Utilizing Laser Spectroscopy of
Noble Gas Tracers for Mapping
Oil and Gas Deposits
Project ID No.: NPRP30-6-7-35
Name of Lead PI: Hans A. Schuessler
Name of Contact PI: Milivoj Belic
Texas A&M University (Doha, Qatar and College Station, TX)
We thank the Qatar Foundation and the
Qatar National Research Fund
Founded by His highness the Emir Sheikh
Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani
Chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint
Directed by Dr. Abdul Sattar Al-Taie
for this research opportunity and the funds
1. Aims of the project and approach
2. Work done at TAMU, CS Texas: main results
4. Work done at TAMU, Doha
•Preparations for investigations of the oil reservoir
•Selection of a postdoc for continuous work at
•Established additional collaborations on the
project with three TAMUQ [Petroleum
Engineering(2), Mathematics(2)] Professors.
3. Next steps:
• Shipment of the new setup, improvement of
sensitivity with a mass separator.
• Tracer injections into a well and purification
of the recovered gas samples
5. Organizational issues
6. Present status of the project and time table.
Aims of the project and approach
Noble gases are being used as tracers to measure the
structure of gas and oil deposits. Due to their chemical
inertness, they offer the advantage that they do not react with
the environment with which they are in contact. In standard
commercial applications long lived isotopes and nuclear decay
counting are being used. Our research will employ stable
isotopes, which are environmentally accepted.
The novelty in our present approach is that it uses optical
detection for noble gases. In particular for krypton (Kr) it relies in
using several narrow banded (1 MHz) cw-lasers to excite the
rare isotope ions (signal ions) to a high Rydberg level, followed
by field ionization and energy discrimination for their detection.
We showed that this scheme can be implemented with about
20% total efficiency for 85Kr; it works equally well for all the
stable Kr and other noble gas isotopes.
•A need to analyze well gas samples from the
Northfield (Dr. Fahes) for rare noble gas isotopes.
•Tracer techniques are relatively cheap and
informative for reservoir structure characterization.
•Allows fast diagnostics of gas/water breakthroughs
and plug off efficiency by detecting the migration
velocity of the tracers.
•The total selectivity is made up as the product of
selectivities of the mass separator and of the two
laser excitation steps namely
Stotal = Smass separator • Slaser1 • Slaser2 = 10-3 • 10-4 •
10-4 = 10-11
Comparison of main detection techniques
Nuclear decay •Standard tracer technique in the petroleum industry to
detection assess size, porosity, connectivity and other important
properties of a reservoir
•Inject 20 to 40 Curie of 85Kr into a central well
•Using decay counting measure the speed and extend of
spike migration by sampling surrounding wells
•In a large fields nuclear decay counting runs out of
sensitivity due to diifusion
Optical detection •About 3 orders of magnitude more sensitive [proven
by our on-line work at RIKEN (Japan), TRIUMF
(Canada), Oak Ridge National Lab (USA)]
•Possible use of rare stable isotopes (Kr, Ar, etc.)
•No safe guarding for nuclear polution
•Large amounts of tracer gas can be safely injected
•Availability of several tracer gases provides the
opportunity for detailed reservoir characterization.
Laser spectroscopy parameters
in nuclear physics
Optical absorption cross section s = l2 = 10-10 cm2 = 1014 barn
Useful target thickness d = 1010 atoms/cm3 = 1 pg/cm3
Intensity of photon beam I = 1019 photons/cm2 sec
(ring dye laser 1 W/cm2)
Excitation rate per atom R = s x I = 109 photons/sec
Qatari North Field
Work done at TAMU, CS Texas
•Publication: paper at the International Laser
Probing (LAP 2008) conference. It summarizes the
main results and indicates the plan to employ the
technique at the Qatari North Field.
•Preparations for the next step: work with reservoir
gas samples, stable noble gas reservoir injections
and purification (Drs. Schutz and Thonnard),
planning for improvement of sensitivity with a mass
separator (Dr. Wollnik).
