3D BHR for more efficient tracking of tailings in ponds

An unavoidable by-product in certain mining and drilling operations is the generation of tailings, sometimes referred to as fine fluid tailings (FFT’s). These FFT’s are held in subsurface ponds until the complete reclamation process can be completed. The careful disposal of tailings is arguably the most sensitive environmental issue for any mining or drilling operation, especially in the oil sands. Typically, individual mining and drilling operations have developed strict standards to prevent or minimize any environmental damage.

FFT’s are composed of sand, silt, clay and water that often remain after oil sand extraction. The FFT’s have the tendency to aggregate in ponds and need to be reclaimed for environmental integrity. Location, migration and dispersion of these FFT ponds are key processes that need to be constrained in the mitigation of FFT’s. The path from FFT generation at SAGD production to location of pond accumulation determines where to reclaim the remnants.  

T&A Survey’s 3D Borehole Radar (BHR) is able to image migrating and accumulating bodies of fluid. With its patented directional imaging technique, the 3D BHR images the full 3D volume around a borehole. Accurate 3D dips of fractures or fluid migration plains can be distinguished, making it possible to account for the full dispersion of tailings. 3D dimensions of an accumulated tailings pond can be determined as well.  

The imaging capabilities of the BHR set it apart from dedicated MWD tools that do logging and automated interpretation only. Full radargrams with reflections and transmissions provide a complete image around the borehole, including adjacent wellbores, pre-existing/induced fractures and tailings. In terms of monitoring, steam/water fronts and oil presence/displacement can be differentiated from the background and traced in their movement. This can be considered the dynamic part of oil presence or remnants thereof. The static part of oil presence is measured by the BHR as logging tool, through electrical attenuation in radar reflection and transmission. From the attenuation, reservoir resistivity/conductivity is logged indicating resistive oil-volumes. These benefits are materialized in more accurate monitoring at the seepage monitoring zones within the storage ponds. In this way there is greater assurance that seepage collection data is accurate and valid.  

Please contact T&A to learn more about our 3D Borehole Radar innovative technology and how it might fit with your current suite of investigatory tools.