Complex Geology Plays: Making the Most of Your Data

/Portals/1/Images/IEnergyImages/Publishing/STEPS/Steps_sized.jpgBy Dr. Clare Maher

iEnergy® Editor in Chief, Halliburton Landmark



The modern history of the petroleum industry dates back to the 19th century. This was a time when petroleum exploration was based upon locating and exploiting natural seepages at the surface which typically sat atop a fractured anticline. With time the industry has ventured into the exploration of progressively more complex plays. This has helped to drive the technological revolution of the exploration and production industry.

Through intense innovation, technologies such as reflection seismology, electrical well logs and rotary drilling are now considered an essential part of modern exploration. These technologies have helped the industry to operate more efficiently and effectively, and reduce subsurface risk. They have also generated huge volumes of data, with five petabytes of data collected per square kilometre every day (1).

These vast quantities of data, if managed and leveraged properly, could have a significant bearing on the success of an organizations portfolio. All those involved need to be able to make the most of this data and work together to produce a coherent and robust interpretation. This, in turn, will facilitate sound decision making. The more complex the play is, the higher the stakes are and the harder the exploration geoscientist has to work to understand the risks.

Deepwater drilling and unconventional play production are becoming the norm. Both of which present significant challenges and therefore make it harder to generate revenue. Neither of these scenarios allows for any loss of efficiency. Therefore, no time can be afforded in the transfer of data between databases or working with multiple unrelated models of the subsurface.


A successful exploration and appraisal lifecycle requires the involvement of geologists, geophysicists, and engineers. All of which require access to the same data and the ability to interpret that data. But with so many people accessing and interpreting the same data there is a real risk that the interpretations may start to diverge. Such divergence has the potential to underestimating the risks involved and poor decisions being made.

To keep everyone on the same page data needs to be shared freely and interpretations updated dynamically. Importantly, all those involved in the exploration and appraisal process needs to be able to access and update these data and interpretations. This is best achieved on a single enterprise platform.

A recent webinar delivered by Jane Glenn, a geophysicist at Halliburton Landmark, demonstrated how the DecisionSpace® Geoscience software addresses this very challenge. Using the complex Thunderhorse salt structure in the Gulf of Mexico as an example, the entire workflow was put to the test. This included data gathering, seismic interpretation and the modeling of the data, all the way through to volumetrics and basic well planning. All of this was accomplished in a dynamic and truly collaborative environment.

Such workflows have the potential to greatly enhance the geoscientist’s ability to generate accurate subsurface models. The efficiency and effectiveness of employing such workflows can help shorten the exploration and appraisal cycles and support greater exploration success.

Watch Jane Glenn’s webinar on “Complex Geology Plays: Making the Most of Your Data” today. Discover how you can make the most out of you data by utilizing smart and connected workflows and keep the entire exploration team on the same page!

(1) Williams, S., 2015.Big Security for Big Data: Integrated Platforms for Data Analysis.Gas Technology Review