The Potential Role of Passive Seismic Monitoring for Real-Time 4D Reservoir Characterization
- S.C. Maxwell (Engineering Seismology Group ESG) | T.I. Urbancic (Engineering Seismology Group ESG)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering
- Publication Date
- February 2005
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 70 - 76
- 2005. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.1.9 Four-Dimensional and Four-Component Seismic, 5.1.10 Reservoir Geomechanics, 2.5.1 Fracture design and containment, 3.2.3 Hydraulic Fracturing Design, Implementation and Optimisation, 3 Production and Well Operations, 1.14.1 Casing Design, 2 Well Completion, 5.3.4 Integration of geomechanics in models, 5.1.2 Faults and Fracture Characterisation, 1.2.2 Geomechanics, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 5.5 Reservoir Simulation, 5.1.8 Seismic Modelling, 3.3 Well & Reservoir Surveillance and Monitoring, 5.1 Reservoir Characterisation, 5.4.6 Thermal Methods, 5.4.2 Gas Injection Methods, 5.8.2 Shale Gas
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This paper details the application of passive seismic monitoring to imagereservoir fracturing and deformation from the stage of an initial wellcompletion to final field production. Instrumented oil fields with seismicarrays either permanently installed or temporarily deployed on wireline offerthe possibility of imaging production activities in a real-time sense thatcomplements other seismic-reflection and engineering measurements. During thewell-completion stage of development, real-time microseismic imaging offers thepossibility of monitoring well stimulation. Fracture images may be used tooptimize the fracture design and the net present value (NPV) of wellproduction, as well as understand fracture complexity and the associatedwell-drainage pattern to target future well placement. During productionstages, time-lapse microseismic imaging may be used for image deformationassociated with fracturing or fracture reactivation from pressure or stresschanges, strains in the overburden in fields with casing-deformation problems,and image fronts associated with secondary recovery. In this paper, severalcase studies are used to illustrate various potential applications, along withdiscussion of the potential limitations. The reservoir conditions necessary forthe successful application of the technology are presented along with apotential method to quantify the technical feasibility at a particularsite.
With the current industry trend toward instrumented oil fields andsmart-well completions, the permanent deployment of geophones or other acousticsensors to complement standard engineering gauges is being promoted as a way tomap reservoir dynamics. The biggest push is from active time-lapse seismic,although the deployment of permanent seismic instrumentation is alsopotentially an ideal route to monitor passive seismicity. Passive monitoring ofacoustic emissions, or small-magnitude microearthquakes (microseismicity)associated with stress changes in and around the reservoir, can also be used toimage the reservoir dynamics. Passive monitoring has the benefit of more fullyusing the seismic sensors to monitor during periods between conventionalseismic surveys, directly imaging fracturing and deformation, and offerscomplementary information to both active time-lapse images and engineeringmeasurements.
Microseismic events, related to either induced movements on pre-existingstructures or the creation of new fractures, capture deformations as the rockmass reacts to stresses and strains associated with pressure changes in thereservoir. The microseismicity can be used to localize the fracturing or todeduce geomechanical details of the deformation. Since the Rangely experimentin the late 1960s,1 a number of passive seismic experiments have been pursuedin the petroleum industry with varying degrees of success.2-5 Recently, anumber of independent operators have successfully implemented passive seismicstudies to address specific issues. The majority of these studies are under theumbrella of hydraulic fracturing,2,3 where the microseismicity is used to mapthe fracture growth directly during well stimulations. However, a number ofother studies have been used to image deformations associated with primaryproduction,4 secondary recovery,4 or waste-injection operations.5 In the vastmajority of these cases, an array of seismic sensors is deployed by wireline tomonitor for a specific period. This requires finding a well "close to theaction" to facilitate detection of these small passive signals withoutimpacting production.
Permanent sensor deployment in an instrumented oil field circumvents thechronic problem of well availability. In numerous fields, microseismicity iscontinually occurring, and if the instrumentation were in place to record thedata properly, additional information on the reservoir performance could begained. As an aside, it is worth considering how much of the "noise" recordedin conventional seismics may be actually valuable microseismic data. The keywill be to design the seismic arrays properly to cover both conventional activeseismics (e.g., reflection and tomography) and specific issues associated withpassive recording. This paper will outline a viewpoint of the potentialapplications and technical issues associated with passive seismic monitoring.Because passive seismics is probably best viewed as being in its infancy in thepetroleum industry, it is worth standing back and considering applications inother industries in which the technology is more mature. In mining, real-timemicroseismic data are used by supervisors to decide if it is safe to sendminers underground.6 Microseismic data are also crucial in a number of otherrock-engineering applications, such as excavation stability in nuclear-wasterepositories,7 geotechnical stability,8 and performance of geothermalreservoirs.9 Permanent instrumentation in oil fields also should allow thematurity of the technology to help solve certain geomechanical problems in thepetroleum industry.
This article generally will focus on borehole deployments because passivemonitoring will most likely involve borehole arrays to keep the instrumentationclose to the action and maximize sensitivity. In some special cases, whereinduced seismic activity can be detected at surface, permanent surface arrayscould be used in a context similar to the picture painted in this paper.However, for the most part, the following discussion will focus on boreholearrays.
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