The oil isotope lab runs around 4,000 analyses of oil and hydrocarbon extracts every year, which - in conjunction with the other components of their standard oil analysis work - allows Dr. Barrie’s team to properly understand variations in the source, history and maturity of oils from specific basins. As such, they required a solution that allowed them to run those samples quickly, effectively and to the high precision needed to provide clients with the solutions to their problems.
Elementar’s PetrovisION was able to deliver on this goal through a combination of its user-friendly interface and intuitive instrumentation, as well as the added value of being able to run sulfur isotopes on the whole oil through the elemental analyzer. The latter is relatively uncommon and is achieved through the use of continuous flow technology, which eliminates the time-intensive requirements of other techniques.
Since investing in this new Elementar technology, GeoMark has been able to deliver new insights into the workings of petroleum systems and basins, with carbon isotope results from the oils and extracts from many of these systems proving valuable as being diagnostic of specific oil sources and mixing relationships. This has, for example, helped the team to distinguish between the various sources of the Bakken oils of the Williston Basin spanning the US and Canada, the Caney shale-sourced oils of the Anadarko Basin, and the Second White Speck-sourced oils of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin.
Dr. Barrie said the lab also sees future IRMS expansion opportunities, with water (O and H) isotopes being one avenue. These analyses would aid the assessment of produced waters and how those signatures can tie into production unit connectivity over time, an important consideration in unconventional petroleum systems.
Commenting on the lab’s experiences since purchasing its newest Elementar system, Dr. Barrie said:
GeoMark has been using Elementar IRMS instruments for a number of decades now, so it only made sense for the company to continue that relationship when we decided to purchase new IRMS equipment to expand our capabilities into oil samples.
The trap in the elemental analyzer is hugely beneficial, allowing us to analyze the sulfur isotope signature of oils, given that in many samples this content is less than 0.5%. That, in combination with the ability to alter the dilution amounts and set tuning for specific workflows, allows us to maximize very easily the range of sample materials that we can look at as standard.