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GeoTeric : taking seismic interpretation further

Thursday, December 13, 2012

ffA has developed a subsurface software called 'Geoteric' which aims to take seismic data processing further, to reveal geological and reservoir characteristics previously hidden in seismic data, giving the interpreter the power to make the most informed seismically driven decisions

The advance of subsurface technology in the past five years has generated a mountain of seismic data acquired with ever more sophisticated techniques.

Although this seismic data contains an enormous quantity of information, much of it is not being accessed, either due to lack of time or lack of functionality within the interpreter's toolkit, says UK subsurface software company ffA.

By giving interpreters more power to understand and define the 3D morphology of the geological elements imaged within the data, the value of the seismic data can be unlocked and the chances of maiximising recovery are increased.

ffA has developed the GeoTeric application to try to achieve this.

GeoTeric translates geophysical data into geological information in a 'data driven, but interpreter guided manner,' ffA says.

This means that the interpreter is building seismically informed knowledge and understanding as the data is being analysed.

With GeoTeric, interpreters can work directly with the seismic data in real time extracting objects in a more intuitive manner, whilst at the same time arriving at solutions to the challenges that prevail in every geological environment; be this injected sands, sheet sands, stratigraphic traps, shale, karsts or channels.


ffA has a background in medical imaging software, and has worked for over 15 years in post stack seismic analysis.

By focussing on the use of 3D image processing as an aid to interpretation, ffA has pioneered several technologies that are now part of most mainstream interpretation workflows, the company says.

These include working with Shell to develop the first automated 3D seismic geobody delineation techniques and working with Statoil on the use of volumetric colour blending in seismic interpretation.

Both these are examples of ffA's ability to adapt sophisticated image processing techniques into easy to use technology that can be applied to seismic data.

Geological Expression

The 'Geological Expression' approach brings interpretative knowledge and objective data analysis together in a unique geologically directed, data driven interpreter guided workflow, the company says.

It utilises 3D seismic analysis and sophisticated multi-spectral visualisation to reveal the geology which is expressed, but often hidden, in the data.

In this way, Geological Expression bridges the gap between seismic processing and standard interpretation workflows to give the power to make the most informed seismically driven decisions in days, not weeks.

At the heart of the Geological Expression workflow is a technique for extracting the 3D geometry of geological elements as individual objects that can be used as the building blocks of a 3D geological model.

This technology is called Adaptive Geobodies and its power and efficiency arise from two properties.

Firstly, it can extract geological elements whose characteristics are highly variable because of its ability to adapt the criteria for defining a specific object much in the way that the human visual system does.

Secondly, it recognises that seismic data is an incomplete representation of the subsurface and allows the interpreter to step in and guide the delineation process when the data isn't enough on its own.

To counter balance the subjectivity introduced when a data driven process is overridden by manual intervention, objects defined in this way are assigned a confidence value that indicates how well the surface position respects the underlying data. It is therefore very easy to see where the interpretation is data constrained and where it is defined by the expertise of the geologist or geophysicist.

Fast information

Achieving the optimal Geological Expression workflow requires information to be delivered at the speed at which the interpreter works and thinks, so that it can be assimilated and used to build an understanding of the subsurface most effectively.

With the large amount of data within typical seismic volumes this has only now become possible due to the improvements in the desktop hardware available to most interpreters.

Even with the latest hardware, a sophisticated approach to software design and implementation, which utilises the processing power available in both the workstations CPU and GPU, is required.

The Geological Expression workflow provides an on demand extraction of geological features to enable the interpreter to consider and adapt the interpretation of what is being expressed within the data; be this in automated fault delineation, facies classification or geobody delineation.

This means the 'data driven, user guided' approach will have the speed of analysis occurring at the speed of interpretation.

This is particularly beneficial in asset management when rapid interpretation is required for rapid decision making in assessing hydrocarbon potential in large licence blocks.

The future?

ffA believes that Geological Expression is the future of seismic interpretation because it brings the interpreter and the data analysis together for the first time in a truly interactive, integrated manner leading to more accurate interpretation, and maximum productivity gain.

This culminates in an increased understanding of the subsurface that can be delivered directly from seismic data. The greater understanding gained by using Geological Expression will lead to greater certainty and maximise the return on the investments made in seismic data that will fast track the interpretation process, through to reservoir modelling and ultimately production.

About Dr Gaynor Paton

This article was written from an interview with Digital Energy Journal and Dr Gaynor Paton, director of geoscience operations at ffA. Dr Paton has a PhD in Neurophysiology and therefore brings a unique approach to arriving at solutions in volumetric seismic interpretation.

She has spent over a decade with ffA and has been involved in over 300 seismic interpretation projects applying image processing techniques to answer some of the most challenging interpretation questions.

During this time, Gaynor has been instrumental in developing geology driven workflows so that the software produced by ffA is both intuitive and effective.

In her current role as director of Geosciences, Gaynor oversees the Services division of the company and guides the development of new leading edge Geological Expression workflows to accelerate progress in global Exploration and Production, as well as to keep ffA at the forefront of innovation.

Associated Companies
» Foster Findlay Associates (ffA)
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