This paper discusses the application of non-radioactive gas tracer in the two off-shore fields Gullfaks and Sleipner at the Norwegian shelf of the North Sea. The tracers applied are perfluorodimethylcyclobutane (PDMCB), perfluoromethylcyclopentane (PMCP), perfluoromethylcyclohexane (PMCH), 1,3 -perfluorodimethylcyclohexane (1,3 - PDMCH) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

The Gullfaks field consists of a complex reservoir with oil production from different formations. The field is laterally divided into nearly 40 fault blocks with varying degrees of communication. The main production strategy is pressure maintenance above bubble point by water injection. A WAG pilot was started in spring 1991. To improve evaluation of the pilot it was decided to inject tracers in the gas phase early in the first two gas injection periods.

Production from the Sleipner field was started in August 1993. Reinjection of gas started in April 1994 and the first tracer, PDMCB, was injected in June 1994. The purpose of this injection was to investigate the travel time of reinjected gas and to monitor the reservoir performance.

Samples of oil and gas were collected from the separator and analysed by gas chromatography (GC) connected to an electron capture detector (ECD). Sampling continued throughout the pilot period to establish the tracer production profile.

The tracer compounds have a somewhat higher partitioning to the oil phase than methane, causing a minor retention of the tracer with respect to the average methane gas velocity in the reservoir. The tracer results have given valuable contributions to the interpretation of the WAG pilot mechanism and communication in the fields.


Tracer technology has for many years been applied as a tool to improve reservoir description. According to literature the most widely applied gas tracers have been tritiated methane and 85Kr. However, since 1991 perfluorocarbon (PFC) tracer technology has been growing and is today applied in several of the most important fields in the North Sea. In addition to the PFC, sulphur hexafluoride has also shown excellent field tracer properties.

A gas tracer program was started in the Gullfaks field in 1991. Since then five PFC tracers and SF6 have been injected in different wells. Preliminary results from these tracer studies were published by Ljosland et. al in 1993. In two of the wells, where WAG programs were performed, different tracers were applied in two subsequent gas injection periods to monitor the differences in gas movement after water had been injected.

The tracer program at Sleipner was started in 1994. The tracers applied in this field are perfluorodimethylcyclobutane (PDMCB), perfluoromethylcyclopentane (PMCP). perfluoromethylcyclohexane (PMCH), and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

The PFC tracers are all liquids at standard (ambient) conditions (see Table 1). The tracers were injected by high-pressure pumps directly into the main injection gas line at a rate of approximately 300 ml/min. The amount of PFC tracers injected in each well were in the range of 10 kg to 100 kg. corresponding to 6-60 1.

Gas samples from production were collected in pressure cylinders and sent to the Tracer laboratories, Institute for Energy Technology (IFE), for analysis. The samples were primarily taken from the test separator at a pressure of approximately 70 bar. Due to limited capacity on the test separators, some samples were collected directly from the main separator or from the production flowline.

Tracer Evaluation

Perfluorocarbons (PFC) are hydrocarbons in which all hydrogen atoms are substituted with fluorine atoms. The general formula of the molecules is CxFy.

The PFC tracer technology is now well established as a tool in atmospheric transport studies (3), in house ventilation examinations (4) and even in groundwater (5) and marine (6) tracing and water mixing processes (7). For use in water, an emulsion technique is needed due to very low direct solubility.

The success of the PFC compounds is mainly due to chemical inertness, high thermal stability and high detectability by gas chromatography with an electron capture detector (GC/ECD).

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