure evaluation
Petro-physical tests & analyses (core analysis)
Drilling fluid and tracer chemical tests

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Table of Contents
Catch It and You Keep It..................................................................................................................................................................................9
Sampling Protocol.........................................................................................................................................................................................10
Table of Organization..................................................................................................................................................................................10
Documented Procedures.............................................................................................................................................................................11
Number of Sample Sets.........................................................................................................................................................................12
Sample Distribution................................................................................................................................................................................12
Sample Intervals.....................................................................................................................................................................................12
Sample Curation.....................................................................................................................................................................................13
Sealed Untouched.............................................................................................................................................................................13
Unwashed.........................................................................................................................................................................................14
Washed and Dried.............................................................................................................................................................................14
Lag and Circulation................................................................................................................................................................................15
Sample History Log................................................................................................................................................................................15
Standards...............................................................................................................................................................................................16
Cutting Sampling...........................................................................................................................................................................................17
Annular Recovery.......................................................................................................................................................................................17
Sample Catching.........................................................................................................................................................................................24
Cuttings Recovery Problems........................................................................................................................................................................43
Viscosity Additives.......................................................................................................................................................................................43
Solvents and Lubricants..............................................................................................................................................................................43
Lost Circulation Material..............................................................................................................................................................................44
Oil-based Mud.............................................................................................................................................................................................46
Core Sample Handling..................................................................................................................................................................................46
Catching & Sampling...................................................................................................................................................................................47
Core Handling Prep List..............................................................................................................................................................................49
For Recovery and Shipping....................................................................................................................................................................49
For Analysis and Sampling.....................................................................................................................................................................49
For Slabbing & Plugging.........................................................................................................................................................................50

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Petro-physical Analysis................................................................................................................................................................................57
Core Analysis .............................................................................................................................................................................................57
Core Plug Porosity Measurement...........................................................................................................................................................58
Boyle's Law.......................................................................................................................................................................................60
Core Plug Permeability Measurement....................................................................................................................................................60
DArcy Equation.................................................................................................................................................................................61
Core Plug Saturations Measurement......................................................................................................................................................62
Cuttings Porosity.........................................................................................................................................................................................63
Praxis Measurements.............................................................................................................................................................................64
P-K Analyzer...........................................................................................................................................................................................65
pNMR Principals.....................................................................................................................................................................................66
Cuttings Bulk Density..................................................................................................................................................................................75
Clay Wettability...........................................................................................................................................................................................81
Cation Exchange Capacity..........................................................................................................................................................................81
Basic Method..........................................................................................................................................................................................82
Improved Method...................................................................................................................................................................................84
Mineral Identification.....................................................................................................................................................................................85
Calcimetry...................................................................................................................................................................................................87
Mud Tracer Tests...........................................................................................................................................................................................91
Ending It All....................................................................................................................................................................................................92
Next.................................................................................................................................................................................................................93

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Didn't find what you needed here? Sorry.


Why not go back to the Chapter

Summaries, and fine a better place to start, or use the Index to search for the subject you need.

List of Figures & Tables


Figure 1: Depending on mud flow rate and rheology, the mud flow may be in plug, laminar or turbulent flow. ................................................18
Figure 2: In laminar and turbulent flow, annular velocity is lowest adjacent to the drill string and outer bore hole wall and highest mid-way
between. .........................................................................................................................................................................................................19
Figure 3: Experimental results of return of large (), medium (), and small () cuttings from a bore hole, under different conditions of mud
viscosity and annular velocity. The velocity profile in drilling mud allows slippage of cuttings toward the slower inner and outer portions of the
flow. Rotation of the drill string modifies this effect by hurling cutting backward the high velocity region. .......................................................20
Figure 4: Formation boundaries will be indicated correctly by the rate of penetration log. Due to slippage and mixing in the mud stream, the
total hydrocarbons curve and cuttings descriptions may show differences in both the depth and nature of the formation boundary. ..............22
Figure 5: The recommended mud log format includes two lithology tracks. One shows rock types and proportions exactly as seen the
cuttings, The other shows the mud logger's geological interpretation..............................................................................................................23
Figure 6: Two sources of debris entering the bore hole from near or immediately above bottom, A: Spalling is a stress relief process creating
fairly large, relatively similar sized, blocky fragments. B: Consistent, or transitory under-balance caused by low mud density, or swabbing,
produces flaky, lenticular fragments in a range from very large to slightly larger than drill cuttings..................................................................24
Figure 7: Two sources of debris entering the open hole section at any time, and from locations above bottom. A: With excessive annular
velocity, turbulent flow causes erosion of the bore hole wall. B: If a portion of the drill string in open hole is held in compression, then the
pipe may flex causing the external upsets to impact and damage the bore hole wall......................................................................................25
Figure 8: The mud log worksheet is the place for a detailed sample tally: lag sample interval and catching times, and descriptions (courtesy
of EXLOG, Inc.) ..............................................................................................................................................................................................27
Figure 9: In Air or gas-based drilling, samples of dust or rock-flour are taken from a by-pass of the blooie lineBlooi......................................29

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Figure 10: Samples of cuttings and mud must be taken no less often than every fifteen minutes while drilling. Sample processing requires
the packing of unwashed, and rinsed-and-dried samples. Cuttings and mud samples are sieved and blended for lithological, oil and gas
evaluation (See Chapter 8 for details).............................................................................................................................................................31
Figure 11: And for those of you who are too lazy to zoom --............................................................................................................................32
Figure 12: A table of standard sieve mesh sizes manufactures in the US, UK and other nations (nearest equivalent French, Canadian and
German standard metric sizes) commonly used in cuttings evaluation. The ASTM number 8, number 80, and number 170 (or equivalents
highlighted in the table) are the minimum necessary for mud log sample preparation and evaluation.............................................................33
Figure 12 (continued): A table of standard sieve mesh sizes manufactures in the US, UK and other nations (nearest equivalent French,
Canadian and German standard metric sizes) commonly used in cuttings evaluation. The ASTM number 8, number 80, and number 170 (or
equivalents highlighted in the table) are the minimum necessary for mud log sample preparation and evaluation..........................................34
Figure 12 (continued): A table of standard sieve mesh sizes manufactures in the US, UK and other nations (nearest equivalent French,
Canadian and German standard metric sizes) commonly used in cuttings evaluation. The ASTM number 8, number 80, and number 170 (or
equivalents highlighted in the table) are the minimum necessary for mud log sample preparation and evaluation..........................................35
Figure 13: This table provides a comparison of common sieve mesh and screen sizes, with typical sedimentary grains as graded by the
Wentworth grain size classification. (see Wentworth, 1922, or Wiki it) and remember that well cuttings contain more than a single grains,
and so are larger..............................................................................................................................................................................................36
Figure 13 (continued): This table provides a comparison of common sieve mesh and screen sizes, with typical sedimentary grains as graded
by the Wentworth grain size classification. .....................................................................................................................................................37
Figure 14: The geological sample processing area of a modern standard mud logging unit: sieves, sink, blender, micro-gas analyzer,
microscope and ultraviolet inspection chamber. (Illustration courtesy of EXLOG, Inc.). ..................................................................................39
Figure 15: A traditional mud logging cutting lithology log.................................................................................................................................41
Figure 16: A modern mud log, in addition to a cuttings lithology track, includes interpreted lithology, and lithological descriptions tracks.......42
Figure 17: A Conventional Core is Recovered Piece by Piece from the Inner Core Barrel Hanging Over the Rig Floor...................................48
Figure 18: If the core is jammed, it may need to be laid down on the .............................................................................................................50
Figure 9: Cutting a core is expensive in rig time and materials. damaged, broken or disorganized core fragment may have greatly reduced
value. Boxing, labeling and packaging of the core, is very important. Attach tags (A) to the core to indicate where and why material has been
removed. Loose debris (B) should be bagged and appropriately placed in the core box.................................................................................51

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Figure 20: Bagged samples of core debris can replace missing or inferior cutting samples for the cored interval...........................................52
Figure 21: Sealed and canned core plugs are take for petro-physical core analysis: porosity, permeability, and fluid saturations. Canned
drilling mud samples taken during coring provide reference water and gas analyses......................................................................................53
Figure 22: The mud logging crew should create a core description and report, independent of any operators geologist, and append it to the
bottom of the mud log......................................................................................................................................................................................54
Figure 23: The mercury pump pycnometer has a stainless steel chamber into which mercury is pumped to enclose a core sample. The
difference in volume of mercury displaced from the chamber at atmospheric pressure, and at a higher pressure can be used to determine
the volume of effective pore space and the porosity. ......................................................................................................................................58
Figure 24: In the air permeameter test, compressed air flows at measured flow rate, pressure and temperature and pressure through a core
plug of measured length and diameter. ...........................................................................................................................................................61
Figure 25: On the mud log itself only brief graphical and text notations of core interval and recovery are made. ...........................................62
Figure 26: On the mud log core report pigtail (a supplementary report added at the bottom of the completed mud log, see Figure 22), more
detailed core descriptions, drawings are presented with, if available, plots of core analysis data. ..................................................................63
Figure 27: The Praxis Pulsed Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (pNMR) analyzer used pulsed magnetic fields from a large uniform electromagnet to measure the quantity and distribution of hydrogen-containing fluids a small sample of cuttings.....................................................64
Figure 28: The Exploration Logging (EXLOG) P-K system uses a Praxis pulsed Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (pNMR) analyzer coupled
to a personal computer to handle the repetitive measurements and calculations, to determine free and bound fluid in the porosity of cuttings.
........................................................................................................................................................................................................................65
Figure 29: In water, the nucleus of the hydrogen atom, a positively charged proton, behaves as a tiny spinning magnet. Normally, the axes of
spin of the protons are randomly oriented they are said to be relaxed. ........................................................................................................67
Figure 30: If the hydrogen nuclei are subjected to a strong magnetic field, then the axes of spin of the protons become aligned in orientation
with the lines of magnetic force in the field......................................................................................................................................................67
Figure 31: If the imposed magnetic filed is removed then, after the characteristic relaxation time, the protons return to their previous relaxed
orientation........................................................................................................................................................................................................68
Figure 32: A pulse of radio frequency energy can also cause the spin axes of the magnetically aligned hydrogen nuclei to become scattered,
and randomly oriented.....................................................................................................................................................................................68

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Figure 33: After the radio frequency pulse is completed, the hydrogen nuclei, once again, begin to re-align themselves back into alignment
with the magnetic field,.each proton emitting a pulse of radio frequency energy. ...........................................................................................69
Figure 34: The rate at which the protons re-align, and give up energy is also representative of the characteristic relaxation time of the
physical state in of the fluid containing the hydrogen nuclei. In a sedimentary rock, this may be: free water, irreducible water, or interlayer
water................................................................................................................................................................................................................69
Figure 35: In a porous sedimentary rock, the physical environment of the hydrogen nuclei controls the distribution of relaxation times.........71
Figure 36: The P-K Log is a reliable and inexpensive indicator of porosity available while drilling limited only by the quality of sample
available and the skill of the mud logger in selecting it. ..................................................................................................................................74
Figure 37: Shales and clay rocks have a chemically complex mineral matrix that continues to change with temperature and depth of burial.
Loss of chemically-bound water from mineral matrix in the pore space, results in an increase of both the matrix density, and the porosity,
without necessarily changing the bulk density. ...............................................................................................................................................75
Figure 38: Shale bulk density increases with depth of burial as de-watering occurs, porosity declines and clay mineral density increases.
Breaks in this uniform trend may result from chemical and mineralogical changes in the rock, but may also indicate geo-pressuring (see
Figure 39)........................................................................................................................................................................................................76
Figure 39: Breaks in this uniform trend may indicate failure of de-watering and retention of fluids in the clay rock, accompanied by
abnormally high geo-pressure (see Figure 38). Determination of which interpretation is correct requires additional real time information
commonly available in the mud logging unit (see Chapter 12).........................................................................................................................77
Figure 40: The liquid density gradient is used to determine bulk density of shales and other cuttings. Using calibration beads a column
height-versus-density calibration chart is established. ....................................................................................................................................79
Figure 41: The Shale Data Log is useful in source bed and geo-pressure formation evaluation and in drilling fluid management. .................80
Figure 42: The Warne staining procedure is used to identify components of mixed carbonates (see below, for an explanation of the reagents)
........................................................................................................................................................................................................................86
Figure 43: In the Bernard Calcimeter a measured sample of cuttings reacts fully with dilute Hydrochloric Acid to produce carbon dioxide. the
volume of Carbon Dioxide produced is measured and converted to the percentage of Calcium Carbonate in the sample. ............................88
Figure 44: The results of calorimetry: percentage calcite, dolomite and total carbonate is plotted in track 5a of a standard mud log adjacent to
the other detailed geological data and evaluations. ........................................................................................................................................90

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Catch It and You Keep It

Ask a really old friend to tell you about the Catch It and
Yo u Keep sketch from the National Lampoon Radio Hour

Despite sophisticated remote and down-hole measurement technologies, rock


samples derived from drilling and coring remain the most important source of
data to the geo-scientist. Along with Rate of Penetration, and the Lag Time, these samples, and the direct observations made on them,
supply the benchmarks against which gas, and all other analyses can be standardized.
The catching, processing, description, and curation of material for geological and geochemical analyses, cuttings sampling is at least as
important a job function for the mud loggers as gas analysis.
However, in order to understand this effort, and its results, it is important to also understand the means by which they are taken, and the
environment through which they are transported back to surface. It is also necessary to maintain standards and quality control in the
collection, preparation and handling of these samples.
During and after drilling, several types of rock sample may be taken from the well bore:
Drill cuttings,
Bottom-hole or conventional cores (and samples extracted from them),
Sidewall cores and samples,
Opportunistic samples that are not routinely or systematically taken, but which can become available as a result of drilling activities.
For example: extremely large and undamaged cavings, formation debris picked up by junk baskets and stabilizers (see Chapter 4),
and so on.
In addition to rock samples, it is also possible to obtain various types of fluids from the bore hole during and after drilling. These include:
Samples of drilling fluids, that may contain dissolved and dispersed fractions of minerals, volatiles, formation waters and their
dissolved anions and cations,
Formation fluid samples taken in small volumes using down-hole samplers or wire-line well testing tools.

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Larger volumes of recovered fluids from temporary completion and flow tests of the completed wells.
For example: Open-hole, (OHT), or drill-stem tests (DST).
The composition of formation fluids (oil, and water) in situ is of course in equilibrium with the solid (minerals, and solid hydrocarbons) and
gaseous phases in the reservoir and will be modified by translation to surface temperature and pressure. Small samples, or early flow
samples will also be modified by contamination with drilling fluids and bore-hole debris including rock cuttings and cavings and fluids from
elsewhere in the well.

