Complex Made Simple

Maersk Oil Qatar to apply NanoCT scanner technology to Al Shaheen field

First scanner in Middle East deepens knowledge of complex offshore oilfield

Maersk Oil has installed the Middle East’s first nanoCT scanner with nanometre-scale resolution in Qatar which will further enhance its unique understanding of one of the world’s most complex offshore oilfields of its type.

The scanner will produce high resolution 3D images of the carbonate reservoir rocks in Qatar’s Al Shaheen field, allowing Maersk Oil Qatar (MOQ) scientists and engineers to better understand and predict reservoir properties.

Together with the Australian National University, MOQ has developed a nanoCT scanner that combines nanometer resolution with sample sizes that are needed to understand fluid flow in reservoir rocks. Until now, commercially available technology has only been able to provide high resolution imaging for very small sample sizes. Such small samples do not resemble actual rock samples close enough to mimic reservoir scale rock fabrics.

The new nanoCT scanner has a resolution of one billionth of a metre (one nanometre) and can be applied to samples that are 40 times larger than normal, making studies of real-world problems possible. To put this degree of resolution into context, atoms and molecules are measured in nanometres – a water molecule is actually less than one nanometre in size, whereas a human hair is about 100,000 nanometres in diameter.

Mr. Lewis Affleck, Managing Director, MOQ said: “Working closely with our partner Qatar Petroleum, Maersk Oil has gained a unique understanding of the Al Shaheen field. The development of a new nanoCT scanner is a world-class technology solution that further strengthens our applied research and technology development efforts and our commitment to safely and efficiently unlocking the Al Shaheen oilfield and delivering the greatest value to Qatar.”

Many oil reservoirs in the Middle East consist of low permeability, very fine-grained carbonate rocks in which the fluid-filled pores are so small that they require technologies with nanometre-scale resolution to be studied in detail. This requirement drove the development of nanoCT by Maersk oil Qatar and Australian National University. The 3D scans of the reservoir samples that are generated through CT scanning allow a 3D digital image be created and stored for further study and thus to understand how these impede or enhance oil flow.

Mr. Abdulrahman Al Emadi, Head of Maersk Oil Research Technology Centre (MO-RTC) said: “The new CTnano scanner technology is key to unlocking an extra layer of potential from tight carbonate fields and specifically, Al Shaheen, which is recognised as one of the most challenging tight-carbonate offshore oilfields in the world. The scanner enables us to mimic real reservoir processes in tight carbonates, which has been impossible to do previously. We are proud to bring this technology to Qatar and to share our knowledge with local partners.”

MO-RTC is part of a 10-year investment by Maersk Oil in applied research in Qatar and is the company’s first global research and technology centre tasked with developing cutting-edge applications for the Al Shaheen field, while supporting Qatar’s National Vision 2030 of building a knowledge-based society. The Centre focuses on research that creates practical and applicable solutions for streamlining production at Al Shaheen, focusing on improved oil recovery, enhanced oil recovery, the marine environment and digital core technology.

The Digital Core Laboratory installed at MO-RTC in 2014 is already combining X-Ray computer tomography, 2D mineral mapping and sophisticated algorithms to build digital pore network models and develop a 3D understanding of core samples from Al Shaheen. The installation of the new CTnano scanner will further enhance Maersk Oil Qatar’s understanding of flow properties of the Al Shaheen reservoirs and thus contribute to improved oil recovery.