Collaboration between the disciplines of geoscience, engineering, and real-time microseismic monitoring improves exploration success.

In the slim-margin world of unconventional resource plays, optimization is critical. With operators investing roughly US $150 billion to drill and complete wells this year, according to “Drilling Contractor,” operators face the realization that as many as one-quarter of their fracturing jobs will fail to meet performance objectives. This risk is an expensive lesson for an industry that prides itself on effective asset management.
FIGURE 1. CRYSTAL combines microseismic interpretation, hydrofrac data, and geomodel predictions to enhance real-time decision-making. (Images courtesy of SigmaIntegrated Reservoir Solutions)

Lower field performance is more than a suboptimal return on opex and capex. It highlights significant gaps in the ability of some oil companies to answer key questions about their reservoirs. E&P companies operating onshore in the US plan to drill approximately 35,000 wells this year, according to Simmons & Co., with up to 40 stages per well.

“With an average cost per stage of $150,000 to $200,000, technology that eliminates the need for just 10% of those stages would save the industry $630 million in one year,” Jorge Machnizh, SIGMACEO, said. “We are helping clients leverage imaging and fracturing technologies to capture these savings and simultaneously achieve greater levels of EUR [estimated ultimate recovery] for their wells.” Integrated solutions can give companies confidence about where to drill, where and how to fracture and complete, and where to invest next by helping address critical questions such as:

What areas will be the most productive and profitable?
How do we drill the fewest wells and leverage their trajectories to make the most of reservoir properties, including geomechanical attributes such as brittleness and features like natural fractures?
How do we design wells that best connect natural and induced fractures with the least number of hydrofrac stages? and
What hydrofracturing engineering and completion techniques will maximize our production and return on investment?

Key to this effort is a real-time dynamic earth modeling (RTDM) workflow that integrates real-time completions data and microseismic event visualization in tandem with geologic modeling and field-scale reservoir property predictions to optimize drilling and completion programs (Figure 1). “Geoengineering workflows must be tuned to integrate and interpret large volumes of valuable data from the field and to deliver operationally useful feedback in a meaningful timeframe,” Machnizh said. “Optimal performance can only be achieved through the use of an integrated subsurface model that can be updated just in time to enable critical decision-making. RTDM workflows combine real-time field data with 3-D reservoir modeling and visualization. They provide users with access to predictive information about key operational issues including geosteering, hazard avoidance, and frac stimulation performance.”

FIGURE 2. The map on the left shows cumulative Niobrara production, while the map on the right shows the probability of 25,000 bbl cumulative.

Engineers strive for optimization. Unfortunately, current industry tools make it difficult or impossible to analyze the massive amounts and variety of data types that impact well performance and successful field management. SIGMAhas created a single unified platform that was designed specifically for engineering collaboration. This platform facilitates collaboration between traditional silos. Silos impact organizations by preventing proper data management and communication between geoscientists and engineers (and even among different engineering teams). This can lead to project delays and lost opportunities. To remove these barriers, Sigmacombined software development tools with a cloud-based architecture. With the platform’s focus on simplicity, field engineers, asset managers, and geophysicists can perform quick evaluations of drilling, completion, and production data (Figure 2). And with a platform built around around the concept of real-time collaboration, office- and field-based teams are able to share key insights and capture value from every opportunity.

The suite makes it easy to access, analyze, and assimilate vast amounts of disconnected geoscience and engineering data. The result is a toolkit built specifically for unconventional shale resource development with its requirements for real-time interactive decision-making and longer term analysis and optimization. A GIS interfaces directly with reservoir models, wellbore schematics, and microseismic data in the same work space. Temporal data like net pressure or microseismic events can be displayed in an intuitive way. And completion designs can be corroborated using predictive data analytics from nearby wells.

Data integration
SIGMAalso is releasing its latest version of CRYSTAL, an expert-level platform for geophysicists and modelers. This provides the tools necessary to convert 2-D and 3-D seismic data into high-resolution reservoir models useful for field management. When 3-D seismic data are available, the workflows provide valuable information about reservoir quality and hydrofracture effectiveness as well as information about stratigraphy and reservoir architecture. When quality 3-D seismic data are not available, new time- and cost-efficient technologies such as borehole seismic imaging and wellbore trajectory imaging are able to provide high-resolution near-well images to support real-time operations.

The platform allows users to perform detailed well ties using highly deviated or horizontal wells, build complex structural frameworks, calculate volumetric curvature to image faults and fracture networks, and run stratigraphy-constrained deterministic and stochastic inversions to predict reservoir properties and hydrocarbon placement (Figure 3). Each of these technologies is linked to a common platform so that completion and drilling engineers, asset managers, geoscientists, and others can share data in real time with full transparency.

FIGURE 3. The integration of ThinMAN inversion for resolution enhancement with powerful volumetric curvature analysis provides enhanced detail of folding, faulting, and fracturing.

Invest where it counts
Oil and gas companies cannot afford to operate in traditional silos. The only way to succeed in low-margin unconventional plays is to truly integrate geoscience and engineering teams. The use of innovativefrac and completions experience and sophisticated microseismic acquisition, processing, and interpretation techniques, along with true collaboration, provide the bridge to taking things to a new level of accuracy and return on investment.