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Applied Intelligence 23, 39–53, 2005

c 2005 Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. Manufactured in The Netherlands.

A Case Based System for Oil and Gas Well Design with Risk Assessment

Intology Pty Ltd, 1 Hall St., Lyneham ACT 2602, Australia

Irrgang Reservoir Management, 85A Bunarba Rd, Gymea, Sydney, NSW 2227, Australia

Abstract. A case base system for a complex problem like oil field design needs to be richer than the usual case based
reasoning system. Genesis, the system described in this paper contains large heterogeneous cases with metalevel
knowledge. A multi-level indexing scheme with both preallocated and dynamically computed indexing capability
has been implemented. A user interface allows dynamic creation of similarity measures based on modelling of the
user’s intentions. Both user aiding and problem solution facilities are supported, a novel feature is that risk estimates
are also provided. Performance testing indicates that the case base produces on average, better predictions for new
well developments than company experts. Early versions of the system have been deployed into oil companies in 6
countries around the world and research is continuing on refining the system in response to industry feedback.

Keywords: case based systems, risk assessment, oil well design, knowledge sharing, information extraction

1. Introduction drilled under thousands of metres of seawater. Well tra-

jectories frequently must follow a tortuous path or track
Case Based Reasoning (CBR) systems store data and a thin horizontal reservoir column. An example of well
knowledge as a set of cases and reuse the prior knowl- trajectories drilled from a single platform is shown in
edge to solve new problems. CBR systems can learn Fig. 1. Sloughing of fragments of rock from the walls
by storing the results of a new problem case for future of the well after it has been drilled (borehole instabil-
use. Smythe [1] asserts that in the CBR literature it has ity), can lead to trapping of downhole equipment or
become apparent that the “single shot” CBR in which even loss of the well at a cost of millions of dollars.
a single case is used to solve a problem, is not adequate Zones containing fluid at unexpectedly high pressures
for complex tasks. In design and planning tasks, mul- can lead to a blowout and even loss of the rig. Drillers
tiple cases are often needed to solve different parts of learn from each well drilled in an area but with high
a complex real world problem. This paper documents turnover of staff this knowledge is frequently lost to the
a new approach to multiple case reuse involving pre- company.
defined case decomposition and recomposition into a The case based software system developed, Genesis,
synthetic new case. Statistical methods have been in- was designed to capture expert drilling knowledge to
corporated to provide both mean value and risk esti- support intelligent planning of new oil and gas wells.
mates for time and cost of the operations contained in The core of the system is a world-wide case base of
the new case. data, information and knowledge contributed by par-
Optimal, safe drilling of oil and gas wells is a com- ticipating companies, in the belief that capturing and
plex operation requiring knowledge across a range of sharing experience will lead to better well designs in
disciplines. Wells can be 10 kilometres long or may be the future with significant savings in time and cost.
40 Kravis and Irrgang

for different classes of user to preserve data in-

tegrity and confidentiality. A two layer index sys-
tem has been adopted for retrieval of cases based
on text concepts. The index is created and stored
in the database. If retrieval times degrade, further
layers of the index can be added to increase the
The following section describes the case base design
process, case contents and structure. Section 3 covers
details of methods used for retrieval of cases, including
automated information extraction from text. Section 4,
on adaptation, details how cases retrieved can be used
for problem solution. Section 5 reports results of per-
formance testing, followed by discussion of research
Figure 1. Trajectories for a set of wells drilled from a platform. directions.

