Geosteering For Well Placement Efficiency

To be successful in the oil industry, producers often need more than intelligence and talent. They need the courage to take risks.

Look at The Woodlands-based Vitruvian Exploration II LLC, for example.

The company acquired about 38,500 contiguous acres in the Woodford South Central Oklahoma Oil Province (SCOOP) shale play in December 2012.

The leased area is in the highly concentrated liquids-rich window of the play, according to Vitruvian president and CEO Richard Lane. He noted the SCOOP area has excellent reservoir rock, so it comes as no surprise when he says the reserves potential is estimated to be 558 MMboe.

The acquisition included about 350 producing vertical wells.

The real challenge lay ahead, though.

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To be successful in the oil industry, producers often need more than intelligence and talent. They need the courage to take risks.

Look at The Woodlands-based Vitruvian Exploration II LLC, for example.

The company acquired about 38,500 contiguous acres in the Woodford South Central Oklahoma Oil Province (SCOOP) shale play in December 2012.

The leased area is in the highly concentrated liquids-rich window of the play, according to Vitruvian president and CEO Richard Lane. He noted the SCOOP area has excellent reservoir rock, so it comes as no surprise when he says the reserves potential is estimated to be 558 MMboe.

The acquisition included about 350 producing vertical wells.

The real challenge lay ahead, though.

Steep Learning Curve

This is unconventional reservoir rock, which generally demands horizontal drilling technology in order to reach its production potential.

The proverbial fly in the ointment was that Vitruvian had no horizontal drilling experience in the deep Anadarko basin, although its staff members had gained expertise in laterals elsewhere.

And in the oil patch, the clock is always ticking loudly.

“We had six months between closing the acquisition and getting the first rig to figure out as much as we could about drilling in the (principally late Devonian-age) Woodford,” said Vitruvian staff geologist Shannon Lemke.

“The acquisition included interest and data in 27 horizontal Woodford wells drilled by three different operators,” she noted. “The data includes both MWD, gamma ray data and also the surveys for each horizontal well drilled.”

Using 40 type logs, the Vitruvian team developed a stratigraphic correlation across the basin so they could split up the Woodford into nine different units. Prior to embarking on their own drilling program, the geoscience team used this framework to build a geosteering database and analyze which Woodford intervals were being targeted by other operators.

Multi-Purpose Geosteering

Although commonly viewed as a means to keep the drill bit on course while traversing the laterals, geosteering also can be used for regional evaluation and optimization of specific target intervals when embarking on a play.

Vitruvian uses a geosteering program from Stoner engineering called SES.

“Using a type log, a survey and gamma ray data, we’re able to geosteer each of the wells and determine at any point along the wellbore what part of our stratigraphic framework those wells fit into,” Lemke said.

In other words, by utilizing collected data and the software program, post-drill geosteering can be used to determine exactly where a well landed no matter the operator.

“This is what we had to do with the data to get ready to drill our own wells, understanding where all of the offset operators are targeting the Woodford,” Lemke said.

Beginning in mid-2014, rate of penetration (ROP) data were integrated with the geosteering data as a means to identify and target Woodford zones of high reservoir quality having more favorable ROP.

“We can see zones that clearly drill faster than others and see how our ROP averages in our wells versus the competition,” Lemke noted. “If it’s not sufficient, we can tell the drilling department and give them the data.”

Oklahoma is especially attractive for operators given that owning any interest in a section means you’re in a well when it’s drilled. Even minuscule land ownership means the company owns a piece of the action.

“We get all the data in every well we participate in, no matter how small our interest,” Lemke emphasized.

Even though actually buying the data via participation, the price tag tends to pale in comparison to the value.

When queried as to the wisdom of running four rigs currently, Lemke noted they are hedged for now.

Since Vitruvian began its SCOOP activity, it already has completed 25 company-operated Woodford wells and continues assimilating knowledge on how best to optimize each new well in this area where differences are the rule rather than the exception.

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