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Publication numberUS3859850 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 14, 1975
Filing dateMar 20, 1973
Priority dateMar 20, 1973
Publication numberUS 3859850 A, US 3859850A, US-A-3859850, US3859850 A, US3859850A
InventorsHoppe Joachim A, Whitten Frank R
Original AssigneeSchlumberger Technology Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Methods and apparatus for testing earth formations
US 3859850 A
Abstract
In the representative embodiments of the new and improved methods and apparatus for testing earth formations disclosed herein, fluid-admitting means are placed into sealing engagement with a potentially producible earth formation. Selectively operable valve means are opened to place the fluid-admitting means into communication with sample-collecting means comprised of an initially empty first collection chamber that is tandemly coupled to a vacant accessible portion of a second sample-collection chamber that is itself divided by a piston member movably disposed therein and normally biased toward the entrance to the second chamber by a charge of compressed gas confined in an enclosed portion of the second chamber. In this manner, as connate fluids enter the sample-collecting means, the first sample chamber will initially be filled before sufficient presure is built up in the first chamber to begin moving the piston member so as to allow connate fluids to begin filling the second chamber. By observing the time required for filling the first chamber, the flow rate of entering connate fluids can be at least estimated. Once the first chamber is filled and the pressure of connate fluids therein equals the pressure of the compressed gas, movement of the piston into the gas-filled portion of the second chamber will further compress the gas charge so as to impose a proportionally increasing back pressure on the connate fluids which may be measured to obtain a second measurement that is representative of the rate at which connate fluids, if any, are entering the second sample chamber.
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Write Stats atet Whitten et all.

[11] asaasa Jan. 14, 1975 Primary Examiner--Jerry W. Myracle Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Ernest R. Archambeau, Jr.; William R. Sherman; Stewart F. Moore [57] ABSTRACT In the representative embodiments of the new and improved methods and apparatus for testing earth forma- TOOL CON UZOL tions disclosed herein, fluid-admitting means are placed into sealing engagement with a potentially producible earth formation. Selectively operable valve means are opened to place the fluid-admitting means into communication with sample-collecting means comprised of an initially empty first collection chamber that is tandemly coupled to a vacant accessible portion of a second sample-collection chamber that is itself divided by a piston member movably disposed therein and normally biased toward the entrance to the second chamber by a charge of compressed gas confined in an enclosed portion of the second chamber. In this manner, as connate fluids enter the sample-collecting means, the first sample chamber will initially be filled before sufficient presure is built up in the first chamber to begin moving the piston member so as to allow connate fluids to begin filling the second chamber. By observing the time required for filling the first chamber, the flow rate of entering connate fluids can be at least estimated. Once the first chamber is filled and the pressure of connate fluids therein equals the pressure of the compressed gas, movement of the piston into the gas-filled portion of the second chamber will further compress the gas charge so as to impose a proportionally increasing back pressure on the connate fluids which may be measured to obtain a second measurement that is representative of the rate at which connate fluids, if any, are entering the second sample chamber.

16 Claims, 5 Drawing; Figures CCWTRUL 5 SYSTEM v. 5.4.1 PRESSURE 7:: "M RECORDER POWER 5 UPPLY -17 RECORDER PRESSURE SYSTEM POWER SUPPLY CONTROL FIG. 2 PRIOR ART TIME TIME

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MEDWWMQQ mmbwmmkl w v m 38 fleas TIME 7-'- METHODS AND APPARATUS FOR TESTING EARTH FORMATIONS One of the most successful techniques for determining the production capabilities of earth formations has been to place a wireline formation-testing tool into fluid communication with a selected formation interval and, if possible, obtain a sample of connate fluids. During the sampling operation it is also customary to obtain one or more measurements which are at least indicative of the formation pressures in the interval being sampled.

Those skilled in the art will, of course, appreciate that many different arrangements of formation testers have been employed through the past several years. In general, these tools include a fluid entry port or tubular probe which is cooperatively arranged within a wallengaging packer for isolating the port or probe from the well bore fluids during the test. To collect fluid samples, these tools further include a sample chamber which is coupled to the fluid entry by a flow line having one or more control valves arranged therein. A suitable pressure transducer is usually arranged in the flow line for transmitting pressure measurements to the surface by way of the cable supporting the tool.

