I ran across the following excerpt from BHP Billiton‘s President of Petroleum Exploration and Chief Geoscientist, Dave Rainey, in the March 2014 edition of World Oil. I found it fascinating, as the regional, multi-physics approach to shale development he is advocating is highly aligned with NEOS’s multi-measurement interpretation (MMI) approach.
I’ve been told that one of Dave’s key mandates in his recently expanded role is to transfer ‘best of breed’ technologies and methodologies from BHPB’s Mining divisions to the Petroleum group, and vice versa. It seems like the vision is already being put into practice. Not only is Dave promoting a multi-measurement interpretation (MMI) approach to shale exploration and development (akin to our neoBASIN offering and our advocacy to “See Beyond the Shale“) he’s also talking about the merits of an MMI approach to geo-hazard detection (akin to our Eco-Assurance offering).
In the spirit of full disclosure, BHPB aren’t a client (yet!). But it’s certainly nice to see NEOS’ vision aligning so well with one of the world’s largest natural resource companies.
Excerpted from World Oil (March 2014) – Advances Made in Shale-Specific Geology and Geophysics
A GEOSCIENCE ISSUE
“The first challenge to overcome is actually the recognition that this is a geoscience issue. I think there has been a perception in our industry that this is an engineering issue—that there is no geological risk. I think we’re all finding that that’s not the case.”
According to David Rainey, president of Petroleum Exploration and Chief Geoscientist, BHP Billiton, “The first challenge to overcome is actually the recognition that this is a geoscience issue. I think there has been a perception in our industry that this is an engineering issue—that there is no geological risk. I think we’re all finding that that’s not the case.”
“Doing the geoscience basics is the first step. That means understanding the regional geology of the basin you’re operating in. It means understanding the regional variation of the shale that you’re exploring or developing or producing. One point to note is that not all shales are shales. For example, neither of the two biggest liquids plays in the U.S. right now—the Eagle Ford and the Bakken—are shales. Shale is actually a very loose geoscience term. It’s not a term that we particularly like as geoscientists. It’s a field geology term. Both the Eagle Ford and the Bakken are actually carbonates.”
Rainey continued, “So it’s about describing the pore system in rocks that have very small pores. The physics of that is actually much more complex than it is in the conventional world. It’s about understanding the storage in the reservoir, and that’s about describing porosity, and petroleum saturation, and the impact of pressure on fluid volume.
It’s then about understanding the producibility of the petroleum fluid, and that’s about the thermal history of the reservoir and the source (if they are different), and how that controls viscosity and gas-oil ratio, and it’ s about over-pressure and how all of these things convolve to control the producibility of the fluid.
And then it’s about understanding the fracability of the reservoir—how susceptible is the reservoir to being enhanced by the application of fracturing technology? And that’ s about mineralogy and overburden pressure and the natural stress regime in which the reservoir sits.
“Finally, we need to consider how these different factors reinforce each other in a positive way to form the sweet spot in the play; alternatively, they may cancel or reinforce negatively to form the marginal area of the play. So, it’s not about finding or recovering hydrocarbons, but whether the geology concentrates them in economic quantities.
“There are other challenges,” Rainey said. “We’ve got some issues in the Permian—just some drilling issues in the shallow horizons, because it’s buried limestone, so it’s a cost. There are big cavities down there, just like caves. You go through underground caves, and those are things that are difficult to drill through. There are a number of seismic applications—shallow, high-resolution seismic is one—to try and predict where those might be. We’ve just kicked off a team to see what other geophysical methods can be brought to bear on the problem.
For example, there is a technology called airborne gravity gradiometry. It measures the gradient of the gravity field, as opposed to the total gravity field, and it’s more sensitive to shallow perturbations in the gravity field than conventional methods. The technology was originally developed for defense applications, and was then adapted for resource exploration by BHP Billiton. It’s been used on the minerals side, because, relative to the petroleum industry, our activities tend to be closer to the surface. We’re not drilling to 10,000 or 20,000 ft in the minerals business. The things we are interested in are all relatively close to the surface.”
To read the full article entitled, “Advances Made in Shale-Specific Geology and Geophysics,” click here.