Sampling Protocol
To perform any useful work on each one of these sample types: rock, formation gases, liquids or drilling fluid, requires an understanding of
the nature of the others and of their relationships. Even so, there remain a large number of unknowns that must be considered when
designing a sampling program. Drill cuttings and core samples can be used reliably only when you have an adequate knowledge of their
nature and history, and have exercised standardization and strict quality control over the catching and preparation processes.

Table of Organization
Prior to commencement of the drilling program a table of organization should be established, agreed upon and documented. Pre-planning is
required to ensure that, at each stage of the well, the appropriate sample processing equipment and materials is available at the well site
and that enough, but not too many, qualified personnel are on hand to handle them.
It is also necessary to assign, agree and document the duties and responsibilities of all personnel involved in the program:
Who is in charge?

Who supervises?

Who takes decisions?

Who performs each task: processing samples, describing samples, writing and delivering daily reports, and so on?

Who handles logistics, such as ordering supplies and materials?

Who is to receive samples?


When, where and what kind?
Who is responsible for dispatching and shipping samples?

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Who is to receive reports?


When, where and how many copies?
How are they delivered: by: mail, fax, e-mail, encoded, and so on?
The answers to questions is used to construct a table of organization and responsibilities. When agreed, and signed-off be the necessary
authorities, this should be circulated to all concerned, and posted in rig offices, and the mud logging unit.

Documented Procedures
Procedures for sampling, sample processing, packaging and shipping should all be agreed and documented. Some are discussed below
and there are several others documented by oil companies, geological services companies, professional societies, and state agencies (for
examples, see AAPG, Colorado School of Mines, and the Oklahoma Geological Survey in the Bibliography).
In reality, the importance lies not in which procedure you choose to follow but that there is agreement, understanding and enforcement of a
standard procedure to be utilized by everyone involved in the sampling program.
Types of Sample
At the well site, there are two basic sample types:
Samples for immediate inspection, and
Samples to be preserved for later, off-site investigations or trade.
There is only one rule for samples to be used in preparing the mud log: they should be caught as often as time permits, and at as many
locations as necessary to obtain a complete and proper evaluation of formation drilled.
Samples for later evaluation fall under several classes and require detailed specification in the logging instructions:
Number of Sample Sets
Sample Distribution
Sample Intervals
Sample Curation
Lag and Circulation
Sample History Log

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Standards

Number of Sample Sets


You must specify how many sets of each type of sample are required. If you are going to require unusually large number of sets then be
prepared to sacrifice on the sample interval you can reasonably expect, or you must ask the mud logging company to provide additional
personnel, materials, and equipment (extra sample driers for example) to accommodate the load.
Asking rig crew members to help out with sample catching is a bad idea. Floor hands or roustabouts have neither the skill nor the motivation
to catch good quality, representative samples. Even worse, at times when sampling is most critical, for example in deeper, faster drilling
sections, they are likely to be called away by other duties on the rig.

Sample Distribution
For each sample set, instruction must be given for:
Method of shipping.
Destination
Distribution schedule (weekly, monthly, or hold until the end of drilling)
Special packing,shipping document content, labeling or shipment reporting requirements
For example, depending on security considerations, there may be extreme limits placed on what information should disclosed (depth
interval, sample type, or even box number) on the outside of shipping containers,, or accompanying documents.

Sample Intervals
You must specify the sample interval for each type of sample and for each section of the well. Commonly, the sample interval is increased
as the well is deepened. Remember that there has to be a compromise between number of sample sets, sample intervals for each set, and
mud loggers time availability.
For each sample set, you must specify whether you require interval or incremental samples to be collected (see Chapter 1). If incremental
samples are required, then you should provide instructions to the drilling contractor to cooperate with the mud logger in assembling or
installing some form of continuous sample catching equipment.
You must also provide instructions on how to handle sampling during special circumstances to prevent gaps in the sample set. The most
common such circumstance is while coring. Samples cut by the slim, diamond-tipped core bit are very sparse and uninformative. It is a good

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idea, to catch the best available samples while coring. After a core has been successfully recovered, the mud logger can take already
broken fragments from appropriate depths in the boxed core or, but only if necessary, break off small chips with a geological hammer.

Sample Curation
There are several different types of sample that may be processed at the well site. The mud logger needs specific instructions on each of
them.

Sealed Untouched
Samples required for geochemistry, palynology, or micro- paleontology are often required to be completely untouched and sealed at
the well site to avoid risk of contamination. They are never washed, not even rinsed, but may be splashed with a biocide to prevent
biological decomposition. They may be canned, or sealed in glass jars or heavy weight plastic bags.

For the non-geologists among us, micro-paleontology is the study of microscopic fossils. Microfossils, such as Forams
and Diatoms, whose fossil remains are composed primarily of Calcium Carbonate, Silicate or Phosphate, are much
more recognizable, more widely represented, and therefore more useful than macro-fossils in dating and correlation in
petroleum exploration.
Strictly speaking, Palynology is the study of pollen and spores, living and fossil, but the field is commonly broadened
to include other similar palynomorphs.
palynomorphs. These are other microfossils of plant and animal origin that are microscopic in
size (5 m to 500m), and resistant to most forms of decay. Common examples include:
* Carophytes and Chrysopytes: Calcium Carbonate and silicate skeletal structures from fresh water, blue-green algae.
* Coccoliths: Calcite remains of marine plankton.
* Conodonts and Scolecodonts: Calcium Phosphate dental structures of annelid worms.
* Diatoms and Radiolarians: Silica remains of single-celled, marine and fresh water organisms.
* Foraminifera: Calcium Carbonate remains of single-celled organisms which have a calcareous test with a chitinous
inner lining.
* Ostracoda: Chitinous and calcareous structures from fresh water and marine crustaceans.

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In other cases, sealed, untouched samples may needed to support palynology, geo-chemistry and other off-site research projects.
For example, to provide background measurements of mud properties, every ten sealed cuttings samples are accompanied by a
single sealed drilling fluid sample.

Unwashed
Samples for trade, with neighboring exploration companies, government agencies, and for archiving are bagged unwashed in cloth
or plastic sample sacks. Although unwashed, some geologists want to have these samples lightly rinsed of drilling mud prior to
bagging. If recovered from an oil-based drilling mud, it may be desirable to lightly rinse the sample in an organic solvent enough
to remove the coating of mud but not to wash away any legitimate formation oil staining. After rinsing, the bagged samples may be
hung in a sheltered location to air dry. Your instructions should be explicit as to your exact requirements.
To save well-site labor and shipping costs, sometimes a single, extra-large, unwashed sample set is caught and sent to a subcontractor for processing, splitting, and re-bagging into several sets. To ensure that everyone understands how much sample you
need for all your needs, it is a good rule to supply bags of an appropriate size for your requirements, and then require that they be
filled. Just like pouring cocktails, its easier to fill it to the top, than to know when to say when.

Washed and Dried


For routine sample examination at the well site or later it is usual to wash and dry the samples. If you are drilling through a clean,
granular sediment this is simple, but if there are soft, unconsolidated clays or fissile shales are being penetrated, or are exposed in
the bore hole wall, problems arise.
At the well site, the geologist or mud logger is able to see massive amounts of clay and shale cavings arriving with bottom hole
cuttings. This material can then be removed with a coarse (8-mesh) sieve before looking at the sample.
Similarly, if the formation actually being drilled consists almost entirely of soft, unconsolidated and otherwise featureless clay
(commonly described on the rig as Gumbo), then this can be completely washed out so that the small amount of clastic material
can be extracted and viewed.
Alternatively, this clastic material can be found at the de-sander or de-silter outlet, if they are running. From these various samples,
the mud logger can assemble a representative sample from which to make a valid description for the mud log or daily report.
Now, what about the single washed and dried sample, that someone away from the well site may look at and use to judge the
formation. It may contain:
Cavings, making up more than half its volume. Hopefully, these can be recognized, but if the geologist looking at them has no
well-site experience they may not be.

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Mostly soft clay that, after heated drying will turn into a hard clay brick, that has few surface features and is almost useless as a
sample for visual examination or description, or
Only the fine, clastic material representing less than 10% of the drilled formation, because more than 90%, the soft clay, has
been washed away.
There is no simple solution to this problem (other than to always look at the mud log sample, and read its formation descriptions
before starting to examine an archived sample set).
However, the sampling protocol must be specific about where to obtain samples for this sample set, and how rigorously to wash it
before drying.

Lag and Circulation


Although not specific to sampling, the logging and sampling instructions should specify how lag time tests are to be run and reported.
It should also explain circumstances when the mud logger is authorized to halt drilling and ask for a circulation of Bottoms Up. These
instructions should include:
In what depth interval, or geological horizon this is applicable. You may want to ignore most drilling breaks for much of the well, but to
be very strict about circulating events when drilling one or two potentially productive horizons.
How great a drilling break (proportionate increase in rate of penetration) signals the start of a drilling break.
How many meters (or feet) must be drilled at this new rate to confirm the drilling break.
What to do after drilling is halted. For example:
Circulate until a bottom hole sample is recovered to surface,
Continue circulation and call for orders,
Complete only one circulation, and the pull out and prepare to begin, coring,
and so on.

Sample History Log


You should supply a form, or at least specify a standard format, for a record (or log) to kept in the mud logging unit of all sample sets,
shipping container descriptions, contents, shipping dates, and destinations. This log should also list any special circumstances explaining

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contamination, poor sample quality, or absence of samples from any set.


Along with responsibility for the samples, this log should eventually
Note to mud loggers: this sample log is primarily for the operating
be transferred from the well site to the sample and core repository.
Records should be consist of sample numbers, volumes and types companys shipping and logistics people. I suggest that in addition to this
log, you should report all of the same information on the Mud Log
taken, their mode of storage and destination of distribution. At the
Worksheet.
repository, the log can be updated with records of samples
removed and returned, volumes of material used up or damaged in
analytical procedures, and so on. Cuttings samples are a delicate
and limited resource. In the past, irreplaceable samples have been mislaid, contaminated or even thrown out due to the lack of adequate
record keeping.

Standards
The sampling instruction should be accompanied by copies of (or instructions on where to obtain copies of) standard bulletins and charts for:
Descriptive terms and abbreviations (with necessary code names or terms if these are needed for open telecommunications),
Rock type classifications,
Grain size, shape and sorting, and
Natural and fluorescent color charts.
Based upon these documented procedures, there can be total honesty and trust between all members of the geological team:
Mud loggers should not be asked to collect larger volumes of sample than is physically possible (while keeping up with their other
tasks).
Mud loggers who are asked to do so should explain that this cannot be done and propose alternatives: such as reducing the
sampling requirements, using sample catchers, or a sample splitting service, and so on.
Sample catchers, if used, should be mud logger trainees, or geological technicians. Using unskilled, untrained casual labor or
members of the rig crew as sample catchers is not recommended as the quality and regularity of sampling will strongly the reflect the
workers interest and respect for the work being performed!
Mud loggers should not accept impossible instructions without comment only to try to fulfill them by supplying inadequate, poor
quality or false samples. This serves no one!

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Cutting Sampling
The recovery of cuttings from the bore hole is a more complicated situation than gas recovery. With good mud condition, gas peaks can be
sampled with sharp boundaries that can correlated with similar breaks in rate of penetration and confirming a formation boundary. Bed
boundaries defined by drill cuttings samples are never as sharp as this and may falsely appear to extend over tens or even hundreds of
meters.

Annular Recovery
So far we have considered the recovery of low density gas dispersed in viscous mud. The mud is only required to carry, suspend, and
release the gas and, by its viscosity, to prevent upward migration and mixing of the gas. This is a relatively uncomplicated condition
compared to that which occurs when mixtures of light and heavy, large and small, drill cuttings are carried in drilling mud.
Any flowing fluid will have a carrying capacity for solid particles that is governed by the density, viscosity, and velocity of the fluid. According
to the values of these, there will be a maximum limit set on the total load of solid material that may be carried, and to the mass of any
individual particle that can be lifted by the fluid. Of course, even at a constant fluid velocity, the particle load is neither constant nor uniform.
At any time, the total load will consist of some particles being lifted, and others being carried or deposited at random from the fluid.
When drilling fluid flows vertically, up through the well annulus, these same conditions apply but there are further considerations. For
example, in the annulus, we are concerned only with vertical flow in which the settling tendency of the solid particles (well cuttings) under
gravity is acting in the opposite sense to the flow direction. Fortunately, mud is a thixotropic (gel-forming) fluid that, when flow ceases, gels
to form a colloidal suspension, having a much greater viscosity, or gel strength, and hence carrying capacity to prevent particle settling.
However, in long annular sections, we can reasonably expect there to be some difference in upward velocity, causing slippage, or sorting of
cutting by mass. Some of the heavier, denser, and larger cuttings will settle in the annulus, arriving later at surface so that sharp bed
boundaries will appear transitional.
There may also be some sorting on the basis of cuttings shape. For example, flatter, tabular or disc-shaped particles, such as fissile shale
cuttings, will present more resistance to settling than equi-dimensional, sub-spherical cuttings, such as sandstone cuttings or single grains.
The annular mud flow may exist in one of three different flow regimes depending upon the annular diameter, velocity and mud rheology.
These are (see Figure 1):
Plug Flow: a rare condition, usually seen in slow moving, extremely viscous fluids.
Laminar Flow: the ideal condition for drilling mud, resulting in minimal pressure losses and bore-hole erosion.
Turbulent Flow: a less desirable condition for drilling mud. It has greater carrying, and hole cleaning capacity (favored for pumping

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cement into casing) but requiring increased energy expenditure to overcome circulating pressure losses.

Figure 1: Depending on mud flow rate and rheology, the mud flow may be in plug, laminar or turbulent flow.
For cuttings recovery, the significance of flow regime is in the velocity distribution across the flow path (see Figure 2). In laminar and
turbulent flow, the mud travels at a range of velocities across the annulus. Maximum velocity is achieved at the middle of the annulus, equidistant between the drill string and the bore hole wall. Following the same rules as vertical settling, the solid particles carried in the flow will
tend to slip across the annulus from higher to lower velocity regions in the flow, inducing vertical mixing of cuttings.

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Figure 2: In laminar and turbulent flow, annular velocity is lowest adjacent to the drill string and outer bore hole wall and
highest mid-way between.
Further complication is added by the rotation of the inner wall of the annulus: the drill string. Friction at the pipe wall induces a radial flow
component to the drilling fluid and a centripetal force that sweeps cuttings back toward the high velocity region in the center of the annulus.
This enhances the random mixing of material. Solid particles carried in the flow will tend to slip across the annulus from higher to lower
velocity levels in the flow inducing a further degree of vertical mixing of cuttings (see Figure 2).
The net effect of these factors is to limit the value of cuttings as a means of determining formation boundaries with any degree of precision.
It also means that the lag time predicted by the carbide lag time test represents only the minimum time necessary for cuttings to reach
surface traveling with the maximum velocity mud region. Any slippage of cuttings will contribute to extending the range of cuttings lag time
between the minimum and a longer, maximum value.

