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Risk Management in the Oil and Gas Industry: Visualizing the Uncertainty & Reducing Risks in Drilling

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risk management in oil and gas industry

Target analysis and wellpath ellipses of uncertainty along a proposed wellbore, viewed in conjunction with structural models, can greatly reduce the risk associated with many drilling hazards.

One sure way to minimize risk, regardless of the situation, is to obtain as complete and accurate information as possible regarding the activity you‘re engaged in or the decisions you need to make. In some instances, risk management can be relatively easy—lock your doors when you leave the house, wear a seatbelt in the car. In many other areas, risk management is far more complex because of the myriad factors that can impact the success of an activity. Risk management in the oil and gas industry falls into the latter category. Throughout all phases of the oil field development, whether it is bidding on an oil block, drilling a new well, or expanding a production facility, risk management plays a critical role.

Isolated Software Tools and Data Sources Hinder Risk Management

Technology advancements in nearly every aspect of the petroleum industry are providing decision-makers information to help reduce risk by making better quality decisions. Greater detail and accuracy in seismic surveys, geologic studies, instrumented drill strings, and numerous other geophysical and production data sources can give drilling engineers the information needed to minimize risk in planning and drilling. But despite the wealth of data—seismic, geologic, geomechanical, geochemical, petrophysical, core, production—drilling engineers often have difficulty combining these data to create a comprehensive picture of the subsurface environment they‘re navigating.

Each discipline—geologists, geophysicists, drilling engineers, reservoir engineers, project managers—in the oil and gas industry has its preferred software tools used to guide decisions. Petrel, GoCAD, SeisWorks and many other software tools in the hands of professionals provide the discipline-specific insight, alerting individuals to potential risks and well as opportunities associated with their areas of responsibility. Unfortunately, the software tools used to manage surface and subsurface environments have data types and formats that preclude easy sharing of information among disciplines.

Combine Data Sources to Visualize Opportunity and Risk

As valuable as those data are, they attain even greater value when combined and visualized to allow each discipline to explore and analyze their data in the context of data provided by other disciplines. For drilling engineers who shoulder some of the most significant responsibility for risk management in the oil and gas industry, the ability to visualize data in geospatial and temporal frames of reference can greatly aid in solidifying the understanding and management of drilling risk.

For drilling engineers who shoulder some of the most significant responsibility for risk management in the oil and gas industry, the ability to visualize data in geospatial and temporal frames of reference can greatly aid in solidifying the understanding and management of drilling risk.

The ability to combine and visualize data sources from various disciplines addresses this problem. Software that easily integrates a wide range of data sources and types used in the oil and gas industry and has 3D and 4D (temporal) visualization and analytics capabilities should enable drilling engineers to:

  • obtain an immediate visual summary of the subsurface environment.
  • collectively evaluate risks and options in cooperation with other disciplines.
  • avoid other wells, problematic geological features, depleted zones, and waste disposal when planning a wellpath.
  • filter the various reservoir models to display established wellpaths and geologic features within a specified proximity to the proposed wellpath.
  • ensure the wellpath follows the wellpath design and hits the required targets.
  • adopt a particular build angle when passing through zones associated with fluid losses.
  • select a horizontal section with a minimum thickness.
  • render wellpaths to ensure locations of completed cells within a simulation model match the reservoir engineers‘ and geologists‘ understanding of the environment.

Well planning is a discipline of dealing with constraints. When constraints are visualized in a 3D model and represented by traffic light indicators—green is good, amber is uncertain, red is risk—drilling engineers can easily evaluate and avoid potential risks, arriving at a single 3D model where the green volume indicates a compliant space for the planned well to occupy.

CoViz 4D: Vital to Risk Management in the Oil And Gas Industry

Risk is often hard to assess even when operators are aware of uncertainties in subsurface analysis and operation. Visualization of data in geospatial and temporal frames of reference can greatly aid in solidifying the assessment of risk and guiding decision making.

CoViz 4D excels in integrating, visualizing, and analyzing diverse spatial and temporal datasets to produce a model that consolidates known risks into a single visual representation. Armed with this information, drilling engineers can avoid risk and optimize their drilling strategies with the goal of reducing operational costs and increasing safety factors. With its unique data integration, visualization, and analytic capabilities, CoViz 4D plays a vital role in risk management in the oil and gas industry.

CoViz 4D, a data visualization analytics software from Dynamic Graphics, Inc., gives oil and gas professionals the ability to easily access and combine all relevant data associated with petroleum assets. To learn more about CoViz 4D contact our team.


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