Improving rock core imaging

Louise Smyth

High-res solution developed for oil and gas sector

A new 3D magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) solution, the ImaCore 3017, has been introduced to the oil & gas sector for high-resolution rock core imaging. UK-headquartered MR Solutions in partnership with Green Imaging Technologies in Canada have combined technologies to bring a complete rock core imaging solution to the sector.

Traditionally, rock core analysis is an exercise in providing measured data, but equipment limitations can result in final analysis that involves using theories to understand what is happening at the pore level. The ImaCore 3017 will virtually remove these resolution limitations by allowing customers to bolster the theoretical with actual images of all the fluid present in the rock core sample, and thus the pore network. Three orders for the system have already been placed within the oil and gas sector.

David Taylor, CEO of MR Solutions, explains: “We are always looking to develop our technologies and by working with Green Imaging we were able to bring our existing MRI technology to the oil & gas sector. Green Imaging has been offering rock core analysis using NMR and MRI technologies for 10 years and has built an enviable reputation in the field. For this reason it’s great to work together to offer a greatly improved complete imaging solution to that market.”pro

Jill Green, Green Imaging’s CEO, describes the partnership with MRS as a win-win for both companies, “Together we can bring advanced technology to our customers to provide a solution that the oil & gas industry needs and wants.”

For the oil and gas exploration sector, MR Solution’s cryogen-free MRI imaging technology is highly versatile as the magnet field can be adjusted from 0.1T to 3.0T, depending on image requirements. Sample sizes can range from 1² to 4² diameters and ample space is provided for pressure and flow cells, allowing users to make measurements at reservoir conditions and to perform high-resolution flow studies.

MR Solutions’ technology, including the latest 3D imaging pulse sequences, is combined with Green Imaging’s software products to provide an easy to use interface. This provides workflow management, easy calibration, system monitoring and end results matching the industry’s best practices for rock core analysis. The ImaCore system allows oil & gas sector customers to understand the complex mechanisms and processes happening within rock core samples and interpolate that understanding across entire reservoirs.

Smart rocks could aid oil extraction

In other rock related news, Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer from Heriot-Watt University has received a European Research Council Advanced Award of €3million to pursue frontier research. Her team will grow ‘smart rocks’ that can ‘talk’ to them about what actually goes on deep underground.

The security of water, food and energy supplies, including large-scale enterprises ranging from the efficient extraction of oil and gas from oilfields to the potential for storing captured carbon dioxide underground, all depend on a thorough understanding of how liquids and gases travel through porous rocks in the subsurface.

This is a complex field, depending on the type of rock and variations in temperature and pressure that occur deep underground, where direct dynamic observation at pore level is impossible. The problem, says team leader Maroto-Valer is that the rocks cannot talk to us. Her answer is simple: make your own that can.

Maroto-Valer’s team plan to 3D print their own porous rocks with incorporated micro sensors. Thus they will replicate in laboratory conditions what actually happens deep underground and provide information at a microscopic level that was simply not available before. 

Pic: rock core samples.jpg (Don’t think this needs a caption but let me know if you want one in there for style reasons).

Don’t think this needs a pic and you probably won’t have space for one anyway. But am putting through a pic of the Professor (Picture headshot.jpg) just in case you need a pic. 

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