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Figure 3: Experimental results of return of large (), medium (), and small () cuttings from a bore hole, under
different conditions of mud viscosity and annular velocity. The velocity profile in drilling mud allows slippage of cuttings
toward the slower inner and outer portions of the flow. Rotation of the drill string modifies this effect by hurling cutting
backward the high velocity region.
In mud logging there are two methods to handling this problem. One method is to add colored, solid material to the calcium carbide, lag time
test bomb. When the acetylene gas show arrives, the logger or geologist should go out to the shale shaker and begin collecting and rinsing
small samples of cuttings. A record is kept of the amount of colored particles collected in the sample. Usually, a long time can go by with just

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a few colored particles appearing on the shale shaker but, in most cases the majority of particles can appear in the first 10 to 15 minutes. If
not, there is some argument for improving the mud condition.
The disadvantage of this method is the time it is not convenient, or safe, for the mud logger to spent so much time waiting around at the
shale shaker collecting samples, and away from his gas analyzers and other sensors. This is a process that can be neither avoided nor
speeded-up. There is also some doubt about the shape, size and density distribution of the material that can be packaged into the test bomb
(with confidence that it can pass successfully through the filters. valves, jet nozzles and other down-hole assemblies in a modern drill string).
If the material used is not representative of real cuttings, the test result also may not be representative.
Another solution is to use careful logging practice to monitor cutting recovery rate. Whenever a formation change is suggested by a change
in rate of penetration (a drilling break, or reverse break) or an increase total hydrocarbon concentration, you should prepare to search the
cuttings samples for confirming evidence:
After the minimum lag time, go to the shale shaker and collect a cuttings sample.
Whether or not a lithology change is detected, go back again and collect further small samples ten, twenty and thirty minutes later.
If no change is detected, the event may be a false alarm (although you should investigate to determine a believable cause neither
rate of penetration nor total hydrocarbons change markedly without either a natural change in the formation, or a man-made change
on the rig, or in the bore hole).
If a change is detected in the cuttings, you must first investigate, describe and report the occurrence.
Next, by comparing the appearance of the three (or more) samples you have taken, you can gain some insight into the relationship
between carbide and cuttings lag times (see Figure 4).
The mud logger is faced with a quandary as a result of this annular slippage. He knows that the type and boundaries between the formations
penetrated are not reflected in the samples he is preparing:

If he plots a graphical lithology track on the mud log reflecting just the composition of the samples, then he is intentionally plotting
what he knows to be wrong, but

If he plots a graphical lithology track on the mud log reflecting what he has concluded from the samples, and other logging data and
observations, then he runs the risk that someone, away from the well site, may inspect the samples and conclude that mud logger to
be incompetent.

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Figure 4: Formation boundaries will be indicated correctly by the rate of penetration log. Due to slippage and mixing in the
mud stream, the total hydrocarbons curve and cuttings descriptions may show differences in both the depth and
nature of the formation boundary.

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There are two possible solutions to this:


The Gulf Coast Lithology log is a convention based on the (reasonable, in that region) assumption that most of a sedimentary
section consists of (slow drilling) Shale, and (fast drilling (Sandstone):
On the mud log, there is a second ROP track (identical to the first, but scaled from 0-100%, see Figure 4).
The mud logger then plots Shale symbols (right.

- -) to the left of this second ROP trace, and Sandstone symbols (. . .)

to the

The result is a lithology curve that consistently uses the samples to show the rock types present, and the rate of penetration to
show the proportions.
The recommended method (as used in the examples in this book, see Figure 5 and Chapter 11) is to plot two lithology logs in
parallel on the mud log:

The first is scaled fro 0-100%, and records the rock types actually seen in the samples, in the proportions actually determined.\

The second is similar to the free-hand interpreted lithology log drawn by a well-site geologist (any other field geologist). It
shows the geological column, exactly as the mud logger views it to be from based on all of his observations and
measurements.

Figure 5: The recommended mud log format includes two lithology tracks. One shows rock types and proportions exactly as seen the
cuttings, The other shows the mud logger's geological interpretation.

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Sample Catching
On arrival at surface, even with an ideal drilling fluid and circulating system, drill cuttings are physically and chemically weathered, flushed
with, and expelled of fluids, and mixed with material drilled earlier, and later and with debris caved from elsewhere in the bore hole wall (see
Figure 6 and Figure 7). Obviously, cuttings carried by a liquid-based drilling fluid cannot be relied upon to provide accurate values of
discrete data items. However the material is too valuable and hard won to be simply dismissed as unreliable. It can be valuable where
qualitative evaluations alone are required or where extreme accuracy is not a necessity. Chemical analyses and physical tests must be
performed over a range of samples from depths nominally above to nominally below the required interval and the resulting uncertainty
accepted.

Figure 6: Two sources of debris entering the bore hole from near or immediately above bottom, A: Spalling is a stress
relief process creating fairly large, relatively similar sized, blocky fragments. B: Consistent, or transitory under-balance
caused by low mud density, or swabbing, produces flaky, lenticular fragments in a range from very large to slightly
larger than drill cuttings

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You should remember that even the best wire-line log measurements are subject to edge effects when crossing
bed boundaries where there are markedly different properties above and below. These can cause depth errors in
estimating the depth of the boundary or invalid measurements above and below. Another cause of depth errors
in wire-line logs is the continuous variation in stretch of the logging cable caused by friction between the logging
tool and bore hole wall. The first task when performing digital (both wire-line and mud) log analysis is to adjust
depths up and down the well to bring recognizable correlation points in to line on all logs.

Figure 7: Two sources of debris entering the open hole section at any time, and from locations above bottom. A: With
excessive annular velocity, turbulent flow causes erosion of the bore hole wall. B: If a portion of the drill string in open
hole is held in compression, then the pipe may flex causing the external upsets to impact and damage the bore hole
wall.

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On the other hand, cuttings are an ideal source of samples if the purpose of the examination is to establish lithological information to fill in
boundaries and characteristics defined by other, more precise but less informative measurements.
For example, rate of penetration can very precisely locate a boundary in the formation but only a cuttings sample can tell us what rocks are
present above and below that boundary. In pressure evaluation, cuttings measurements may also be used to determine the trend of data
with depth and, when we have established that trend, they can indicate reversals or other abnormalities in the data. Selecting a mandatory
sample interval, for bagged and preserved samples, can be very important.
Common sample intervals are:
The length of a joint or single of drill pipe (approximately 10 meters or 32 feet) from surface to the depth at which intermediate casing
is set, and
Three to five meters (10 to 16 feet) for the deeper, more interesting and usually slower drilling formations.
A sample interval should be selected so that samples rarely need to be caught more often than every fifteen minutes. If you demand a
consistently shorter time interval then you are likely to discover that sample quality is declining, or other logging tasks are being neglected,
Using full-time sample catchers can allow more repetitive sampling, but remember that the quality of sample and the honesty of sampling at
un-supervised times will reflect the training and motivation of the people used.
A sample collection tally, should be maintained on the mud log work sheet (see Figure 8) showing:
The most recently measured lag time (in Minutes or Pump Strokes)
The current calculated annular velocity for drill collars in open hole (in Minutes or Strokes per 10 meters) to allow regular updating of
the measured lag time until the next carbide test.
For each sample:
Interval, top and bottom (meters)
Interval finished drilling (strokes or
time) Sample Due Time at the
shale shaker (strokes plus lag
strokes or time plus lag time plus
pump-off time)

Late one cold, wet night, as a very young mud logger, I was resting in the warm logging unit
certain that the next sample due in another 40 minutes would be the same featureless gray
shale wed been seeing for the past three days. At that moment, the driller came in and asked:
WHAT'S THAT LUMPY RED STUFF COMING OVER THE SHAKER?
A desperate scramble to get my boots on, get out to the shaker, and scoop up what turned out
to be a pan full of dull gray shale taught me two powerful lessons: never neglect regular
sampling, and never overestimate the sophistication of a drillers sense of humor!

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Samples for examination and description for the mud log should be collected on a regular basis of every fifteen minutes throughout the well
even if the mandatory sample interval requires sampling less often.

Figure 8: The mud log worksheet is the place for a detailed sample tally: lag sample interval and catching times, and descriptions (courtesy
of EXLOG, Inc.)

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For water-based or oil-based drilling muds, the principle location for cuttings sampling is the shale shaker. Older shale shakers have two or
four screens side-by-side, each with the same mesh size, intended to remove only cuttings and larger material. Because of differences of
mud flow volume and direction of flow through the ditch, there will be sorting by particle size between the screens, with the coarsest material
accumulating on the screen nearest to the mud inlet, and the finest cavings predominating on the screen furthest from it.
More modern, double-deck shale shakers have a second, finer screen below, through which the mud must also pass and which is intended
to take out finer, recycled, weathered material, unconsolidated grains and other debris. If sampling is regular, there should be sufficient
material on the shale shaker screens to represent the entire sample interval.
After a sample is taken, with a fraction from each screen, the screens should be cleaned off to allow fresh material to begin to accumulate.
When drilling with very small-diameter bits or when coring, only a small volume of material will be recovered and, to avoid losing any, a
catching board or bucket may be placed beneath the lower end of each screen. If this is done, be very sure that they are completely cleaned
and rinsed out between samples (but at no other time! You must warn the derrickman, or shaker-tender about this).
There are several designs of automated sample catchers available to simplify and standardize the process. So far, none of these have
achieved wide acceptance.
Collecting samples of drill cutting from a gas-based drilling fluid system is a simpler though less rewarding task. A short by-pass line from the
blooie line allows a portion of the return gas flow, dust and fluids to be diverted into a sample trap (see Figure 9). Periodically, the by-pass
line is closed with a valve allowing the sample trap to be opened and the accumulated dust removed for examination.
Downstream of the Shale Shaker are other solids control devices that may not be used all of the time, but only when it is necessary to
remove fine abrasive debris or reduce the mud density by removal of fine suspended solid material. These include two sizes of hydroclones
the de-sander and the de-silter. There also maybe a decanting mud centrifuge that is intended to remove the very finest material,
extremely fine, artificially ground silt created in the grading mill from the small amount of sand contaminating the Bentonite clay.
These devices, like the shale shaker, and any other operating solids control device should be sampled on a regular basis in a uniform
manner whenever they are running. It is worthwhile to sample the de-silter and centrifuge even though these extract only material that is far
finer than probable cuttings. They can be sampled from time to time, to establish a baseline of drilling fluid contaminants, and background
fine formation debris, so that you will have something against which to judge material found later in unconsolidated cuttings samples.

Are we seeing something new, or just more of the SOS (same old stuff) ?

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Figure 9: In Air or gas-based drilling, samples of dust or rock-flour are taken from a by-pass of the blooie line
When sampling:
Collect cuttings from all shaker screens, de-sander, de-silter and centrifuge outlets.
Use a pail or liter-sized (or quart-sized) jug to collect sufficient uniform material to fill all of the required sample containers. Routinely,
you will require enough for:
Large unwashed, micro-paleontology, geochemistry or trade samples,
Sieved, rinsed and dried, reference samples.
Sieved, rinsed, washed and blended samples for lithological and hydrocarbon evaluation.
Use a second jug to collect about a liter (quart) of fresh drilling mud.

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Don't shovel cutting straight from a shaker screen it sample sacks. You may be putting a different, unrepresentative fraction of the sample
into each sample set.
A sufficient volume of sample, commonly a half liter (pint) each, must be packaged into each cloth sample sack, with minimal processing, to
serve as an untouched resource for future research by the operating company, partners, national geological surveys, or petroleum
ministries, and for trade with other oil companies. This sample should contain cuttings and material from all sources, the upper and lower
shaker screens, de-sander, and so on, although if the regular sample contains few cavings it is unnecessary to search them out and add
them to the sample. Beyond this point the sample should be minimally processed.
For purely geological applications, it is common to lightly rinse the sample with tap water to remove excess drilling fluid (or an organic
solvent, to remove oil-based mud, but not legitimate formation oil staining), pack the sample into a tagged cloth or woven paper sample sack
and hang the closed sacks to dry in a sheltered outdoor location. The tag should be clearly labeled with:
Oil Company Name
Well Name and Number
Well Location
Sample Depth Interval,

From-

To-

Set Number (if multiple sample sets are being collected) Remember, a sample represents an interval not a single depth. The interval
must be specified on each sack, so that if the sample is handled alone (separated from the samples above and below) it is still
possible to know both the top and bottom depth. On extremely secret projects, it may be necessary to record some of this information
in a coded form.
If geochemical and other analytical procedures are planned, a better scheme is to seal the sample into a labeled can without any washing or
rinsing. For every ten canned rock samples, an eleventh can containing only fresh drilling fluid taken from the flow line can also be added to
provide an analytical baseline.
A smaller volume of sample (about 10 or 20 ml) must be minimally processed to provide an easily accessible and visible sample sequence
for future quick reference and correlation:
Rinse the sample vigorously through 8-mesh, 80-mesh, and 170-mesh sieves in order to remove drilling fluid, hydrated rock debris
and rock flour.
Set aside a fraction of each sieves content for later evaluation, and

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Dry a few grams of the 80-mesh fraction to be saved as a reference sample set.

Figure 10: Samples of cuttings and mud must be taken no less often than every fifteen minutes while drilling. Sample
processing requires the packing of unwashed, and rinsed-and-dried samples. Cuttings and mud samples are sieved
and blended for lithological, oil and gas evaluation (See Chapter 8 for details).

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Figure 11: And for those of you who are too lazy to zoom --

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Traditionally, washed-and-dried samples have been packed in manila paper clasp-top envelopes, and archived in boxes or drawers. More
recently, people has taken to using grip-top polyethylene bags. These are much less successful since the hard abrasive cuttings can cause
the bags to leak or even burst (particularly when an impatient mud logger tries to fill a bag with sample still hot from the drier) and the
precious sample can be lost. The best method of curation is in the form of clear, sub-divided, plastic sample trays (with locking lids) that can
each hold and display ten or more samples and can be microscopically examined without removing the sample. This is both convenient and
prevents progressive sample loss, or degradation of the sample or its container by constant removal and replacement.
Another innovative method sometimes used in hard rock drilling areas (where cuttings samples have a good, hard, attractive appearance,
and slow drill rates leave free time in the mud logging unit for handicrafts) is the preparation of a cuttings lithology log cuttings are
attached to the self-adhesive surface of a depth scaled board and covered with a transparent film, producing a visual lithological log that can
be overlaid and correlated with other logs from mud logging and wire-line logging operation.
A final method is to mount several cuttings on a slide in balsam, and grind it to prepare a thin section record of the rocks penetrated.
Although lacking orientation, this nevertheless provides a detailed mineralogical and textural record. On the other hand it is very time
consuming in proportion to the information gained.
Sieve Aperture

US ASTM E-11-81

UK BS410

Nearest Metric Equivalent

(mm)

Mesh Number

Mesh Number

(mm)

6.300

inch

5.600

4.750

4.000

6.300
5.600

4.000

Figure 12: A table of standard sieve mesh sizes manufactures in the US, UK and other nations (nearest equivalent
French, Canadian and German standard metric sizes) commonly used in cuttings evaluation. The ASTM number 8,
number 80, and number 170 (or equivalents highlighted in the table) are the minimum necessary for mud log sample
preparation and evaluation.

