Neutron Lifetime, a New Nuclear Log
- A.H. Youmans (Lane-Wells Co.) | E.C. Hopkinson (Lane-Wells Co.) | R.A. Bergan (Lane-Wells Co.) | H.I. Oshry (Lane-Wells Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- March 1964
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 319 - 328
- 1964. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 5.8.5 Oil Sand, Oil Shale, Bitumen, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 5.6.1 Open hole/cased hole log analysis, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics
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A new log has been developed for quantitative formation evaluation which is based on a measurement of the length of time slow neutrons survive before they are captured in the rocks and fluids. The logging instrument employs a cyclically pulsed neutron generator and a gated scintillation counter which is synchronized with the source. The source emits short, intense bursts of 14 mev neutrons once every 1,000 microsec and is quiescent between bursts. During the period the source is quiescent, the detector is electronically actuated for two independent preselected intervals. A comparison of the counting rates during these two intervals gives a measure of the rate of decay of the slow neutrons and of the associated gamma radiation. The average neutron lifetime in most earth formations is in the range from 50 to 500 microsec. It can be measured during a continuous logging operation at conventional logging speeds. The design of the logging instrument is described and the results of tests are compared with theoretical predictions. Formulas are developed which give the relationship between log response and formation properties. It is shown that the method is particularly sensitive to formation fluid salinity, and that salt water saturation can be measured accurately in either cased or open hole. The measurement can be made independent of borehole size, fluid type, casing and tool position in the hole by properly selecting the intervals during which the measurements are made. The results of tests with a prototype logging tool are given.
A new nuclear logging system has been developed which employs the Accelatron,* an accelerator-type neutron source, and accurately measures formation brine saturation in an entirely new way. It has produced a type of formation log with better sensitivity, greater sampling depth and simpler quantitative interpretation than any other nuclear log thus far suggested. The new Neutron Lifetime Log* employs a pulsed electromechanical neutron source and a synchronously gated radiation detector. A prototype instrument has been field tested during recent months to demonstrate the operability of the apparatus and the feasibility of the method. Tests in wells and simulated boreholes have confirmed theoretical predictions and have shown that formation parameters can be measured independent of casing and other borehole parameters. Preliminary results of field tests have indicated that the log may have important and widespread applications.
BASIC PRINCIPLE OF NEUTRON LIFETIME LOG
The Neutron Lifetime Log is based on the fact that neutrons emitted by a source in a well are rapidly but not instantly captured by the material around the source. Their capture is a matter of statistical probability; the greater the number of capturing nuclei and the greater the "capture cross section", the greater is the probability that a neutron will be captured quickly. The average life of a thermal neutron in vacuum is about 13 minutes, but in common earth materials, the average neutron life ranges between extremes of about 5 microsec for rock salt and perhaps 900 microsec for quartzite. The Neutron Lifetime Log responds to variations in this average neutron life. The theoretical basis for a log of this general type has been well understood by nuclear logging experts in many laboratories both in America and in Russia, and developmental work along these lines has been in progress for many years. The Russian literature has reported both theoretical and experimental work but in this country there have been no published reports of progress toward a practical logging instrument. The logging instrument is designed to measure radiation produced by slow neutrons during selected intervals when no neutrons are being emitted by the source. The source is arranged to emit neutrons in bursts or pulses. During the quiescent interval between the pulses, it is possible to observe the exponential "decay" of the neutrons and the neutron-induced radiation as the individual neutrons progressively disappear due to capture by atoms in the formation or the borehole. When a short pulse of 14 mev neutrons is emitted by a source in a borehole, the individual neutrons are slowed to thermal energy within a few microsec. Thus, a cloud of "slow" neutrons is formed around the source within 10 to 50 microsec after the pulse. This cloud is most dense within a few inches of the source, and is progressively less dense out to a radius of about 3 ft, where radiation from the source is practically undetectable.
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