White Paper: Multi-Measurement Interpretation in Action

NEOS has recently published a comprehensive white paper on the technologies and methodologies that form the foundation for Multi-Measurement Interpretation (MMI). Previously available only to NEOS clients, the white paper highlights MMI applications from the basement to the surface, in conventional and unconventional shale plays, and in both regional reconnaissance and pre-drill assurance situations.

The MMI techniques described are supported by case studies from projects around the world. Applicaations highlighted include:

  • Mapping basement topography and morphology
  • Identifying fault and fracture systems
  • Developing resistivity voxels from the near-surface to 10,000′ sub-surface
  • Environmental baselining of vegetative, waterway, and aquifer health
  • Detecting direct and indirect hydrocarbon indicators (DHIs / IHIs)
  • 2-D and 3-D subsurface modeling using non-seismic methods
  • Sweet spot detection in unconventional shales
  • Highgrading acreage via geostatistical, predictive analytics methods.

The white paper, entitled Multi-Measurement Interpretation in Action, is available for download (click here).

Additional information about MMI technologies, applications, and case studies can be accessed on the Resources page of the NEOS web site (click here).

Updated: NEOS Narrated Slideshow

Well, after a year in the spotlight, it came to be time to retire our original narrated slideshow and to replace it with a newer model. Below you’ll find the latest edition, updated to reflect the latest round of projects we’ve been undertaking for our clients in conventional and unconventional basins around the world.

Click here or on the image below to start the slideshow, which will open in a new window.

Explore with More: Powder River Basin, Wyoming

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that the Powder River Basin (PRB) contains approximately 1 billion BOE of remaining recoverable oil and 15 TCF (2.5 billion BOE) of remaining recoverable natural gas. Forty percent of the liquid hydrocarbons are believed to be contained in two unconventional shales – the Mowry and the Niobrara – while 80-90% of the gas is believed to be methane trapped in coal (CBM).

Recent liquids-rich discoveries by several PRB operators have heightened exploration interest in this basin, especially in the Mowry and Niobrara shale intervals, both of which were ignored historically as primary reservoir targets. When discoveries have been made in these shales, geoscientists have noted a correlation between both field locations and well productivity, and the proximity to lineaments and regional fault and associated fracture networks. However, these fracture-control systems are not especially well understood across the basin.

Moreover, the Niobrara is not within the liquid-generation window across all of the Powder River Basin. Liquids content is believed to increase to the northwest, where the basin deepens and the Niobrara plunges below 8,000 feet. However, well control is sparse in this area, and seismic data is limited. There is a real need, therefore, for additional data and insight to help geoscientists to better understand the relative liquids’ content of the Niobrara on an areal basis so they can target their drilling programs at the most economically advantaged portions of the play.

NEOS is currently talking to several PRB operators about launching a basin-scale regional reconnaissance survey over approximately 2,000 square miles of the basin. While a similarly sized 3-D seismic program might cost upwards of $100 million and take several years from the start of permitting to the receipt of processed and interpreted images, NEOS is able to image this same area at a fraction of the cost and deliver the results within a year. The imaging objectives being discussed with potential underwriters include:

  • Defining deep basement architecture, including the impacts regional tectonic, structural, and thermal forces have had on deposition, maturation, and relative reservoir productivity within the Mowry and Niobrara intervals;
  • Identifying lineaments, structural features, and regional fault and fracture networks, including their impact on the relative productivity and exploration potential of target reservoir horizons;
  • Documenting direct and indirect indicators of liquid hydrocarbons on the surface and within the near-surface, as possible predictors of the relative liquid-generation potential of the Niobrara shale;
  • Creating 3-D subsurface structural and stratigraphic models by interpolating among sparse 2-D seismic lines and well control information in the AOI;
  • Identifying the measurements and attributes that correlate with a more productive Niobrara reservoir, and then creating a geo-statistically derived map of relative productivity within the AOI;
  • Establishing an ‘environmental baseline’ within the AOI, noting the presence of pre-development vegetative distress, trace surface hydrocarbons, waterway contamination, and habitat exclusion zones;
  • Highlighting areas worthy of additional G&G study and investment, including areas that would benefit from 3-D seismic acquisition.

The full complement of NEOS’s sensor systems would be used on this survey – gravity, magnetic, hyperspectral, radiometric, electro-magnetic – and all newly acquired data would be integrated and interpreted with existing geoscience datasets, including well logs, production histories, regional maps, and seismic data. NEOS hopes to begin acquiring data for the program in 2Q2012 and deliver final results to the program’s underwriters by the end of the year.


Thinking About Geothermal? Think About NEOS.

I saw an interesting report today from MIT on The Future of Geothermal Energy in the U.S. It got me thinking back to the first ‘real job’ I ever had – in UNOCAL’s Geothermal Division. Our petroleum engineering curriculum required sophomores to work as roustabouts, the theory being that exposure to ‘real work’ (and real workers) out in the oil patch would give us a better appreciation for field operations before we assumed a lifelong career staring into a computer monitor from a cozy office in Houston.

My internship saw me assigned to UNOCAL’s geothermal operation in Brawley, California 10 miles north of the Mexican border. Besides producing steam, Brawley is best known for producing lettuce. Lots and lots of lettuce. The lettuce requires lots of water to grow and to survive Brawley’s 115+ degree summer days. When it gets that hot, water in the open irrigation pits evaporates, adding just enough humidity to the air to remind me of the most oppressive August day in Houston. When you’re working outside in that kind of heat, adjacent to 24” pipes carrying 400F super-heated steam, well, you learn to appreciate a career behind a desk in an air-conditioned office!

The reason Brawley has all that steam below it relates to the San Andreas fault, the shaper of so much of California’s landscape. Brawley sits almost directly on top of the San Andreas in an area where the fault (or more precisely, at least six subordinate faults) have caused the crust to thin as the Pacific and North American plates pull apart from each other. Given the thinner crust, and bolstered by magma upwelling in the subsurface, the area’s geothermal gradient is exceptionally high. High enough, in fact, to superheat groundwater to nearly 500 degrees Fahrenheit (under pressure so it doesn’t boil away to steam until it’s brought to the surface).

Geothermal operators drill wells to tap this superheated water, convert it to steam (directly or indirectly), and run the steam through a turbine to generate electricity. Figuring out where to target these wells – whether producers or injectors – requires some fairly precise science. And this is where NEOS can help.

Generally, the operators want the wells to be located near fault and fracture systems, as it will be easier to produce (and inject) fluids in these areas. According to our VP of Exploration Solutions (who did his Master’s thesis on geothermal fracture detection), “geothermal production largely stems from hydrothermal systems containing high-salinity fluids present along major, deep-seated faults. These fault systems typically can be defined by lineaments characterized by low resistivity, magnetite-destructive alteration, water-transmitted radioactivity, and hydrothermal clay alteration.” Several of our sensors, including radiometric and hyperspectral but especially magnetic and magneto-telluric (MT), can help detect and map these fault-fracture networks from the basement to the surface.

Others sensors, such as gravity, can help geoscientists map the thickness and density of the rock packages above the basement. Interpretation of these measurements can be used to identify zones of crustal thinning or those possessing igneous intrusions, either of which may lead to higher thermal gradients within the subsurface.

Many of us in the oil & gas business don’t think too much about geothermal. But if you have a project that involves geothermal exploration, think about NEOS and how our multi-measurement methodology might be able to help.