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Sieve Aperture

US ASTM E-11-81

UK BS410

Nearest Metric Equivalent

(mm)

Mesh Number

Mesh Number

(mm)

3.350

3.150

2.800

2.360

2.500

2.000

10

2.000

1.700

12

10

1.500

1.400

14

12

1.400

1.180

16

14

1.120

1.000

18

16

1.000

0.850

20

18

0.800

0.710

25

22

0.710

0.600

30

25

0.500

35

30

0.500

Figure 12 (continued): A table of standard sieve mesh sizes manufactures in the US, UK and other nations (nearest
equivalent French, Canadian and German standard metric sizes) commonly used in cuttings evaluation. The ASTM
number 8, number 80, and number 170 (or equivalents highlighted in the table) are the minimum necessary for mud log
sample preparation and evaluation.

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Sieve Aperture

US ASTM E-11-81

UK BS410

Nearest Metric Equivalent

(mm)

Mesh Number

Mesh Number

(mm)

0.425

40

36

0.400

0.355

45

44

0.355

0.300

50

52

0.315

0.250

60

60

0.250

0.212

70

72

0.200

0.180

80

85

0.180

0.150

100

100

0.140

0.125

120

120

0.125

0.106

140

150

0.100

0.090

170

170

0.090

0.075

200

200

0.071

Figure 12 (continued): A table of standard sieve mesh sizes manufactures in the US, UK and other nations (nearest
equivalent French, Canadian and German standard metric sizes) commonly used in cuttings evaluation. The ASTM
number 8, number 80, and number 170 (or equivalents highlighted in the table) are the minimum necessary for mud log
sample preparation and evaluation.

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Approximate Size

US Mesh Number

(mm)

or Screen Type

Greater than 256

inch

Boulder

Greater than 10.1

64 - 256

inch

Cobble

2.5 10.1

32 - 64

inch

16 - 32

inch

8 - 16

inch

4-8

2-4

12

1-2

20

Particle Name

Pebble or
Very Coarse Gravel
Pebble or
Coarse Gravel
Pebble or
Medium Gravel
Pebble or
Fine Gravel
Granule or
Very Fine Gravel
Very Coarse Sand

Approximate Size
(inch)

1.26 2.5

0.63 1.26

0.31 0.63

0.157 0.31

0.079 0.157
0.039 0.079

Figure 13: This table provides a comparison of common sieve mesh and screen sizes, with typical sedimentary grains
as graded by the Wentworth (1922) grain size classification. Use these sizes to estimate whether grains from
unconsolidated sediments can be reliably caught by a sieve, but remember that well cuttings from consolidated
formations contain more than a single grain in each, and so are many times larger.

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Approximate Size

US Mesh Number

(mm)

or Screen Type

Particle Name

Approximate Size
(inch)

40
0.5 - 1

Upper screen on a double-deck shale shaker

Coarse Sand

0.02 0.039

Screen on a single-deck shale shaker


0.25 0.5

70

Medium Sand

0.01 0.02

0.125 0.25

140

Fine Sand

0.0049 0.01

200

Very Fine Sand

Lower screen on a double-deck shale shaker

Barite Mud Weight


Additive

0.0025 0.0049

Coarse Silt

0.0025 0.0049

Medium Silt

0.00155 0.0025

0.0625 0.125

Mud Engineer's API Sand Test Kit


0.0313 - 0.0625

400
De-sander Outlet

0.0156 0.0313
0.008 0.0156

De-silter Outlet

Fine Silt

0.000614 0.00125

0.003912 0.008

Mud Centrifuge Outlet

Very Fine Silt

0.000315 0.000614

Clay

0.000039 - 0.000315

Colloid

Less than 0.000039

0.001 0.003912
Less than 0.001

Premium Grade Wyoming Bentonite

Figure 13 (continued): This table provides a comparison of common sieve mesh and screen sizes, with typical
sedimentary grains as graded by the Wentworth grain size classification.

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The remainder of the 8-mesh and 80-mesh sieve contents are processed, analyzed and tested as necessary to provide detailed worksheet
notes on formation identification, sample condition, contaminant content, and so on. There is no set procedure for this; the tests to be
performed depend upon the mineralogy and condition of the sample.
Material to be examined should include:
Unwashed samples of cavings, cuttings and mud are examined under natural and ultraviolet light for oily sheen, petroleum odor, or
fluorescence (See Chapter 8).
The 8-mesh sieve contents are usually cavings or spallings (see Figure 6), but they must not be discarded without examination.
They can be identified, described on the worksheet and (briefly) on the mud log, for the benefit of later investigators who may not
understand drilling, or the origin and significance of caving and spalling. A portion of this sample may also represent over-sized
cuttings produced by some PDC, or long milled-tooth hard rock bits.
The 80-mesh sieve contents are the best source of fresh, representative cuttings from bottom. They may also contain smaller or
reworked cavings, and recycled cuttings from up-hole and even some un-dispersed mud additives.
The 170-mesh sieve contains fine, detrital and
unconsolidated material from freshly cut formation For
example: the fine sand, silt fractions, secondary minerals
and micro-fossils from massive claystones and shales.
Some of the material may be recycled (perhaps, more
than once). Regular inspection allows identification of
the recycled material allowing later recognition when
fresher material of more interest is added.

170-mesh sieves are easily torn if not handled properly and some mud logger
contractors may try to save money by not repalcing them in a timely
manner. This is not acceptable!
However, if a 170-mesh sieve is temporarily unavailable, then try rinsing the
sample very lightly through an 80-mesh sieve , and then flip the sieve over,
Material clinging to the bottom of the sieve may be used as a stand-in.

Cuttings and mud samples are agitated with fresh water


in the blender for a timed interval. Then the air space drawn off and analyzed for total hydrocarbons (see Chapter 5) to give a
measure of hydrocarbon mobility.
After each blender test:
Open the blender jar, sniff the head space, and look for any oil slick or rainbow on the surface of the water. If seen, test a sample
of the water for hydrocarbons (see Chapter 8).
Pour the water and sediment from the blender jar through the 170-mesh sieve and rinse. This provides a supplement to the
regular 170-mesh sample, and is particularly useful if the sample contains a lot of soft, sticky, gumbo clay that is otherwise
difficult to wash out.

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If a pure sample of the clay or clay-sized material is required, then the material that passes with the water through the 170-mesh
sieve can be filtered using a filter paper, or the filter press from a drilling fluids test kit.

Figure 14: The geological sample processing area of a modern standard mud logging unit: sieves, sink, blender, microgas analyzer, microscope and ultraviolet inspection chamber. (Illustration courtesy of EXLOG, Inc.).

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Material from all of these fraction should be microscopically and chemically examined to provide a detailed description on the worksheet for:
Lithological identification of the drilled cuttings, and
A record of the:
Cavings,
Recycled material, and
Solid drilling fluid contaminants contained in the sample.
This record, prepared from fresh sample, and with current well-site knowledge, is an essential reference for the future evaluation of the mud
log and of any other data gathered on this well.
A small fraction of significant material found in these samples, from at least the last 30 meters (100 feet) along with the rinsed and dried
reference sample set must be kept near the microscope. Remember, that in thick sedimentary successions, important changes may occur
gradually. Make sure that you have sufficient retrospective sample so that progressive changes of color, mineralogy, or texture do not take
you by surprise.
When training new mud logging geologists in sample evaluation, I have noticed one common weakness a reticence to make any
statement at all until ready to deliver a complete evaluation. This is a commonly trait of well-qualified, but inexperienced geologists. It may
work when scoring points in the classroom, but it doesn't work in the filed. When working with the many different data, and sample sources
in the mud logging unit, the rules should be:
Work with a pencil in your hand, and write down on the worksheet everything you observe as soon as you observe it.
Dont go looking for your expectations (trying to see what you know from the well prognosis, or have seen in a nearby well log). Look
at the sample, and note what you do see. Dont start drawing conclusions until you are close to being finished.
Dont set out to identify the rock, your job is to describe it. Remember color, luster, hardness, break, texture. These are the most
recognizable features of the well cuttings, and so will be the most useful information you can put on the mud log to help future users.
Write down on the worksheet everything you see. After you have viewed several samples you will have the perspective to refine
your opinions and condense your observations into a concise description that can be transferred to the mud log.
There is no space here for a detailed guide to well-site geology and microscope technique but these are clearly needed to complete the
discussion of well-site processing. They are of course necessary and, if your university education gave too much time to maps, crosssections, and field work, then I heartily recommend that you, or your employer, should invest in a class on how to use a binocular
microscope, and a routine laboratory test kit. It takes more than a little skill to use a microscope properly. When you first approach one,
almost everything you do intuitively is wrong!

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However, a few points, specific to preparing a mud log, are worth discussion here.
Traditionally lithological evaluation on the mud log consisted of a cuttings log (see Figure 15). The track is divided into ten sub-divisions. In
each, a lithology symbol was printed (usually a modified mechanical typewriter symbol) representing the composition of ten percent of the
sample.

Figure 15: A traditional mud logging cuttings lithology log


In some areas this is simply intended to be an honest representation of what was seen in the cuttings sample (excluding cavings and
contaminants) and, as we have discussed, it follows true formation lithology with some adjustment for slippage of bed boundaries.
In other mud logging units, at other places and times, a degree of interpretation was attempted; adjusting boundaries and percentages, and
so on. Sometimes this was based upon rules of thumb rather than geological training. Figure 4 contains (in the right-most lithology track) an
example of a so-called Gulf Coast Cutting Log. The log is based upon the assumption that the only rocks seen in the section are slow drilling

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shales and faster drilling, unconsolidated sandstones. The lithology data on that mud log represents neither what the mud logger saw, nor
what the mud logger interpreted. It is just a slavish copy of the ROP curve. A partially interpreted cuttings lithology log can be confusing to a
later user who finds disagreement between the log and his own cuttings observations.
A modern mud log should contain three lithology tracks:
The Cuttings Lithology track reporting exactly what is being seen in the cuttings samples being packaged for later reference (see
Figure 5).
The Interpreted Lithology track representing the mud loggers un- compromised opinion of what formations have been penetrated
based upon all observations (see Figure 16).

Figure 16: A modern mud log, in addition to a cuttings lithology track, includes interpreted lithology, and lithological descriptions tracks

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The Lithology Description track containing an abbreviated text description of the lithologies penetrated. Each description having been
compiled with the benefit of several separate detailed sample descriptions reported on the worksheet. The description may also
include brief notes on cavings and contaminants that are present in the unwashed sample but not shown in the cuttings and
interpreted lithology tracks.

Cuttings Recovery Problems


In addition to the appearance of cuttings, debris and poorly dispersed mud chemicals, there are also problems for geological evaluation of
cuttings resulting from drilling events and special drilling fluid treatments. These must be described on the worksheet ,and the mud log in
order to avoid later difficulties with stored samples and inexperienced observers. We need to discuss some of these problems.

Viscosity Additives
Mud additives can be a problem both in themselves and when poorly-mixed. For example, starch was routinely added to mud to thicken it.
Unfortunately, starch when kept in a warm, wet environment (such as a mud pit) has an unfortunate tendency to ferment. Today, Carboxy
Methyl Cellulose (CMC) is an alternative additive used to
improve the viscosity and filter cake building ability of the mud.
CMC is also a common additive in diet snacks and drinks. Working on the
When mixed correctly it disperses fully, and simply thickens the
same principal, it swells inside you, and makes you feel full.
mud. When added too quickly and not properly dispersed, it
congeals into large, soft, translucent, sticky globs, a centimeter
or more in diameter. These globs arrive at the shale shaker in a
mass resembling a bad movie monster. Extricating cuttings from this gooey mess is an unpleasant and difficult task.

Solvents and Lubricants


When the mud logging crew arrives at a new rig, one of their first jobs should be to inventory the mud storage area including the oil and
water storage tanks:
Check the oil for viscosity, and color in natural, ultraviolet light (see Chapter 8) and solvents.
The water is tested for salinity, and the concentration of other ions the unit may be equipped to detect: sulfide, sulfate, carbonate,
and so on.
Using clear, seal-able sample trays or glass phials, you can prepare samples of all the mud additives: alone and dampened with a small
quantity of rig water, and with oil. Once a set like this has been prepared, it is a simple job to keep it fresh with the occasional replacement,

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and updated with new additives. The set can be kept in the sample processing area for comparison with wet or dry samples when doubt
arises, or for familiarizing new mud logging crew members.
Mud additives can usually be removed easily from cuttings samples with vigorous washing. However, when they been have recognized but
cannot be removed, a brief notation of the additives abundance and appearance in the sample must be added to the sample description on
the mud log for the elucidation of later users.

Lost Circulation Material


Under normal circumstances, drilling fluid filters into porous and permeable formations under the pressure differential between well-bore
hydrostatic and formation fluid pressure. Mud filtrate flushes into the formation pore space leaving a filter cake of mud clays on the bore hole
wall. A thick, tough, impermeable filter cake rapidly forms and prevents further mud loss, and filtrate invasion.
Sometimes filter cake formation is not enough to seal the formation permeability and whole mud loss can take place. This is usually when:
The porosity and permeability are on a very large scale. For example: extensively fractured or cavernous formations.
The formation fluid pressure is extremely sub-normal, or the formation is dry, and contains no fluid at all.
Excessive mud density, swabbing of the drill string, or high shut-in pressures during a well kick, or blowout cause an over-balance in
the well bore so great that fracturing is induced in the weakest formation exposed in the bore hole.
When lost circulation (or loss of returns) occurs, the fluid level falls in the bore hole, and hydrostatic pressure declines with the risk that well
control will be lost.
There are two common ways of addressing lost circulation:
If the down-hole formations really are weak, sub-normally pressured, or dry, then there is no risk of losing well control. Drilling can
proceed using plain water as the drilling fluid. Most of the water is lost into formations down hole but the drill string is lubricated and
cooled, and the well bore remains clean. The well can be drilled this way to the depth at which casing can be set and circulation with
drilling mud re-established.
If the need for pressure control makes it necessary to regain circulation before drilling ahead, new drilling mud is made containing
lost circulation material: light fibrous, flaked and granular materials added to the drilling fluid to plug coarse permeability, caverns and
fractures that cannot be sealed with normal mud filter cake.
When drilling with water and continuous loss of circulation, few if any cuttings are recovered to surface. Those that are recovered are only
the finest fragments and often contain material that has been re-cycled or re-worked in the bore hole. When this happens, an appropriate
annotation must be made on the worksheet and the mud log.

