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Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 60 (2008) 125 131


www.elsevier.com/locate/petrol

An approach to defining tortuosity and cementation factor in


carbonate reservoir rocks
Javid Hassanzadeh Azar a , Abdolrahim Javaherian b,,
Mahmoud Reza Pishvaie a , Majid Nabi-Bidhendi b
a

Chem. Petr. Eng. Department, Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran


b
Institute of Geophysics, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran
Received 24 August 2006; accepted 5 May 2007

Abstract
Tortuosity and cementation factor are two critical parameters that significantly affect estimates of reservoir properties.
Tortuosity factor can be used to estimate permeability using the CarmanKozeny equation and is an important parameter for
formation resistivity factor calculation using a modified version of Archie's formula. It is also used to predict water saturation of
reservoir rocks. Tortuosity as an input parameter in Biot's equation can be used to estimate velocity dispersion.
In this work, based on the Generalized Archie Equation Curve Fitting (GAECF), tortuosity and cementation factor are
determined for selected intervals in a carbonate reservoir. Formation resistivity factor (FRF) analysis was carried out on both core
samples and on well log data. The analyses were carried out separately on porous and recognized tight intervals. The intervals
selected were fracture-free and include both matrix porosity and somewhat vuggy porosity. FRF analysis on well log data indicates
that the carbonate intervals examined follow the GAECF well. However, unreasonable values for the tortuosity parameter, a, and
cementation factor, m, were obtained. To overcome this, the average minimum apparent tortuosity value was calculated for these
intervals. Approximate values for tortuosity factor from both core samples and well log data lie close to each other (for porous
intervals, zones S1, S7 and S11). This indicates that the results obtained from FRF analysis on well log data can be effectively and
reliably used as an alternative to FRF studies on core samples.
2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Tortuosity; Cementation factor; Formation resistivity factor; Carbonate reservoirs; Generalized Archie equation curve fitting

1. Introduction and historical background


From the theoretical point of view, for a dispersive
system of insulating spheres and spheroids within a
conducting medium (such as an electrolyte), Maxwell
(1891) and Fricke (1924) found relationships between
Corresponding author. P.O. Box 14155-6466, Institute of Geophysics, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.
E-mail addresses: javidazar@mehr.sharif.edu (J. Hassanzadeh Azar),
javaheri@ut.ac.ir (A. Javaherian), pishvaie@sharif.ir (M.R. Pishvaie),
mnbhendi@ut.ac.ir (M. Nabi-Bidhendi).
0920-4105/$ - see front matter 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.petrol.2007.05.010

formation resistivity factor, FR, and porosity, , as


follows:
Maxwell, 1891:
FR 1 1:5u1  1

Fricke, 1924:
FR 1 1 x1 u1  1

where x is a geometrical parameter and a function of


the axial ratio of the spheroid. These two equations seem

126

J. Hassanzadeh Azar et al. / Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 60 (2008) 125131

to make a simple generalized form referenced by PerezRosales and Luna (2004) as follows:
Generalized form:

1996), although nearly all of them can be expressed in a


generalized form:
Generalized Archie's formula:

FR 1 Cu1  1

FR Cum

where C is a geometrical parameter.


An important point is the existence of stagnation
regions (no-flow singularities due to possible electrical
vortices) around insulating materials. In the case of
dispersive systems, the stagnation regions are very
small, while in the case of continuous systems (real
rocks or particle packing models) they become more and
more important as the porosity decreases. Therefore, to
extend the generalized Maxwell and Fricke formulae to
a continuous medium and, because these regions behave
like part of a solid insulating material, the total porosity,
, should be substituted by the flowing porosity, 2.
However, as it is not possible to measure the flowing
porosity, it is necessary to establish a relationship
between total porosity and flowing porosity. PerezRosales (1982) used a simple relationship between total
porosity and flowing porosity that gave excellent
results:
u2 um

where m is a parameter that should be greater than


unity and, in practice, is normally less than 2. Therefore,
by substituting Eqs. (4) into (3) we have:
FR 1 Cum  1:

Archie (1942) obtained a famous empirical relationship between formation resistivity factor and porosity
for clean reservoir rocks by studying the electrical
resistivity of a great number of brine-saturated sandstone samples. Archie's law is expressed as follows:
FR um

where m is the slope of the line fitted on FRF against


porosity plotted using loglog coordinates. It is
important to notice that this relationship emphasizes
that in plotting formation resistivity factor against
porosity on loglog coordinates, at the FR intercept
(fractional porosity = 1.0), the formation resistivity
factor although unreasonable in a theoretical
sense is equal to 1.0. However, based on experimental
evidence, many researchers have published other
relationships that differ somewhat from Archie's
formula (Kamel and Mabrouk, 2002, Saner et al.,

The Generalized Archie's formula has theoretical


derivations found in some of the early literature.
Generally, each derivation requires a simplified model
of a porous medium using geometric shapes for the
pores, pore throats, length and cross-sectional area of the
conductivity path. A general derivation published by
Amyx et al. (1960) yields:
FR La =L=Aa =A a=u

This is the ratio of the apparent flow path, La, to the


length of a cube, L, compared with the ratio of the
apparent cross-sectional area, Aa, to the cross-sectional
area of the cube, A. Here, a is a tortuosity factor that
will be defined later. Note that, in the Amyx's
derivation, m is not defined (i.e. porosity has a
power of 1, so m = 1). Other derivations using different
models were obtained by several authors (Wyllie and
Spangler, 1952, Cornell and Katz, 1953) and the same
results were obtained by Amyx et al. (1960). Based on a
statistical method and using a specific porous model, of
Wyllie and Spangler (1952), Wyllie and Gardner (1958)
demonstrated that the porosity should have an exponent
greater than one (FR = a / 2). Finally, comparing the
Generalized Archie's formula with Eq. (5), it was
concluded that when C N 1 then Cm NN 1 C and
therefore Eq. (5) becomes the same as the Generalized
Archie's formula.
1.1. The tortuosity concept
Tortuosity, , is the ratio of actual passage length to
the theoretical bulk length of a sample or porous
material ( = La / L), note that it is not its square, as shown
in Fig. 1 (in the literature, tortuosity is sometimes

Fig. 1. Actual flow path, La, length of a sample, L and tortuosity,


La/L.

J. Hassanzadeh Azar et al. / Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 60 (2008) 125131

defined as (La / L)2, Amyx et al., 1960). In this work,


tortuosity factor, a, and tortuosity, , are equivalent.
The tortuosity factor is not an independent value. It
varies with many parameters such as porosity, the
geometry of porous media, the amount of fine grains,
formation resistivity factor, consolidation pressure and
cementation factor (Attia, 2005). Theoretically, it is
impossible to have a tortuosity factor of less than 1.0
(based on definition, the minimum value of La is L), and
should only approach 1.0 for a nearly linear ionic flow
path through the porous media (a fracture plane may be
close to this). On the other hand, Carman (1939), as
referenced by Perkins and Johnston (1963) showed that
the microscopic flow path through a porous media is
approximately at 45 with respect to the direction of the
bulk ionic current through a saturated, unconsolidated
material. Adisoemarta et al. (2000) concluded that the
value of a has a theoretical minimum value of 1 and a
reasonable maximum of 1.4.
In most laboratory experiments, the product of the
formation resistivity factor and the porosity is related to
the tortuosity by the following correlation (Amyx et al.,
1960):
FR ux s

The exponent x is the correlation constant, which


varies from 0.5 to 1.5 based on the theoretical arguments
and experiments. A simple physical model gives x = 1.
In practice, the value of x is intended to be equal to 2,
while the product (FR) is usually greater than unity.
The minimum value of tortuosity based on Eq. (9) is
approached when the exponent x is equal to 0.5. In this
equation, the role of the porosity is critical. The apparent
tortuosity can be estimated if the porosity used in this
formula is an expression of the total porosity. If the
porosity used in this formula is an expression of the
flowing porosity, the real tortuosity can be estimated.
Therefore:
FR um x sR

