The oil industry continues to evolve to effectively meet the challenges brought on by unconventional resources, environmental drivers, changing supply and demand factors, as well as legislative and tax regime changes. The prominence of geophysics, however, has remained fairly consistent in the industry.
Paul Favret mentions that geophysicists are an important part of the group of professionals that work together when it comes to looking for and producing hydrocarbon reserves.
Paul Favret briefly sheds light on the prominence of geophysics in the oil industry
Over the decades, geophysics has emerged as one of the most cost-effective methods of sampling the subsurface. All of the important geophysical methods allow people to acquire immense information about the subsurface for a low unit cost. Initial methods put emphasis on basin-wide prospect assessment, and two-dimensional seismic was acquired to illuminate large structures along pretty long regional lines. This was proven to be successful, and the theme of affordably being able to relatively large amounts about the subsurface without direct measurement was proven. Continued innovations in the sphere of geophysical science have held this premise to be true. Each time people advance science, it allows them to gain a better understanding of the subsurface of the planet in an effective and affordable manner. Currently, geophysicists contribute to asset teams and service companies in a variety of ways.
This has been mirrored by the many uses of seismic:
- Traditional 2D and 3D seismic is key for development and exploration workflows. Modern processing and acquisition techniques have enabled high-quality illumination of the subsurface for unconventional and conventional at much lesser costs than in the past.
- 4D seismic is used routinely in order to measure the effectiveness of enhanced recovery programs.
- Pre-stack workflows like anisotropic velocity analysis are used for predicting fluid properties, as well as localized stress and fracture orientation.
- Seismic attributes and quantitative geophysics can be used for predicting cap rock integrity, fault distribution, and localized stress regimes. It can further be used for highlighting statistical relationships with pay and reservoir quality through cross-correlation.
- Three-component seismic is used to predict fluid distribution, rock properties, and changes in lithology.
- The seismic acquisition might be used for offsetting rental payments on oil sand leases.
Induced seismicity monitoring is widely used for regulatory compliance and mitigation of seismic risk associated with anomalous ground motion. Cost-effective and accurate methods for managing and reducing risks are extremely critical in the oil industry. Its importance is especially surging up as the industry produces companies that are adopting decision trees and the value of information analysis in an effort to objectify decision-making. Geophysical methods have had a measurable impact on cutting down risks in an economical manner in this industry, in many ways.
As mentioned by Paul Favret, geophysical data and analysis not only reduces risks but also increase insight into the subsurface. This insight subsequently has expansive applications across geology, reservoir engineering, well planning, and completions. They are extremely important to oil companies, and the utility of the data and analysis is dependent on the integration of data properly in the context of the entire asset team.