The lateral well position uncertainty of magnetic/gyro MWD measurements can often exceed the requirements regarding anti-collision, for optimal placement of infill wells between existing producers, or for hitting targets with limited geological extent. The positional uncertainty can be significantly reduced by implementing high-precision drill-bit localization using passive seismic data. Consequently, not only drilling risks can be reduced, but optimal reservoir drainage is ensured as well.
By utilizing passive seismic recordings from the seafloor, we can "listen" to the noise generated by the BHA while drilling. Despite various noise sources in the vicinity (e.g. vessels and rigs), advanced data processing and the combination of hundreds of seafloor receivers spread above the ongoing drilling, enable us to detect the drilling signal and locate the drill bit. Whereas the magnetic and gyro MWD tools have errors that accumulate with measured depth, each bit position derived from seismic (usually every 90 seconds) is completely independent. For horizontal sections, the error does not increase with measured depth, and hence can provide improved lateral accuracy. No additional BHA tool is required and the measurements are neither dependent on the magnetic nor gravitational field. Moreover, the passive seismic measurements can be used to obtain an improved lateral well position estimate. This is done by optimizing the azimuth information of the well trajectory in the minimum curvature method. A lateral uncertainty measure can be derived from the residuals between the passive measurements and the updated well path.
Since 2018, we have used the continuous stream of passive data from permanent seafloor sensors at the Grane field with its reservoir depth of around 1800 m TVDSS to follow all wells with this drill bit tracking scheme. Lateral deviations from the magnetic/gyro measurements of up to 20m have been observed. The lateral position uncertainty can be as low as a couple of meters under optimal conditions.