How Visualization Is Changing Petroleum Planning and Analysis

Worker inspecting an oil well.

Data visualization over a wide array of spatio-temporal integrated data is dramatically changing the approach to hydrocarbon discovery, planning and analysis. The CoViz 4D software from Dynamic Graphics is at the forefront of getting subsurface resources up to the wellhead and into the tank.

The ability to visualize data that characterize a wide array of subsurface conditions and environments, including geology, lithology, geophysics, wellbores, casings, completions, oil, gas, water, and production data is dramatically changing the way engineers approach petroleum planning and analysis. Beginning with initial seismic surveys and building an archive of data generated throughout the life of the reservoir, data visualization is enabling petroleum engineers to analyze evolving reservoir conditions and make better quality decisions regarding the development and operations of hydrocarbon assets.

Visualization Increases the Value of Reservoir Data

Innovations in nearly every area of the petroleum industry are producing greater volumes and variety of data, from seismic surveys to reservoir simulations to real-time monitoring of drilling to daily production metrics. When all of these datasets are integrated and visualized in a common, collaborative environment, they attain even greater value, by allowing every member of a reservoir management team to:

  • Understand an individual dataset in context of other datasets that describe reservoir characteristics and conditions.
  • Apply a rich set of analytical tools to explore, compare, and correlate dependencies among the data.
  • Monitor the evolution of a reservoir to understand how past decisions have impacted performance.
A detailed understanding of reservoir data visualized in a collaborative environment supports better analysis and planning.

Create and Update Reservoir Simulation Models

By combining and visualizing relevant geologic data, geophysicists and reservoir engineers can create detailed geological models to gain a better understanding of the complexities of subsurface structural formations. To this data, reservoir teams apply powerful workflows—from flow and saturation to petroelastic to synthetic seismic—to create synthetic seismic volumes for initial reservoir simulation models characterizing oil saturation, porosity, and permeability.
Geophysical models and reservoir simulation models can also provide insight into the lithology, facies, formation pressures, and other factors critical to developing drilling plans (such as optimal well spacing) designed to maximize reservoir recovery.
In established fields, the same visualization and analytic tools allow engineers to use recent seismic surveys and well production data for seismic history matching. Successive seismic surveys, combined with microseismic data and historical production data depict evolving reservoir conditions. These updated reservoir models provide more representative values for saturation, porosity, and permeability, allowing reservoir engineers to further refine reservoir development plans.

Develop a Well-Reasoned Drilling Plan

Integrating and visualizing relevant subsurface data allows drilling engineers to understand the geologic structures and petrophysical environment in which they’ll be working. The ability to view the reservoir from myriad different perspectives, include or filter out certain data, and apply a rich set of analytic tools enable drilling engineers to develop a drilling plan based on unique reservoir characteristics.

When 3D visualization is combined with well-planning capabilities and other specialized analysis software programs, drilling engineers can evaluate the pros and cons of various wellpaths. They can then develop plans that minimize drilling costs and operational risks while maximizing EUR. With the ability to clearly visualize possible locations of a wellbore from the surface to target zone drilling engineers can:

  • Avoid steep angle fault intersections along the wellpath.
  • Identify and avoid high-pressure zones to avoid potential blowouts.
  • Specify the proper casing design, cement planning, and mud weight to counter accommodate expected conditions and pressure.

In established fields, visualization plays an even more critical role in helping drilling engineers navigate the subsurface jungle of wells. The ability to visualize the subsurface environment (geology and existing wellbores) in 3D and have immediate access to a wealth of detailed information such as logs, petrophysical markers, completion plans, and production data from nearby wells enables drilling engineers to determine optimal wellbore placement by:

  • depicting proposed wellpath proximity to faults and horizons
  • sizing target zones based on positional uncertainty and trajectory planning
  • avoiding collisions with existing wells using minimum allowable separation distance (MASD) from a reference wellpath
  • ensuring proposed sidetracks are feasible (do not exceed maximum dogleg severity)
Well planning decisions made with the aid of visualization and analytic software can help drilling engineers plan appropriate resources in anticipation of drilling, minimize drilling costs, avoid risks, and locate wellpaths to optimize well performance and recovery.

Well planning decisions made with the aid of visualization and analytic software can help drilling engineers plan appropriate resources in anticipation of drilling, minimize drilling costs, avoid risks, and locate wellpaths to optimize well performance and recovery.

Visualize the Wellbore As It Is Being Drilled

With the optimum wellpath developed and visualized to show its planned location and trajectory, drilling engineers can use near drillbit data to monitor the actual drilling process. Sensor data (azimuth, inclination, gamma ray) obtained from a WITSML server during drilling can be incorporated into an earth model to show the actual well path. As drilling progresses, wireline log and mud log data can be depicted along the visualized wellpath.

Near real-time data allows drilling engineers to continually evaluate progress and conditions against the plan and proactively make adjustments such as:

  • adjusting drill trajectory up or down to avoid exiting the production zone
  • identifying areas of concern not readily visible via traditional reports or plots
  • projecting trajectory ahead of the bit using automated clearance calculations and user-tailored anti-collision rules
  • modifying drilling equipment or techniques to accommodate unexpected conditions and improve safety margins
  • fine-tuning completion plans, based on wellbore data acquired during the course of drilling
When wellbore data acquired during drilling is incorporated and visualized in the reservoir model it gives every member of the reservoir management team a more complete representation of subsurface conditions and facilitates better decisions regarding all future reservoir analysis and planning.

Well planning decisions made with the aid of visualization and analytic software can help drilling engineers plan appropriate resources in anticipation of drilling, minimize drilling costs, avoid risks, and locate wellpaths to optimize well performance and recovery.

Visualization Transforms Petroleum Planning and Analysis

A team’s approach to managing all phases of the reservoir lifecycle changes when using a visualization and analytic environment provided by CoViz 4D. With immediate access to all relevant data that characterize subsurface conditions and environment, a powerful set of 3D and 4D visualization capabilities, and a wide range of analytic tools, reservoir teams can collaboratively conduct better petroleum planning and analysis in support of optimal hydrocarbon development and production.

CoViz 4D, a data visualization analytics software from Dynamic Graphics Inc., gives petroleum professionals the ability to easily access and analyze relevant data associated with reservoir development and management. Powerful visualization capabilities enable detailed exploration of data relationships, show how reservoir conditions change over time, and facilitate well-reasoned petroleum planning and analysis to positively impact profit and reduce operational risk. To learn more about CoViz 4D contact our team.


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