Heretofore, however, no satisfactory arrangement has been provided for reliably determining during the course of a testing operation whether a fluid sample is actually being obtained; or, if a sample is entering the tool, how fast the sample is actually being admitted to the sample chamber. Some indications are, of course, provided by the pressure transducer but these indications can be misleading or false in certain situations. Thus, with the various formation testers of the prior art, it is usually impossible for the operator to know with absolute certainty whether a sample is even being obtained until a considerable time has elapsed. As a result, it is not at all uncommon for the operator to needlessly leave the tool in position over extended periods to hopefully obtain a sample from what is actually a non-producible formation.

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide new and improved methods and apparatus for reliably and quickly determining when a fluid sample is being obtained during a formation-testing operation and, if a sample is being admitted, obtaining a plurality of measurements at the surface which are representative of the rate at which connate fluids are entering the tool.

This and other objects of the present invention are attained by admitting a sample of connate fluids into a formation-testing tool having fluid-collecting means including an initially empty first sample chamber which is communicated to the inlet of a second sample chamber having a piston movably arranged therein to define an enclosed portion on the opposite side of the piston for containing a compressed gas at a predetermined elevated pressure for normally biasing the piston toward the inlet of the second chamber. In this manner, when connate fluids are admitted to the sample-collecting means, the pressure of the connate fluids will increase at a rapid rate until the first chamber is filled and the pressure of connate fluids has equaled the initial pressure of the compressed gas. Thereafter, the pressure of the connate fluids will continue to rise at a slower rate as the connate fluids enter the second chamber and begin moving the piston into the second chamber to further compress the trapped gas charge as the second chamber is filled. By observing the rates of pressure increase, a series of determinations can be made at the surface of the average rate at which the connate fluids are entering the sample-collecting means.

The novel features of the present invention are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The invention, together with further objects and advantages thereof, may be best understood by way of the following description of exemplary apparatus and methods employing the principles of the invention as illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. I schematically depicts a preferred embodiment of new and improved formation-testing apparatus as it will appear in a well bore as the methods of the present invention are being practiced;

FIG. 2 graphically illustrates representative pressure measurements as might be obtained with typical priorart formation-testing tools and without the benefits of the new and improved methods and apparatus of the present invention;

FIGS. 3 and 4 are graphical representations of typical pressure measurements which might be obtained while employing the new and improved formation tester of FIG. I to practice the methods of the present invention; and

FIG. 5 illustrates a representative correlation chart by which the practice of the present invention will enable an operator to approximate the rates at which connate fluids are entering the new and improved formation-testing apparatus of FIG. 1 during a typical sampling operation.

Turning now to FIG. 1, a preferred embodiment of a new and improved sampling and measuring tool 10 incorporating the principles of the present invention is schematically shown as it will appear during the course of a typical measuring and sampling operation in a well bore such as a borehole 11 penetrating one or more earth formations as at 12 and 13. As illustrated, the tool 10 is suspended in the borehole ll from the lower end of a typical multiconductor cable 14 that is spooled in the usual fashion on a suitable winch (not shown) at the surface and coupled to the surface portion of a toolcontrol system 15 as well as typical pressure recordingand-indicating apparatus 16 and a power supply 17. In its preferred embodiment, the tool 10 includes an elongated body 18 which encloses the downhole portion of the tool control system 15 and carries selectively extendible tool-anchoring means 19 and fluidadmitting means 20 arranged on opposite sides of the body as well as new and improved fluid-collecting means 21 arranged in accordance with the principles of the present invention and coupled to the lower end of the tool body.

It should be recognized at the outset that except for the new and improved sample-collecting means 21, the particular design of the other elements of the formation-testing tool 10 is incidental as far as achieving the objects of the present invention are concerned. Thus, except for the unique arrangement of the samplecollecting means 21, the tool-control system 15, the tool-anchoring means 19, and the fluid-admitting means 20 of the tool 10 can be arranged as has been done with any of the formation testers which have been successfully employed heretofore. For example, the tool 10 could incorporate the controls, the tool anchor, or the sample admitter from any of the tools disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,011,554, U.S. Pat. No. 3,104,712, U.S. Pat. No. 3,352,361, U.S. Pat. No. 3,385,364, U.S. Pat. No. 3,653,436 or in U.S. Pat. application Ser. No. 313,235, filed Dec. 8, 1972.

