Improved Methods for Estimating the Viscosity of Heavy Oils from Magnetic Resonance Data

Burcaw, L., Kleinberg, R., Bryan, J., Kantzas, A., Cheng, Y., Kharrat, A. and Badry, R.

SPWLA-2008-W, SPWLA 49th Annual Logging Symposium, May 22-25, 2008 in Austin, Texas.


Borehole magnetic resonance (MR) is routinely used to estimate the viscosity of light oil, even when it is mixed with water in the pore space of reservoir rock. However light oil methods are inadequate when oil viscosity is above several thousand mPa-s. There have been a number of publications relating magnetic resonance measurements to heavy oil viscosity, but the correlations proposed have not been found to be universally applicable. MR measurements of heavy oil depend not only on the properties of the oil, but also on the details of data acquisition and processing. Thus MR-viscosity correlations must be customized accordingly. Moreover, when water and oil MR signals overlap, new methods are required to prevent the presence of water from corrupting the MR estimation of oil viscosity. Using laboratory measurements on a large number of Canadian and international heavy oil samples, we have developed new correlations, the coefficients of which depend on tool hardware, acquisition modes, and processing algorithms. These are demonstrated to be useful from 10 mPa-s to 1,000,000 mPa-s or more. We also introduce the partitioned hydrogen index method, which uses a porosity model and a new correlation technique to estimate oil viscosity. This is applicable to formations with significant quantities of water. Using MR and rheological measurements over the range 10°C to 100°C, we find the only effects of temperature are through the routine Curie law correction and the effect of temperature on viscosity itself. Magnetic resonance-viscosity correlations do not require explicit temperature dependence.

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