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Probably the worst formation evaluation problems in water-based muds occur when lost circulation materials are used. Most of the materials
used are man-made and only cause problems by being troublesome to remove. They include:
Cellophane flakes,
Crushed walnut shells,
Shredded leather,
Horse hair,
Mattress stuffing (yes from real mattresses, I swear I saw it!), and
Wood flakes.
If some processs left overs are cheap, non-toxic, able to float and swell in water, then you are likely to find them bagged, marked up
a few thousand percent, and sold for lost circulation material.
Two particular types of lost circulation material can cause the worst problems (or embarrassment) when describing samples. These are
walnut shells, and mica.
Walnut shells are crushed and bagged in various grades. The finest grade of crushed walnut shells, commonly called Nut Plug, is very
popular with drilling crews in rainy or muddy conditions. They will take a bag, and scatter the material on slick and slippery rig steps and
walkways. Ever when there is no lost circulation, a little of this material can find its way into the drilling mud and your samples. Everyone
knows what nut shells look like, and when they are thoroughly soaked in mud filtrate, they become soft, mushy and very easy to recognize.
Even if you can't say what they are, you can certainly say what the are not well cuttings!
Unfortunately, when the nut shells are just a little wet, they remain brittle and angular, but they become translucent and pinkish in color. You
would not be the first observer to report detrital rose quartz fragments in the sample. To avoid this embarrassment, grip your quartz grain
with tweezers, and apply steady pressure with a metal probe or needle. If the needle slowly penetrates into, and then through the grain then
you know you are looking at a piece of walnut shell.
Another lost circulation material that is seriously troublesome in formation evaluation is mica which is added in the form of large flakes that,
at first, are much too large to be believable in a sedimentary rock. Of course, after circulation, the mica flakes are broken into small
fragments. The sericite-like fine mica can dust the surface of cuttings and look like a secondary mineral or micaceous cement, and can
cause errors in correlation or environmental conclusions.
Other kinds of LCM are only a problem because of their high concentration in the mud compared to the cuttings volume and the difficulty of
removing them. These materials cause time consuming problems in sample catching and washing. Fortunately, the material floats, and can
be removed by panning a sieve full of cuttings in a tub of clean water. The LCM quickly floats away on the surface of the water.

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LCM is added because mud is being lost into coarse permeability, caverns and fractures. With this mud, of course, a portion of the cuttings
load is also lost. Above the thief zone, reduced mud volume means reduced annular velocity and muds cuttings carrying capacity. The lost
mud volume is usually made up temporarily by adding water which reduces mud density, viscosity and further reduces its carrying capacity.
Finally, to complete the mud loggers misery, to allow re-circulation of the LCM, the shale shaker may be by-passed (putting it into the mud,
and then taking it out at the shale shaker, one circulation later, would be a real waste).
In order to collect the requisite quantity of cuttings for each sample, it is necessary to collect ten or more times that volume and separate the
cuttings from the LCM that constitutes the majority of it. To do this the mud logger must use a large dredge net, fashioned out of shale
shaker screen material. After catching the large volume of material, from the possum belly ditch, the LCM must be removed by floating it off
in a small tank or tub of water. Most, but not all, of the lost circulation material can be removed in this way but it is necessary to make a note
of explanation on the worksheet and mud log.

Oil-based Mud
Oil-based drilling fluids can be a depressing situation for mud loggers. Because of the inert, non-invasive nature of the mud, the cuttings
arrive on surface in pristine condition, not hydrated and containing much of their original formation fluid. Unfortunately, even with great care,
much of this will be ruined in the process of washing the mud off the cuttings (see Haworth, 1984).
The palynology or trade sample must be rinsed with clean diesel oil or in the base-oil used for the oil-based mud, bagged and left to
drip dry in an area where the oil residue can be safely collected.
Other samples are then sieved and rinsed in a second bath of clean oil.
Finally the cuttings are given a final rinse in a petroleum based solvent or a concentrated soap and water solution to minimize
hydration.
The samples may then be dried for evaluation and the reference sample set. If the climate is suitable, a well-ventilated air-drying
area can be set-up. If not, then an electrically-safe, pressurized, and also well-ventilated room must be equipped for the sample
dryers.

Core Sample Handling


Coring (see Chapter 4, and Whittaker, 1985) is, in every consideration, the superior method of obtaining rock samples from a well bore. It
allows the geologist to observe the true nature and orientation of rock structures and textures in reliable, unmixed and un-worked depth
relationships. It can also provide geochemical, petro-physical and rock mechanical samples of rocks, minerals and fluids which are far less
contaminated or disturbed than any other source. The simplest coring method uses the standard bottom-hole core barrel and core bit.

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Catching & Sampling


Coring presents a dichotomy to the mud logger:
During coring, drill rate is low, uniform and unresponsive to formation changes. The cuttings are sparse and in poor condition. Gas
concentration is also low because of the small volume liberated from the narrow kerf.
When the core is recovered, there will be an ample supply of sample for evaluation and blender gas analysis. That is, of course, if the
core is recovered and is not left behind in the bore hole, lost from, or damaged in the core barrel.
While coring, the mud logger must prepare the best possible mud log and cuttings samples, while all the time hoping that better replacement
material will be found in the core barrel.
When coring is completed, and the core barrel on its way out of the hole, the mud loggers and geologists should get busy preparing for
recovery. The key is preparation.
On the rig floor, a supply of sturdy, wooden or metal catching boxes should be stacked in a convenient place on the rig floor and in the
appropriate order for boxing the core immediately it comes from the barrel. The boxes should be numbered and labeled with TOP or
BOTTOM written on the ends of each box. Box number one, the first one to be filled, should also be labeled BOTTOM OF CORE
(remembering that the core comes out of the barrel, bottom end first).
There should be enough boxes to accommodate the entire length of the core barrel, with 30% to 40% extra. You will not want to run
short of boxes, and the core may come out in lengths inconveniently sized to fit neatly into your boxes.
You should have a geological hammer handy, plus a soft metal hammer, or mallet in case it is necessary to break the core. Although
you must avoid that at all costs (at least while recovering the core from the core barrel.
Get a rake and a broom for dragging r sweeping broken material from under the core barrel (try to keep your hand or your head out
from underneath 10 meters of solid rock inside a slick tube!), and several pairs of work gloves.
There should also be a plentiful supply of rags to be used for wiping off the core (never wash the core to be safe, ban water hoses
from the rig floor until the whole core is recovered and removed) and to stuff into and empty spaces, and to mark gaps in the catching
boxes.
Close by the mud logging unit, you must set up a dry, well lit, cleared space large enough to accommodate the entire set of catching boxes
plus a set of clean shipping boxes, into which the core will be transferred. There should also be space, and all the necessary tools and
materials for core description, sampling and testing to take place. These are discussed below.

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Figure 17: A Conventional Core is Recovered Piece by Piece from the Inner Core Barrel Hanging Over the Rig Floor.

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Core Handling Prep List


Materials you need to have prepared in this area include:

For Recovery and Shipping


Shipping boxes:
Preferably also wooden, with lids and nails for closing
Waxed cardboard boxes are acceptable for shipping if they are well packed with rags and securely strapped. You will also need a
staple gun, staples and fiberglass strapping tape.
Rags and work gloves, with plenty of spares
Water-proof marking pens in a range of colors
Hand lenses, measuring tapes (several of each a useful marketing premium for the mud logging contractor), sample probes and
tweezers, note pads, pencils

For Analysis and Sampling


Sealing supplies: plastic bags or tubing, and a heat sealing machine, or shrink wrap heat gun.
Wrapping supplies: Saran Wrap, aluminum foil, and
fiberglass tape.

Before someone accuses me of soliciting product placement kick-backs, let


me explain that I once spent a long flight sitting next to one of the
Canning supplies: cans, lids, and a crimping machine,
developers of Saran. I learned that Poly-vinylidene Chloride resin film
(push-in lids are easier, but both cans and lids must be
(Saran Wrap to you and me) does indeed have very different properties
inspected carefully for dents and nicks that may prevent from other plastic wrapping materials. For core sampling purposes, of
proper sealing).
particular interest is it has an extremely low permeability to gases, and a lack
Dipping supplies: dipping wax or core-dip gel, tools, a
of solubility in oil, and organic solvents. On the downside, Saran Wrap is
hot plate, or mixing tub, and utensils for melting or
not so good at adhering to itself, and does tend to loosen. This is why the
dipping.
Saran Wrapped core should then be given an outer wrapping of aluminum
foil.
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Cuttings sampling supplies (for cutting replacement, or to bag debris in the core boxes): cloth or woven paper sample sacks, paper or
plastic sample envelopes, plastic trays, pens, rubber stamps, or self-adhesive labels for labeling.
Sieves, scoops, mud cups, and so on for sample catching.

For Slabbing & Plugging


Core slabbing saw, spare blades, and lubricant
Power drill, drill stand, and core plug bit.
Slides and covers, canada balsam, carborundum, lap plate, and other thin-section slides, slips, labels, boxes, tools and supplies,
including a petrographic microscope (you may not plan to do much thin section evaluation at the well site, but you need the
microscope to check the slides that you make)

Figure 18: If the core is jammed, it may need to be laid down on the

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After the core barrel is tripped out of the hole, and the inner barrel extracted, the core can be retrieved (see Figure 17). This is normally
performed by removing the catcher on the bottom end of the barrel and allowing the core to slide out of the vertically suspended barrel.

Figure 19: Cutting a core is expensive in rig time and materials. damaged, broken or disorganized core fragment may
have greatly reduced value. Boxing, labeling and packaging of the core, is very important. Attach tags (A) to the core to
indicate where and why material has been removed. Loose debris (B) should be bagged and appropriately placed in
the core box.
If the core is jammed, badly fractured, or unconsolidated, it may be difficult to loosen the broken fragments from the inner barrel. A safer
practice may be to lay down the barrel horizontally on the pie rack, and pump out the core with a compressed air line connected to the top
end of the barrel.

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Successful recovery depends upon the core, as it comes from the barrel, being correctly collected, oriented and placed into the prepared
and labeled catching boxes. To prevent confusion, a single geologist, core technician or mud logger must be in sole charge of the operation.
This one person should direct when core is allowed to leave the barrel, and when it should stopped, when, and which boxes should be
removed from the rig floor, and by whom. The same person should keep a pad with a rough tally of the core. When all but the last meter or
so of the core is recovered, this person should move to the core processing area (near to the mud logging unit) and begin supervising the
cleaning, sampling, and final packing of the core.
Only one person should have the job of retrieving the core pieces and placing them in the catching box, and be responsible for collecting,
segregating and placing all core pieces and miscellaneous core debris into appropriate locations in the catching boxes. Other personnel
should be removing filled boxes from the rig floor as quickly as possible and moving them to the core processing area near the mud logging
unit without interference. Preferably, only after the core is moved to this area should anyone else attempt to handle, remove or replace core
pieces in the catching boxes.
In the core processing area, the core can be wiped (but not washed!) clean and transferred to a fresh set of core boxes or containers. These
boxes must also be clearly numbered and labeled at top and bottom. This labeling, separate from any later labeling or shipping notation, is
intended to prevent confusion or mis-orientation of core pieces.

Figure 20: Bagged samples of core debris can replace missing or inferior cutting samples for the cored interval.
If this organization seems excessively bureaucratic and picayune, just remember how much it costs in time and materials to cut this core
and how great its value will be in completion and development of the well and the field. Now, consider how much it could cost your employer
or customer if a significant piece of that core were to be lost, broken, misplaced or inverted in the core boxes prior to being properly labeled.
I hope that youll agree that a little patience and discipline is a reasonable price to pay for security.

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Figure 21: Sealed and canned core plugs are take for petro-physical core analysis: porosity, permeability, and fluid
saturations. Canned drilling mud samples taken during coring provide reference water and gas analyses.
Next, the core must be oriented and measured (see Figure 19). Core pieces can be rotated carefully by hand to attempt a best fit of their
ends. The entire core should be measured and a definitive and official record of core length and recovery (recovered length divided by cored
depth interval) made.
The simplest method of permanently orienting the core is to mark every piece with two vertical stripes, red to the left and black to the right,
either with marker pens taped together or with colored tape. Mark the ends of each piece with symbols to indicate the quality of fit with the
adjacent pieces:
Cross Bar ( | ):
If there is a perfect fit
Single Chevron toward End ( > ):
If there is a geometrical fit but breakage or erosion prevents there being a perfect fit. This may be due to breakage and movement
inside the core barrel. Alternatively, it may indicate a pre-existent break or movement surface. Only later, detailed investigation will be
able to answer this.
Double Chevrons toward End ( >> ):
If there is no sign of geometrical fit between the ends of adjacent pieces. This could result from a pre-existent cavity, major erosion in
the core barrel or the loss or disintegration of an intervening piece of core.

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This information is a useful basis for future monitoring of core removal and damage. It also serves as a guide for later geological
investigation.

Figure 22: The mud logging crew should create a core description and report, independent of any operators geologist,
and append it to the bottom of the mud log.
Finally, the separate pieces of core and debris should be moved slightly apart and the gaps filled with clean rags, or newspapers (do not use
styro-foam peanuts, or any other petroleum-based plastic) to prevent damage in shipping. Core debris should be wiped clean and dry, put
into in cloth sample sacks, and returned to the appropriate location in the core boxes. Only after all of this has been done should anyone

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other than the designated core recovery crew be allowed to handle the core, remove pieces of it or begin any other, analytical, sampling, or
packaging activities. Beware of souvenir hunters!
The next task of the core recovery personnel which, if enough people are working together, can proceed sequentially with the other tasks, is
to prepare a detailed measurement, drawing and description of the core. This should include:
Geological descriptions
Structural detail
Natural, traumatic fractures and breaks.
This task will be taken on by the well-site geologist if one is on site, but when time permits, the mud logger should create an independent
core description and sketch that will eventually be appended to the bottom of the mud log (see Figure 22) for both bottom-hole and sidewall
cores.
If there are two mud loggers working together on the core, then they should alternate and overlap tasks as follows:
Mud logger #1 recovers the core on the rig floor, while
Mud logger #2 starts moving core in the catching set of core boxes, from the rig floor to the mud logging unit
When all the core is recovered, mud logger #1 takes over moving the catching set, while
Mud logger #2 begins wiping, re-boxing, and labeling the core, into the shipping set of core boxes, and
Mud logger #1 follows down the core, removing samples for core analysis, and the cutting sample sets, and
Mud logger #2 returns to the bottom of the core, and begins making a geological and stratigraphic description, and sketches (or
digital photographs if time is limited)
Mud logger #1, and #2 when available, do the final marking, stuffing, sealing, inventorying, and final preparation for shipping.
At this stage, you should still refrain from breaking the core to make geological observations, relying primarily on existing breaks and debris.
Later, the core can be sliced horizontally and vertically, polished, etched and thin sectioned as part of a planned sampling and sample use
program.
For geochemical, petro-physical or rock mechanical analyses, it may be important to preserve samples for later analysis. This should be
done as quickly as possible after the core has been oriented and measured. Suitably sized pieces can be removed from the core box, still
avoiding hammering on or breaking the core if possible. The gaps remaining in the core boxes should be filled with packing material and the
box labeled with the number, purpose and destination of the removed sample.