Accordingly, as far as is necessary to understand the principles of the present invention, the formation tester is illustrated schematically in FIG. 1 to show only the essential elements of the tool. As depicted at 22, the fluid-admitting means may alternatively include either a fluid entry port (e.g., as shown generally at 57 in U.S. Pat. No. 3,104,712 or at 106" in U.S. Pat. No. 3,396,796) or a tubular sampling probe (e.g., as shown at 74 in U.S. Pat. No. 3,352,361 or at 45 in U.S. Pat. No. 3,653,436). In either case, the fluidadmitting probe or port, as at 22, is coupled to the sam ple-collecting means 21 by a sample conduit or flow passage 23 which is communicated with a suitable pressure-measuring device or transducer 24 such as shown in FIG. 9 of U.S. Pat. No. 3,011,554.

In the preferred embodiment of the new and improved tool 10 illustrated in FIG. 1, fluid communication between the fluid-admitting means 20 and the sample-collecting means 21 is controlled by means such as a normally closed valve 25 and a normally open valve 26 which are cooperatively arranged in the flow line 23 and respectively adapted for selective actuation by the tool-control system 15. It will, of course, be appreciated that the control valves 25 and 26 can be arranged as shown in various ones of the aforementioned patents for selective operation from the surface by suitable electrical, explosive, or hydraulic actuating means on the tool body 18.

As is typical, the sample-admitting means 20 further include a packing element, as at 27, which is cooperatively arranged on the tool body 18 around the fluid entry 22 for selective movement outwardly into sealing engagement with the adjacent wall of the well bore or borehole 11 so as to isolate the fluid entry from well bore fluids during a testing operation. Inasmuch as most if not all of the aforementioned patents fully disclose various types of suitable packing elements, it is unnecessary to describe the packer 27 further.

Similarly, various types of tool-anchoring means 19 are well described in the aforementioned patents and no useful purpose would be served by redescribing these known arrangements. It should be recognized, of course, that since the tool-anchoring means 19 are provided solely to restrain the tool 110 against longitudinal displacement in the borehole 11 as well as to insure the sealing engagement of the packing element 27 against the borehole wall during a testing operation, an extendible wall-engaging anchor member, as at 28, is not absolutely essential. For example, where the sampleadmitting member alone is extendible over a substantial lateral distance as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 3,385,364, extension of the sample-admitting member will be effective for pressing the rear of the tool against the opposite wall of the well bore with sufficient force to anchor the tool as well as to sealingly engage the sample-admitting member. Conversely, both the sample-admitting member and an anchor member can be arranged to respectively extend in opposite directions as in either U.S. Pat. No. 3,295,615 or in U.S. Pat. No. 3,653,436 where minimum lateral extension of the individual members is preferred. Thus, as far as the objects of the present invention are involved, it is necessary only to provide selectively-operable means of a suitable nature for anchoring the tool 10 and placing the packer 27 into sealing engagement with the wall of the borehole 11 to isolate the fluid entry 22.

To appreciate the significance of the present invention, the prior-art techniques of collecting fluid samples should be first considered. First of all, most, if not all, of the earlier commercially-successful formation testers have employed a so-called water cushion arrangement for regulating the rate at which connate fluids are admitted into the sample chamber. As fully explained in U.S. Pat. No. 3,011,554, for example, this arrangement includes a piston member which is movably disposed in an enclosed sample chamber so as to define upper and lower spaces in the chamber. Where the entrance to the sample chamber is above the piston, the upper space is initially at atmospheric pressure and the lower space is filled with a suitable incompressible fluid such as water. A second chamber or liquid reservoir which is also initially empty and having a volume equal to or greater than the lower space is communicated with this lower water-filled space by a suitable flow restriction such as an orifice. Thus, as connate fluids enter the empty upper portion of the sample chamber, the piston will be progressively moved downwardly from its initial elevated position to displace the water from the lower portion of the sample chamber through the orifice and into the initially empty liquid reservoir. In this manner, as highly-pressured connate fluids are admitted to the sample chamber, the rate at which these fluids can enter the chamber will be held at a substantially constant value as determined by the sizing of the orifice.

