rock whispering to the sweet spot

August 6, 2015 – Over the last several years, Chevron's Energy Technology Company (ETC) has been researching tools to help identify core productive areas earlier to reduce drilling costs and cycle time, and improve well performance. This year, ETC found a solution.

The Rock Whisperer

The rock whisperer, which looks like a hand-held scanner, works by displacing electrons in the rock's structure, causing them to release energy characteristic of specific elements.

The new tool, dubbed the "rock whisperer," is a portable X-ray device used in the metal ore and other industries. It resembles a hand-held scanner like those used in grocery stores, but instead of reading barcodes on food products, the rock whisperer measures 34 different element concentrations in rock. The device works without destroying or altering rock structure and provides real-time results to operators.

The rock whisperer works through X-ray fluorescence, a process that displaces electrons from their usual atomic positions, causing them to release a burst of energy characteristic of specific elements. Although the fluorescence process occurs nearly instantaneously, the time required for results takes about 90 seconds.

The traditional method of analyzing rock properties involves sending samples to an independent laboratory and receiving results as much as two months later. Typically, samples are not usable after testing, so operators need to provide more samples if further analysis is necessary.

Chevron plans to leverage this commercially available tool to deliver real-time results that, when combined with Chevron's other data sets, can result in faster business decisions—such as deciding where to drill or whether to pursue a lease block.


Updated: August 2015