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Core samples can be preserved in wax, plastic gel, Saran Wrap and foil but the simplest and most reliable method is canning. The outside
of the core sample container must be labeled with well name, sample number and depth interval. The container should also be labeled to
show the core orientation (top and bottom) in case measurements are to be made that do not necessitate removing the core from its
container. For geochemical and petro-physical samples, several sealed containers of fresh drilling fluid should accompany the core samples.
These should contain fluid sampled at the beginning and end of the cored interval, and one or more mid-point samples. These samples can
assist in determining the effect of drilling fluid interaction with the core. Finally, at this time, the core and its associated samples should be
safely packaged, labeled and shipped by a secure means to the laboratory or core repository for further sampling,. sample distribution, and
analysis. A copy of the core recovery log should be mailed, faxed, or e-mailed separately to a person of responsibility at the destination core
facility. This should contain:
Name of the facility and responsible person
Operating company name and division
Well name and location
Core number, cut interval, recovered interval and recovery percentage
Total number of core boxes,
Types of samples, total number of samples, and sample boxes
List of core boxes with:
Box number, interval: top and bottom
Length of core represented: whole core and debris
Number and identification of samples removed
List of sample boxes with:
Box number, number of samples, and interval: top and bottom sample depth
Type of sample and procedure required
Additional sampling, core processing or analysis under well-site conditions and priorities is not advised, and especially not if the work must
be performed in the mud logging unit (remember Mud Logging Golden Rule Number One)!

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Petro-physical Analysis
Mud log data is quantitative in nature. It is not possible, using conventional mud log measurements, to obtain numerical values of such
important reservoirs parameters as porosity, permeability or fluid saturations. However, when adequate samples are available, special
services may be performed within the logging unit which can quantify some these values. Although the mud log gas analyses cannot provide
a total indication of the composition of fluids in situ, precision analyses can be performed upon samples of gas, oil and water recovered in
well testing. Monitoring of tracers added to the drilling fluid and detection of their presence in recovered test fluids can be essential to the
correct interpretation of later DST results.

Core Analysis
When cores or sidewall cores are cut, it is possible to provide more than detailed lithological evaluation. Using whole sidewall cores or 25
millimeter (1 inch) diameter plugs cut from conventional cores it is possible to make quantitative measurements of porosity, permeability and
fluid saturations. Obviously, the reliability of these results depend upon how representative are the properties in such a small sample and
one which has been subject to the stresses and strains of coring, recovery to surface and subsequent activities. Commonly, the best
preserved core pieces are selected as early as possible and sealed or canned to preserve them for analysis. They are then shipped as
quickly as possible to the nearest available laboratory.
In remote or difficult locations, there may be problems with this. Ill give you two examples.
There is a developing country which literally forbids the exportation of rocks! Any sample analysis has to performed inside the
country.
In another, developed country it is illegal to carry explosives on board helicopters, and oil and gas saturated cores are (according to
the letter of the law) explosive.
In these circumstances, cores from offshore wells must take a long, slow trip by boat and train to the core laboratory, or be analyzed at the
well site. Although not a standard mud logging service, it is possible to perform analysis of core samples for porosity, permeability and
saturation at the well site. Well-site core sampling and analysis techniques are not so refined as the best laboratory methods, but they can
be acceptable when well completion decisions are necessary and the alternative involves extensive delay.
Some mud logging and core analysis companies provide special crews who can travel to the well site to handle core recovery, preparation,
sampling and analysis. Others supply the equipment only to be installed and operated in the mud logging unit by the regular mud logging
crew. This is obviously much less desirable.
For well-site core analysis, core plugs of about 25 millimeters diameter by 50 millimeters length (about 1 inch by 2 inches) are drilled from a
representative and well preserved section of the core. Commonly, core plugs are cut perpendicular to the core length (effectively horizontal)

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but for more precise work, both horizontal and vertical plugs (or for an oriented core, see Chapter 4, plugs cut in two perpendicular
horizontal directions, and one vertical direction) may be used. The core plugs are prepared for analysis by washing, solvent distillation and
desiccation to remove all water, hydrocarbon gases, liquids and solids from effective (meaning interconnected) pore space.
Core plugs are about the same size as sidewall cores, and it is possible to use a whole, well-preserved sidewall core for core analysis.
Unfortunately, sidewall cores are commonly damaged or contaminated too much to give reliable core analysis results.

Core Plug Porosity Measurement


For porosity measurement, a mercury pump pycnometer is commonly used. The term pycnometer simply means a container of accurately
repeatable volume, For core analysis, we use a machined steel chamber into which a measured volume of mercury can be pumped at a
measured pressure (see Figure 23).

Figure 23: The mercury pump pycnometer has a stainless steel chamber into which mercury is pumped to enclose a
core sample. The difference in volume of mercury displaced from the chamber at atmospheric pressure, and at a higher
pressure can be used to determine the volume of effective pore space and the porosity.
Mercury is pumped into the empty pycnometer chamber until a bead of mercury is seen at the needle valve at the top of the
chamber, demonstrating that the chamber is precisely full of mercury.

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Next, the core plug is inserted into the pycnometer chamber and the process is repeated.
The difference in volume of pumped mercury (as shown on the vernier scales) between the two measurements is the bulk volume of
the plug.
The next step is to determine the effective pore volume, because:

..................... Equation 1
There are two alternative ways to do this:
In the first method of analysis, after the bulk volume has been measured, the needle valve is closed and then the mercury pressure
is increased to a higher value (read on the pressure gauge) until the pore space is (hopefully) filled with mercury.
The additional change in pycnometer volume is taken to be a measure of the pore volume.
Using this method, errors can result from sediment contamination of the mercury and failure of the heavy fluid to enter all of the pore space.
In the improved, second method, the needle valve of the pycnometer is closed before test is begun, so that we are measuring the
compression of air inside the pycnometer by the mercury. The mercury itself never comes into contact with the core plug or its pore
space but serves to compress the air around and in the core plug pore space.
The measurement are first taken with the chamber empty or, to put it another way, filled with air.
Now we must take into account that, unlike mercury, air is compressible, so that we must read the pressure gauge before and after
compression, and use Boyles Law (see Equation 3) to correct for the change in the volume of air under pressure.
Next, the test is repeated with the core plug in place and the compression of the smaller volume of air determined.
Differences in pressure and pumped volume allow calculation of the bulk volume and pore volume without it being necessary for
mercury to come into physical contact with the core.

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Boyle's Law

..................... Equation 2
Where:

Pressure, kilopascals

Gas volume, cubic meters

KB =

Boyle's Law constant

So that:

..................... Equation 3

Core Plug Permeability Measurement


Permeability is measured using the same or a similar washed, flushed, and dried core plug. The length and diameter of the plug are
carefully measured and it is clamped into a permeameter flow cell (see Figure 24). The air pressure, flow rate and temperature (needed to
estimate the viscosity of air) are measured and used to calculate permeability using the D'Arcy equation (see Equation 4 and Chapter 3).

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Figure 24: In the air permeameter test, compressed air flows at measured flow rate, pressure and temperature and
pressure through a core plug of measured length and diameter.

DArcy Equation

..................... Equation 4

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Where:
A

Cross sectional area of flow path, square micrometers

Permeability, square micrometers

Length of flow path, micrometer

Flow rate, cubic micrometers per second

Pressure differential across flow path, pascal

Fluid viscosity, pascal-seconds

Core Plug Saturations Measurement


The saturations of oil and water in the core can be determined by distilling a weighed, crushed sample of core, and then condensing,
collecting and measuring the volumes of the produced oil and water. Using these volumes, with the previously measured porosity it is
possible to compute the water, oil and gas (or total hydrocarbon) saturation of the core plug.

Figure 25: On the mud log itself only brief graphical and text notations of core interval and recovery are made.
Cores are cut infrequently but, when they are, they can yield a wealth of information. It is not practical to make space on the regular mud log

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for core descriptions and analyses. It is usual to note the core interval and recovery on the mud log along with a brief note of the major
lithologies. A complete core log is prepared as a separate log and later attached at the bottom of the completed mud log. This is often
referred to as a log pigtail, and is a method used for the addition of this,and many other forms of special information to the mud log (see
Figure 22, Figure 25, and Figure 26).

Figure 26: On the mud log core report pigtail (a supplementary report added at the bottom of the completed mud log,
see Figure 22), more detailed core descriptions, drawings are presented with, if available, plots of core analysis data.

Cuttings Porosity
It is generally believed that cuttings are too small and too adulterated in transit to surface have any value for making quantitative
measurements. In general this may be true, but in the 80s a device called the Praxis or P-Ksm analyzer (see Figure 27) showed great
promise as a tool for measuring porosity and giving a measure of permeability from extremely small samples of well cuttings.

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Alun Whittaker
It should be noted, in support of these researchers, that this was before NMR was used

The Praxis Pulsed Nuclear Magnetic


in a wire-line logging tool, and long before it found wide acceptance in medicine and
Resonance device, was originally developed for
materials testing as MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).
food quality control measuring the oil content of
salad dressing, or the ice crystal distribution in ice
cream. It was discovered and championed for oilfield applications by Turk Timur at Chevron.

Figure 27: The Praxis Pulsed Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (pNMR) analyzer used pulsed magnetic fields from a
large uniform electro-magnet to measure the quantity and distribution of hydrogen-containing fluids a small sample of
cuttings (Illustration courtesy EXLOG Inc.)

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P-K Analyzer
With Chevron's assistance, EXLOG undertook the practical development of the Praxis, and primarily through the work of Eric Nigh (see
Nigh and Taylor, 1984), developed the necessary sample processing procedures and protocols that lead to its use as a practical and
reproducible mud logging tool. Nevertheless, the Praxis process required a huge number of repetitive measurements that would have been
impossible to process in the mud logging unit. EXLOG's P-K automated the analysis by coupling the Praxis with a desk-top computer and
printer (Figure 28). It was used as a standalone mud logging device, but is particularly useful in providing calibration data for wire-line
porosity logging tools that, while accurately reflecting the trend of formation porosity, commonly require some baseline measurement
(usually from core analysis) in order to establish the numeric range of values.

Figure 28: The Exploration Logging (EXLOG) P-K system uses a Praxis pulsed Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
(pNMR) analyzer coupled to a personal computer to handle the repetitive measurements and calculations, to determine
free and bound fluid in the porosity of cuttings (Illustration courtesy EXLOG Inc.)
The P-K analyzer was once of the first applications of off-the-shelf, low cost, portable computers at the well site, unlike the large,

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expensive, rack-mount, mini-computers (such as the Hewlett Packard 2100s, and Digital PDP-11s that had been previously used). As such,
is a reasonable server of the mud logging golden rules:
First, the instrument is robust, inexpensive, and simple to use.
Second, it provides useful porosity measurements while drilling,
It then serves as a means of improving the calibration for later processing of wire-line log measurements, and
Finally, It does all these things more quickly, and at a lower cost than coring and core analysis.
The P-K Analyzer allowed the automated determination of porosity at the well site in a more convenient manner than conventional core
analysis. It utilized only cuttings, or small fragments of a sidewall core and performed the test quickly, automatically and requiring a great
deal less operator time, skill and, effort than core analysis.

pNMR Principals
Pulsed Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (pNMR), involves the detection of an element by its unique absorption, and emission of energy in a
changing magnetic field. The Praxis analyzer is
designed to use this technique to specifically
So the process involves measurement of magnetism from the nucleii of Hydrogen
detect Hydrogen in different bonding situations and atoms. It has nothing to do with nuclear processes, and particularly not radiation
environments.
but, in the early days, this concern served to slow down the adoption of NMR
The hydrogen nucleus, a single proton, has both a technology, not just in mud logging, but also in food and similar applications. When it
positive charge, and a spin and therefore develops came to be applied in medicine, public concern was reduced by dropping the N and
a magnetic moment aligned with its spin axis. In a changing the name to MRI: Magnetic Resonance (Imaging).
large volume of water, the spin axes are randomly
oriented, and so the magnetic moments are also
oriented randomly, and there is no net magnetization, and no measurable magnetic field ( see Figure 29).
When the volume of water is subjected to a permanent magnetic field for a characteristic time interval, the water develops a small,
but detectable degree of magnetization.
The magnetic moment of the nuclei become aligned with the poles of the imposed magnetic field (actually, they are not rigidly
aligned; in fact, they precess around the axis of the field, see Figure 30).

If the magnetic field is removed then, after a similar characteristic time, the axes of the nuclei return to their random orientation, and
no net magnetization remains.

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This time, characteristic of the species of nuclei and its physical state, is known as the relaxation time.

Figure 29: In water, the nucleus of the hydrogen atom, a


positively charged proton, behaves as a tiny spinning
magnet. Normally, the axes of spin of the protons are
randomly oriented they are said to be relaxed.

Figure 30: If the hydrogen nuclei are subjected to a strong


magnetic field, then the axes of spin of the protons become
aligned in orientation with the lines of magnetic force in the field.

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When any change in the magnetic environment, or disruption in magnetic alignment, of the protons occur, they will always require
this characteristic relaxation time to establish a new equilibrium situation.

Figure 31: If the imposed magnetic field is removed then, after the
characteristic relaxation time, the protons return to their previous relaxed
orientation.

Figure 32: A pulse of radio frequency energy can also cause the
spin axes of the magnetically aligned hydrogen nuclei to
become scattered, and randomly oriented.

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The hydrogen nuclei respond in this same manner in any chemical situation but the relaxation time is different depending upon the
physical state of the water.

Figure 33: After the radio frequency pulse is completed,


the hydrogen nuclei, once again, begin to re-align
themselves back into alignment with the magnetic
field,.each proton emitting a pulse of radio frequency
energy.

Figure 34: The rate at which the protons re-align, and give up
energy is also representative of the characteristic relaxation
time of the physical state in of the fluid containing the hydrogen
nuclei. In a sedimentary rock, this may be: free water,
irreducible water, or interlayer water.