Those skilled in the art will, therefore, appreciate that since the flow rate is constant with this arrangement, the pressure in the flow line will also remain substantially constant for almost the entire time required for the connate fluids to fill the sample chamber. Thus, as seen at 29 in FIG. 2, the measurements from the pressure transducer in the flow line will provide only an unvarying reading from the time that the sample chamber is first opened to just before the sample chamber is completely filled. As a result, the operator has no unequivocable indication whether a sample is entering the sample chamber or, if so, how fast the sample is being admitted during a major portion of the testing operation. To further complicate the situation, if the orifice unknowingly becomes wholly plugged during the sampling operation, the pressure will rapidly rise to the formation pressure, P, (as shown at 30) even though the piston has prematurely halted and connate fluids are no longer entering the sample chamber. In many cases, this may give the operator a false indication that a complete sample has been obtained. A partial blockage of the orifice can also give erroneously-high measurements which falsely indicate a high rate of fluid admission.

An analogous situation will occur where no water cushion is employed and flow regulation is instead accomplished by sample-admitting means such as shown generally at 19 in U.S. Pat. No. 3,653,436. As described there, that sample-admitting means reliably regulate the flow rate of connate fluids entering the tool so that only an empty sample chamber which is ini' tially at atmospheric pressure is necessary. With this arrangement, as connate fluids are admitted into the initially empty sample chamber, the pressure in the flow line will imperceptibly rise at an extremely-slow rate; and, as shown at 31 in FIG. 2, it will not be until the sample chamber is almost filled that any substantial increase in this measured pressure will occur. Thus, hereagain, the operator will have no reliable indication of the rate of fluid entry during the sampling operation.

Accordingly, with either of these prior-art sample chamber arrangements there will be no completely reliable surface indication showing either that a sample is being obtained or if one is being obtained how fast the sample is entering the sample chamber throughout the test. As a result, it is often necessary to leave the test tool in position for extended periods to be certain that a complete test is achieved. In addition to needlessly prolonging a sampling operation of a formation which is ultimately determined to be of no commercial interest, there is always an ever-increasing risk that the tool or its supporting cable may become stuck if the test is continued for extended periods.

Accordingly, as previously considered, the new and improved tool of the present invention is cooperatively arranged to continuously provide both positive indications that connate fluids are entering the fluidcollecting means 21 as well as measurements representative of the rate of fluid entrance into the fluidcollecting means. To achieve this, the new and improved fluid-collecting means 21 are coupled to the fluid passage 23 and are preferably arranged to include first and second enclosed sample chambers 32 and 33 which are coupled to one another by an intermediate flow passage 34. As illustrated, the second sample chamber 33 carries fluid-isolating means such as a piston 35 movably arranged therein for isolating the upper and lower portions of the second chamber from one another. In the preferred embodiment of the new and improved tool 10 illustrated in FIG. 1, controlled access to the two sample chambers 32 and 33 is provided by normally closed, manually actuated valves 36 and 37 which are respectively mounted in conduits 38 and 39 in the tool body 18 for communicating the exterior of the tool with the sample-collecting means 21 when the tool is at the surface. A compressible gas, as at 40, is introduced into the lower portion of the second sample chamber 33 by way of the valve 37 and the conduit 39 and elevated in pressure to a predetermined level, P,-. This will, of course, urge the piston 35 to an initial elevated position as illustrated in FIG. 1 where the piston will divide the second sample chamber 33 into an initially empty upper portion of minimum volume and a gas-filled lower portion of maximum volume. The first sample chamber 32 is initially empty.

Accordingly, in the practice of the methods of the present invention, the new and improved tool 10 is positioned in the borehole Ill and operated as required for engaging the anchor means 19 and the fluidadmitting means against the opposite walls of the borehole. Then, as is typical, the flow line control valve is opened upon command from the surface so as to place the first sample chamber 32 as well as the upper portion of the second sample chamber 33 into fluid communication with the now-isolated portion of the formation 13. As is typical, since the first sample chamber 32 as well as the upper portion of the second sample chamber 33 above the piston are at or near atmospheric pressure, if there are producible connate fluids in the formation 13 the formation pressure will be effective for displacing these fluids through the flow line 23 and into the first chamber 32, the flow passage 34, and the upper portion of the second sample cham ber. The pressure-responsive transducer 24 will, of course, be effective for providing indications on the surface indicator or recorder 16 which are representative of the pressure of the connate fluids flowing through the passage 23 into the first sample chamber 32.

