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Maximizing Value from Investment in Geophysics: Expensive Luxury or Cheap Insurance?
3D seismic imaging revolutionized hydrocarbon exploration providing a robust picture of the subsurface. Higher prices enabled expensive technologies and investments in the development of previously uneconomic deposits. The balance between development and the market value of the gas or oil is critical. Recent advances in 3D seismic allow interpreters to map areas of higher productivity and identify bypassed reserves and with machine learning applied to quality 3D seismic data integrated with completion and production data can optimize spacing, high grade productivity and even predict potential reserves.
Figure 1 . Seismic Variance attribute with geobodies extracted along equal variance points from 3D seismic volume. Wells with Microsiesmic locations illustrate the correlation between even clusters and apparent fluvial channels.
Decision makers at small and large oil and gas companies often view 3D seismic and geophysical investments as a luxury that can be forgone when budgets need to be cut. However, describing the improved outcomes in economic terms and can justify the investment and improve the overall economics of a play. A case is presented where 1/6 wells need to be sidetracked at a cost of $500,000 each due to unseen geologic complexity. When determining the value of having a clear seismic image before drilling it is reasonable to apply these statistics based on the number of wells to be drilled in an area. Additionally, the value of a resource is calculated by normalized production or expected reserves per 1000’ of effective lateral length. This can be improved by having a clear image ahead of the drill bit. These values can be evaluated through use of decision analysis to provide an economic value of a project with and without an investment in 3D seismic or other data before making the decision.