American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018 - 40

VISION2020
compensated for in the processing.
Attention to detail is required even in
the face of massive data and pressure to
produce more in less time with less investment. Human curiosity and intuition
are hard to replace with a machine.
At one point in my career, I was part
of a team that was recording microseismic
and vertical seismic profiling data. It occurred to us that there might be a change
in rock properties. Friends at Massachusetts Institute of Technology were looking
at modeling fractures in rock. Their
models had discrete zones of fractured
rock inside of unfractured host rock with
the same properties. This is exactly like
a hydraulic fracture. We wondered if
there was perhaps 5 percent of total gross
body fractured in these little discrete
tubes, if the result would be measurable.
The client allowed us to send the time
lapse 3-D VSP data to the MIT researchers,
who came up with really profound results.
Not only was the reflection from a fractured zone of rock similar in form to an
event generated by fracturing the rock,
they found that the modeling could identify
the difference between an open and closed
fracture by the length and shape of the
wavelet coda.
Geophysics has been at the forefront
of artificial intelligence, neural networks
and machine learning. There is simply
too much data for geophysicists to digest.
That does not, however, mean that geophysicists will be replaced. Instead, they
will be teachers and interpreters at a
higher level.
Geoscientists always want the best,
most expensive and newest imaging data.
But a lot of oil and gas reserves are
found using lower-quality images, and

even the best images still have uncertainties
that cannot be removed by anything but
diligent, thorough interpretation. We can
get more certain of the shape, but still
have to calibrate that to known well information that has been integrated carefully
into the seismic data.
Over the past 20 years, computers
have become much more powerful and
less expensive, making it possible to do
multiple-shot processing and complex
statistical computations. The first Society
of Exploration Geophysicists Advanced
Modeling Program (SEAM) model, a
partnership between industry and SEG
designed to advance geophysical science
and technology through subsurface models
and synthetic datasets, took 30 geophysicists and geologists to come up with a
subsalt model and months of time on a
government computer to calculate the
traces. Once an answer was found to the
imaging problem, then interpreters were
able to build on that.
Most imaging problems continue to
have lots of uncertainty, but computing
power combined with good science is
enabling far more advanced solutions to
reduce uncertainty in much shorter cycle
times.
Expanding Horizons
SEG recently has undertaken an effort
to help define how geoscientists can move
from graduates to qualified professionals
in a rigorously defined manner. Essential
nontechnical skills once were included
in the first five years of work at major
and large independent companies, but
this training has diminished over the past
few decades. In addition to a proposed
revamp of the continuing education port-

folio SEG offers to more closely correlate
with skills inventories and job tasks identified by a panel of industry experts to
complete the passage from graduated student to qualified professional, SEG's proposed Leadership, Diversity and Talent
program will combine career development
skills and experiences where young geoscientists work with a mentor on a technical program, preparing presentations,
risk analysis and petroleum economics.
Geoscientists without Borders is another important SEG initiative. The program began in 2006 after a devastating
tsunami triggered by an earthquake in
the Indian Ocean, seeking to provide
better early warnings in the future. Geoscientists without Borders figured out the
technical aspects very quickly, but communicating the science was more difficult.
The team ended up with a simple rule of
20s. If an earthquake shakes the ground
for more than 20 seconds, one has 20
minutes to get to an elevation 20 meters
higher. This simple message, posted on
signs in the affected areas, may save
thousands of lives in the future.
Years ago, I was part of a geophysical
field project in the San Luis Valley in Colorado. It was one of those deep mountain
basins, with a water table that goes out all
the way to a few inches from the surface. I
remember my professor noting that there
would come a time when water would be
more valuable than oil. I am proud to be
serving as SEG president at a time when
our members are actively involved in locating water supplies and other humanitarian
projects around the world. It is gratifying
to have an opportunity to give voice to the
incredible value of geophysics to the energy
industry and beyond for years to come. r

Nancy J. House is principal scientist at Integrated Geophysical Interpretation in Littleton, Co., and president of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. She is a former
president of the Denver Geophysical Society. House began her 39-year career with Exxon
as an exploration geophysicist. She subsequently served in senior geophysical, geophysical advisory/consulting and project management roles at major and independent companies, including Phillips Petroleum, Mobil, Repsol YPF, Twin Arrow Petroleum, Double
Eagle Petroleum, Encana, Chevron and EXCO Resources. She has worked on geophysical
projects all over the world, including the U.S. onshore and offshore, South America and
Africa. House holds a B.S. in geology/geophysics from the University of Wyoming and
master's degrees in geophysics and seismology from Colorado School of Mines.
NANCY J.
HOUSE
40 THE AMERICAN OIL & GAS REPORTER



American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018

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