Kolodner [2] believes that reasoning is more a pro- 2. Case System Design
cess of “remember and modify” than “decompose and
recompose”. This system can be used to retrieve well Facilitated industry workshops were held with oil com-
instances and reuse them with modification. Historical panies to design a system to suit their needs. A case
wells are stored with their operational sequences and based system was favoured by the participants, as most
durations mapped into predefined atomic components. appropriate for the capture and reuse of drilling knowl-
These are then recomposed into a synthetic new well edge and data. A common theme was that people be-
case using a number of analogous wells or sections of lieve that a case store must be active. That is, it must
wells from the case base. The system functions both as contain problem solving processes in order to reuse
an assistant and a problem solver. the knowledge for a new design. Engineers wanted ad-
Kitano [3] asserts that the vast majority of case based ditional knowledge added to their normal design pro-
reasoning systems have been built as task-specific do- cesses, for example displayed on plots used for plan-
main problem solvers and are detached from the main- ning, or used for risk assessment. Genesis attempts to
stream processes of a corporation. Issues that are not capture and preserve company knowledge and to make
addressed in such systems include: it available in an active, easy to use form. Some innova-
tive techniques designed to achieve these goals include:
1. Integration of the case base with existing company
database systems • Modelling of user intent so that relevant aspects of
2. Security Control: In real applications, cases contain the information are retrieved and tailored to suit the
confidential data and secure access is required users’ plans.
3. Scalability: Collected cases can increase dramati- • Algorithms for automated extraction of knowledge
cally over time and in real life applications, com- indexes from unstructured or minimally structured
plex multimedia data may need to be stored. Index- reports and from the drilling database.
ing will need to be constantly refined as the system • Use of Drilling Grammars to describe and recognise
grows and application needs evolve. complex indexing concepts.
4. Speed: Fast case retrieval and adaptation is essential • Machine learning to iteratively refine the concepts.
• Metadata store of generalisations of common prob-
The four points noted above have been addressed lems and solutions.
in Genesis. Firstly, the case base is stored in a re- • Techniques for information sharing while respecting
lational database system. While this is not ideally company confidentiality.
suited to a case based system, it can be integrated
with existing company databases, and techniques to An important aspect of the design was that engi-
add the additional indexing required for case based neers want to feel in control. They are not prepared
retrieval. Different data access rights can be defined to allow a black box system to design their new wells
Case Based System for Oil and Gas Well Design with Risk Assessment 41

with complete autonomy. Access to the original stored historic well and can be compared to the planned well
information for checking is required together with the for evaluation of the new design case. Post-analysis
ability to select or remove cases and add and delete graphics features are provided to highlight strengths
operations at any stage. and weaknesses of the new case synthesis. Figure 15
compares the planned and actual depth for a well as a
function of time.
2.1. Contents of Each Case