10

where R is the real tortuosity. Whereas the real


tortuosity cannot be determined from the input data,
the apparent tortuosity should be calculated initially.
Perez-Rosales and Luna (2004, 2005) applied lower and
upper boundary limits for the value of the apparent
tortuosity in vuggy fractured media, as follows:
1:5bsA b4:0

11

where A is the apparent tortuosity. They assumed that


the conductivity of the matrix blocks is much smaller

127

than the conductivity of the vugs or fracture networks.


Thus, the matrix porosity can be associated with the
stagnant porosity, rather than with the flowing porosity.
2. Methodology
Generalized Archie equation curve fitting (GAECF)
is the most conventional method used to determine the
tortuosity and the cementation factor. It is used to fit the
formation resistivity factor and the porosity data through
a linear curve using loglog coordinates. Therefore,
intercept a and gradient m are determined as the
tortuosity and the cementation factor, respectively. FRF
analysis can be used to determine formation resistivity
factor for either core samples or well log data.
FRF analysis often applies on core samples, despite
this, even when GAECF data sets are available for core
samples, its comparison with results from well log data
can be useful for quality control. GAECF studies on
well log data can be used to fill gaps within core data
sets. It can be used as an alternative to expensive
GAECF study on the core samples.
2.1. FRF and GAECF studies on core samples
FRF analysis is often applied to core samples and it is
usually undertaken at reservoir conditions (connate
water salinity, temperature and pressure). The comparison of FRF analysis results for core samples with
results obtained for well log data leads to less uncertainty and greater accuracy.
In this paper, data were obtained from 6 wells in one of
the oil fields in southern Iran. FRF analysis was carried out
on 9 core samples extracted from the carbonate formation.
These core samples are from 2 different wells (Well #1 and
Well #3). There were insufficient core samples to allow
robust GAECF and Archie Equation Curve Fitting
(AECF), so we applied GAECF and AECF techniques
to well log data so that we could evaluate the quality of our
data and fill the gaps recognized in the core intervals. The
nine core samples were fracture-free and showed
somewhat vuggy matrix porosity. The FRF analysis on
these core samples requires that two critical assumptions
to be made: firstly, all samples are clay free and, secondly,
that all samples are fully saturated with brine.
The core samples were divided into two groups,
those with high porosity (greater than 5%) and tight
samples (porosity less than 5%). The high porosity and
high permeability samples have low values of tortuosity
and cementation factor, while the lower porosity and
lower permeability samples showed higher tortuosity
and higher cementation factor values. GAECF and AECF

128

J. Hassanzadeh Azar et al. / Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 60 (2008) 125131

studies were undertaken on the porous samples only as


there were insufficient tight samples (only 3) to allow
reliable curve fitting. Therefore, empirical formulae were
used to determine the cementation factor and the tortuosity for the three tight samples. GAECF and AECF techniques were applied to well log data to allow a comparison
with results calculated using the empirical formulae.
Table 1 shows some information obtained from FRF
analysis on porous core samples. To evaluate the effect
of the porosity value on the results obtained, two
carbonate core samples (13H, 63H) were added to this
study. Sample 13H is a porous sample while sample 63H
is somewhat tight. Both these samples are fracture-free
and extracted from another carbonate zone in Well #1.
Table 2 shows the results obtained from GAECF (free
fitting) and AECF (forced fitting) studies on the samples
shown in Table 1. In the forced fitting method, it is
assumed that the parameter a is constant and equal to
one. This value is usually appropriate when the flowing
flow system is related to cracks and/or fractures. Table 2
shows the results of GAECF and AECF analyses on the
samples. These analyses were carried out in three stages:
1. using only the more porous samples (1H, 8H, 6V
C6, 6VC7);
2. using the more porous samples plus sample 13H
(porous carbonate core); and
3. using the more porous samples plus sample 63H
(tight carbonate core).
Eq. (9) was used to calculate the average of the
minimum tortuosity values for all samples at each stage.
The important point in Table 2 is the values obtained
for the tortuosity factor. According to the definition of
tortuosity, the parameter a obtained from GAECF is an
unreasonable value as it should be greater than unity.
Therefore, the minimum tortuosity for each sample
was calculated using Eq. (9). The average value of the
minimum tortuosity for porous samples was calculated
as being equal to 2.31. AECF analysis of the more
porous samples gave a value for the cementation factor
equal to 1.99.
Table 1
Some information obtained from FRF analysis on porous core samples
Well

