Finding Easier Ways to Visualize Subsurface Data: Interview with Hamed Soroush

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

We have ways to collect and store data, but it’s still remarkably hard to talk about it. Join us as we talk to Hamed Soroush of Petrolern about new ways to visualize data sets and to collaboratively analyze and discuss it.

What is your name and your background?

Hamed Soroush
Hamed Soroush
My name is Hamed Soroush, I am the CEO of Petrolern. I have worked in the oil and gas industry as a geomechanicist for the last 25 years. I worked for different service and operating companies such as CSIRO, GMI, Senergy, Weatherford, Shell, and Dong Energy. Academically I have a Bachelors in Mining Engineering, a Masters in Rock Mechanics and a PhD in Petroleum Engineering.

How did you get interested in analytics?

It was the focus of my PhD study back in 2005 to apply data science approaches to extract geomechanical information from oilfield data. I checked the applicability of several approaches to (i) better process, interpret, and visualize data, (ii) fill the gaps in the data, and (iii) make prediction of rock formations reaction to subsurface operations without having to go through lengthy and time-consuming traditional approaches. I fell in love with the extent of value that data analytics and visualization could bring to the table.

What were some of the "pain points" that you wanted to address? Where did you see them?

Subsurface datasets are multi-scale, disparate, time dependent and complex. Understanding these datasets is only possible for domain experts through cumbersome and rigorous steps to set up physics-based simulation and visualization tools. The process is painstakingly time-consuming and costly even for such experts. An ideal data visualization tool should provide users with a fast and intuitive means to interactively explore and analyze data. We initiated GeoDeck envisioning an innovative application that gives non-experts easy access to data and provides them with fast insights. It is a platform that all stakeholders in the field could collaborate simultaneously and discuss while they are immersed in datasets.

What is the " GeoDeck Visualization Platform "? How did it get started?

The goal of GeoDeck is to eliminate or minimize the rigorous setup, time, cost, and complexity that the industry is currently facing when visualizing subsurface data. GeoDeck aims at making the visualization process more efficient, productive, scalable, and accessible to a wider range of users. The software is designed and customized for people who do not necessarily have the time or skill to use conventional software to extract insights from physics-based workflows which are notoriously time consuming and complicated. To offer maximum simplicity and accessibility, GeoDeck is designed to be a web-based application that can be loaded in browsers. To create a fast and seamless user experience on the web, we employed modern graphics. Moreover, since geodata are often too large to be handled by browsers (or even the user’s machines), GeoDeck intelligently and dynamically loads the data. Our team undertook extensive designs to make the interaction between scientific variables and their spatial and temporal dimensions straightforward and intuitive, if not effortless. We believe style and simplicity is as critical as mechanistic rationales and functionalities in a visualization platform. GeoDeck, through its smart and quick sampling mechanism, lets the users seamlessly perform uncertainty analysis on static and dynamic data under different operational and computational scenarios and visualize uncertainty in several unique ways. Often, users are one click away to generate many of the popular graphs, e.g., heat maps, iso-surfaces, scatterplots, statistics, etc.

The GeoDeck project was started to participate in a major DOE competition conducted by the SMART Initiatives Team to develop a new generation of visualization tool specifically for bulky subsurface monitoring datasets. While we are one of the winners of the Phase I competition, we are waiting for the results of the Phase II for the final prize.

Please describe positive use cases for GeoDeck Visualization Platform.

GeoDeck was specifically developed for carbon storage Monitoring, Verification and Accounting (MVA) data to facilitate real-time data visualization, risk identification and decision-making. It is specifically designed to track the CO2 plume movement and notify the users about any anomaly in the data that can be associated with risk of CO2 leakage or induced seismicity. However, GeoDeck is equally applicable to geothermal and oil&gas operations; and provides advance 1D, 2D and 3D visualization and analytics for any type of subsurface datasets. The immersive characteristics of the platform promote a collaborative approach for team members to work together on the same data at the same time.

Most of the data in subsurface geoscience and engineering are unstructured. They are characterized by multidimensional sources streaming from simulations and/or complex sensory surveys. Visualizing these transient dynamics, alongside their uncertainties at different scales is a complicated problem. However, GeoDeck has been designed to tackle this challenge and be easy to use, fast to interact with, and immersive in experience.

What are your plans for the future?

Our vision for GeoDeck is to empower it with Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to enable users to interact with the model as a real-world physical object, that can be studied from different perspectives. We believe that 3D visualization in VR/AR is the most appropriate way to help decision-makers understand and glean insights from huge datasets. These technologies will unlock the power of big data in a field as complex as geoscience. We envision the future of GeoDeck to be a powerful VR/AR visualization tool and accessible to all with minimal equipment and software needed. Our plan is to bring GeoDeck to the market in late 2022 or early 2023.

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