Spontaneous potential logging


Spontaneous potential logging

The spontaneous potential log, commonly called the self-potential log or SP log, is a measurement taken by oil industry well loggers to characterise rock formation properties. The log works by measuring small electric potentials (measured in millivolts) between depths in the borehole and a grounded voltage at the surface.

The change in voltage through the well bore is caused by a buildup of charge on the well bore walls. Clays and shales (which are composed predominantly of clays) will generate one charge and permeable formations such as sandstone will generate an opposite one. This build up of charge is, in turn, caused by differences in the salt content of the well bore fluid (drilling mud) and the formation water (connate water). The potential opposite shales is called the baseline, and typically shifts only slowly over the depth of the borehole. Whether the mud contains more or less salt than the connate water will determine the which way the SP curve will deflect opposite a permeable formation. The amplitudes of the line made by the changing SP will vary from formation to formation and will not give a definitive answer to how permeable or the porosity of the formation that it is logging.

The SP tool is one of the simplest tools and is generally run as standard when logging a hole, along with the gamma ray. SP data can be used to find:

*Where the permeable formations are
*The boundaries of these formations
*Correlation of formations when compared with data from other analogue wells
*Values for the formation-water resistivity

The SP curve can be influenced by various factors both in the formation and introduced into the wellbore by the drilling process. These factors can cause the SP curve to be muted or even inverted depending on the situation.

*Formation bed thickness
*Resistivities in the formation bed and the adjacent formations
*Resistivity and make up of the drilling mud
*Wellbore diameter
*The depth of invasion by the drilling mud into the formation

The drilling mud salinity will affect the strength of the electromotive forces (EMF) which give the SP deflections. If the salinity of the mud is similar to the formation water then the SP curve may give little or no response opposite a permeable formation; if the mud is more saline, then the curve has a positive voltage with respect to the baseline opposite permeable formations; if it is less, the voltage deflection is negative. In rare cases the baseline of the SP can shift suddenly if the salinity of the mud changes part way down hole.

Mud invasion into the permeable formation can cause the deflections in the SP curve to be rounded off and to reduce the amplitude of thin beds.

A larger wellbore will cause, like a mud filtrate invasion, the deflections on the SP curve to be rounded off and decrease the amplitude opposite thin beds, while a smaller diameter wellbore has the opposite effect.


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