Zone

Sample

Porosity, %

FRF

Well #3
Well #3
Well #1
Well #1
Well #1
Well #1

S1
S1
S7
S7
I2
I2

1H
8H
6V-C6
6V-C7
13H
63H

17.0
19.2
20.6
16.7
21.3
8.7

33.2
24.7
21.2
40.9
23.7
95.0

Table 2
The results obtained from GAECF (free fitting) and AECF (forced
fitting) studies on porous core samples
The samples used in
correlation

Free fitting Forced fitting Ave. min.


tortuosity
m, a
m
= (F)0.5

1H, 8H, 6V-C6, 6V-C7


2.86, 0.23
1H, 8H, 6V-C6, 6V-C7, 13H 2.28, 0.62
1H, 8H, 6V-C6, 6V-C7, 63H 1.64, 1.78

1.99
2.00
1.96

2.31
2.30
2.40

Adding the sample 13H to the AECF study made no


significant changes to the reservoir parameters (cementation factor and average minimum tortuosity). However, significant changes were found in the reservoir
parameters and also to the statistical parameters when
the sample 63H was added. In this case, the residual
error increased significantly although the correlation
coefficient increased (Table 3 shows the changes in the
statistical parameters, residual error and correlation
coefficient). This demonstrates that the samples used
in individual analyses should have similar porosity
values. Therefore, before analysis can proceed, the
samples should be grouped according to the parameters
of interest (in this case formation resistivity factor and/or
porosity). Grouping the samples in this way will help to
reduce the creation of significant residual errors.
Figs. 2 and 3 show the two different data curve fitting
methods (GAECF and AECF) applied to porous core
samples. Fig. 2 is derived from column 2 on row 2 of
Table 2 which included sample 13H. Fig. 2 shows that
the equation of the regression line has a multiplier and
power of 0.62 and 2.28, respectively. Fig. 3 is derived
from row 2 on column 3 of Table 2.
As mentioned earlier, there were only 3 tight core
samples. Since the number of tight samples was
insufficient to allow robust curve fitting, Shell's
empirical formula (Schlumberger, 1994) was used to
estimate the cementation factor as follows:
m 1:87 0:019 u

12

According to the petrophysical literature, Shell's


formula is an acceptable evaluating formula for low
Table 3
Statistical parameters related to Table 2
The samples used in
correlation

1H, 8H, 6V-C6, 6V-C7


1H, 8H, 6V-C6, 6V-C7, 13H
1H, 8H, 6V-C6, 6V-C7, 63H

Residual error

Corr. coeff. (R2)

Free
fitting

Forced
fitting

Free
fitting

Forced
fitting

17.65
34.79
78.05

41.47
42.22
648.29

0.95
0.86
0.96

0.86
0.85
0.92

J. Hassanzadeh Azar et al. / Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 60 (2008) 125131

Fig. 2. GAECF (free fitting) applied to the porous core sample data
(1H, 8H, 6V-C6, 6V-C7, 13H).

porosity carbonate rocks excluding those with cracks.