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We regularly think about physical states as being: solid, liquid, and gas, but as discussed in Chapter 2, water in a sediment may be
nominally liquid, but this liquid water may exist in various levels of binding, and this binding enforces a required physical orientation(see
Seevers, 1972).
For example, in sedimentary rocks:
Water in the tiny pore spaces in shale and clay mineral lattices is physically bound and has a much faster relaxation time than that in
free, liquid water (see Figure 35).
The water in normal, large scale, open pores (in clastic, and carbonate rocks for example) mostly behaves like free water and its
hydrogen nuclei have the same characteristic relaxation time.
However, in a layer a few molecules thick on all surfaces on which there is a physical bonding, the hydrogen nuclei have an
unusually fast relaxation time. This layer of water on grain surfaces corresponds approximately to what we have been calling
irreducible water (see Chapter 3).
Finally, there are water molecules that are bound by hydrogen bonding within minerals, most commonly the water of crystallization
in Gypsum, or the inter-layer water in clay minerals. This water is rigidly bound and either does not respond at all to magnetic
influences, or relaxes so rapidly as to be considered instantaneous.
So together we have:
Free water, or water in pore space with a long relaxation time,
Non-movable water in small-scale porosity or irreducible water in normal porosity have a reduced relaxation time, and
Lattice or interlayer water within clay mineral has an almost instantaneous relaxation time.
The P-Ksm analysis service offered by Exploration Logging used a Praxis pNMR analyzer utilizes this principle. It consists of a small
sample probe containing a large, powerful permanent magnet, with radio frequency transmission and receiving coils. It can be coupled to a
personal computer running software developed by Praxis and Exploration Logging based upon a calculation method developed at Chevron
Oilfield Research Company (see Timur, 1968).
The probe (see Figure 27) accommodates about ten cuttings or a 3 mm (about 0.125 inch) diameter plug from a sidewall core:
When placed in the probe, the cuttings and the water contained in them are subject to a strong magnetic field causing the hydrogen
nuclei to become aligned with that field (see Figure 30).
A pulse of radio frequency energy is applied, and the orientation of the hydrogen nuclei becomes scattered (see Figure 32).
Each in a different characteristic relaxation times, the hydrogen nuclei in free, irreducible and bound water re-orientate themselves,

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emitting radio frequency energy that is detected by RF receiving coils of the P-K analyzer (see Figure 33, and Figure 34).
Under computer control, this process is repeated many times (although taking only a few minutes of real time) and the results
combined to determine the relative amounts of free, irreducible and bound water in the cuttings (Figure 35).

Figure 35: In a porous sedimentary rock, the physical environment of the hydrogen nuclei controls the distribution of
relaxation times.
The real test of the device is to obtain a small amount of cuttings that have representation porosity, without any physical damage or
hydration and to ensure that they contain only a hydrogen-bearing liquid and not some contaminant or gas that may have a different
concentration of hydrogen nuclei in the pore space.

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Sample selection and preparation is key to success. The sample requirement is small (about 10 cuttings) so this does not place an undue
burden on the mud logger to individually select these many cuttings. On the other hand, the erroneous picking of one or two incorrect
cuttings can have a large effect on the reliability of the result:
Ten or twelve hand-selected, fresh cuttings or a core plug, of a uniform lithology, and with no hydration, compaction, or crushing,
The cuttings are washed with a stabilizing brine and a solvent and aspirated to remove original fluids or any dissolved air from the
pore space and to flush them entirely with uniform, hydrogen-containing fluid.
The volume of the sample is determined by immersion in a phial of known volume containing a halocarbon oil (see Figure 27) which
contains no hydrogen atoms and so cannot
A halocarbon is similar to a hydrocarbon, but all of the Hydrogen atoms in the
contribute to the result.
The relaxation times are measured and
processed automatically by the personal
computer, taking about twenty minutes and
then prints out:
Total Porosity, including both
effective, and ineffective porosity.

molecule have been replaced by atoms of a halogen: Fluorine, Chlorine, Bromine, and
so on. For example, take Ethylene which has the formula C2H4. Replacing all of the
Hydrogen atoms with Fluorine atoms, produces Tetra-fluoro-ethylene, C2F4. This is a
stable, hydrogen-free, inert fluid, well-suited to this application (by the way, if Tetrafluoro-ethylene is polymerized it becomes Poly-tetra-fluoro-ethylene, or PTFE, which is
more commonly know as Teflon.

Free Fluid Index (FFI). This is the


proportion of porosity containing fluid
which is mobile. It excludes ineffective porosity, and irreducible fluid.

Permeability Index. This is an qualitative estimate of maximum permeability based upon the Total Porosity and Free Fluid
Index, and an empirically derived permeability relationship from a large core analysis data base.
A separate P-K log is produced as a supplement to the standard mud log (see Figure 36). This log at its best can be as reliable as the
porosity logs from core analysis or wire-line logs. However, it does have limitations that must be considered:
First, the results are dependent on the quality of the extremely small sample used. The mud logger must take a great deal of care to
select identical, good quality cuttings and in the various stages of sample preparation. This does not require a great deal of time, but
it is demanding of skill and care. As such it may contravene the golden rule and it is recommended, in order to obtain the best results,
that an extra crew member be provided in the mud logging unit for this purpose alone. Alternatively, the analysis may also be
performed away from the well site in a suitably located laboratory.

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Another, related limitation is also tied to sample size. The results are, of course, only reliable if the property being measured is
accurately represented in a small size, number, and volume of cuttings. Even if the property is accurately measurable in so small a
sample, there may be no relationship between this and the property on the large scale in the reservoir. Porosity and Free Fluid
Index in clastic
sediments are reliable,
but secondary porosity In fact neither of these limitations were accountable for the limited acceptance of the P-K analysis service,
which continues to be available in some areas. The first reason was that it arrived at a time when computers
measurements and
larger vugular and
were relatively new at the well site, and were commonly limited to large, expensive and temperamental minisolution porosity in
computers from DEC, HP and IBM. The original P-K used an Apple II computer. People were either
carbonates should be running scared from all computers, or dismissing the Apple as a toy the P-K analyzer couldnt win.
judged with great
care. Permeability
measurements require Another problem in international or frontier operations was the inclusion of a large permanent magnet in
even more careful
the probe. Any such device can be kicked off a cargo flight at any time, at the slightest whim of the pilot.
evaluation
Some pilots would let you wheel the package around the plane and demonstrate that there was no

interference. Others could, and did, just say no.


But the worst resistance was because of the misunderstood principle of operation: pNMR, Nuclear Magnetic
Resonance refers to the magnetic behavior of hydrogen nuclei. But this was the eighties, shortly after Three
Mile Island, and all the world saw was NUCLEAR. Even in the oilfield: an FDC or Neutron log down hole
was one thing, a nuclear device in the mud logging unit was quite another.
These days, when P-K Analyzers are used, they're just called magnetic resonance devices, no one ever
mentions nuclear.

Although the P-K analyzer has never achieved wide application the industry, it is an economical alternative to extensive coring as a means
of establishing measured calibration porosities for wire-line log analysis. It is certainly a very much cheaper and less disruptive real time
porosity measurement than running MWD logging tools!

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Figure 36: The P-K Log is a reliable and inexpensive indicator of porosity available while drilling limited only by the
quality of sample available and the skill of the mud logger in selecting it.

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Cuttings Bulk Density


Shales and other clay rocks, as weve seen, are significant to petroleum accumulation and production. They provide catalysis for petroleum
maturation, water drive for migration. Alternatively, if migration does not occur, they develop abnormally high fluid geo-pressures that can
cause drilling problems, well kicks, or even a blow-out.

Figure 37: Shales and clay rocks have a chemically complex mineral matrix that continues to change with temperature
and depth of burial. Loss of chemically-bound water from mineral matrix in the pore space, results in an increase of
both the matrix density, and the porosity, without necessarily changing the bulk density.
Using only well-site tools, there is little that can be determined about these uniformly gray, gray-green or gray-brown, and otherwise
featureless rocks.

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Only two properties are amenable to the well-site technology and capabilities:
Bulk density, and
Cation exchange capacity.
Bulk density of potential reservoir rocks is standardly measured during core analysis when the bulk volume of a weighed sample is
measured using the mercury pump pycnometer. This technique may also be used on shales. In general, it is not done because shale
porosity values are considered to be of little value and in fact have little real meaning.

Figure 38: Shale bulk density increases with depth of burial as de-watering occurs, porosity declines and clay mineral
density increases. Breaks in this uniform trend may result from chemical and mineralogical changes in the rock, but
may also indicate geo-pressuring (see Figure 39)

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Throughout burial, compaction and diagenesis, clay rocks are consistently losing water from the pore space and mineral matrix. Porosity,
matrix volume and density all show relative increases and decreases through this period. (see Figure 37). However, as the rock de-waters,
whatever the source, there will be a steady, though not necessarily uniform, increase in bulk density. Failure of de-watering coupled with
geo-pressure development is inevitably accompanied by a change in the trend of bulk density (see Figure 38). Depending upon the
magnitude of the pressure anomaly, the density may cease to increase or even decrease with depth.

Figure 39: Breaks in this uniform trend may indicate failure of de-watering and retention of fluids in the clay rock,
accompanied by abnormally high geo-pressure (see Figure 38). Determination of which interpretation is correct
requires additional real time information commonly available in the mud logging unit (see Chapter 12).

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The measurement of shale (or clay) bulk density was one of the first well-site techniques used to monitor formation compaction with depth
and to use dislocations in that compaction trend to detect the onset of abnormal formation pressure. Though first attempts used the mercury
pump pycnometer, it was too expensive and too difficult to use in routine well-site operations. Other simpler and cheaper methods were
soon introduced, not by mud loggers but by mud engineering companies.
Once again, it was Baroid who recognized a new trend, and stepped in to develop it :
The first Baroid Shale Density Kit contained a set of bottles of liquids of different densities, each separated from the next by
difference in Specific Gravity of 0.1.
Cuttings were dropped into each liquid in turn until one was found in which the cutting neither sank nor floated at the surface, thus
indicating that its density was closest to that labeled on the bottle.
Baroid's next attempt was a test kit using a liquid density gradient. This provided a more sophisticated measurement tool, and yet
one that was still a quicker and cheaper method than the pycnometer. It quickly became the standard shale density tool in mud
logging.
The gradient is established in a measuring cylinder by partial mixing of two liquids, one denser and one lighter, bracketing the
range of shale densities to be measured.
There are several organic and inorganic liquids that can be used, all have toxic properties and all should be handled with care,
following all of the manufacturers instructions about clean-up and ventilation!
Density calibration beads are added to the column and, by careful stirring, they are distributed evenly through the height of the
column (see Figure 40, C) and a column height-versus-density calibration chart is created.
The calibration beads are then carefully scooped out, without further disturbing the mixture.
Two or three similar shale cuttings are selected that show no surface cracks, likely to trap air bubbles, and apparently free from
pyrite, calcite or other density-modifying accessory minerals.
The cuttings are surface dried on a tissue or a porous plate and then dropped into the column and allowed to settle to a depth at
which the height can be read and the density calculated.
If the three density measurements are within ten percent of each other, the average is calculated and used for the shale bulk
density.
If a greater deviation occurs then more cuttings are tested until three reliably grouped values are found.

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The cuttings are then carefully scooped from the column to prevent them decomposing and discoloring the fluids.

Figure 40: The liquid density gradient is used to determine bulk density of shales and other cuttings. Using calibration
beads a column height-versus-density calibration chart is established.
The column calibration should be checked each day; and more often if there is much vibration in the unit, or a high sample rate. A well
mixed, carefully used column can usually be maintained for about a week before excessive mixing reduces the acceptable range of the
gradient.
After use, the column can be filtered and separated into its components by differential freezing in a regular refrigerator (but not one used for

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storing food. Once again, remember the manufacturer's instructions about toxic hazards).
Shale bulk density measurements made in this way are reasonably reliable if a minimum of three cuttings are used, and extras added until
ten percent agreement is achieved. Unusual density anomalies may occur when clays are soft and hydrated, or contain finely dispersed
dense accessory minerals. Although these contaminants and degradations can produce anomalous trend values (see Figure 39) they are,
nevertheless correct density measurements.
Alternative Shale Bulk Density measurement methods, utilizing the mercury pump pycnometer, or a mud balance require either core plugs
or very large volumes of cuttings. So many cuttings cannot be individually selected and the result is likely to be an average of bottom-hole
cuttings, up-hole cuttings and cavings: less variable but also less accurate.

Figure 41: The Shale Data Log is useful in source bed and geo-pressure formation evaluation and in drilling fluid
management.

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Shale Bulk Density is commonly plotted on a special geo-pressure mud log with other pressure sensitive parameters (see Chapter 12) but if
Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) is also being monitored, then the two may be plotted together with other cuttings and cavings information
on a separate Shale Data Log (see Figure 41).
The Shale Data Log may be prepared for the whole well or just for a section of particular interest, and may contain just data from cuttings or
be supplemented with data available later from cores, sidewall cores, the FDC density log., and from sample evaluation, a report of cuttings
size, and volume.

Clay Wettability
A qualitative estimate of clay wettability is also useful in evaluating the other results and bore-hole condition.
Again, using three selected, surface dried cuttings, each is placed on a spot plate and immersed in distilled water.
If no immediate reaction is observed, two drops of dilute (10%) hydrochloric acid is added.
The appearance of the cuttings is noted over five minutes (it does not need continuous observation for that period) and the degree of
decomposition reported as either plastic swelling, or earthy crumbling, on a qualitative scale of rapidity and degree (see Figure
41).

Cation Exchange Capacity


Clay diagenesis involves the conversion of smectite clays to illite clays with the collapse and closure of the inter-layer spacing.
In this book, so far, the most important aspect of that process has been the displacement of large volumes of water from the inter-layer
space, into newly developed fissility to drive developing hydrocarbons out of the clay source bed toward a reservoir. This process is
important when the clay rock has sufficient surviving organic material to become an active petroleum source bed.
There is another process taking place in all clay rocks, regardless of their source bed potential. The clay lattice closure reduces the number
of ion exchange sites available on the clay lattice and the number of mobile cations moving between the free water phase, and these sites
(see Whittaker, 1985).
The Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC, milli-equivalents/100 grams) is indicative of the progressive clay diagenesis:
Immature Smectite clays have CEC of more than 100.
After diagenesis, the Illite and mixed layer (illite and smectite) clays have a CEC of less than 40.
Cation Exchange Capacity is an odd hybrid characteristic that is difficult to measure. This is reflected in the units used for it

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milli-equivalents (of ions loosely attached at the ion exchange sites) per 100 grams (of rock). We must carry out a normal chemical
titration except that one reactant, the hydrated metal cations, are in chemical solution while the other, the ion exchange sites, are part of a
solid rock.
In order to make the measurement, the solid,
insoluble clay must be put into suspension in water
and kept dispersed until reaction is complete, so
that all ion exchange sites on the clay are made
available for reaction.

