Ingrain, the Houston-based rock physics company, will provide geoscientists exquisite insight into the base properties of reservoir rock samples with its recent acquisition of a revolutionary NanoXCT imaging device.
The significance of Ingrain’s new imaging technology is that it can reveal unprecedented, nano-scale three-dimensional resolution of reservoir rock’s pore structures. Enhanced knowledge of these pore structures helps geoscientists determine how to best extract fluids from particular oil and gas formations.
Ingrain’s new imaging device is especially ideal for studying complex, unconventional fields, such as tight gas sands and oil shales. Armed with new knowledge of this type of rock’s inner structure and its expected behavior, geoscientists will be able to more efficiently exploit these vast resources — one of the newest frontiers in today’s oil and gas industry.
The 3-D NanoXCT imaging device, which is the first of its kind to be used outside of the microchip industry and some of the synchrotron beams in the country, is capable of focusing an X-ray source onto an extremely small region of interest within a rock sample — as small as 20-60 microns. The best resolution of the new device is 0.05 microns (50 nanometers) or 1/1000th of the diameter of a strand of human hair.
“One of today’s biggest challenges is that many producing fields are maturing and production is in decline,” said Dr. Avrami Grader, Ingrain’s chief scientist. “To help make up for it, the industry needs to go after more challenging formations, such as tight gas sands and oil shales.
“What makes the NanoXCT so exciting is its ability to focus its X-rays on a very small region of interest in order to examine the most difficult, tight pore spaces found in these tight rocks. Until now, we had not been able to obtain the necessary enhanced resolutions of these rock samples in order to understand fluid transport and rock mechanics processes that lead to effective production,” Dr. Grader explained.
The NanoXCT creates multiple views of a rock sample by focusing its X-ray source through a condensing lens on a particular region of interest. The X-rays exit the object and pass through a device that focuses the beam onto a detector to form each view. These views are then combined to create a virtual, three-dimensional image of the rock. Dr. Grader explained that the NanoXCT is capable of producing images that have two to three orders of magnitude better resolution than the MicroXCT scanning devices commonly in use today.
Ingrain is dramatically improving the technology of simulating fluid flow measurement in oil and gas reservoir rocks, allowing exploration and production operators to better understand their assets and make smarter, more informed field management decisions. The company’s digital process uses near real-time patented numerical methods to measure both common and highly complex reservoir rock properties, enabling operators to reduce downtime and improve efficiency. Ingrain provides a new method for evaluating rock and fluid transport properties of cores and cuttings that adds significant value to traditional evaluation methods.