Each oil well represents one case instance. A well has 2.2. Case Structure
attributes such as location, geology, maximum depth
and trajectory type (e.g. vertical or deviated), some Three levels of case structure are implemented at
deviated well trajectories are shown in Fig. 1. Data present. Level 1 is a metalevel covering groups of cases.
and knowledge about each well is captured and stored Knowledge relevant to a region or to a formation is
in a database. Wells that have been already drilled stored at this level. One index includes all wells with
are stored as historic data, new designs as planned borehole instability problems, and another stores the
wells. Large volumes of numeric data are stored. For main problems and solutions common to each region,
example, multiple channel electronic log data from with links to the original wells from which the meta-
down-hole instruments may be recorded every centime- data was extracted. Level 2 indexes well attributes (e.g.
tre for a 10,000 metre well. Log data is used in calcu- location) or groups of attributes. Level 3 indexes on a
lation of variables important in indexing and similarity decomposition of each well into a set of defined drilling
matching, such as rock strength and rate of penetration. phases and operations.
Text reports may include confidential company end
of well reports, spreadsheets, hazard checklists and
investigations into specific problems, lessons learned 3. Retrieving Similar Cases
and specialised reports from service companies. Pub-
lic information from government sources may also be Selection of the best cases for adaptation has been
used in new areas of operation, journal and conference found to depend on the planned user application. For
papers may provide specific regional information or the purposes of planning a new well, the most useful
technological assessments and experience. Images may cases generally come from the same geological region,
also be included in a case store. For example, images of with similar trajectories and using similar hole sizes.
worn drilling bits are recorded for further analysis and However if use of a new technology is planned it may
classification. Where information relates to a particu- be better to use wells with the new technology even if
lar rock layer, or formation, this can be keyed directly they are from a remote location. Users can input de-
to the formation name for automatic display whenever tails of their proposed new well such as location, final
the formation name appears on a well plan. hole size and approximate planned trajectory. Similar-
Because access to oil industry experts for knowl- ity measures are then built dynamically using a weight-
edge acquisition is limited, Genesis uses automated ing derived from the user selection.
tools to extract knowledge and indexes for the case The most common retrieval method in Genesis is
base from text data. Concept definitions are stored sep- based on a similarity match between the user’s new
arately from the case base indexes and are read in by planned well and well cases in the database. Users can
the software as part of an index creation run. Com- specify which features of each case are most relevant
panies can have concept definitions tailored to their to the new well plan or system defaults can be used. An
own requirements or can use the Genesis definitions. example is shown in Fig. 2, where the user has specified
This feature proved worthwhile when the system was that he would like to use cases from similar locations
deployed into a Portuguese speaking company, as con- and with similar well trajectories. This is done by first
cept definitions in the local language could be used to clicking on the location image, then selecting an area
generate new Portuguese indexes without any change defined by a latitude and longitude rectangle, location
to the software. is accorded a priority of 1 in this example. Clicking
When a new planned well has been designed, the the trajectory image selects trajectory as the second
new case is incorporated into the system as a planned most relevant factor. A similarity metric using only the
case. After drilling, the actual data is stored as a new two user selected attributes and weighted for priority
42 Kravis and Irrgang

Figure 2. User interface for case selection. The requirement is similar location (1st priority) and trajectory (2nd priority).

choice is used to find the 10 wells most similar to the w = weighting factor, derived from the user selection.
new planned well. Results of the search are shown in SF = scaling factor.
the list box: Pothos #1 is the most similar stored well
in this example.
User modelling is used for the weightings which are
calculated to sum to 1. The scaling factor SF is re-
3.1. Similarity Metrics for Numeric Data quired to compensate for the vastly differing numeric
ranges of variables used in the similarity metric. Dis-
All numeric attributes are scaled to lie in the range tances between wells can be many kilometres, whereas
0 to 1, and may be generated using higher-level rea- the numbers used for trajectory similarity measures
soning rather than simply scaling or application of a are generally ratios such as TVD/MD (Total Vertical
user-defined function. Some rules and simple drilling Depth/Measured Depth) and range between 0 and 1.
knowledge are applied when generating each compo- Weighting factors are derived from the user profile se-
nent of the metric. For example, relevant geology re- lection. In the example shown in Fig. 2 there are only
quires that retrieved wells are in the same area as the 2 weights, with location weight = 2/3 and trajectory
planned well. Filtering on attributes is also available, weight = 1/3.
for example the search can be restricted to a region Similarity matching can also be done in Genesis with
such as the Cooper Basin. For n numeric attributes, user-defined fuzzy set classifications of database at-
an n-dimensional weighted distance metric of the form tributes. This method gives more flexibility, but at the
below is used: cost of greater interface complexity.
 A variety of functions are used to define fuzzy set
 f (X k,i − X j,i ) membership for attributes. An example of a 3-class
Sim k, j = 1 −  wi (1) function applied for classifying the well database at-
tribute drilling rate is shown in Fig. 3 and a single class
inverse distance function with threshold in Fig. 4. The
where similarity value between a planned well and any his-
toric well is defined by:
X = selected attribute in the planned and stored wells.
i = the attribute index. NClasses
k = new planned well index. min(PH i , PPi )
Similarity = NClasses
j = case base index . i=1 max(PH i , PPi )
Case Based System for Oil and Gas Well Design with Risk Assessment 43