The average tortuosity factor estimated from Eq. (9) is
equal to 3.
2.2. FRF and GAECF studies on well log data
If there are insufficient core samples for robust FRF
analysis, well log data may be used instead. Well log
data have good resolution and the advantage that the
measurements were undertaken at reservoir conditions.
To evaluate the results obtained from FRF and
GAECF studies on core samples (especially on the tight
samples due to the lack of core data), we carried out our
study on well log data from the carbonate intervals of
interest. Data from all 6 wells (Well #1, Well #2, and
Well #6) were studied. To satisfy the assumptions of
Archie's formula, this study was applied to layers
having a clay mineral content of less than 5%. To
determine which zones were clay free, we used

129

corrected gamma ray logs and the volume wet clay


log (estimated by processing the composite well logs).
Care was taken to ensure that data were taken from
carbonate intervals which were fully saturated.
Archie (1942) defined the ratio of Ro (resistivity of a
fully water saturated formation) to Rw (resistivity of
formation water) as the formation resistivity factor
(FR = Ro / Rw). In the wet zone, the value of Ro is equal to
Rt (true resistivity of reservoir rock) which can be
obtained from LLD (Deep Resistivity Laterolog) or ILD
(Deep Resistivity Induction Log) logs. Therefore, we
used the LLD resistivity log for the wet zones of interest
to determine Ro. Rw was calculated from its relationship
between formation water salinity and temperature
(Schlumberger, 1994, Chart Gen-9). This was found to
be 0.015 m.
GAECF analysis was undertaken on well log data for
the selected intervals. The intervals which showed
correlation coefficients (R2) higher than 0.80 were
studied in detail (Archie rocks). It should be mentioned
that only a few intervals fell into the realm of nonArchie rocks. Table 4 shows some details about FRF and
GAECF studies on the selected intervals. In Table 4,
zones S10 and S11 are described as tight and porous
zones, respectively.
Thin section observations on rock samples from
zones S10 and S11 indicated that the porosity type was
somewhat vuggy matrix porosity, similar to zones S1
and S7 (used in the FRF study on core samples). As
shown in Table 4, some values obtained for a and m
using the GAECF procedure were unreasonable or out
of the expected range. For instance, referring to index
8 in Table 4, the value 10.67 appears to be too high for
tortuosity. Likewise, the value 0.82 is lower than the
theoretical minimum value for cementation factor.

Table 4
The results obtained by applying FRF and GAECF studies to well log
data
Index Well

Zone Depth (m)

GAECF
Corr. Ave. min.
(free fitting) coeff. app.
tortuosity
a

Fig. 3. AECF (forced fitting) applied to the porous core sample data
(1H, 8H, 6V-C6, 6V-C7, 13H).

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

Well #3
Well #5
Well #5
Well #6
Well #6
Well #6
Well #3
Well #5

S10
S10
S10
S10A
S10B
S10C
S11
S11

R2

31773184 4.7 1.3 0.92


32343254 15.92 1.03 0.96
32893299 3.53 1.42 0.78
30783080 7.23 1.37 0.99
30783080 1.6 1.95 0.98
30783080 3.08 1.65 0.99
32813285 1.77 1.67 0.88
33243330 10.67 0.82 0.92

=
(F)0.5
3.94
4.25
3.76
4.7
3.63
4.1
2.55
2.71

130

J. Hassanzadeh Azar et al. / Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 60 (2008) 125131

Fig. 4. Plots of formation resistivity factor versus total porosity (PHIT) in two tight intervals from Well #3 (left) and Well #5 (right).

