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Digital technology from ATCE

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Our review of some of the exciting digital technology on display at SPE's Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in Amsterdam on October 2014

Halliburton Cypher

Halliburton has launched the CYPHER Seismic-to-Stimulation Service to help optimise work on shale and tight reservoirs, linking together geoscience, reservoir, drilling and completion staff, and connecting oil company staff with Halliburton experts.

As part of the service the Halliburton team will put together an 'Interactive Earth Model', or detailed model describing the reservoir, which is continuously calibrated and improved as new data comes in.

As well as for planning fracs, operators can also use this model for planning the location of future wells, and geosteering the drill bit into the reservoirs.

Optimising fracs is a valuable task, since testing of fracked wells often shows that most production comes from a small number of fracs, says Dan Buller, global advisor for unconventional reservoir optimization with Halliburton.

In order to best determine where to frac along a horizontal well, the new FracInsight service is utilized within the CYPHER workflow. The service is designed to be used in the typical 30 day period between drilling and stimulation, making an analysis of the well data, to come up with the best possible completion design.

This 'is an unbiased, repeatable tool to select the best frac placement from the best available formation evaluation data,' Mr. Buller said.

All of the work can be done using existing data, or acquired after casing is set, without requiring any extra rig time. All you need is an adequate vertical well, typically within a mile, to generate calibration data. You can also use a vertical pilot well to obtain calibration data prior to kicking horizontal from the same wellbore.

The FracInsight service correlation to the CYPHER earth model can be put together gathering data from many different sources.

'It can include analysis of cuttings, including electron microscopy and X-Ray fluorescence, or customized pulsed neutron wireline logging through casing', he said.

You generate projected 'pseudo logs' after correctly correlating actual well placement with the drilling gamma ray and the additional rigless services. 'If the pseudo logs are generally overlapping [with the actual horizontal measurements] we know we're in the correct geometry. If they don't, either we are out of zone, or the expected formation properties are changing,' he said.

The study can show where the horizontally drilled rock's stress and porosity are changing so custom frac staging and perforation placement can be achieved. The goal is to exclude non-productive intervals while enhancing production from the rest of the well using an engineered completion.


MicroSeismic, Inc., a company based in Houston, has developed a new service called PermIndex, to help companies use microseismic data to get a better understanding of fracs and system wide permeability.

Microseismic data basically means very small amounts of noise - the noise which is detected on the surface when the fracking process has broken the rock apart.

By analysing the noises from the fractures, operators can get a better understanding of how well the frac went.

This data, together with well and fracking data, is used to improve frac designs and ultimate reservoir recovery.

The data can be used to work out the rate that the rock is failing, at different distances away from the wellbore. This knowledge allows operators to estimate the effective system permeability of the rock (known as 'permeability scalar'). The higher the permeability, the higher the production will be.

Using PermIndex, if an engineer has 25 different frac stages, she can work out the rock permeability for each stage and better understand productivity on a stage-by-stage basis.

The computed permeability scalar can be fed into the reservoir engineers' geocellular model, to be used for reservoir simulation and predicting production from the well.

It can also provide information to geologists and completions engineers.

The service has been used on over 12 pads so far.

"People want to understand, if they got the right, effective fractures" says Sudhendu Kashikar, VP Business Development for Completions Evaluation. "PermIndex captures the variability in the rock properties precisely."

CGG - linking petrophysics and fracs

Geoscience company CGG has launched 'PowerLog Frac', a tool to make it easier to use petrophysical data (from well logs) in frac design.

Although petrophysical data can be very useful when designing a frac, it is only used in a small percentage of fracs, because the software systems have not been very well integrated, which means a lot of manual calculations, CGG says.

Petrophysical data is very useful for designing fracs, because it can help you predict which way the rock will break open, with the frac as you have currently designed it.

For example, your model might show you that your frac is going to be wide and short, rather than long and thin, which is what you want.

The model might tell you that your frac is likely to run into a water layer above or below the reservoir, which will mean your well will get full of water.

Different types of rock will fracture in different ways from different sorts of stress. 'Tectonic stresses affect shales more than sand - shales compact more,' says Fred E Jenson, product manager for petrophysics, and global marketing manager for geosoftware at CGG.

PowerLog Frac is essentially a bridge between the petrophysical software and facture simulation software.

PowerLog Frac was created by CGG GeoSoftware, working together with Baker Hughes, as a joint software development project.

Baker Hughes has already started using the software in its fracking / pressure pumping operations.

Baker Hughes

Baker Hughes has launched an electric well system which can control up to 27 production zones on one well, each with 6 different settings.

This means that if water breaks through one zone, you can just close that zone off.

You can also balance production of oil over the whole well, so if one zone is producing more than the others, you can choke it off.

The system has already been installed on a Middle East well, which had 8 production zones, 3 lateral wells from an upper cased hole section, and an open hole lower section.

The company has also launched a service called 'Asset Decision Solutions', to help companies understand their data.

'We have domain focussed experts to help customers understand what the data means,' Mr Willauer said. 'We analyse the information and make sure it's consistent.'

The service includes data from electric submersible pumps (ESPs) and well fibre optics.

The service can help customers' achieve their specific objectives, which might be improving one well, or might be reducing operating costs for the entire field.

