The term ‘cut-off’ refers to a joint effort by geoscientists and engineers to define a value which discriminates non-reservoir rock (shale) from reservoir rock (sand), and has been used in the petroleum industry for several decades. In many instances a single cut-off is not good enough to define sand requiring the use of additional variable cut-offs. The determination of cut-off(s) is highly dependent on a geoscientist's or engineer's experience. There exists no well-defined method that is built on a sound scientific basis.

A systematic method is presented in this paper. The new method separates reservoir rock from non-reservoir rock based on the statistical properties and probability distribution functions derived for the various properties of a reservoir interval. It is common that the histogram of a variable (i.e. porosity) has a mixed interval between reservoir and nonreservoir rocks.

No matter how a cut-off is defined on the histogram, there will always be a number of values that are incorrectly classified. As a result, we have seen errors in hydrocarbon volume calculation which have been in the range of 5 to 30 %. Unlike the typical application of cut-offs, the proposed method identifies a boundary (no or little mixing) between the two rock populations and then separates them based on this boundary. Correct boundary identification, by analyzing all available variables collected from well logs, is the key to success. When there is no clear boundary, integration of engineering data (i.e. relative permeability and capillary pressure) with the well logs helps to identify possible boundaries or cut-offs.

A field study demonstrates the principle of the new method and the improved results includes more than 80 wells. The method is easy to understand and to apply in practice.

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