Keynote address from Thierry Pilenko, GeoQuest's new president. (April 1998)

Pilenko gave a top level view of whereGeoQuest is going today. The target horizon for Pilenko’s talk was 2005-2010, and theobjective – 'Automated Reservoir Optimization'.

In the same breath, and following each mention of the word "automation" Pilenko stressed – as if to reassure the assembled mouse-clickers that "We don’t want to remove creativity, just to eliminate the tedious aspects of the interpretation and optimization process". Top level talks between service companies and oils have led GeoQuest to set themselves a very high objective. In the above time-frame, the aim is to halve finding costs by upping discovery size, diminishing the number of dry holes and reducing drilling costs. The real challenge, Pilenko stated, is "to do this with existing staffing levels by maximizing user potential".

New paradigm

The new paradigm for reservoir optimization will involve more, new players from sister companies in the Schlumberger group. To date, GeoQuest has provided a "small piece of the cake". To leverage to real time, new sensors and actuators will have to be developed and integrated into the software environment. Among the new players will be Schlumberger’s customers and third party providers. Offering access to the GeoQuest software environment has been a "major strategic decision". Open access will be provided through standards allowing third parties to develop their own ideas on a common software platform which will integrate the new automated process environment. In this context, Pilenko affirmed that GeoFrame is already offering such services to third parties and is "100% POSC compliant". (Editor’s note - For those of you who have escaped PDM’s editorial line on POSC "compliance" we would encourage you to refer to PDM Vol 3 N 2).

Geology cube

An example of how all this will hang together is the move from today’s interpretation environment – still essentially the 3D two-way travel time seismic cube – to the near-term objective of the velocity cube and depth cube deliverables. Further down the road, interpreters will be working directly on the "geology cube" which will integrate the seismic-derived information with corporate knowledge utilizing all the interpretation skills available. This geology cube will also incorporate quantitative measures of the uncertainty in its spatial attributes and will be delivered with tools to manage and audit such uncertainty.

Economic space

Once the play types have been defined and associated with certain seismic attributes these can be studied throughout what then becomes the "prospect cube", and as well paths are developed, and potentially modified during drilling, this in turn becomes the "planning cube". Real time input to the planning cube will come from surface mounted sensors recording information transmitted from the drill bit. This will provide continuous information gathering, incorporated into the model in real time, and allowing for changes in the well trajectory. Another example of such real-time adjustment is the possibility that a field can be discovered and appraised in one operation. All this leads Pilenko to another geometrical environment, - where one navigates in "economic space" – where dollar values can be computed in real time for optimal drilling decisions such as dog-leg severity.

Automation key

Pilenko’s top level analysis of the way in which Schlumberger’s product line has evolved over the years showed how the company began with what was essentially tools and services. The next phase in Schlumberger’s development followed from this as the ever increasing data volumes generated by the tools needed managing – leading to the development of data management solutions – the xxDB product line and of course, Finder. Then followed – or perhaps follows, because this is where we are today, the integration of all of this within the GeoFrame environment. The next phase – that slotted for the first decade of the 21st century – will involve the automation of many of these processes and workflows. The business impact of each of these phases has been considerable, but Pilenko anticipates that it is the last, automation phase which will offer the largest return on investment. "Automation will be more important than anything we have done in the past" claimed Pilenko.

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