Obtaining high-resolution borehole images in oil-based mud (OBM) from logging-while-drilling (LWD) tools has been made possible through the recent development of ultrasonic imaging technologies. High-resolution acoustic impedance images enable reservoir evaluation through the identification of faults and fractures, bedding and laminations, and assessment of rock fabric. This paper presents examples of high-resolution images from a 4¾-in. ultrasonic imaging tool in OBM applications and discusses their value in assessing reservoir quality.

This paper provides details of field trials of an LWD ultrasonic imaging tool for use in boreholes ranging from 5¾ to 6¾ in. High-resolution images detailing both borehole caliper and acoustic impedance in both vertical and horizontal wellbores are shown, illustrating the high level of formation evaluation now available when OBM is used. The methodology used to address the impact of tool motion on the impedance images will also be covered. The value of real-time data on borehole stability assessment will be discussed, along with additional applications made possible from the real-time data, such as wellbore placement enhancement.

Both real-time and recorded data from field trials show the potential applications for the ultrasonic imaging tool. High-resolution impedance images covering different formations and lithologies show bedding planes and laminations and enable the calculation of stratigraphic dip, while the identification and assessment of fractures show the potential to aid operators during the development of their hydraulic fracturing program. Borehole caliper and shape assessment in real time can be used to modify the drilling parameters and to adjust mud weight, while providing an input into geomechanics assessment.

The LWD logs presented illustrate the factors that influence data quality and the methodology used to ensure high-resolution images are available in both vertical and high-angle wellbores using OBM. A direct comparison between data acquired while drilling and while re-logging sections is shown, highlighting the repeatability of the measurement while also illustrating the impact of time-since-drilled on the borehole. A comparison with wireline measurements highlights the potential for using the high-resolution LWD images as an alternative to wireline, where cost and risk of deploying the wireline may be high.

The ability to collect high-resolution images in OBM in wellbores ranging from 5¾ to 6¾ in. ensures that increased reservoir characterization is possible, leading to significant improvements in determining the viability of unconventional and other challenging reservoirs. The high-resolution amplitude images are comparable with those available on wireline technologies, and the real-time application of borehole size and shape for input into wellbore stability and geomechanics analysis ensures that common drilling hazards can be avoided.

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