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Reservoir interpretation solutions: the five questions to ask - part one

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Oilfield Technology,

In the first part of this two-part article, Derek Crombie, Lloyd’s Register, introduces the first two questions that need to be answered when choosing petrophysics analysis software.

The opportunity for sub-surface optimisation in reservoir production is a significant one. So much so, that in a 2017 report, McKinsey analysts estimated that an analytical approach to production could improve the global average for underground recovery by 10%. That’s the equivalent of unlocking an extra 1 trillion boe.

The potential to dramatically improve exploration and production outcomes is substantial. It is also increasingly necessary at a time when resource capture strategies are placing greater emphasis on getting more from existing fields and pushing for faster returns with shorter investment cycles. As the industry moves away from the giant fields of the past, with a “maximise peak capacity at all costs” development strategy, towards smaller fields and phased activity, the data-driven, analytical approach has never been more appropriate.

To make all this happen, E&P firms need the right petrophysical analysis tools, to both understand the potential of a new well or basin, and to optimise production from existing reservoirs.

The emphasis here, however, is on the right tools. Operators are blessed with choice in both the hardware needed to take sub-surface measurements and the software solutions used by geoscientists to turn those measurements into meaningful and actionable petrophysical insights.

As software improves, computational power increases, and data science becomes more sophisticated, it is easy to get swept up by smart graphics, seductive user interfaces, and outrageous promises about results and ROI. As with all things, it pays to look under the hood, and assess where the real value lies.

When choosing the petrophysics analysis software that will actually deliver real benefits to the business - from the reservoir all the way up to the board room - the geoscience team need to answer the following five questions:

1- Does this solution offer real value for money?

A simple price comparison is not enough, and neither is a simple ‘tick box’ comparison of functionality. The efficiency of the workflows is fundamental to the productivity of the team, so instead of asking ‘can this software do xyz’ you should be asking ‘how effectively does this software do xyz”.

To really add value to the organisation, your solution should also deliver advanced functionality as standard. It should be able to work on live well data and enable your geologists, petrophysicists and engineers to combine their understanding and refine their analyses in real time.

The ability to calculate results in all types of reservoir rocks; porosity, water saturation and their likely impacts; identify net reservoir and pay zones; perform NMR interpretation and pulsed neutron analysis; multi-mineral formations; and understand your hydrocarbon production should be available as standard and not as an extra cost.

In terms of methodology, you should not have to overlook uncertainty analysis. You should be able to create synthetic seismograms to connect well-logs to seismic data, and if your solution is stratigraphically aware such that it can produce age/depth maps and incorporate geological time into its interpretations, so much the better.

The point is, your solution should provide exceptional mathematical accuracy and precision, without having to purchase additional modules or extra services, and it should be able to perform all this on a single well, or thousands of wells, with efficient workflows. If you must purchase more solutions for more wells, or if you must work slowly, then the value will diminish fast.

2- Does it make it easy to do the right things?

In the early hours of the morning, when operators and investors want to know both the quality and the quantity of their hydrocarbon in their potential new well, they want to know it immediately. That means you need software that is not only accurate and precise, but intuitive, and easy to use, in what is often a highly stressful environment, and as immune to human error as possible. No software delivers value if it takes too long or is riddled with human input errors.

Choose solutions that come with pre-built roadmaps to speed up formation evaluation and geomechanics. Make sure it is compatible with a wide range of file formats and can accept and work on all data types without harmonisation. A straightforward user interface, with menus of pre-entered formulae and strong visualisation and plotting tools are essential for that midnight analysis, as are touch-screen enabled raw-data editing, depth shifting and filtering functions. By deploying visual data interpretations and using interactive parameters within each zone to test input changes, you get faster, more consistent results. If these are not quite what you need, then your chosen solution should have intuitive coding tools to build your own bespoke applications.

Keeping it easy and intuitive is just what you want when it comes to users' workloads. Minimise the opportunity for so-called ‘fat-finger’ error and the results will simply be more robust. ‘Easy’ doesn’t mean ‘simple’, and as this is a complex business it requires robust, resilient and complex solutions with thought, expertise and knowledge behind them. There is no need to compromise or put up with dumbed-down, over-simplistic methodologies, or clunky workflows when the technology is already here to give you so much more.

This is part one of a two-part article. Part two is available to read here:

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