In contrast, however, to the results obtained with prior-art testing tools as graphically depicted in FIG. 2, in the practice of the present invention with the new and improved tool 10, the selectively-pressured gas charge 40 will be effective for restraining the piston 35 against movement until the pressure of the connate fluids in the flow line 23 and the first chamber 32 has at least equaled the initial pressure, P of the pressured gas. In other words, disregarding the frictional restraint on the piston 35, the piston cannot be moved downwardly into the second sample chamber until the flow line 23, the first sample chamber 32, the flow passage 34, and the upper portion of the second sample chamber 33 have been filled with connate fluids and the pressure of these fluids rises to the initial pressure, P,-, of the pressured gas charge 40. Thus, as shown at 411 on the curve 42 in FIG. 3, the entrance of connate fluids into the first sample chamber 32 will be immediately reflected by a rapid and easily-detected increase of the measured flow line pressure to a value equal to the initial pressure of the gas charge 40. Since the void space in the chambers 32 and 33 and the flow passage 34 above the piston 35 is relatively small in relation to the initial volume of the gas-filled space in the second chamber, only a small volume of connate fluids is required to achieve a substantial increase in the pressure in the flow line 23 as measured by the transducer 24. Accordingly, as one aspect of the present invention, a rapid rise of the pressure in the flow line 23 reliably signifies that at least some connate fluids have entered the first sample chamber 32. Moreover, since the: volume of the first chamber 32 is known and the pressure in the flow line 23 cannot equal the initial gas pressure, P,-, until the first chamber is filled, by measuring the time required for the flow line pressure to reach the initial gas pressure a first indication is obtained of the average flow rate of connate fluids entering the new and improved tool 10. On the other hand, the lack of such a sharp pressure rise (as at 41), of course, will be a clear indication that connate fluids are not entering the first sample chamber 32 at a very rapid rate.

Once connate fluids have filled the flow lines 23 and 34 as well as the first chamber 32 and the upper portion of the second sample chamber 33 to the extent that the pressure of these fluids approaches the initial pressure, P,-, of the gas charge 40, the further entrance of connate fluids into the upper end of the second sample chamber will, of course, be accomplished by an increase in the pressure of the connate fluids. This will, therefore, cause the piston 35 to be displaced further into the sample chamber 33 to accommodate the increase in sample volume. As a further aspect of the present invention, however, displacement of the piston 35 will be accompanied by a proportional increase in the pressure of the gas charge 40. This increase in pressure will, of course, be in keeping with the general gas laws. Thus, as the gas charge 40 is further compressed, a greater restraining force will be imposed on the piston 35 so that the pressure of the connate fluids filling the upper end of the second sample chamber 33 must also correspondingly increase. As seen at 43 on the curve 42, this will, of course, cause corresponding increases in the pressure measurements provided by the transducer 24. As a result, a series of progressively-rising pressure indications will then be successively provided at the surface reliably signifying that connate fluids are now entering the sample chamber 33. This is, of course, a clear distinction from the prior art as shown in FIG. 2 where only a substantially constant or unvarying pressure measurement is obtained over a long period of time.

It should be noted that the pressure measurements provided by practicing the present invention will be related to the initial pressure, P,, of the gas charge 40. Thus, if the gas charge 40 has an initial pressure, P of IOO-psig, for example, movement of the piston 35 to its mid-point in the second sample chamber 33 will compress the gas charge to 200-psig. Similarly, further movement of the piston 35 to the three-quarters point in the second sample chamber 33 will redouble the pressure of the trapped gas charge 40 to 400-psig.

Although pressure changes of this order of magnitude will be readily detectable with typical pressuremeasuring transducers, as at 24, it will be appreciated that more-discernible measurements can be obtained by increasing the initial pressure, P,, of the gas charge 40. Thus, as illustrated by the curve 44 in FIG. 4, if the initial pressure of the gas charge 40 is doubled to, for example, ZOO-psig, movement of the piston 35 to the mid-point of the sample chamber 33 will raise the pressure of the gas charge to 400-psig and movement of the piston to the three-quarters point will redouble this pressure to 800-psig. These significant increases in the pressure measurements provided by the transducer 24 will, of course, be readily indicated on the recorder 16.

