Managing Risk in Unconventional Reservoir Development Through Visualization of Geologic and Petrophysical Data

3D seismic integrated with the reservoir simulation model and planned wellpaths.

Data integration is key in managing risk in any oilfield endeavor, but unconventional plays present special challenges. CoViz 4D from Dynamic Graphics provides the data integration capability to meet these challenges. Above, we can see 3D seismic integrated with the reservoir simulation model and planned wellpaths. Data courtesy Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center and U.S. Department of Energy.

The inherent risk in any reservoir development project can be significantly reduced by utilizing the wealth of data to better understand the subsurface environment. Advancements in data acquisition technologies throughout all phases of reservoir development and software solutions are allowing reservoir teams to integrate, visualize, and analyze these data more efficiently and confidently than ever before. As a result, managing risk in unconventional reservoir development has become significantly easier.

Managing Risk in Unconventional Reservoir Development

Shared access to relevant subsurface data acquired throughout the life of a reservoir benefits every member of a reservoir development team as they strive to interpret the data and make decisions to minimize risk and maximize recovery. The ability to interpret discipline-specific data in the context of other subsurface data helps in two primary areas: 1) understanding reservoir geology and petrophysics in greater detail, and 2) applying this understanding to determine the best well placement and trajectory options.

1. Visualize Geologic Risks to Guide Unconventional Reservoir Development

In the development of new unconventional reservoirs, seismic surveys, core analysis, and conventional well logs provide insight into one or more reservoir attributes that are critical in managing risk in unconventional reservoir development. With an understanding of these data, development teams are better prepared to take advantage of geologic characteristics that facilitate efficient oil recovery and avoid those that pose immediate, as well as long-term, development and production risks.

  • Seismic data, interpreted in time with the faults and horizons converted to depth, allows geoscientists and engineers to identify geologic features presenting risks, as well as locate and estimate volumes of hydrocarbon targets.
  • Core samples, mud and open-hole logs reveal lithology, porosity, and permeability attributes that can be combined with mapped geologic structure and stratigraphy to develop geocellular models needed to predict fluid flows and potential economic risk/reward.
Individually, these data sources have inherent value. Data can attain their maximum value when combined and co-visualized in DGI’s CoViz 4D as a 3D reservoir model. Co-visualization provides a far more comprehensive and detailed understanding of all the data needed to characterize an unconventional reservoir. A 3D reservoir model helps geoscientists and engineers more accurately identify the location and extent of reserves in unconventional reservoirs, assess geological risks that impede development and long-term well performance, and evaluate petrophysical properties that influence completion methods and production techniques.
In a more mature unconventional reservoir, CoViz 4D enables a development team to visualize seismic surveys taken over the course of several years. With this temporal data members gain an additional dimension in understanding how past development and production decisions have affected reservoir performance. This time-step analysis can be particularly useful in identifying and managing risks when developing unconventional reservoirs in fields with similar geologic and petrophysical properties.

2. Determine Well Trajectories That Minimize Drilling Risk

Geologic and petrophysical data depicted as a 3D reservoir model also provide a solid foundation for well planners and drilling engineers as they plan wells. Combined, geologic and petrophysical data can reveal drilling risks, help engineers and geoscientists evaluate the pros and cons of alternative well trajectories, and decide which wellbore trajectories minimize both drilling risk and cost.
Visually evaluate the pros and cons of alternative well trajectories.

Visually evaluate the pros and cons of alternative well trajectories. Data use by permission of owner.

With all relevant data available in DGI’s CoViz 4D, team members have the ability to analyze alternative wellbore options, as well as the petrophysical properties along proposed wellbores. Well planners and drilling engineers can readily:

  • Evaluate how lithology impacts drilling methods and BHA component selection of drilling assembly. 
  • Avoid fault or horizon intersection angles that present obvious drilling risk.
  • Understand the location of previous drilling hazards and avoid them.
  • Plan trajectories by selecting intermediate and target locations in the 3D reservoir model and allow well-planning software to determine curves to minimize dog leg severity. 
  • Show traveling cylinder diagrams to assess collision risks with nearby and even proposed wells when planning unconventional wells in the context of a mature field.
  • Use lithologic and log data to determine casings, cementing, and completion methods that ensure long-term wellbore stability.
Well planners and drilling engineers who can integrate and co-visualize relevant geological and petrophysical data spend less time in reservoir analysis, can more readily identify and manage risk in unconventional reservoir development, and have greater confidence in well planning and drilling recommendations achieved collaboratively.

CoViz 4D: An Essential Tool for Managing Risk in Unconventional Reservoir Development

Reservoir development teams worldwide are employing CoViz 4D to manage risk in unconventional reservoir development. CoViz 4D provides powerful data integration, visualization, and analytics capabilities that give geoscientists and engineers unprecedented ability to understand the complexity of subsurface environments. With a shared understanding of data contributed by specific disciplines, teams can more efficiently and more confidently identify potential and actual risks that impact reservoir development and collaboratively determine the best strategies and methods to address them.
As additional data are acquired throughout the development of an unconventional reservoir, CoViz 4D can easily integrate these data to provide a more accurate and up-to-date reservoir model. With CoViz 4D’s unique ability to animate time-step data engineers can analyze the efficacy of past development and production decisions in managing risk.

CoViz 4D software from Dynamic Graphics, Inc., gives oil and gas professionals the ability to easily access and combine all relevant data associated with unconventional reservoirs. Powerful visualization capabilities provide a detailed understanding of reservoir structures and attributes and show how data changes over time, allowing development teams to confidently make decisions that reduce operational risk and positively impact recovery. To learn more about CoViz 4D contact our team.

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