And if you want to make your money to talk faster, louder and
longer, take a look at who's listening — especially those of you
who need funding for your next project.
And then take a look at today's newest technology.
That's the advice of Bill Keach, a research geophysicist with
Landmark Graphics, who was the keynote speaker at the recent 3-D
Seismic Symposium sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Association of
Geologists, an annual one-day event in Denver that draws geologists
from around the country.
Keach said that geologists can make better economic decisions
by combining 3-D seismic data with reservoir simulation — and he
added that now more than ever, geologists need to compete for capital
from the market and from other industries.
"Every process must improve technology," he said. "We've replaced
the head count in the industry with better technology and a better
With technological data, he reasoned, geologists can dismiss bad
well prospects faster while keeping the good ones.
Of course, Keach's message is old news to many young interpreters,
many of whom already appear enthusiastic about digitized data.
But many "older ones" tend to still work with paper — sometimes
With digitized data, Keach said, geologists can do better science
in a shorter time to make a better economic decision.
He noted that about 60 percent of the human brain is devoted to
the visual process — a big impact on the use of 3-D visualization,
Keach noted that accurate reservoir characterization and delineation
are critical to the success of a project.
"Recent advances in seismic resolution mean that seismic data
can be used to directly estimate reservoir properties," he said.
At the same time, rapid advances in software and hardware development
have enabled new work flows for geoscientists. In fact, the traditional
interpretation methods of line by line picking can be bypassed altogether,
Examples of Success
Nick Purday, Keach's Landmark Graphics colleague, described a
case study of a Devonian Reef play in the Western Canadian Sedimentary
Basin to the group.
He said a company had analyzed a reservoir to locate oil and gas
deposits, where there were approximately 162 million barrels of
oil and gas in place in this field.
The company merged its 3-D data with well data.
"Now they are able to image porosity on the seismic data," he
said. "They went back to the original well data and built cross
sections throughout the entire field."
With all this data, they were able to build up quite a complex
picture to help understand the risks they faced, he said.
Purday showed the group a slide presentation of the reef structure
and encouraged them to view it as if it were an Excel spreadsheet;
he noted that geocellular models can look great but they don't really
prove anything until they are put through a simulation.
Best yet, the cost of integration for this project was insignificant
compared to the data acquisition and the value generated, he said.
A second case study included a field with several big faults and
a large gas cap. The field contained more than 100 million barrels
of oil and had been inactive for 20 years. However, there was no
gas market in this particular part of the world.
"The challenge was to drill horizontal wells into the oil leg
so that wells do not cone out," he said. "They must be accurately
The operator needed to build a detailed geometric model to see
where the oil legs were, he said, and it did so by combining 3-D
seismic and good well data.
"The result was that every well was successful," he said, "and
all wells were within a five-feet prediction."
This type of successful well planning eliminated costly sidetracks,
Keach said, and resulted in an efficient and profitable production.
In a third study, scientists built a geocellular reservoir model
to determine if a horizontal or a vertical well would be more practical.
A geologic model can be tested through reservoir simulation to
test multiple drilling and economic scenarios, he said — and combining
simulations is exactly what allows geologists to use science to
make better business decisions.
And that helps those with the money to hear so much better.