similarity results can be combined with numeric simi-

larity as shown in Fig. 6.
An alternative approach to selection is to use an iter-
ative approach where data from planned and historical
cases can be sorted by the attribute of interest, a selec-
tion made and then the results sorted by other attributes
and further selections made. The process does not rely
on similarity measures but simply on the ranking of at-
tributes and is illustrated in Fig. 7. As long as the data
sets are not too large this method is very effective.
Complex atttributes such as electric logs may be
readily assessable by inspection but similarity esti-
mates are difficult to derive numerically. An example is
Figure 3. 3-class fuzzy classification for drilling rate case attribute the degree to which a borehole section becomes carrot-
with data from 16 historical cases . Well 3 has a membership of
0.85 in class Slow, 0.15 in class Medium and 0 in class Fast. For
shaped due to borehole instability acting for long peri-
a planned case with a rate of 100 ft/hr (Slow membership = 0, ods of time on sections of borehole exposed to drilling
Medium membership = 1, Fast membership = 0), the similarity fluids for long periods of time. Logs recording the bore-
would be (Min(0.85,0) + Min(0.15,1) + Min(0,0)) / (Max(0.85,0), hole diameter and the time for which the borehole is
+ max(0.15,1) + Max(0,0)) = 0.15/1.85 = 0.081. exposed to drilling fluid are shown in Fig. 8.

3.2. Retrieval Based on Natural Language Query

Complex non-numeric concepts require a higher level

of abstraction and similarity matching. As an example,
users may want to know what were the main prob-
lems found in a region, and select cases solving similar
problems. An example is shown in Fig. 9. The user asks
questions and the system searches for known indexing
concepts in the word string to use for retrieval of appro-
priate cases. The system has an automated high level
indexing system based on concepts of interest to engi-
neers drilling oil and gas wells. Information on main
problems, for example is extracted automatically from
Figure 4. Single-class fuzzy classification using inverse distance reports.
function for distance between planned and historical wells. In this
case, membership translates directly into similarity. Class parameters
P1 and P2 (the distance at which similarity drops to 10%) are user Information Extraction
Glasgow et al. [5] state that analysis of free-form text
has been pursued mainly from 3 viewpoints:
1. Keyword approach
PH i = membership value for historical case H in class 2. In-depth natural language approach
i 3. Information extraction approach
PPi = membership value for planned case P in class i
An information extraction approach is regarded as
Similarities for different attributes can be combined suitable for an application in which the interest is fo-
to obtain a single similarity value by averaging as cused on some parts of the text but not necessarily on
shown in Fig. 5. Similarities for different groups of all. The input text is skimmed for specific information
attributes can be defined as required. Similarity for text relevant to the particular decision to be made. This is
atttributes is measured using trigram matching [4] and an ongoing area of natural language research where the
44 Kravis and Irrgang

Figure 5. Example of combination of similarities for various attributes to obtain an overall similarity between planned and historical cases.
The planned case is shown at the top.

