Microseismic Monitoring Delivers the Big Picture

Success may breed success, but it takes effort.

As success in shale plays has grown, so has the pressure to keep the production flowing.

Microseismic is one of the tools that have grown in popularity as it has helped producers answer one of the biggest questions they face: Where to drill next?

It continues to evolve and remain an important component in ensuring future success, according to its proponents.

Peter Duncan
Peter Duncan

AAPG member Peter Duncan, founder and CEO of Houston-based MicroSeismic, will discuss the achievements and promise of the technology during a panel discussion on Emerging Offshore Geosciences Technologies at the upcoming Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.

“Microseismic monitoring is to fracing as logging is to drilling,” Duncan said in a recent interview with the EXPLORER.

Microseismic helps show which parts of a reservoir are draining, thus pointing to the best areas to put future wells, Duncan said.

“Without it you are really making some pretty large assumptions about what happened when you treated the well,” Duncan said. “What operators want to know most is what volume of the reservoir is a well going to effectively drain over its life and, hence, where should they drill its nearest neighbor.

“Optimal well spacing,” he said, “is what operators need to know.”

Positive Factors

According to Duncan, two factors have contributed to the increased use of microseismic in the last decade.

“The first is that operators have become increasingly aware of the complexity of the shale plays and, consequently, the need to monitor a larger proportion of their fracs to get a more complete picture of how the rocks are responding to stimulation,” he said.

“The second is that over the last 10 years we have learned to pull more valuable information out of the monitoring data.”

“Microseismic monitoring, in common with most geophysical techniques, seems to work better in some plays than in others. The Eagle Ford, Marcellus, Utica and Horn River Basin deliver some of the best monitoring results that we have seen so far,” said Duncan, whose company serves operators of all sizes.

Duncan said the technology, while not really young, continues to develop.

“We have only scratched the surface of what reservoir knowledge can be gleaned from the monitoring datasets,” he said.

“As we learn to integrate the monitoring responses with the other geological, geomechanical and geophysical data available on the reservoir, I believe we will move to monitoring every well in real time,” he said, “rather like logging while drilling – first determining the template upon which the field should be developed and then assessing each well as it is drilled in order to respond to any changes in the reservoir that are encountered,” he said.

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Meet Peter Duncan

AAPG member Peter Duncan, with Houston-based MicroSeismic Inc., will be part of a panel discussing “Emerging Offshore Geosciences Technologies” at the upcoming Offshore Technology Conference, set May 5-8 at Reliant Park, Houston.

This year’s event marks the 45th anniversary of OTC, which has become one of the industry’s largest gatherings. AAPG is a sponsoring organization and annually a key contributor to the technical program.

The panel on “Emerging Offshore Geosciences Technologies” will be held at 9:30 a.m. to noon on Monday, May 5.

Others on the panel include:

  • Paulo Roberto Johann, with Petrobras America.
  • David James Monk, with Apache Corp.
  • Shuki Ronen, with Seabird Geosolutions.
  • Rocco Detomo, consultant.

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