I have previously expressed my scepticism about how some of the “big data” learnings from other industries can be applied in oil & gas and I confess that I still need paracetamol for my headache when one of the behemoths of the world, or even of our industry, addresses the topic!
However, listening to some smaller companies with regard to the application of their software to subsurface applications, I have seen 4 or 5 different levels of insight:
1. Optimising a particular technology's impact on production.
2. Figuring out which technology has the most impact on production.
3. Noting that in mature provinces recovery factors vary significantly between reservoir intervals, analysing what it is that most drives recovery factors.
4. Recognising what drives the production “sweet spots” in a basin.
5. And finally, concerning ‘prediction' as opposed to ‘retrospection'. My thought is that we used geophysics, especially 3D seismic, to become predictive with respect to Deep Water reservoirs – but it took a long time (15 years, and lots of the Majors got there at roughly the same time). I think we can do a lot more with the combination of 3D seismic + logs + core + fluid analyses but at the moment this tends to produce ‘clouds of points' - which cry out for the type of multi-variate analysis some can deliver.
Beyond this, I have encountered small companies that are using Analytics on for example:
Satellite data – many more satellites up there every day, with an increasing range and diversity of sensors: present all sorts of opportunities including onshore geology!
Simulation – the ability to simulate everything in a city (I heard about a virtual Singapore the other day) to undertaking ‘what ifs' with North Sea infrastructure.
Multi-physics – how to integrate masses of satellite data, non-seismic geophysics, seismic, ‘rock hammering'.
Just my observations!
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