With the introduction of ultradeep azimuthal resistivity (UDAR) logging-while-drilling (LWD) tools toward the beginning of the last decade, the oil and gas industry went from real-time mapping of formation boundaries a few meters from the wellbore to tens of meters away. This innovation allowed early identification of resistivity boundaries and promoted proactive geosteering, allowing for optimization of the wellbore position. Additionally, boundaries and secondary targets that may never be intersected are mapped, allowing for improved well planning for sidetracks, multilaterals, and future wells. Modern tool design and inversion algorithms allow mapping the reservoir in 3D and exploring the sensitivity of these tools to the electromagnetic field ahead of the measure point for look-ahead resistivity. Improvements in the technology over the past decade have changed the way wellbores are planned, drilled, and completed, and reservoir models are updated.

This paper presents a case study summarizing the advances in UDAR measurements and inversions over the last decade. The case study presents the whole workflow from prejob planning, service design, and execution of one-dimensional (1D) and three-dimensional (3D) inversion in addition to the future potential of look ahead in horizontal wells. Prewell simulations provide a guide to expected real-time tool responses in highly heterogeneous formations. This identifies how far from the wellbore 1D inversions can map major boundaries above and below the well. A fault was expected toward the toe of the well, and UDAR was used as a safeguard to avoid exiting the reservoir. Standard 1D inversion approaches are too simplistic in this complex geologic setting. Thus, 3D inversion around the wellbore and ahead of the transmitter is also explored to demonstrate the improvements this understanding can bring regarding geostopping toward the fault and reservoir understanding in general.

Successful geosteering requires personnel trained to handle complex scenarios. Geosteering training simulators (GTS) could be efficient tools for training to interpret inversions where the “truth” is known from realistic 3D model scenarios. The team can learn how to best exploit UDAR technology and inversion results within its limits and not extend the interpretation beyond acceptable uncertainty levels. It will also be addressed how the understanding of inversion uncertainty could be updated in real time in the future. The continued future success of UDAR technology and 1D to 3D inversion results for look-ahead and look-around applications will depend heavily on uncertainty management of the inversions to avoid wrong decisions and potentially reduced well economy.

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