This paper presents advancements in machine learning and cloud deployment that enable rapid and accurate automated lithology interpretation. A supervised machine learning technique is described that enables rapid, consistent, and accurate lithology prediction alongside quantitative uncertainty from large wireline or logging-while-drilling (LWD) datasets.

To leverage supervised machine learning, a team of geoscientists and petrophysicists made detailed lithology interpretations of wells to generate a comprehensive training dataset. Lithology interpretations were based on applying determinist cross-plotting by utilizing and combining various raw logs. This training dataset was used to develop a model and test a machine learning pipeline. The pipeline was applied to a dataset previously unseen by the algorithm, to predict lithology. A quality checking process was performed by a petrophysicist to validate new predictions delivered by the pipeline against human interpretations.

Confidence in the interpretations was assessed in two ways. The prior probability was calculated, a measure of confidence in the input data being recognized by the model. Posterior probability was calculated, which quantifies the likelihood that a specified depth interval comprises a given lithology.

The supervised machine learning algorithm ensured that the wells were interpreted consistently by removing interpreter biases and inconsistencies. The scalability of cloud computing enabled a large log dataset to be interpreted rapidly; >100 wells were interpreted consistently in five minutes, yielding >70% lithological match to the human petrophysical interpretation.

Supervised machine learning methods have strong potential for classifying lithology from log data because: 1) they can automatically define complex, non-parametric, multi-variate relationships across several input logs; and 2) they allow classifications to be quantified confidently. Furthermore, this approach captured the knowledge and nuances of an interpreter's decisions by training the algorithm using human-interpreted labels.

In the hydrocarbon industry, the quantity of generated data is predicted to increase by >300% between 2018 and 2023 (IDC, Worldwide Global DataSphere Forecast, 2019–2023). Additionally, the industry holds vast legacy data. This supervised machine learning approach can unlock the potential of some of these datasets by providing consistent lithology interpretations rapidly, allowing resources to be used more effectively.

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