Unconventional teams often struggle when asked to make the business case for shooting seismic in their resource plays. Understanding the uplift seismic may provide for sweet spot identification is not conventional and requires a unique approach. The key lies in the combination of sound understanding of the play, seismic technologies likely to provide some level of accuracy to interpret true reservoir quality attributes, and the ability to apply a structured thinking process and basic Bayesian theory to develop the business case comparison of seismic alternatives at a drilling program level.
Once seismic options are well defined, the value comparison involves helping teams forecast the uncertainty reduction potential of different seismic technologies through reliability of interpretation assessment interviews, and reviewing the results of those interviews in high level decision trees to value each seismic option at a development program level. If there is value in acquiring seismic in a given play, it lies in the ability to identify poor areas of reservoir attributes and steer clear of those in the development program. This often leads to drilling fewer locations on the acreage, while realizing higher value from the locations that are drilled as a result of a lower likelihood of poor performing wells.
The approach to valuing seismic for unconventional plays requires teams to consider the classic definition of Value-of-Information (Coopersmith and Cunningham, 2002) and apply it to the entire development program. As a result, the value of a given seismic program for a field development plan is the increase, or decrease, in the value of the development program after acquiring the seismic, defined in the following equation on the next page.