Seventh Annual 3D Seismic Symposium

Title: Seventh Annual 3D Seismic Symposium Meeting a BIG Success

Author: Ron Pritchett

Publication: The Outcrop, April 2001, p. 16-18

On March 2nd, more than 480 people enjoyed the 7th Annual 3D Seismic Symposium at the Denver Marriott Center — “3D Seismic Reflects Value” hosted by the RMAG and the Denver Geophysical Society. Attendees saw cutting-edge presentations on technology that markedly increases revenues to oil and gas companies. This year, 12 exhibitors had booths adjacent to the meeting room, and 27 students were invited from area colleges. Through the day, 13 speakers shared ideas on three-dimensional seismic and computer applications, processing, and 3D seismic in business and economics.

William B. Hanson of BP/Amoco (left) and Dr. Tom Davis from the Colorado School of Mines enjoy the 3D Seismic Symposium. (Photo courtesy of Russ Opfer.)

Keynote speaker Thomas A. Mazza (Sr. VP DDD Energy) noted the revolutionary quality of 3D seismic as an “onshore business driver.” In DDD’s case, the company seeks prospects that use 3D seismic for a “quantum leap” in risk-reduction in areas that have great sonic contrast for clear imaging of hydrocarbon targets. DDD drilled 300 wells from 1993-2000, with an 80% success rate on new-field wildcat wells.

How do companies get 3D data at less than full cost? Steve Ludlow (Vice Chairman, Veritas DGC, Inc.) reviewed current business trends such as the commoditization of 3D data, service-to-information; consolidation of contractors; data providers moving toward traditional roles of companies; and E & P companies giving more data ownership and interpretation tasks to 3D providers. Ludlow said that proprietary data shooting is not a viable business model. He showed how seismic contractors can move toward stability and growth through multi-client data libraries and shared risk.

Jim M. Perkins and Lewis Kuhmichel (BP Inc.) showed the African Swallow (Powder River Basin) case-history discovery, drilled for a pressure anomaly. Drilling followed a 114 sq. mi. 3D seismic survey that imaged Cretaceous Muddy paleotopography in the incised Skull Creek shale. 3D images guided drill site locations within the valley-fill and estuarine model after flow-testing the discovery well to detect pressure boundaries.

The ring leader and chief co-conspirator of the 3D conference, R. Randy Ray. (Photo courtesy of Russ Opfer.)

How can companies thrive through 3D seismic? Venture capitalist Alex Cranberg (President/CEO, Aspect Resources) described success qualities such as taking advantage of 3D economies of scale. Cranberg advocates proprietary seismic because it affords a competitive advantage and reduces risk. Cranberg said that Aspect Resources is “the leading explorer in the upper Texas Gulf Coast and southwest Louisiana regions, based on intensive application of proprietary 3D seismic technology.”

How do I drill 500 wells in 10 years and create 500 BCFG reserves when oil and gas prices are down? Ben “Bud” M. Brigham (President/CEO, Brigham Exploration Company) showed “systematic 3D exploration” in the Frio and Hunton trends in Texas and the Springer trend in the Anadarko Basin. Both time-to-sale of oil and gas (no “stranded investments”) and cost were minimized because risk was reduced by prospect ranking with 3D.

Richard Van Dok (WesternGeco) described how 3D, three-component surveys, processed for velocity in fast and slow shear waves and shear-wave polarization, lead to fracture reservoir models. After recording P and S-wave energy and removing overburden effects (anisotropies), the result can be mappable trends in fractured strata. How do I map strata below salt, volcanics, and gas-saturated sediment? Steve Knapp (Supervisor, Offshore Operations, Seitel Data) showed results from the world’s largest 3D, four-component survey in the offshore Gulf of Mexico. Processing for P and S-wave separations in velocity and amplitude-orientation can resolve key stratal boundaries.

Vincent Rigatti (Repsol/YPF) carried the day in his talk on the thrust belt in eastern Venezuela. Using selective-depth imaging, Vince showed how wells were located on a subthrust anticline that will produce about 1 TCFG from lower Tertiary and upper Cretaceous sediments. Contributing to Rigatti’s work were co-authors Adam Fox, Larry Danahey, Wynn Gajkowski, and Rocky Roden of YPF, and Eduard Maili and Denes Vigh of Paradigm Geophysical.

Mark Fortuna (Conoco, Inc.) showed how Conoco and Burlington Resources shot a 500 sq. mi. 3D survey in the northwestern San Juan Basin of New Mexico. Using existing rig roads, thorough planning, and radio-based seismic recording to create “randomized surface layouts,” the team accomplished the job in less than a year, near budget (about $17,000 per square mile), and with no serious injuries to field personnel. The project resulted in exciting potential gas anomalies in Paleozoics of the San Juan Basin.

What is a “3D Seismic Value Chain”? Jack M. Wiener and Mary Sue Purcell (Texaco E&P) gave a “real-time” presentation driven from a laptop computer, showing how an industry-standard earth-modeling tool (GOcad) was used to convert well-log sonic profiles to synthetic traces, to establish a sonic surface image, and to add seismic data for more detailed mapping.

Registration volunteers at work at the 3D Seismic Symposium.

Lynn M. Chenault (consulting for Grant Geophysical) showed how 3D seismic in “condemned” areas of the Texas/Louisiana Gulf Coast can reveal drill targets, by-passed for more than 50 years of geophysical exploration. Interdomal Frio sandstone anomalies were shown. A “ring” section around piercement salt domes showed where wells can be drilled for optimum structural placement in complexly-faulted strata adjacent to salt.

Brian Fuller (VP Geophysics, Paulsson Geophysical Services, Inc.) showed “subsurface seismology” with 3-component geophones placed in wellbores for a variety of near-well applications. In wellbore-to-surface or surface-to-wellbore 3D designs (tubing-conveyed sets of hundreds of 3C geophones), Fuller showed how operators get high-quality drainage-area imagery without the cost of a large 3D survey. This aids mapping walls of salt piercement features, detecting near-wellbore faulting for sidetrack or horizontal well designs, and gathering data between wells for greater area coverage.

Robert D. Benson (Professor, Dept. of Geophysics, Colorado School of Mines) showed a 4D (time-lapse) multicomponent (9-C) survey of the Vacuum Field on the Northwestern Shelf of the Permian Basin, Lea County, New Mexico. In this Permian San Andres carbon dioxide flood, shear-wave processing in surveys taken at different times can show where flood fluids migrate through oil-saturated reservoir. Dr. Benson said that operators have the opportunity to be “proactive, not reactive” in reservoir management for incremental ultimate oil recovery that pays for the 3D survey.

R. Randy Ray, RMAG Past President and Dr. William C. Pearson (Co-Chairmen) led a large committee of volunteer geoscientists who dedicated time and energy, leading to the meeting’s success. Corporate sponsors included BP/Amoco, GeoGraphix, Veritas DGC, AXIS Geophysics, Fairfield Industries, Quantum Geophysical, Western Geco, Calpine Natural Gas, Grant/Solid State Geophysical, and Seitel Data. Exhibitors included A2D Technologies, Digital Formation, Echo Geophysical, GeoGraphix, GeoPlus, GeoTrace Technologies, Kelman Industries, Paradigm Geophysical, Rockware, Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center, Tricon Geophysics, and Veritas DGC.

A limited number of abstracts of talks are for sale from the RMAG office.