Innovators in Geosciences Series

Outcrops and modern depositional systems as reservoir analogs: Interview with Zane Jobe

Published
American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

The present is the key to the past. Nowhere is this more in evidence than in depositional systems, where modern depositional systems can provide insight for better geologic models. Welcome to an interview with Zane Jobe, Research Professor and Director of the Chevron Center of Research Excellence (CoRE) at Colorado School of Mines. In this interview, he talks to us about new developments and emerging trends in reservoir modeling.

What is your name and your involvement in petroleum geology?

Zane Jobe
Zane Jobe
Zane Jobe. I am a research professor and the Director of the Chevron Center of Research Excellence (CoRE) at Colorado School of Mines. I previously worked at Shell for 6 years as a research geologist in the Clastics Research Team.

What are some of the projects that you've been involved in?

While at Shell, I researched modern and ancient deep-water depositional systems and developed field-based training courses. My role now as the Director of CoRE is to foster an innovative industry-academic partnership that promotes world-class research and education. CoRE focuses on scientific and technical challenges faced by the energy industry, and we specialize in clastic stratigraphy using quantitative methodologies to examine modern and ancient clastic systems.

How can we be more effective in understanding reservoirs, especially in challenging environments?

Spectral decomposition map of submarine channel-lobe systems (from Oluboyo et al., 2014).
Spectral decomposition map of submarine channel-lobe systems (from Oluboyo et al., 2014).
By integrating data from modern and outcropping depositional systems. These analogues provide data concerning the detailed heterogeneity that is difficult to understand using typical industry tools (e.g., seismic and well data). Furthermore, we should also be using source-to-sink techniques to better understand temporal and spatial sediment delivery.

What are some of the "must have" tools and information for today's exploration and development team?

Advanced spectral and elevation decomposition techniques for seismic data; analogue databases and analytics packages to objectively select analogues and provide dimensional data for reservoir modelling purposes.

What are some of the emerging tools and techniques that you find useful?

Comparison of photos taken from ground level (top) and from a drone (bottom). Not only is the drone-based image higher quality, it can be used to create a 3D model using Structure from Motion techniques.
Comparison of photos taken from ground level (top) and from a drone (bottom). Not only is the drone-based image higher quality, it can be used to create a 3D model using Structure from Motion techniques.
Photogrammetry and Structure-from-Motion are related technologies that are enabling us to better and more quantitatively analyze outcropping depositional systems. These datasets provide us with dimensional data and lateral continuity data that can be used to populate reservoir models.

Do you see any "breakthroughs" on the horizon?  What are they? Where can they be applied?

I think that 'big data' is the next big break through. As an industry, we don't do a great job at organizing and analyzing all the data we collect. One example would be to organize core interpretations from multiple locales into a framework that can help predict depositional environment in an uncertain area.

References

Amplitude map, Niger Delta continental slope (from Jobe et al., 2015).
Amplitude map, Niger Delta continental slope (from Jobe et al., 2015).
Jobe, Z.R., Sylvester, Z., Parker, A.O., Howes, N., Slowey, N., and Pirmez, C., 2015, Rapid Adjustment of Submarine Channel Architecture To Changes In Sediment Supply: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 85, p. 729–753, doi: 10.2110/jsr.2015.30.

Oluboyo, A.P., Gawthorpe, R.L., Bakke, K., and Hadler-Jacobsen, F., 2014, Salt tectonic controls on deep-water turbidite depositional systems: Miocene, southwestern Lower Congo Basin, offshore Angola: Basin Research, v. 26, p. 597–620, doi: 10.1111/bre.12051.

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