It should be appreciated, moreover, that since the gas charge 40 will be responding in keeping with the general gas laws, calculations can be readily made to determine the volume of connate fluids in the second sample chamber 33 at any given time. For example, as previously described, doubling of the initial pressure, P of the gas charge 40 will signify that the second sample chamber 33 is half-full and redoubling of this doubled pressure will indicate that the sample chamber is now three-fourths full. Since the volume of the sample chamber 33 is known, it can, therefore, be readily determined that a given quantity of connate fluids has entered the sample chamber when the initial pressure, P,-, of the gas charge 40 has increased by a known amount. Thus, by observing how long it has taken for the pressure of the gas charge 40 to increase from one selected value to another, a reasonably-accurate approximation can be made of the average flow rate of connate fluids entering the sample chamber 33.

To facilitate these flow rate determinations, constant flow rate curves such as shown at 4547 in FIG. 5 can be readily developed for given values of the initial charge pressure, P By use of curves such as these, a measured pressure at a given elapsed time can be readily converted to a corresponding average flow rate of connate fluids. A typical curve, as at 45, can be computed for a given pre-charge pressure, P,, by calculating the volume of the upper accessible portion of the second sample chamber 33 at each of several incremental positions of the piston 33. Then, by use of the general gas laws, the pressure of the pre-charged gas 40 at each of the incremental positions of the piston 35 can be readily determined. These figures can then be easily employed to determine how long it will take to fill the upper portion of the second chamber 33 to each incremental volume at a selected rate of flow, as at v, of connate fluids. Plotting these results as function of time versus pressure will, therefore, provide a useful family of constant flow rate curves as at 45-47.

It will be seen, therefore, that by observing the rapid changes in pressure indications provided by the pressure transducer 24, the operator will quickly learn if connate fluids are indeed entering the sample chambers 32 and 33. Moreover, as described above, a fairly accurate estimation can be made in short order as to whether the rate of fluid entrance justifies a continuation of the sampling operation.

Once a fluid sample is obtained, the tool control system 15 is operated for closing the control valve 26 so as to trap the collected sample in the chambers 32 and 33. Then, the anchor 28 and the packer 27 are retracted and the tool 10 is returned to the surface. To remove the sample from the chambers 32 and 33, a suitable collection chamber (not shown) is then coupled to the passage 38 and the valve 36 is opened. It will be appreciated, of course, that once the valve 36 is opened, the gas charge 40 will return the piston 35 to its initial position and displace the collected sample from the chambers 32 and 33. Once the sample is removed, the gas charge 40 will be reduced to its initial pressure, P,, and the piston 35 will again be in the position shown in FIG. 1. Thus, there is rarely any reason to disturb the gas charge 40 so long as it remains at its initial pressure, P,.

Accordingly, it will be appreciated that the present invention has provided new and improved methods and apparatus for obtaining samples of connate fluids from earth formations. By arranging first and second interconnected sample chambers in an otherwise typical formation-testing tool and biasing a fluid-isolating piston to an initial position in the second sample chamber with a charge of compressed gas at an initial elevated pressure, displacement of the piston further into the second sample chamber will be accomplished only by first filling the first chamber and then further compressing the trapped gas charge. A first measurement can then be made of the time required to fill the first sample chamber for determining the initial average flow rate of the connate fluids entering the tool. Since the charge of compressed gas will be further compressed in keeping with the general gas laws and the pressure of the gas charge must at all times equal the pressure of connate fluids entering the sample chamber, the resulting changes in the measured sample pressure will be representative of the movement or position of the isolating piston. Then, by using these pressure measurements, a second determination can be made of the average rate at which connate fluids, if any, are entering the sample chambers.

While only a particular embodiment of the present invention and one mode of practicing the invention have been shown and described, it is apparent that changes and modifications may be made without departing from this invention in its broader aspects; and, therefore, the aim in the appended claims is to cover all such changes and modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of this invention.

