4 Ways to Streamline Unconventional E&P Projects
GIS technology has been used in ‘conventional’ petroleum for many years and is now being used increasingly in the development of continuous ‘unconventional’ resource plays such as shale gas, shale oil and coal bed methane.
This makes a lot of sense – most (if not all) of these resources are located onshore and GIS’s ability to integrate satellite imagery, network analysis and hydrological analysis (traditional heartlands for GIS) with more traditional petroleum analysis techniques means that it is arguably even more important in unconventionals.
This blog looks at 4 examples in the unconventionals petroleum sector where GIS technology can be extremely useful in streamlining complex workflows. So, in no particular order…
1. Play Analysis
In conventional ‘play chance’ or ‘common risk segment’ mapping, a geoscientist assigns chance of success (COS) values to key petroleum play elements (e.g. reservoir, source and seal) and then combines the data stack to generate probability maps for the play.
Figure 1 – Play chance mapping of the Ardley CBM play.
You can apply this technique to unconventionals too, using different petroleum play elements (due to the source, reservoir and seal effectively being the same formation) such as total organic carbon % (TOC), gas maturity (VRo), depth to formation and thickness of formation. Typically this data is taken from wells drilled in exploratory or pilot drilling phases.
The example above is taken from an analysis of Alberta’s coal bed methane prospectivity and employed Exprodat’s Team-GIS Segment Analyst software to generate the play chance maps. The software hides the complexity of the geospatial analysis with easy-to-use tools that have been designed specifically for geoscientists.
2. Acreage Analysis
Because GIS allows you to easily integrate multi-disciplinary asset data (e.g. geological, environmental, economic, network, infrastructure, environmental) within a single analysis it is perfect for evaluating and grading unconventional acreage opportunities, such as licenses or lease blocks.
Using GIS you can combine traditional ‘conventional’ block ranking criteria such as play prospectivity with other factors (such as access to water via transport networks or pipelines, hydrology for water management, and environmental data such as sensitive habitats) in order to define analysis criteria and weightings; rank acreage and company acreage positions; and ultimately identify new opportunities.
Figure 2 – Example of ranked Haynesville Shale play sections, near Shreveport, Louisiana.
Quantitatively ranking opportunities by analysing all the available data in this way can be complex, but this is bread and butter to GIS technology and using the right tools the analysis can be completed surprisingly quickly. This allows you to iterate your analysis results many times in order to improve decision quality way beyond that which would be achievable without geospatial analysis.
Exprodat’s Team-GIS Acreage Analyst software packages the complex geospatial processing workflows required in acreage analysis into an easy-to-use toolkit for acreage and portfolio analysis of unconventional resource areas.
3. Reserve Estimation
In unconventional developments you often need to know how much proven, possible and probable reserves can be declared in an area, based on preliminary drilling results from exploration or pilot wells. Drill spacing unit (DSU) grid-based reserve classification techniques are often used for this (under the guidelines set out in the Petroleum Resources Management System, or "PRMS"), and can be applied to developments using both vertical and horizontal drilling, especially where well coverage is sparse.
Figure 3 – Conceptual 1P, 2P and 3P areas used in coal bed methane (Guidelines for the Application of the PRMS, Barker 2008).
Due to its inherent spatial awareness, GIS technology allows you to easily calculate accurate reserve areas, as well as use buffering around producing wells to help estimate reserves. This is demonstrated by the recently updated Society of Petroleum Evaluation Engineers (SPEE) ‘Monograph 3 - Guidelines for the Practical Evaluation of Undeveloped Reserves in Resource Plays’ publication which includes a recommended reserve estimation methodology based on GIS technology.
Once generated, such reserve area polygons can be combined with raster-based reserve-in-place (e.g. gas-in-place) grids derived from preliminary drilling at pilot sites. Using spatial analysis of the grids you can then calculate estimated reserve volumes based on the gas-in-place raster, as well as license interest and recovery factor attribute data.
Exprodat’s Team-GIS Unconventionals Analyst software contains tools to estimate unconventional reserves based on both horizontal and vertical wells, and can be applied to shale gas, shale oil and coal seam gas developments.
4. Geospatial Well Pattern Optimisation
Again, due to its inherent ability to understand spatial relationships, GIS technology is being used increasingly in the unconventionals well pattern planning arena. Using GIS you can analyse multiple surface drilling constraints, ensuring that wells are not placed within specified distances of areas where drilling is not permitted, such as leases held by other companies, protected habitats, rivers, road , forests and urban areas.
Figure 4 – Example well pattern avoiding constraints and showing drainage efficiency metrics.
In addition, GIS’s unique spatial analytics enable you to optimise well patterns ensuring that they maximise the amount of resource being 'drained' by the wells within the pattern, while avoiding the surface drilling constraints.
Exprodat’s Team-GIS Unconventionals Analyst contains unique tools to design well patterns around multiple surface drilling constraints in order to maximise resource drainage efficiency.
The four upstream examples discussed above show that GIS is an extremely useful toolkit when planning unconventional exploration and development projects, emerging as a core technology for extracting shale gas, shale oil and coal bed methane reserves.
Figure 5 – Team-GIS tools for unconventional resource exploration and development.
Exprodat’s Team-GIS software has been designed so that geoscience teams can easily leverage the unique power of geospatial technology when working in unconventionals without having to re-invent the wheel. The products are designed to hide the complexity and jargon of the geospatial realm so that geoscientists don’t have to embark on a steep learning curve to master the tools.
If you’d like further information on how Exprodat can help your unconventional projects please contact us now.
Posted by Chris Jepps, Technical Director, Exprodat.