Based on Perez-Rosales and Luna (2004, 2005), it may


be necessary to filter or to make some modifications
using the apparent tortuosity factor concept. However,
filtering was not applicable because all the values of the
apparent tortuosity in all the intervals were out of range
(A N 4.0). This may mean that the estimation of
formation resistivity factor on log data should be
calibrated. Another possibility is that the range of
apparent tortuosity should be changed in carbonate
rocks, to exclude vuggy/fractured media. This means
that a more detailed, integrated study on both core and
well log data should be done to update this range.
As seen in Table 4, the average minimum apparent
tortuosity value for the two porous carbonate intervals
(indexes 7 and 8) is equal to 2.55 and 2.71. As
mentioned in Section 1.1, when the porosity used in Eq.
(9) is the expression of the total porosity, it can be used
as an estimation of the apparent tortuosity. From the
comparison point of view, Tables 2 and 4 show that FRF
analyses on core and well log data yield similar values

for tortuosity factor in our porous carbonate intervals.


This demonstrates the suitability of applying FRF
analysis to well log data rather than carrying out
expensive tests on core data.
Fig. 4 shows plots of formation resistivity factor
versus total porosity in two tight intervals related to Well
#3 and Well #5. The high correlation coefficient values
obtained by using GAECF indicate that these carbonate
intervals follow Archie's formula well. However, the
values of Archie's parameters cannot be directly used to
determine the tortuosity and the cementation factor.
Therefore, to obtain applicable results, the average
minimum apparent tortuosity value was used. We
calculated that the average minimum apparent tortuosity
values for these log intervals are 3.94 and 4.25. Fig. 5
shows the plots of formation resistivity factor versus
total porosity in two porous intervals from Well #3 and
Well #5. Again the high correlation coefficient values
obtained by GAECF indicate that these porous carbonate intervals follow Archie's formula well. The

Fig. 5. Plots of formation resistivity factor versus total porosity (PHIT) in two porous intervals from Well #3 (left) and Well #5 (right).

J. Hassanzadeh Azar et al. / Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 60 (2008) 125131

131

parameters shown on Fig. 5 are inserted in Table 4


(indexes 7 and 8). However, the values of Archie's
parameters should be calibrated to determine the
tortuosity and the cementation factor.

A
x

3. Conclusions

Acknowledgments

1. High correlation coefficient values obtained from


GAECF studies (see Table 4) indicate that, low
porosity carbonate intervals (S10) follow Archie's
formula. It should be noted that the porosity of these
intervals is matrix porosity and free from fractures
and cracks.
2. Unreasonable values for tortuosity parameter, a and
cementation factor, m means that a more detailed,
integrated study on both core and well log data
should be done to calibrate and update reasonable
ranges for a and m. On the other hand, the concept
of Archie's parameters should be modified when
carbonate rocks are to be studied. FRF analysis can
be recommended if several different synthetic models
compatible with carbonate rocks having different
kinds of porosity are used.
3. A comparison between Tables 2 and 4 shows that the
approximated values for tortuosity factor from both
core samples and well log data are close to each other
(for the selected porous intervals, zones S1, S7 and
S11). This indicates that the results obtained from
FRF analysis on well log data can be effectively used
as an alternative for FRF studies on core samples.
4. According to the results obtained from FRF studies
on well log data (see Table 4) the tortuosity factor
values of our porous carbonate intervals are lower
than those of tight carbonate intervals as expected.
Thus, separate studies on porous and tight rock
samples are required.

The first author is grateful to the Research Institute of


Petroleum Industry (RIPI) of the National Iranian Oil
Company (NIOC) and Sharif University of Technology
for their support. We are grateful to Mr. Jeremy Sothcott
for reviewing and editing the paper. Also we thank Mr.
Ali Mohammad Bagheri, Mrs. Ziba Zamani and Mr.
Ebrahim Hassanzadeh from RIPI.

Nomenclature
Aa
Apparent cross-sectional area
A
Cross-sectional area
C
Geometrical parameter
FR
Formation resistivity factor
La
Apparent flow path
L
Length of the cube
m
Cementation factor
Rw
Water resistivity ( m)
Rt
True rock resistivity ( m)
Ro
Formation resistivity when 100% saturated
with brine ( m)
Sw
Brine saturation
, a
Tortuosity
R
Real tortuosity

Apparent tortuosity
Geometrical parameter
Total porosity
Flowing porosity

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