American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018 - 39

SHAPING TOMORROW'S TECHNOLOGY
holes. A typical recording path (the part
of a seismic survey that is actively listening
to a specific source point) is on the order
of 12-15 miles and may incorporate as
many as 10,000 channels of data. Years
ago, contractors might have that many
channels available in the company; now it
is necessary to have three times that many
available and on the ground so you can
enable efficient acquisition.
Improved computing power and processing techniques have enabled us to
use this information for greater insights.
Now it is possible to calculate fracture
intensity from long offsets represented
equally in all directions of the seismic
survey. We use velocities to determine
fast and slow directions, which are parallel
and perpendicular to fractures, respectively.
This pinpointing of the most fracable rock
is made possible by long offset data acquisition, processing and interpretation.
Acquiring 'Good' Data
The most expensive data an operator
will ever acquire are bad data. The best
well plan begins with data acquired through
seismic and wellbore data collection. Surveys
must be designed to capture far offsets in
order to create a complete model of offsets
and azimuths. Shortcutting the process will
jeopardize the ability to model fracture intensity and extract usable rock properties.
New survey technology also helps
stabilize acquisition holes. These holes
typically disturb data around them and
prevent accurate processing. They are
analogous to black holes in space that
distort light signals around them, or window screen holes that allow flies to enter
a home. Five-dimensional interpolation
has proven helpful in stabilizing the data
around acquisition holes, allowing processing to continue.
Simultaneous sources also have enhanced data acquisition by providing
multiple offsets for every position. During
processing, the sources are sorted out.
Think of it as being able to identify the
voice of a single student in a classroom
where everyone is talking at once. Yes!
For land data, 3-D acquisition equipment
has gotten a lot smaller and more portable.
Drones can now harvest data. It used to
be that the nodes themselves would have
to be moved to a central area for harvesting
and recharging. Surveys can be much
more efficient and less environmentally
invasive today. The nodes are small, the

drones are fast, and best of all, geophysicists
get to start seeing data sooner. Light detection and ranging (LIDAR) also is gaining
traction in data acquisition and other
surface and canopy mapping.
Microseismic is a beautiful technology
that goes back to the fundamental principles of locating the epicenters of earthquakes. It is a wonderful application of
geophysics and another challenge for
geophysicists who want to be more technically robust, while at the same time
provide information to engineers who
need to make quick decisions.
Some microseismic relies on imaging
theory, with recording done at the surface
and images built from queries. Others
place an array down the borehole that
listens and locates events. Both are used
to measure completion orientation and
effectiveness.
North American hydrocarbon basins
have been carpeted by high-quality data
for unconventional resources over the
past few decades. These datasets are
sitting in libraries owned by data suppliers
and are still good. It is a valuable asset
that should be leveraged by companies
large and small. Creative licensing is allowing smaller operators to gain access
to the data they need.

Man And Machine
New acquisition methods such as fullsampling azimuths dramatically are increasing the data volume collected. Thankfully, computing advances have allowed
us to keep up. There also is a push for processing data using machine learning to automate and speed processing tasks. Of
course, that requires a deep knowledge of
basic geophysical principles to be able to
quantify results of machine learning and
adapt them to different problems. In my
experience, there is an intuitive component
that pursues funny little things that may
end up leading to great insight. Much has
yet to be done in this promising frontier.
A friend was involved in a field processing program, shooting 2-D along the
line. There was always a short delay in
first arrivals, which was confounding.
The client has employed them as filed
processors, allowing first-hand observation
of operations. While in the field, he noted
that the shots were not exactly along the
survey line. This might have shown up
on the observer reports, but not understanding how the "uphole times" (time
for the buried shot to be recorded on the
surface) were used, it might not seem
important. Because it was not noted anywhere, this discrepancy had not been

This image shows 3-D seismic azimuthal processing to highlight fractured areas within
the giant Jonah Field in the Green River Basin. The data contain long and complete
offsets sorted into azimuthal directions both parallel to fractures (fast) and perpendicular
to fractures (slow).

APRIL 2018 39



American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018

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