The Life Cycle of an Oil Field: Improving Expectations

A mature North Sea field showing a small subset of geologic and engineering data.

A mature North Sea field showing a small subset of geologic and engineering data that must be integrated and analyzed to understand changing reservoir conditions during field development. Data used with permission of the owner.

The life cycle of a typical oil field encompasses all operational phases of hydrocarbon production from exploration through field abandonment. These phases all incorporate numerous types of geoscientific and engineering data to help define the economic potential of an opportunity. Data are often similar in technical nature, varying mostly in scale and density as an exploration prospect becomes a producing asset. This variation and ever-increasing volume of data are driven by the need to assess changing reservoir conditions and associated risk factors that directly impact decisions aimed at maximizing the economic potential of the asset throughout its lifecycle.
While reservoir data are similar in nature over the life cycle of a field, they are also specific in disciplinary focus. This requires the oversight of geoscientists and/or engineers in their acquisition, processing, and interpretation, which is an iterative process repeated as additional data are brought into the analysis of an asset. Increasing volumes of data and subsequent reinterpretation of the data complicates risk assessment and the direction of investment into the asset. Accurate data integration and interpretation can help simplify the task of continual risk assessment and decision making.  Multidisciplinary 3D/4D software capable of integrating all data into a single geospatial volume, performing complex data and grid calculations, and detailed 3D/4D visualization of the information is available from Dynamic Graphics, Inc. (DGI) in their CoViz 4D, WellArchitect, and EarthVision products.

Exploration through Delineation

Conducting an exploration program and the subsequent delineation of any discoveries is dependent on many geological and engineering factors. The crucial three that influence early phase operations are basin maturity, environment (on/offshore), and play type (conventional/unconventional), each impacting the availability of existing data, entry costs, and future development costs. Datasets necessary to conduct exploration/delineation efforts are commonly proportional, in size and cost, to the above factors and can range from sparse to extensive. Traditional methods of interpreting these large-scale and complex data are discipline-specific and not well integrated, making comprehensive technical interpretations and risk assessments challenging.
The ability to integrate all exploration data and discipline-specific interpretations into a single geospatial environment can aid in the detection of subtle inconsistencies within the data and interpretations, thereby simplifying the assessment of cross-disciplinary risk. DGI’s CoViz 4D and EarthVision software enable geoscientists and engineers to integrate their data/interpretations into a single geospatial environment. When all necessary information is integrated, users can visualize cross-disciplinary data/interpretations and are able to develop unique calculations (via grid manipulation and statistical calculations) to enhance their individual interpretations. The extraordinary cross-disciplinary visual, temporal, and computational capabilities of DGI’s non-traditional tools help to make unique comparative analysis possible and enable scientists, engineers, and managers to make better risk-weighted economic decisions.
Using CoViz 4D, a vertical offset was observed between a set of wells and the cellular completions in the simulation model.

Using CoViz 4D, a vertical offset was observed between a set of wells and the cellular completions in the simulation model. This offset resulted from a datum error which had gone unnoticed prior to visualizing and integrating the two datasets in CoViz 4D. Data used with permission of owner.

Early Production through Abandonment

Once a discovery has been delineated and deemed economically viable, the project is commonly transferred from exploration to an asset development team. This transition requires the transfer of the appropriate exploration data and interpretations to the asset team whose focus will be on a much smaller geospatial area. While the focus will be narrower, it is still important for the asset team’s geoscientists and engineers to view their work within a larger geological framework and correlate production, completion, petrophysical, geophysical, and geologic data to analogous producing fields in the area.
The larger-scale exploration dataset will be transitioned to an asset focus (higher data density and smaller geospatial area) by successive additions of data from newly drilled wells and asset-specific seismic surveys. During the early phase of development, data acquisition can grow at a rapid rate making the tasks of incorporating, integrating, and interpreting all discipline-specific data and analyses challenging. These challenges bring new economic and safety risks associated with optimizing production and operational efficiency.
Here again, DGI’s software tools can help manage and analyze data, as well as cross-correlate and integrate discipline-specific interpretations, thereby helping professionals identify and assess risk. CoViz 4D enables geoscientists and engineers to maintain geospatial and temporal continuity from exploration into development by simplifying correlation with existing producing fields, efficiently incorporating/ cross-correlating newly acquired data, and integrating exploration interpretations with successive new asset-specific interpretations. The safe and efficient well planning required to fully develop the field can be simplified using both CoViz 4D and WellArchitect. These tools allow geoscientists and engineers to develop plans to optimize production through visual/temporal depiction of 3D/4D seismic and reservoir models, as well as providing the robust well planning capability to safely drill wells necessary to exploit reserves in a complex reservoir.

Improving Expectations

Technical evaluation of the geologic and engineering challenges of a prospect or new field development is dependent on ever-increasing volumes of data, iterations of data processing, and revisions of interpretations. While all this information yields scientific and engineering insight useful throughout the life cycle of a typical oil field, its primary purpose is a full understanding of a field’s technical risks and economic potential. From a geoscience and engineering perspective, this understanding requires insight from both disciplines within the exploration or asset team. For management, it requires a comprehensive awareness of the asset data and multidisciplinary interpretations in a format where risk and opportunity are fully quantifiable.
Traditional methods of discipline-specific analysis can produce the information to discern risk and economic potential, however, the disparate data formats and interpretations make comprehensive cross-correlation and risk assessment problematic. Improving expectations, both economic and risk, from this varied and extensive data requires the ability to integrate all information spatially and temporally for detailed cross-correlation, computational analysis, and 3D/4D visualization. DGI’s CoViz 4D, WellArchitect, and EarthVision provide geoscientists, engineers, and management with a robust set of non-traditional tools that enable teams to efficiently, accurately, and comprehensively integrate information necessary to enhance operations and provide a more economically effective outcome.
Data visualization and interpretation software from  Dynamic Graphics Inc., such as CoViz 4D, EarthVision, and WellArchitect give teams the means to access and analyze data collected across the life cycle of a typical oil field.  CoViz 4D is a proven analytical tool for efficient well planning, management, and enhanced oil recovery design. To learn how CoViz 4D can benefit your efforts, contact our team


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