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Bell JD and Eruteya OE
Unconsolidated petroleum reservoirs are non-crystalline rock and include tight gas sands, heavy oil, and bitumen rich sands. These can be both near surface and at depth. This is a “methods” paper which discusses the use of thin section image analysis to obtain reservoir properties from unconsolidated sand reservoirs. A case study was carried out on samples from the Upper McMurray Member of the Athabasca Oil Sands in Canada. Using petrographic image analysis, porosity and permeability were obtained from thin sections from selected regions of interest (ROI). This was accomplished by generating 2D grain and void architecture models from binary images.Porosity and averaged particle size distribution for the coarse components or sand size components were derived directly from oil sand thin sections, whereas permeability was calculated. Values of porosity and permeability obtained using this method were found to be in typical value ranges of those obtained by conventional methods, including petrophysical and core analysis. The application of image analysis to sand reservoirs, such as oil sands, is a rapid and economical method of estimating reservoir properties, especially within regions of interest, and there is the added advantage of direct observation.