OTC Tech Awards: Schlumberger’s GeoSphere gives operators a better view deep underground

With a depth of investigation exceeding 100 feet, the GeoSphere reservoir mapping-while-drilling service reveals subsurface layers and fluid contacts to increase production potential. (Schlumberger)
With a depth of investigation exceeding 100 feet, the GeoSphere reservoir mapping-while-drilling service reveals subsurface layers and fluid contacts to increase production potential. (Schlumberger)

This story profiles one of the Offshore Technology Conference’s Spotlight on New Technology Award winners.

Like many other technologies emerging in the petroleum industry today — including several 2015 OTC Spotlight on New Technology Award winners — the idea behind Schlumberger’s GeoSphere reservoir mapping-while-drilling service is to send as much information as possible to the surface to give operators a better idea of what they’re working with and to do it as fast as possible so as to minimize interruptions to drilling.

Using multiple frequency electromagnetic transmitters, the GeoSphere service provides a larger, more accurate picture of a reservoir than ever before, all while drilling continues, so operators can make decisions earlier.

“We can see deeper than any other tool,” said Jean Seydoux, well placement and reservoir positioning program manager for Schlumberger’s Drilling & Measurements division. “It really gives you access to what’s there — structure, geology, resistivity, oil. The benefit to the client is that we can land wells; as we are approaching the reservoir, we can see deeper earlier; and we can change the trajectory to where we want to go.”

Using electromagnetic transmitters to relay information is nothing new for the petroleum industry, but Schlumberger has been able to greatly increase the devices’ efficiency in the last decade or so. The advances have made gone from being able to gain an accurate picture of the reservoir from 1 foot in every direction, to 15 feet in every direction 10 years ago, to now 100 feet in every direction.

“If you’re driving on a road and it’s foggy. Until 10 years ago you could only see the yellow line,” Seydoux said. “Ten years ago, the next step in the technology allowed us to see the sides of the road. Now, GeoSphere gives you the street signs and a map of the surrounding neighborhood.”

To gain a better picture of the reservoir, Schlumberger put more distance between transmitters, adding ways to store power to energize them downhole and use multiple transmission frequencies, which conserves power. Another key breakthrough was to increase the number of measurements to map more complex reservoirs.

In 2005, Schlumberger brought mechanical and electrical engineers together with physicists, petrophysicists and mathematicians to fine-tune the technology and the mathematical processes required to interpret it. By 2008, Schlumberger began field tests in Brazil, then around the world to tweak what needed tweaking and validate the data they were mining.

The GeoSphere service was commercialized last year in Abu Dhabi. More than 200 GeoSphere services now have been run worldwide.

“Offshore can cost $1 million a day, so you can see the savings,” Seydoux said. “For the driller, it is great because you’re decreasing the risks of drilling, which is big. If you can do all of this, you have a better handle on production because you can increase contact with the reservoir, avoiding regions where you cannot produce.”

Seydoux said the next step is to continue to learn how to integrate the GeoSphere data with seismic images, to paint an ever-clearer picture of the reservoir.
For the well-placement community, this is game-changer,” Seydoux said. “It opens a lot of opportunities of what we want to do.”

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