Downhole monitoring of streaming potential, using electrodes mounted on the outside of insulated casing, is a promising new technology for monitoring water encroachment toward an intelligent well. However, there are still significant uncertainties associated with the interpretation of the measurements, particularly concerning the streaming potential coupling coefficient. This is a key petrophysical property that dictates the magnitude of the streaming potential for a given fluid potential. We present the first measured values of streaming potential coupling coefficient in sandstones saturated with natural and artificial brines relevant to oilfield conditions at higher-than-seawater salinity. We find that the coupling coefficient in quartz-rich sandstones is independent of sample type and brine composition as long as surface electrical conductivity is small. The coupling coefficient is small in magnitude, but still measurable, even when the brine salinity approaches the saturated concentration limit. Consistent results are obtained from two independent experimental setups, using specially designed electrodes and paired pumping experiments to eliminate spurious electrical potentials. We apply the new experimental data in a numerical model to predict the streaming potential signal that would be measured at a well during production. The results suggest that measured signals should be resolvable above background noise in most hydrocarbon reservoirs. Furthermore, water encroaching on a well could be monitored while it is several tens to hundreds of meters away. This contrasts with most other downhole monitoring techniques, which sample only the region immediately adjacent to the wellbore. Our results raise the novel prospect of an oil field in which the wells can detect the approach of water and can respond appropriately.
Jackson, M. D., Vinogradov, J., Saunders , J. H., & Jaafar, M. Z. (2011). Laboratory Measurements and Numerical Modeling of Streaming Potential for Downhole Monitoring in Intelligent Wells. SPE Journal, 16(3), 625-636. https://doi.org/10.2118/120460-PA