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Working with complex subsurface data

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Complex subsurface data, such as laboratory data, well core data, and regional studies data can be hard to aggregate and assimilate. James Tomlinson of IKON Science explained how the company does it

Complex subsurface data, such as laboratory analysis data, well core data, and regional analysis data, can be hard to bring together and manage.

IKON Science, a UK company probably best known for its rock physics software, explained how it does it, with a talk at the PPDM London event.

IKON Science was originally a specialist in modelling tools for rock physics and seismic conversion. It became involved in subsurface data management following its acquisition of subsurface data management company Perigon Solutions in 2018, said James Tomlinson, VP data solutions with IKON Science.

Better managed data is much easier to work with - it takes less time to find, and does not need further manipulation to integrate together. This should ultimately lead to better decision making from the data.

Many companies talk about digital transformation, meaning making all your products and services digital. This is 'not something that will magic all your problems away,' he said. Some solutions presented under the banner of digital transformation are like 'one small cog in one large [business] machine', he said.

It is a continual challenge for data managers to build a business case for their work, he said. A flexible approach can be very valuable, making progress with small steps and building on them.

One client was a laboratory which wanted to get better utilisation from its data over the long term. It wanted to bring all of its data together into a single data platform so it could be made available for the future.

To build this platform, IKON created processes and tools for getting data into the system. It built an automated data quality control process, tools for managing data security, and tools for integrating data together, he said.

Spreadsheets providing results of laboratory testing can be directly ingested, in the same way that many pieces of survey data, such as directional surveys and well headers, are ingested into specialist databases, he said.

A second client was an operator who wanted to do more with its well core data, with new digital workflows.

Ultimately the client wanted to be able to use the data to make predictions about other areas of the subsurface, or use the data to calibrate its reservoir models.

The data needed to be in a consistent format, if it could be used for data science or machine learning. Ikon Science was able to build the database.

The first part of the work was aggregating the data, including photographs of cores, and calculating 'colour attributes' of each image.

There was a lot of work to be done to get data to the point where it can be accessible - and there is no fixed boundary between data management and interpretation, he said.

Ultimately it would be useful to turn unstructured data into structured data, for example identifying that the well core shows it has come from a turbidite system, and putting that in the database.

A third case study was Ikon's own projects, providing regional studies, to its clients, and looking to see if they could be more useful.

'From our point of view, we don't really know the value that clients are getting out of them,' he said.

The studies could be used as a basis for various geoscience workflows. For example, a geoscientist might take well data such as logs and core information, do a petrophysical interpretation, and take that to understand rock properties and their volumes, including saturation of oil.

Geoscientists ultimately want to understand how the seismic properties would be different if the rock properties were different, so you can make models to calibrate seismic data with rock properties.





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