paper structure maps have long been an invaluable tool for oil and
a downside: They’re cumbersome and cluttered with various data,
and what you see is what you get -- until the supplier issues updated
it’s possible to boot up the computer wherever you happen to be,
enter a password and point and click your way to a raft of digitized
electronic structure maps and a virtual storehouse of underlying
data that would thrill even the most curmudgeonly prospector.
one type of tool is StructureMaps.com. The only technology the user
needs to provide is a high speed Internet connection.
boost to prospecting was created by Geological Consulting Services
(GCS) as the logical follow-up to churning out paper maps for the
Mesozoic trend of the Gulf Coast for 30 years.
paper maps were as intelligent as they were going to get,” said
Carl Dillistone, president of GCS. “Now you can click on data elements
and there are databases there. We’ve scanned all the data in-house
that we can make available and linked it to the wells.
can work an area without spending time running around looking for
data,” Dillistone said. “They can get everything without being a
users can click on a well symbol and bring up a log to download
and display in their own software. Or they can bring up areal photos,
topographic quads, scout tickets (where available from state agencies)
can’t be altered, but the layers can be turned on and off. For those
who want the flexibility to manipulate the data, a licensing program
allows the licensee to “rent” an array of data, including a digital
land grid and well location files and the GCS formation tops data
requires certain software and the expertise to use it. Prospectors
can download the data into their own software and exploit them however
geologist and AAPG member John Griffiths, president of Calvin Resources,
is a devotee of online prospecting.
the amount of information you can pull together,” Griffiths said.
“For someone like me who does it all, the amount of time you save
and the amount of data you get is just phenomenal.”
a recent effort to investigate a well that had been staked to drill
to 25,000 feet.
of a couple of old deep wells that were drilled, so I pulled up
the online stuff and found where the company was offsetting one
of those,” Griffiths said. “I looked at a map and looked at 10-15
wells that would have seen the same interval or something near it,
and I pulled log raster images straight off the Web site and had
a deep map built in an hour. Then, using the tops picks, I isopached
an interval covering most of the basin, which took another 15 minutes.
two hours I had an isopach showing basically the axis of the basin
and what might have been the channel that fed the sands coming from
the source,” Griffiths continued, “and had a cross section built
showing what the sands looked like at depth in that area covering
about four counties.”
not-so-old days, this endeavor would have taken weeks.
years ago this sort of thing was out of reach of most of us,” Griffiths
said. “Now the technology has come forward and the cost of the data
has come down.”
ongoing concern in the industry about the tendency of some geoscientists
to depend more on the computer than on science to search for hydrocarbons,
it’s noteworthy to point out there’s more to this online digital
prospecting game than pointing and clicking your way to a drilling
most anything in the oil and gas business, a big part of the process
is understanding the area,” Griffiths said. “Having worked east
Texas close to 30 years, I’ve looked at a lot of the basin and have
a good idea of the productive trends -- what produces where and
why. You’re filtering all you see through that process and experience.
while looking for a particular log, I noticed a show well that wasn’t
offset and right away wondered if it should be, because I know the
trend of the producing interval in that particular area,” he said.
“And I know you can go from a show well to one that produces maybe
five Bcf in one location.
data help generate leads like this quickly,” he noted. “Then you
can rapidly put together the additional information to see if it’s
a prospect or not. In fact, I can generate a map on top of the interval
of interest covering the entire East Texas Basin in a few minutes
and do a quick appraisal.”
the growing buzz over the advantages of this futuristic-type online
prospecting, old habits die hard, and there are folks out there
who still work up deals the old way -- and it’s still a good thing.
the time it takes to stop and learn the computer world can be a
detriment to success,” Dillistone said. “With oil and gas prices
where they are today, people need to be out selling prospects, so
there’s no time to learn the computer if they haven’t already.”
the prospectors appear to be embracing the digital age in increasing
numbers, which has the potential to open up unprecedented opportunities.
to open up a laptop computer wherever you are and pull up the complete
prospect including maps, logs, cross sections -- indeed, the whole
enchilada – has profound implications for the way business is conducted.