X-Ray CT 3D virtual plugging (Alvaro Munnoz-Beltran, Stratum Reservoir)


Alvaro Munnoz-Beltran from Stratum Reservoir


Stefano Pruno, Stratum Reservoir


3D X-ray Dual Energy Computed Tomography (3D DECT) is a common practice performed in the laboratory for most oil and gas exploration companies at the initial stages of a core analysis study.

Some of the main objectives behind the scanning of whole core sections inside the inner barrel include the visualization, identification and evaluation of features and attributes such as drilling induced damage, fractures, lamination, mineralogy, mud invasion, rock structure or core stabilization. More specifically a special core analysis (SCAL) requires homogeneous, representative, and non-damaged cylindrical plug samples for advanced core analysis experiments which has important implications for CCS core analysis studies.

Application of the virtual plugging 3D digital investigation approach can increase the core plugging success rate and sample representativeness, optimize the efficiency of the rock sampling process and improve data quality, resulting in considerable benefits for companies involved in advanced core analysis programs.

In this publication we present real case studies on cores from the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS), where the rock lithology and structure posed a significant challenge for the core sampling process - mainly due to heterogeneities, hummocky crossbedding, and poor degree of consolidation.

Applying the digital 3D CT Virtual Plugging methodology allowed the analysts and engineers to drill multiple, properly oriented core samples with an increased plugging success rate. This was performed without inducing unnecessary damage to the core material by recognizing precisely where and how to effectively drill the cylindrical samples. This technique has been proven extremely beneficial in increasing sampling success rate/representativeness and subsequently has enabled the operator to perform a more reliable and accurate core analysis data acquisition program for reservoir evaluation and modelling.


Alvaro is a professional with more than fourteen years of experience in the oil and gas service sector working mainly as core analyst for international oil companies.

He holds a Bachelor in Geology and a MSc degree in Basin analysis from the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain, where he got the knowledge in petrology, facies interpretation and stratigraphy to comprehend the different plays studied during his Master thesis focus on offshore Canadian oil fields.

Currently, some of his main tasks are the planning and execution of routine (CCA) and special core analysis (SCAL) programs and the analysis of petrophysical properties on core samples, end-trims and fluid characterization; the Interpretation of integrated data processing, data evaluation and quality assurance of the analysis performed and the construction of valuable databases with those results.

After a period of 1.5 years in Oman, involved as SCAL Subject matter expert for Petroleum Development Oman and other major operators, he is back in Norway as Technical Advisor for core analysis. Alvaro has been mainly working with the amazing cores of the Norwegian continental shelf for AkerBP, Equinor, Shell, OMV, Repsol, WintershallDEA, Neptune and Var Energy.