•Work by Dr. Jinhai Chen (postdoc): construction of
the initial apparatus and testing of the vacuum
chambers and the beam line setup before shipment
Laser Probing 2008 conference, Nagoya, Japan
Laser Probing 2008 conference, Nagoya, Japan
TAMU collinear fast beam apparatus
} ~ 140 cm
488 nm (fixed)
811 nm (tracked)
The Excitation Scheme (beam energy 5~12 eV)
Cs cell CI FI
Lasers Interaction region Energy Filter
Mass Resolution Collisional Ionization Energy Filter
Xe+ R=m/Dm250 Ar FI
0 40 80 120 1.40 1.45 1.50 1.55 1.60 1.65
B Field Gas (mT) Voltage (×100 V)
TAMU-Qatar fast beam line
Source and open beamline
segments showing the bending
capacitors and the quadrupole
triplet. The bending capacitors
are for overlapping the ion
beam on axis with the laser
beam. The quadrupole triplet is
to remove possible astigmatism
and also serves as one of the
focusing elements for the ion
beam (does not contain a
magnet for mass separation
and field ionization region).
Preliminary ray trace
results for the Wollnik type
mass separator in the
stigmatic imaging mode:
(a) beam distribution in the
x,y and z directions,
(b) beam cross sections.
Prof. Milivoj Belic (contact PI)
• Senior Associate Professor TAMU-Qatar
• Provides mathematical and computer
• Expert in nonlinear optics and optical
• He introduced the existence of counter-
propagating two-dimensional vector solitons
and bidirectional waveguides in SBN crystals.
• Kummer solitons in strongly nonlocal
Prof. Dr. Hermann Wollnik
Director of the magnet laboratory at the
University of Giessen, Germany
World-expert in mass separators and
spectrometers, charged particles
motion in fields.
Author of a famous monograph: Optics of
charged particles by H. Wollnik, Academic
Press, New York, London, 1987.
Dr. Norbert Thonnard
Director, Institute for Rare Isotope Measurements, and Research Professor,
Departments of Geological Sciences, and Physics and Astronomy at the University
The Institute for Rare Isotopes Measurements (IRIM) explores extremely
sensitive analytical techniques using multiple lasers that make the detection of
only a few atoms in a sample feasible.
Collaborations with researchers word-wide to studies of very old groundwater,
contaminant transport and modern groundwater recharge, age-dating of polar ice
sheets, and to studies of isotopic signatures in minute mineral grains in meteorites
and presolar dust grains to understand the formation and early history of our solar
Dr. Thonnard measured the 81Kr concentration in groundwater to better
understand the flow, recharge and potential for contaminant incursion in a major
regional aquifer system. The many instruments in his laboratory include four mass
spectrometers, two multi-wavelength laser systems, water and gas processing
systems, and lots of vacuum and electronic systems.
Particular interest for the current work presents expertise of Dr. Thonnard
in purification of gas and oil samples with tracer isotopes.
Dr. Schutz (collaborator and
Donald F. Schutz, Ph.D., consultant for the project
President of the Geonuclear Inc., Former President of the Teledyne Inc.
Dr. Schutz received his doctorate in Geology & Geophysics from Yale
University in 1964.
Dr. Schutz joined Isotopes, Inc. which later became Teledyne Isotopes
and thenTeledyne Brown Engineering - Environmental Services.
He performed field and laboratory work, which led to the use of
radioisotopes as tracers in oil field operations.
In 1975 Dr. Schutz became president of the company and chaired the
Radiation Safety Committee until 1998. Iin 1999 Dr. Schutz started
Geonuclear, Inc. In April 2000 Geonuclear acquired portions of the Mass
Spectrometry Services product line from Teledyne and added it to other
on-going work with TLD dosimetry systems and petroleum tracers.
Participated in large scale studies of oil reservoirs with traceer gas
analysis (Mexico, Dubai, North slope of Alaska).
Prof. Dr. Klaus D.A. Wendt
(collaborator who can also send students
from Germany to TAMUQ)
Director of the Laser Resonance Ionization Spectroscopy for Selective
Trace Analysis (LARISSA) laboratory, Institute of Physics
Johannes Gutenberg-Universitat, Mainz, Germany
Renowned expert in Resonance Ionization Spectroscopy, High
Resolution Laser-Mass Spectrometry,
Ultra Trace Isotope Determination in Environmental, Bio-Medical,
Fundamental Research and Applications.
