Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Ultra-deepwater and Unconventional Resources Program)
Geophysical Modeling for Studying Acquisition and Processing Methods in the Deepwater Gulf of Mexico
The goal of this project is to develop a suite of synthetic geophysical datasets that can be used by industry and the geophysical research community to improve reservoir imaging techniques. The synthetic data will be acquired over an existing Society of Exploration Geophysicists Advanced Modeling (SEAM) numerical earth model that represents a 60-block sub-salt exploration area in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The datasets to be generated in this project include: acoustic and elastic seismic, controlled source electromagnetic, magnetotelluric, and gravity data. Ultimately, these synthetic datasets will be used by researchers to develop best practices for acquisition and processing of geophysical imaging data in deep, complex hydrocarbon reservoirs.
SEAM Corporation – Subsidiary of Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG), Tulsa, OK 74137
Geophysical imaging has limited value in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico because hydrocarbon reservoirs in this province are commonly obscured by massive, complex salt bodies. This project aims to advance geophysical imaging in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico by providing industry and the geophysical research community with a realistic benchmark geological model of the province, along with synthetic geophysical datasets, including acoustic seismic, elastic seismic, controlled source electromagnetic, magnetotelluric, and gravity data. These synthetic datasets will be made available to the exploration geophysics community for use in developing improved imaging tools and techniques, specifically for the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.
The project will be led by a SEAM Program Manager and executed by a SEAM Project Manager, with technical input from representatives of the 23 SEAM consortium members. These member companies include 3DGeo, Anadarko, BHP, CGGVeritas, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Devon, EMGS, Eni, ExxonMobil, Geotrace, Hess, ION, Landmark, Maersk, Marathon, Petrobras, PGS, Repsol, Rock Solid Images, StatoilHydro, TOTAL, and WesternGeco. Technical issues and decisions will be handled by six Technical Working Groups comprised of geophysical specialists from the SEAM consortium companies. The Technical Working Groups include: 1) Model Design, 2) Numerical Design, 3)Acquisition Design, 4) Non-seismic Design, 5) Execution, and 6) Data Storage and Distribution.
The project’s technical tasks will be carried out by subcontractors, which will be selected by the SEAM management team with input from the SEAM consortium members. Specific tasks that will be carried out by subcontractors include: technology transfer, data storage and distribution, execution of acoustic and elastic simulations, execution of non-seismic simulations, and computational support.
Deliverables for this project will include: 1) SEAM 3D geological benchmark model used to generate the synthetic geophysical datasets; 2) variable-density acoustic simulation data generated from the SEAM geological model; 3) magnetotelluric dataset generated from the SEAM model; 4) controlled source electromagnetic dataset generated using the SEAM model; 5) gravity data generated over the SEAM model; 6) elastic wavefield dataset generated using the SEAM model. In addition, a final report will be delivered that will provide an in-depth description of the SEAM geological model and detailed descriptions of all synthetic datasets generated, including documentation on acquisition strategies and numerical validation procedures used.
If successful, this project should significantly advance the next generation of geophysical imaging technologies for the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Specifically, the synthetic datasets resulting from this project are expected to advance geophysical imaging in the following ways: 1) the variable density acoustic dataset will allow development and testing of imaging algorithms without the complication of free-surface multiples; 2) the magnetotelluric dataset will be used to test magnetotelluric inversion approaches, as well as joint inversion approaches where the magnetotelluric data are constrained by independent data; 3) the controlled source electromagnetic dataset will help refine joint CSEM/ seismic inversion methodologies; 4) the gravity data will help constrain joint inversion results; and 5) the 3D elastic seismic data will be used to improve image quality in difficult to illuminate regions where salt bodies or other complexities are present.
Improved geophysical imaging in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico has the potential to add substantial gas reserves to the nation’s domestic gas supply. The cumulative benefit will depend on the number of gas fields where the technology is ultimately applied. An incremental increase in domestic gas production would result in increased tax revenues, royalties, and regional economic benefits.
Work on this project began in 2009. At the present time, there are no major accomplishments to report.
When the project is awarded, work will begin on two initial tasks: the development of a Project Management Plan with a work breakdown structure that concisely addresses the objectives and approach for each task with all major milestones and decision points, and the development of a Technology Status Assessment describing the state-of-the-art of the proposed technology. The key tasks to be undertaken following the submission of the Project Management plan and Technology Status Assessment are outlined below.
Development of Synthetic Datasets - The project team will develop synthetic geophysical datasets over the SEAM numerical earth model, using numerical simulation codes that have been selected through rigorous validation procedures. The acquisition plans for the numerical simulations will be designed to allow the data to be used to test a range of acquisition strategies and processing methods. The team will develop the following datasets:
- Acoustic Seismic – This variable density dataset will be acquired over a large area of the SEAM model, to optimize research into seismic acquisition strategies and imaging algorithms for deep, sub-salt exploration targets.
- CSEM, MT, and Gravity – These complementary datasets will be acquired over the full SEAM model, to provide a framework for research into joint inversion methods for enhanced interpretation of structure, rock, and fluid properties.
- Elastic Seismic – This dataset will be acquired over a carefully selected sub-area of the SEAM model to facilitate research into the identification of elastic effects on data quality and improvements for elastic data processing.
Data Storage and Distribution – The project team will select a reliable subcontractor with a history of hosting and distributing geophysical data to store and distribute all synthetic datasets developed in this project. The data will be stored and distributed according to industry best practice standards for a period of ten years or more, depending on the useful lifespan of the data. The data will be stored in such a way that subsets of the data can be routinely extracted and delivered to academic and industry users upon request.
Technology Transfer - Throughout the project, the SEAM project team will work with RPSEA to implement an effective technology transfer program. SEAM is working with SEG and their monthly professional publication The Leading Edge to publish a regular quarterly article about progress on the SEAM project. Technology transfer will also include publication of technical papers and participation in conferences and workshops.
Project Start: June 15, 2009
Project End: June 14, 2011
DOE Contribution: $2,000,000
Performer Contribution: $500,000
RPSEA – Art Schroeder (firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-372-2817)
NETL – Jay Jikich (Sinisha.Jikich@netl.doe.gov or 304-285-4320)
SEAM – Peter Pangman (email@example.com or 918-497-5518)
Article in The Leading Edge [PDF] February, 2010