Yes, I know that some mineralogists refer to the transitional nature of clay minerals,
from Smectites, and Kolinites, to Illites, as a solid solution. That sounds good but it
doesn't affect the problem of titrating a real solution against a real solid!

Originally, in ceramics engineering, CEC was used as a measure of the total surface area available for reaction in kaolinite and smectite
blended clays. Total surface area depends on the number, and size of particles, so that CEC is used as a measure of the mean particle size
in the blend.
There are a number of uses for CEC in petroleum exploration:
In a region with a moderate or high, current or fossil geothermal gradient, the CEC of formation clays is an indicator of the onset of
diagenesis and a qualitative measure of the progress of clay diagenesis from smectites to illites. Anomalies in the uniform diagenesis
trend can be indicative of geo-pressure.
In a region with formation temperatures too low for diagenesis, the CEC of formation clays is a correlation tool to indicate differences
in clay mineral sources or proportions of non-clay components in the sediment.
CEC of drilling fluid is a measure of the proportions of high yield, pure Wyoming bentonite, and lower yieldng natural formation clays
in the mud.
In wire-line log analysis, CEC of a clay sample is a measure of the number and mobility of cations, the so-called activity of the clay.
The activity of the clay controls its electrical resistivity and influences that of the reservoir rocks in which it may be dispersed. It can
be used as a correction factor in determining the water saturation in shaley sandstone formations.
There are several ways to perform the CEC titration and, in every one of them, it is necessary to monitor a reaction between the solid clay
dispersed in water with titrant in solution.

Basic Method
This relatively quick and simple method for CEC titration is sometimes dressed up in mud logging, with the fancy (though basically
meaningless) title Shale Factor Test). It can be reliably performed in the mud logging unit uses cuttings from the rinsed and dried sample
after cooling.

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Take rinsed and dried cuttings and grind them as finely and as uniformly as possible with a mortar and pestle.

Extract and weigh approximately one half gram of sample.

Add the weighed sample to about 25 ml of distilled water.

Add 5 drops of dilute (5N) Sulfuric Acid, and bring the mixture to the boil on a hot plate with a built-in magnetic stirrer.

Add Methylene Blue indicator drop-by-drop from a micro-burette as stirring continues, and keep the mixture at a steady boil.
All of the clay must be maintained dispersed at all times to ensure full reaction.

Between each addition, dip a glass rod into the mixture and drip a small amount onto a piece of clean, white filter paper.
This leaves a small, dark spot of clay residue surrounded by a growing colorless, wet spot.

At the end-point, the outer edge of the wet spot begins to show a tinge of blue color.

When this occurs, leave the mixture to stir, and boil for 30 seconds without further additions.

Take another drop and, if the blue-tinged halo re-occurs, the end point is confirmed.

If not, continue the titration.

Calculate CEC from:

..................... Equation 5
Where:

Cation exchange capacity, milli-equivalents per 100 grams

MS

Mass of sample, grams

NMB

Normality of methylene blue, equivalents per liter

VMB

Volume of methylene blue, milliliters

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Improved Method
This improved sample preparation ensures better sample quality and uniformity:
Take rinsed cuttings and grind them as finely and as uniformly as possible with a mortar and pestle.
Blend the wet sample in water to create a dispersion of uniform fine grain size.
Add dilute (10%) hydrochloric acid to the blender to convert all carbonates material in the shale to soluble chlorides.
Carefully decant the blender liquid into three fractions:
Water with dissolved chlorides, sulfates and carbonates,
Pure dispersed clay sample, and
Residue of heavier silt, fine sand, and insoluble minerals.
Rinse the clay fraction through a filter paper with distilled water.
Air dry the filter cake to a constant level of dehydration.

Extract and weigh approximately one half gram of sample.

Add the weighed sample to about 25 ml of distilled water.

Add 5 drops of dilute (5N) Sulfuric Acid, and bring the mixture to the boil on a hot plate with a built-in magnetic stirrer.

Add Methylene Blue indicator drop-by-drop from a micro-burette as stirring continues, and keep the mixture at a steady boil.
All of the clay must be maintained dispersed at all times to ensure full reaction.

Between each addition, dip a glass rod into the mixture and drip a small amount onto a piece of clean, white filter paper.
This leaves a small, dark spot of clay residue surrounded by a growing colorless, wet spot.

At the end-point, the outer edge of the wet spot begins to show a tinge of blue color.

When this occurs, leave the mixture to stir, and boil for 30 seconds without further additions.

Take another drop and, if the blue-tinged halo re-occurs, the end point is confirmed.

If not, continue the titration.

Calculate CEC using Equation 5

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These improvements ensure that the sample contains only clay of a standardized particle size (and surface area of the clay particles.)
Unfortunately, they also take up a lot of time and may not be practical at the well site at high drill rates.
The significance of the result of the CEC determination in geo-pressure evaluation obviously depends upon how well, and how often the
titration is performed. Quality control and standardized procedure are totally essential. Without them the test is useless. Even then, the
results of the CEC determination may only be interpretable in combination with other available data, and the trend of clay data from higher in
the section. The CEC should be plotted on the Shale Data Log (see Figure 41), so that other data can assist in the recognition of
progressive changes or discontinuities in the section.

Mineral Identification
Carbonates are readily identifiable in cuttings using dilute (10%) hydrochloric acid, which should be a standard inventory item in the mud
logging unit, and kept
in a dropping bottle
Be careful dropping acid (even dilute acid) on samples under the microscope. Heat from the illuminator will
beside the
encourage reaction, and violently effervescence under the microscope can damage, or at least dirty, the objective lens.
microscope.
A general rule is that:
Calcite (calcium carbonate) reacts immediately
Dolomite (calcium-magnesium carbonate) reacts slowly, speeding up over time, or with heating. The readiness of reaction appears to
decline as magnesium content increases in the mixed carbonate.
Qualitative analysis between carbonates is a task best performed in a geochemical or paleontological laboratory away from the well site.
However, in some regions, discrimination between limestone and dolomite, or the identification of rarer carbonate minerals may be very
important in well-to-well or zone-to-zone correlations, when selecting core points, or designing well stimulation, testing, or completion
programs.
In these cases, more detailed carbonate identification techniques may be worthwhile. These can include core slabbing, etching or thin
section preparation, and these are best performed by specialist technicians brought to the well site for that purpose. Other techniques can
be performed by the regular mud logging crew and those get most of our attention here.
If it is necessary to determine the components of a mixed carbonate without quantitative analysis, the simplest method is to use a wet
chemical stain kit. A procedure proposed by Warne is shown in Figure 42 (see Warne, 1962).

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Figure 42: The Warne staining procedure is used to identify components of mixed carbonates (see below, for an explanation of the reagents)

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To test for common detrital minerals:


Select several (4 or 5) similar cuttings and place them in the depressions of a spot plate.
Add dilute (10%) Hydrochloric acid to each of them, to etch and freshen the mineral surface.
If effervescence is still violent after 30 seconds, rinse off the acid with distilled water.
If reaction is slow or non-existent, heat the acid to boiling, and leave it to stand for three to five minutes before rinsing.
After reaction is halted, return the spot plate to the microscope observe the cuttings surfaces and the surrounding solution as they
are individually tested with:

Alizarin Red S Solution: 0.1 grams of Sodium Alizarin Sulfonate dissolved in 100 ml of cold, very dilute (0.2%) Hydrochloric
Acid.

Fiegels Solution: 11.8 grams of Manganous Sulfate in 100 ml of distilled water, then adding one gram of normal Silver Sulfate.
The mixture is warmed and agitated until the maximum solution is achieved. After cooling the mixture is filtered, two drops of
dilute (5%) sodium hydroxide added, left to stand for an hour and then filtered again.

Rhodizonic Acid: 2 grams of Di-sodium Rhodizonate dissolved in 100 ml of distilled water.

Magneson: 0.5 grams of Para-nitrobenzene-azo-resorcinol dissolved in 100 ml of very dilute (1%) sodium hydroxide.

Benzidine: 2 grams of Dichloro-para-diaminodiphenyl dye dissolved in 100 ml of distilled water with 1 ml of 10N Hydrochloric
Acid (see Hawley, 1981).

Calcimetry
Most often, however, it is not necessary to identify so many rare carbonates. It is more common that we need to know the proportions of
Calcite, Dolomite and non-carbonate material in a sequence of mixed carbonates. In order to do this at the well site is best done with a
calcimeter (see Arnott, 1982).
The simplest of these is the Bernard Calcimeter, which is a simple gas reaction cell in which carbonates reacts with Hydrochloric Acid to
produce Carbon Dioxide (as in Equations 6, 7, and 8). The device is robust, simple to operate and reliable (see Figure 43). It is not
particularly accurate but the results are acceptable within the limits of variability of carbonate composition within the sample.

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Figure 43: In the Bernard Calcimeter a measured sample of cuttings reacts fully with dilute Hydrochloric Acid to
produce carbon dioxide. the volume of Carbon Dioxide produced is measured and converted to the percentage of
Calcium Carbonate in the sample.

..................... Equation 6

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..................... Equation 7

..................... Equation 8
The procedure is simple:
Place a half gram sample of rinsed, surface dried cuttings in a 100 ml conical flask.
Carefully place a phial containing 5ml of dilute (10%) Hydrochloric acid inside the conical flask in an upright position and stopper the
conical flask.
Tilt the conical carefully, tipping the phial, and spilling the acid onto the cuttings.
Reaction of Calcite and Hydrochloric acid begins and Carbon Dioxide is evolved.
After one minute, when all of the calcite in the sample has reacted, read, from the graduated tube, the volume of carbon dioxide
produced.
From this volume, it is possible to calculate the original mass of reacting calcite but it is most common to use a calibration chart
similar to those illustrated in Figure 43, relating the volume of Carbon Dioxide directly to the percentage of Calcium Carbonate in a
half gram sample.
Dolomite reacts much less readily with hydrochloric acid than Calcite. If you want to obtain a measurement of total carbonate in the
sample, you can repeat the test using 20% Hydrochloric acid to promote a more rapid reaction. Alternatively, it is possible to record
the Carbon Dioxide volume produced with 10% Hydrochloric acid progressively over several minutes. It is possible to recognize two
phases of gas evolution: early from Calcite, and later from Dolomite (shown in Figure 43).
Some mud logging companies are now able to provide an automated version of the Calcimeter in which Carbon Dioxide evolution is tracked

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by monitoring reaction cell pressure and presenting this against time on a small chart recording on which it is easy to recognize Calcite and
Dolomite and sometimes even other reacting minerals.
The results of calorimetry are usually presented in Track 5a of the mud log alongside the interpreted lithological column and description (see
Figure 44).

Figure 44: The results of calcimetry: percentage calcite, dolomite and total carbonate is plotted in track 5a of a standard
mud log adjacent to the other detailed geological data and evaluations.

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Mud Tracer Tests


Tracer tests do not themselves yield useful geological or petro-physical information. However, they do provide important parameters needed
to allow the accurate interpretation of other measurements. We have already discussed the Calcium Carbide-Acetylene tracer used to
determine gas and cuttings sample lag time.
Other tracers are used to monitor the degree of invasion of mud filtrate into the formation, in the pore space of recovered cores and samples
of formation fluids recovered in wire-line or drill-stem formation tests.
In order to detect the presence of mud filtrate in recovered core and fluid samples, it is necessary to spike the drilling mud with a soluble
material not usually encountered in normal formation fluid.
These include:
Citrates
Acetates (see Fery, 1981)
Bromides
Iodides (see Brown and Marriot, 1987), and
Several long, and short-lived radioactive isotopes (see Williams and McCarthy, 1987, and Hill and Solares, 1983) including the
heavy hydrogen isotope, tritium.
However, the simplest and most commonly used tracer in exploration drilling is ammonium nitrate. The nitrate ion, although common in
surface and shallow ground waters from agricultural run-off, are rare in deep pore waters. The spiking material, agricultural grade
ammonium nitrate, is a cheap fertilizer that is readily available and safe to use in almost any country and environment around the world.
When using tracers, it is the mud loggers responsibility to collect mud samples and maintain a regular log of tracer concentration by
performing analyses (or organizing shipping to the analytical laboratory for the more esoteric tracers) and prescribing tracer additions to the
mud system.
When a sample of formation fluid is obtained, its true composition may be extrapolated by comparing its tracer content with that in the mud.

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For example:

..................... Equation 9
Where:

CFm NO3

Nitrate ion concentration in mud filtrate, ppm

CSNO3

Nitrate ion concentration in recovered sample, ppm

Invasion, %

SW

Water saturation, %

Ending It All
Mud logging began its life as a simple hydrocarbon analysis service. The availability of laboratory personnel and equipment around the
clock, made the mud logging unit a logical place to centralize other sampling activities: mud, cuttings, core, more and -- as we will see -- yet
more.
Good modern mud logging should be more than a lot of things being conveniently done in the same place. I hope that you are beginning to
see that all these sample types, rocks, fluids, combustible, and non-combustible gases are linked by more than location. In order to
understand the measurements made on any one of these sample types, requires us to use knowledge gained from looking at all of the
others.
Heres a simple example.
Calcite can provide a very hard secondary cementing materials in a clastic sediment. Presence of the cement may reduce porosity
somewhat but permeability will be reduced much more by the closure or reduction of pore throats. This can be recognized by an increase in
the cuttings blender gas test relative to the mud blender, and ditch gas trap gas analyses. Increased cementation also strengthens the rock
and that can be recognized by a decrease in rate of penetration.
Since, Calcite is soluble, the pore water in a calcitic the rock also contain a saturated solution of Carbonic Acid and carbonate ions indeed
it is in that form that the Calcium Carbonate arrived and was precipitated to form the crystalline cement. When circulated back to surface, at

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a lower pressure, or if the mud acidity is allowed to rise, free Carbon Dioxide may be allowed to evolve from the mud to be recognized as a
component of any gas show from the rock.
Finally, we remember that a strong acid will always displace a weaker acid from its salts. Hydrogen Sulfide is a stronger acid than Carbon
Dioxide. An occurrence of free Carbon Dioxide or even an increase in carbonate concentration in the mud may indicate the presence of
Hydrogen Sulfide in the formation. We should be looking for confirmation in the form of traces of dusty black sulfide stains on our carbonate
cement. These can be the earliest warning of potential sour gas hazards.
All of that and I didnt mention the word hydrocarbon once! Disappointed tough! Mud logging is a more than combustible gas
analysis.

Next
After the gas show, if were lucky, comes the oil show.
In Chapter 8, we are going to look at the analysis and evaluation of liquid and solid hydrocarbons and some of their precursors. We shall
start with visual and optical evaluation of oil stains in cuttings. Then we shall cross the boundary between mud logging and geochemistry, to
look at some of the sophisticated chromatographic and pyro-analytical techniques that can be applied at the well site, in the mud logging
unit.

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