The major future stages of the project
Spring 2008: The PI (Schuessler) and TAMU coop Industrial Engineering student Ricardo
Nava are at TAMU Qatar to install the first half of the collinear fast beam apparatus, which
is ready for shipping to Doha. Professor Fahes has reservoir gas which is evaluated fo
rare noble gas isotopes for possible tracer use. Professor Nasrabadi uses his expertise
to simulate tracer prorogation in a reservoir. Professor Rudolph Lorentz applies data
computations and numerical solutions procedures to solving reservoir simulations with
differential equations. Professor Samia Jones contributes to statistics and data evaluation.
June-December 2009: A postdoc under supervision of the PI and Profs. Fahes and
Nasrabadi will will further develop the collinear fast beam apparatus and work with it
based on the equipment that was already setup.
February to May 2010: By this time and the field ionization part of the collinear fast beam
apparatus has also been completed in the TAMU machine shop and has been shipped to
Doha by TAMU. The field ionization and energy discrimination stages will be added. Also a
simple laser system will be operational.
June to December 2010: We will order the remaining equipment items to be shipped
directly to Doha. They will be installed into the analytical instrument. The collaborating
professors, postdoctoral researchers, and students will start to use the system to process
tracer samples at TAMU-Qatar.
Floor plan with the laboratory location
½ of the Lab
Documents for ion beam setup shipment
Dr. Tarek Ali Mohamed Hassan:
2003 Ph. D. in Atomic Physics, Sweden, Stockholm University, Atomic
Physics Department. 2001
Licentiate degree in Atomic Physics, Sweden, Stockholm University, Atomic
1996 M. Sc. in Experimental Physics, Cairo University.
1990 B. Sc. in Physics, Cairo University, First Class Honors.
Education and employment
1- Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Physical and Chemical Research
(RIKEN), Atomic Physics Laboratory, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako-Shi, Saitama 351-
0198, Tokyo, Japan, from 20/1/2005 till now.
2- Postdoctoral Fellow, Laser Cooling Group, Physics Department, National
Chung Cheng University, Taiwan from 8/7/2004 till 12/01/2005.
3- Assistant Professor, Cairo University, Beni-Suef Faculty of Science,
Physics Department, Egypt from 1/7/2003 to 5/7/2004.
4- Ph. D. student, Stockholm University, Atomic Physics Department,
Sweden, Supervisor Prof. R. Schuch, from 24/5/1999 to 2/6/2003.
5- Teaching Assistant, Cairo University, Beni-Suef Faculty of Science, Egypt
from 23/4/1996 to 23/5/1999.
6- Instructor and Researcher in Physics, Cairo University, Beni-Suef Faculty
of Science, Egypt from 3/10/1990 to 23/4/1996.
Tarek BS sertificate
TAMU-Qatar Co-PI and
• Professor Milivoj Belic, Physics (Contact
• Professor Mashhad Fahes, Petroleum
• Professor Hadi Nasrabadi, Petroleum
• Professor Rudolph Lorentz, Mathematics
• Professor Samia Jones, Mathematics
•One complete general setup is available at
TAMU, College Station, Texas. It is being used to
prepare studies on new elements before on-line
work at nuclear accelerators is carried out.
•A second dedicated setup for oil and gas reservoir
studies is being prepared and part of it has been completed
and is ready for shipment to TAMUQ.
•Vacuum equipment has been ordered.
•Obtain permission and funds for shipping the initial part of the
•Work within the approved budget and find yearly support for a
postdoc staying at Doha (possibly for the whole year).
•The PI is at TAMUQ for research and teaching until May 2009.
He is accompanied by an undergraduate student (Ricardo
Nava, Industrial Engineering). Ricardo will setup the initial
apparatus as his co-op project. The PI will come back to Doha
TAMUQ later this year and plans to work with a postdoc (to be
Tarek BS seriticate - arabic
Schematic of the fast ion beam
apparatus for rare isotope
Teledyne sample Reactor sample Diluted (1/5) Reactor sample
40k 800 3k
Counts per 10 seconds
Counts per 0.3 sec
Counts per 2 sec
Beam Energy Beam Energy Beam Energy
Sample Teledyne Reactor Diluted Reactor
Expt. 4.0E-6 9.3E-9 1.8E-9
From activity 1.9E-6 1.6E-8 3.2E-9
Results of concentration measurements on various samples
ISAC collinear fast beam laser
RF ion guide setup