Current drilling technologies in the Williston Basin focus on gamma ray and cuttings data to assist wellbore location and formation lithology. This work focuses on rapid on-site cuttings characterization in the Williston Basin using X-ray fluorescence (XRF). The newly developed XRF technique is designed to provide a rapid elemental analysis of drill cuttings that can be used to identify when the wellbore is in the formation, prevent shale strikes, and aid in geosteering. Core data was also analyzed to validate the feasibility of the proposed method as well as identify "elemental fingerprint" patterns in the different formations in the Williston Basin.


UND seeks a XRF based technique to provide a more detailed cuttings analysis as well as an additional dataset that can be used to assist in geosteering of the drill bit. The focus is to provide rapid analysis of the cuttings at the well site so that decisions can be made in a timely manner to keep the drill bit in the target area as much as possible.

Due the variable bed thickness and narrow areas of interest, it is very important to stay in the area of interest in the Bakken and Three Forks Formations. The heterogeneous composition and formation faults also make drilling a challenge in certain areas. These formation depth changes can lead to shale strikes and increased time out of the target area. All of the above challenges make mudlogging and active tracking of where the drill bit is in the formation essential for a successful well.

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