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An operator in the Permian Basin had drilled a pilot hole in the Wolfcamp field and needed to complete an evaluation to determine the locations to land two 2-mile (3,219 m) laterals. The company required the laterals to land in the optimum pay zones for oil and gas production. There was only a 24-hour window to complete the evaluation project before lateral drilling commenced.

The Volatiles Analysis Service (VAS) reservoir characterization from Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE), was selected to have the best opportunity for success. VAS provides a cost-effective, non-invasive formation evaluation log generated from drill cuttings or core plugs to identify pay intervals and characterize hydrocarbon zones. Using the “sealed-at-the-well” shale cuttings, VAS would be able to identify the optimum pay zone and assess the estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) of oil in the field.

Estimates of EUR and mechanical strength were needed for the entire Wolfcamp formation on a sampling density of 10 ft (3 m). Samples of drilled cuttings had to be captured at the wellsite, shipped directly from Midland, Texas to the VAS lab in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and analyzed the same day. Within 4 hours of project approval, a VAS-trained team from BHGE was dispatched to the site with the necessary equipment and supplies. The required 200 cuttings samples were carefully captured and immediately sealed in VAS-specific tubes for delivery the same day via commercial airlines. Using this process, the analyses and interpretations were completed and recommendations delivered within 24 hours of reaching total depth (TD).

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Challenges & Results


  • Two 2-mile (3,219 m) laterals required in optimal pay zone
  • Completion of evaluation within 24 hours


  • 200 high-quality cuttings samples obtained at the wellsite, which helped determine optimal lateral landings
  • Daily samples acquired and analyzed within 24-hour period
  • EUR prediction from VAS closely resembled the revised EUR from operator’s post-production, validating the VAS evaluation