What is claimed is:

l. A method for investigating earth formations traversed by a well bore and comprising the steps of:

isolating a wall surface of said well bore adjacent to an earth formation believed to contain producible connate fluids from well bore fluids;

communicating a first empty sample chamber with said isolated wall surface for inducting a preliminary sample of connate fluids from said earth formation into said first sample chamber;

blocking the discharge of said preliminary connate fluid sample into a second empty sample chamber until said first sample chamber is filled with said preliminary connate fluid sample and the pressure thereof has increased to a predetermined pressure level;

monitoring the pressure of said preliminary connate fluid sample for obtaining a first pressure measurement indicative of said predetermined pressure level to determine when said first sample chamber is filled; and

once said first sample chamber is filled with said preliminary connate fluid sample, opening communication between said sample chambers for collecting said preliminary connate fluid sample as well as an additional sample of said connate fluids.

2. The method of claim 1 further including the additional step of:

correlating said first pressure measurement as a function of time for determining the rate at which said preliminary connate fluid sample entered said first sample chamber.

3. The method of claim 1 further including the additional steps of:

regulating the flow of said connate fluid samples as they are admitted into said second sample chamber by imposing a progressively-increasing restraining force on said connate fluid samples for correspondingly increasing the pressure of said connate fluid samples as they continue to enter said second sample chamber; and

monitoring the pressure of said connate fluid samples for obtaining at least a second pressure measurement indicative of the admission of said connate fluid samples into said second sample chamber.

4. The method of claim 3 further including the additional step of:

obtaining at least a third measurement of the pres sure of said connate fluid samples at a later time for determining from said second and third pressure measurements a function representative of the average flow rate at which said connate fluid samples are entering said second sample chamber.

5. The method of claim 3 wherein said restraining force has a predetermined initial magnitude selected for increasing the pressure of said preliminary connate fluid sample to its said predetermined pressure level before said preliminary connate fluid sample first begins to enter said second chamber so that when said first pressure measurement attains said predetermined pressure level it will indicate the initial entrance of said preliminary connate fluid sample into said second sample chamber.

6. The method of claim 5 further including the additional step of:

obtaining at least two successive additional measurements of the pressure of said connate fluid samples at different times following the initial entrance of said preliminary connate fluid sample into said second sample chamber for determining a function representative of the average flow rate at which said connate fluid samples are entering said second sample chamber.

7. The method of claim 1 wherein said restraining force has a predetermined initial magnitude selected for increasing the pressure of said preliminary connate fluid sample to its said predetermined pressure level before said preliminary connate fluid sample first begins to enter said second sample chamber so that subsequent increases in the pressure of said connate fluid samples will be at progressively-greater pressure levels than said predetermined pressure level as said connate fluid samples continue to enter said second sample chamber and further including the additional step of:

re-monitoring the pressure of said connate fluid samples for subsequently obtaining at least a second pressure measurement greater than said predeter mined pressure level indicative of the continuing entrance of said connate fluid samples into said second sample chamber.

8. The method of claim 7 further including the additional step of:

correlating said first and second pressure measurements as a function of time for determining the average flow rate at which said connate fluid samples are then entering said second sample chamber. 9. A method for investigating earth formations traversed by a well bore and comprising the steps of:

isolating a wall surface of said well bore adjacent to an earth formation believed to contain producible connate fluids from well bore fluids;

communicating said isolated wall surface with a first empty sample chamber having a selected fixed capacity for inducting a first sample of connate fluids from said earth formation into said first sample chamber;

imposing a restraining back pressure of a selected ini tial magnitude within said first sample chamber for preventing the release of said first sample of connate fluids from said first chamber into an expandable second empty sample chamber adapted to be expanded from an initial limited capacity to a selected maximum capacity until said first sample of connate fluids has filled said first sample chamber and is at a selected pressure sufficient to overcome said initial restraining back pressure;

monitoring the pressure of said first sample of connate fluids for determining when said first sample of connate fluids reaches said selected pressure to provide a first indication at the surface that said first sample of connate fluids has been released into said second sample chamber and a second sample of connate fluids is beginning to enter said first sample chamber;

progressively increasing said restraining back pressure after said first sample of connate fluids has been released into said second. sample chamber for correspondingly increasing the pressure of said connate fluid samples as said second sample chamber is expanded from its said initial capacity toward its said maximum capacity; and

re-monitoring the pressure of said connate fluid samples for determining when said connate fluid sam' ples exceed said selected pressure to provide a second indication at the surface that said connate fluid samples are continuing to enter said first and second sample chambers.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein said initial capacity of said second sample chamber is negligible in relation to its said maximum capacity.