'Data is either too much or inaccessible. We want to provide the right data.'

Resman / Restrack - tracking your fluids

RESMAN of Trondheim reports that it is seeing increased use of its technology to track which production is coming from which zone, using special 'trace' materials.

RESMAN manufacturers a rod of material which contains a unique chemical signature, to act as a tracer.

The rod is inserted in the well, in the completion next to the production zone. If there is production from that zone, some of the tracer material from the rod will slowly dissolve into the oil.

By analysing the oil at the surface for tracer chemicals, you can see which production zone the oil came from.

If water breaks into the well, you can see which zone it entered through, by looking for tracer chemical in the water and seeing which zone has that tracer material in it.

By comparing the quantity of different amounts of tracer, you can calculate the relative flow from different zones.

The rod will last for 5 years.

The technology is already being used by 39 different operators, of which 75 per cent are outside Norway, including in Alaska, New Zealand, Middle East, UK and Africa.

To do the analysis, you take a fluid sample and post it to Resman's laboratories.

The company has already developed 150 different tracers, each with a different chemical signature. It would be possible to develop many more, but there is a small development cost.

The same tracer technology can also be used to track connectivity in reservoirs - you can add the tracer to an injection well and see which zone in the production well the tracer emerges. Resman is developing this idea through a sister company, Restrack (

It all ends up as a relatively inexpensive way to get a better understanding of your reservoir, says Christian Aubert, chief marketing officer of Restrack.

Xait - collaboration for documents

Xait, a company based in Sandnes, Norway, reports that its cloud software for multi-user document generation is being used for nearly all licensing applications made in Norway and the UK.

It is also widely used for licensing applications in Greenland, Iceland and Ghana.

Altogether, it is used by over 50 oil companies, 46 service companies and 30,000 users, says Kris Saether, sales director of Xait. 34 new clients were signed up during 2013.

The software is used for putting together well proposals, production development proposals, field development plans, annual reports and offshore manuals.

'These are complex documents with a lot of people involved,' Mr Saether says.

The software is created as a better way for many people to work together one on license application, than sharing documents on Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

One example of its use is by a Norwegian subsea contractor, who were working on a project for delivery in Lagos, with a tender put together in Oslo. But one of the Norwegian staff members was sent to Kuala Lumpur. There was also input from staff members in Alabama.

'It didn't matter that they sat in all these locations,' he said. 'They couldn't have done it in Microsoft Word. Google Docs and Word are not meant for team productivity,'

The software is applicable for documents which many people need to work on, which have a structured format to them.

Instead of working on a document directly, people work by editing cells in a database. The software then puts the cells together to make the document.

It is all web hosted, so there no security risks or file sharing problems. The system can also support graphics. 'It is a layman's typesetting system,' Mr Saether says.

Administrators can easily lock down certain content (so no-one else can change it), or allow a third party to work on the same document.

They can specify who is responsible for which entries, or give certain data expiry dates.

You can easily create a content workflow (for example if you would like everything to be checked by your legal team prior to publication).

«Some of our clients have told us that they save up to 70% of their time on producing documents, by using XaitPorter,' Mr Saether says.

The software was originally developed for BP's exploration department in Norway in 2001, who were looking for a better way to make documents for shared working than Microsoft Word. It was sold commercially from 2003 onwards.

MDA GeoSpatial - do more with satellites

MDA Geospatial Services Inc. (MDA) of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, reports that it is helping the oil and gas industry find many more ways to get value from satellites, taking advantage of advances in radar technology, resolution of recording, and colour spectrum over recent years.

'Using radar satellites such as Canada's RADARSAT-2, millimetre level changes in surface elevation can be measured' says Mauro Sartori, Onshore Product Manager, Energy & Mining Services with MDA.

These surface movement measurements are used by oil production facilities where water or steam are injected underground to improve production rates.

Monitoring surface movement allows operators to adjust injection and production rates to minimize damage from surface movement and to optimize oil production.

This technology can also be used to detect movement in oil pipelines, which may indicate problem areas.

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) provides the ability to image day and night, and through cloud cover, thus providing reliable monitoring for oil companies. The SAR images also allows large areas to be monitored for oil on water, which can be an indication of oil spills, bilge dumping or natural seeps from the ocean floor. This natural seeps from subsea oil deposits provide valuable information in the global search for oil.

The latest satellites can photograph the Earth with a resolution of 30cm, so it isn't capable of reading your vehicle license plate, but satellite imaging technology is becoming a powerful source of information, Mr. Sartori says.
In addition to radar satellites, MDA provides systems and services for the new generation of high resolution optical satellites and satellite constellations. MDA was prime contractor for a constellation of five satellites for one client and is building a constellation of 3 satellites for the RADARSAT Constellation Mission for the Government of Canada. Constellations allow more frequent collection of images for improved monitoring.

Another area of satellite image advancement is in the number of colours, or spectral bands, that can be recorded. MDA is working to define 'hyperspectral' satellites that can image many more bands than available on current generation multi-spectral satellites.

Hyperspectral imaging will allow us identify differences between various mineral formations and thus provide valuable data to assist with the search for hydrocarbons and improved monitoring of oil and gas operations worldwide.

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