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Development & Calibration of New 3-D Vector VSP Imaging Technology, Vinton Salt Dome
Project Number

This research addresses both improvement in processing of subsurface data and development of technology to increase resolution of reservoir compartmentalization, reservoir geometries, and prediction of fluids. Specifically, researchers aim to extract information that will aid in predicting hydrocarbons, improve the velocity/depth model, and improve subsurface resolution using a unique 3-D vector vertical seismic profile (VSP) collected in conjunction with 3-D surface data over a 100-year-old field associated with the Vinton, LA, Salt Dome.

This project was selected in response to DOE's Oil Exploration and Production solicitation DE-PS26-01NT41048 (focus area: Critical Upstream Advanced Diagnostics and Imaging Technology). The goal of the solicitation is to continue critical upstream cross-cutting, interdisciplinary research for the development of advanced and innovative technologies for imaging and quantifying reservoir rock and fluid properties for improved oil recovery.


University of Houston
Houston, TX


Vinton Dome is of one of OPEX's prime properties, with plans for 2001 that include more than 10 new wells and a concomitant investment in complete suites of well logs. OPEX's preliminary results from combining standard 3-D seismic and downhole VSP data show significant increase in seismic information content and potential for greatly improved reservoir imaging and amplitude-vs.-offset analysis of rock and fluid properties. The results of the proposed University of Houston-OPEX project will form part of OPEX's Vinton Dome reservoir characterization and management program, thereby becoming a real-time research effort to enhance domestic oil and gas production.

Project Results
The project achieved its goals by adapting new technology developed for vector ocean-bottom-cable seismic analysis to the vector VSP geometry. Researchers calibrated these new algorithms through 2-D numerical elastic models and a 3-D elastic physical model. They further calibrated this new technology to Output Exploration LLC's (OPEX) Vinton Dome property, using two recently acquired, permanently installed 3-D vector VSP data sets against extensive well control, check shots, and production data. Finally, researchers will test the vector VSP predictions with OPEX's drillbit.

There is potential for a significant scientific breakthrough that will allow domestic producers to more accurately locate, inventory, and produce remaining hydrocarbon resources. This new technology will have direct application for identification of reservoir compartmentalization in mature domestic fields. For Texas onshore salt-dome related fields alone, this potentially affects mature and super-mature fields that have a cumulative production 5.3 billion barrels of oil.

Project Summary
Tasks performed include:

  • Numerical and physical modeling-used OPEX well control and 3-D surface seismic to build multiple 2-D numerical and one 3-D 1:10,000 scale physical model to simulate vector VSP data with a known solution.
  • Algorithm development-developed prototype vector processing, velocity analysis, and imaging algorithms.
  • Algorithm calibration-calibrated vector VSP algorithms with the aid of the numerical and physical model data sets researchers developed.
  • Algorithm application to Vinton Dome-applied vector VSP algorithms using OPEX's two 3-D vector VSP data sets.
  • Data integration-integrated 3-D vector VSP images with existing 3-D surface seismic image. Evaluated improvements in illumination, resolution, and hydrocarbon prediction.
Current Status

Project is complete.

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution

$435,000 (35% of total)

Contact Information

NETL - Purna Halder ( or 918-699-2084
U. Houston - Kurt Marfurt ( or 713-743-9119