11. The method of claim 9 wherein said fixed capacity of said first sample chamber is less than said maximum capacity of said second sample chamber and said initial capacity of said second sample chamber is negligible in relation to its said maximum capacity.

12. The method of claim 9 further including the additional steps of:

after said connate fluid sample reaches said selected pressure, obtaining at least two successive measurements of the pressure of said connate fluid samples at spaced time intervals; and

correlating said successive pressure measurements for determining a function representative of the average flow rate at which said connate fluid samples are then entering said first and second sample chambers.

13. The method of claim 9 wherein said restraining back pressure is imposed within said first sample chamber by disposing a movable piston member in said second sample chamber for dividing said second sample chamber into an accessible sample-receiving portion adapted to be expanded from said initial capacity to said maximum capacity upon movement of said piston member into said sample chamber as well as an enclosed portion adapted to be contracted upon movement of said piston member into said sample chamber, and filling said enclosed chamber portion with a pressured compressible gas for imposing said restraining back pressure against said piston member.

14. The method of claim 13 wherein said compressible gas has a predetermined initial pressure which will increase in accordance with the general gas laws as said first sample of connate fluids first begins to enter said enclosed chamber portion so that the continued entrance therein of said samples of connate fluids will progressively increase the pressure of said samples of connate fluids as said compressible gas is further compressed above said restraining back pressure by movement of said piston member into said second sample chamber.

15. Formation-testing apparatus adapted for suspension in a well bore traversing earth formations and comprising:

a body having a first fluid passage adapted to receive connate fluids;

fluid-admitting means on said body and adapted to be selectively engaged with a well bore wall for isolating a portion thereof from well bore fluids;

means on said body and selectively operable for positioning said fluid-admitting means against a well bore wall to establish communication with connate fluids in earth formations therebeyond;

sample-collecting means on said body and including a first sample chamber, means selectively operable for coupling said fluid passage to said first sample chamber to receive connate fluids entering said fluid-admitting means, a second sample chamber, and a second fluid passage adapted for communicating said first sample chamber with said second sample chamber;

pressure-measuring means including a pressure transducer on said body adapted for providing indications at the surface representative of the pressure of connate fluids entering said sample chambers; and

flow-regulating means cooperatively associated with said sample chambers and adapted for initially blocking passage of connate fluids from said first sample chamber through said second fluid passage into said second sample chamber until connate fluids in said first sample chamber attain an initial predetermined back pressure and thereafter imposing a progressively increasing back pressure on such connate fluids being released from said first sample chamber into said second sample chamber which is proportional to the volume of connate fluids contained in said second sample chamber.

16. The formation-testing apparatus of claim 15 wherein said flow-regulating means are comprised of:

a piston member movably disposed within said second sample chamber for dividing said second sam ple chamber into a first sample-receiving portion adapted to be expanded from an initial minimum capacity to a maximum capacity upon movement of said piston member into said second sample chamber as well as a second enclosed portion adapted to be contracted upon movement of said piston chamber; and

a pressured compressible gas in said second chamber portion imposing an initial selected restraining.

pressure against said piston member for restraining movement thereof until connate fluids in said first sample chamber attain said initial back pressure and thereafter imposing a progressively increasing restraining pressure against said piston member in keeping with the general gas laws as connate fluids enter said first chamber portion of said second sample chamber.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification73/152.24, 73/152.51, 73/152.29
International ClassificationE21B49/00, E21B49/10
Cooperative ClassificationE21B49/10
European ClassificationE21B49/10
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Oct 9, 1990ASAssignment
Owner name: FOODCRAFT EQUIPMENT COMPANY, INC., PENNSYLVANIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:BIG DUTCHMAN, A PA GENERAL PARTNERSHIP;REEL/FRAME:005465/0508
Effective date: 19900727
Oct 9, 1990AS02Assignment of assignor's interest
Owner name: BIG DUTCHMAN, A PA GENERAL PARTNERSHIP
Effective date: 19900727
Owner name: FOODCRAFT EQUIPMENT COMPANY, INC., 53 INDUSTRIAL C