focus is on real working systems [6, 7]. Knowledge en- => [borehole + instability]&
gineering or machine learning is used to identify the => [%p(caving), %p(caved)
concepts contained in the texts and to form a frame-
work of these concepts. Glasgow et al. [5] also cite + %p(shales) ]&
rigorous performance evaluations conducted by the US => [breakout + of
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in which + %p(stressed)
the 5 top performing systems were all pattern matching
information extraction systems. + %p(shales) ]&
=> [%p(tectonically)
+ %p(stressed)]&
Drilling Grammars
Facilities are provided in Genesis for users to edit and
Domain and company specific concepts can be defined test grammars. Although users may have clear ideas on
for any higher level definition relevant to the drilling which words and patterns represent problems, they tend
or corporate knowledge extraction process. An exam- to underestimate the number of different ways in which
ple of some of the pattern matching part of a drilling concepts might be expressed. Recall and precision ex-
concept representing borehole instability is given be- periments are necessary to refine the concepts.
low. In the example, each set of words enclosed by
square brackets indicates a pattern that might indicate
that the text discusses hole instability. Word stemming Automated Information Extraction
(%p) and word order or contiguity can be set as manda-
tory. Note that the words “Borehole” and “Instability” Text pattern matching techniques are used to find rel-
need not be included in a pattern. Concepts can include evant information in these reports. One criterion for
previously defined concepts. the concept “main problems” for example, is that a
relatively large amount of time is wasted because of
the problem. In the example in Fig. 9, the uninten-
“BOREHOLE => [hole + cave,caving]& tional sidetrack problem described (unplanned branch-
INSTABILITY” => [hole + tight + fill]& ing of the well when re-drilling a section of it) was
=> [UG hole]& responsible for 114.2 hours of trouble time. Extraction
of time and depth information is also automatic based
=> [wash + ream + fill]& on depth and time pattern matching definitions. Higher
=> [tag + fill]& level concepts can be combined with numeric similarity
Case Based System for Oil and Gas Well Design with Risk Assessment 45

be added as knowledge attachments to screen displays

used as part of the well planning process. Further de-
tails of the text extraction methods can be found in
Currently the key extraction requirement is the iden-
tification of the depth range or depth point location
for events described in well completion reports. Com-
monly these reports contain comments such as “drilled
from 1500 ft. to 2700” or “drilled from 7 inch shoe to
target”. As database records are indexed on depth, once
this can be found, the information extraction process
can use all the database information in combination
with reports to produce drilling summaries and guide-
lines. For example we can find in the database, the best
and worst drilling rate of penetration (ROP) in a basin
for a particular formation, and attach notes from the re-
ports explaining problems encountered, how these were
handled and why. Problems are found automatically in
the reports using a list of drilling grammar problem
concepts such as “Borehole Instability”. Once report
sections about problems are found, text before and af-
ter the problem section can be scrolled by the drilling
engineer to home in on the problem cause. An example
is shown in Fig. 10.
If we know the depth range for report sections, auto-
mated concept identification can also be improved dra-
matically. For example the system may surmise that a
report paragraph is discussing drilling through a highly
abrasive formation. The depth link to the database al-
lows checking that ROP rates have decreased and gives
access to the lithology types and gamma ray log infor-
mation, all giving additional evidence about the forma-
tion type.
A fallback index is implemented for use where no
predefined concept can be found in a natural language
Figure 6. Example of similarity calculation using trigram match-
ing for text data and single class fuzzy classification for numeric question. This index is not based on domain knowl-
data. edge but uses ngrams or groups of contiguous let-
ters [4]. This matching method allows for approximate
matching of text strings, which provides some robust-
ness against spelling errors and different representa-
matching to retrieve similar wells. Once we have found tions of names, such as that shown in Fig. 6. Spelling
cases showing particular problems for example, then errors are very common in geological formation
from this subset, we can search for the most similar names.
cases using the methods described earlier.
In drilling, depth is always a key parameter and
most data contains a depth reference. If depth infor- 3.3. Experimental Results of Information Extraction
mation can be automatically extracted from text doc-
uments, this information can be used to reason about Studies of the validity of information extraction using
depth related problems which usually correspond to a the drilling grammars with End of Well reports have
particular geological formation. Problem warnings can been carried out. Drilling Grammars derived using the
46 Kravis and Irrgang

Figure 7. Example of iterative sort and select process used to find the three wells which took the least amount of time drilled by rig CapStar1
within 5000 m of the planned well. The first iteration (a) displays all wells sorted by distance from the planned well, with those less then 5000
m away selected. The second iteration (b) shows all wells drilled by rig CapStar 1 selected and the third (c) shows the three fastest wells to drill.
The interface allows movement back to earlier stages in the iteration. Numerical attributes for the planned well can be shown in their ordinal
position in sorted historical data as shown in (d).

End of Well reports from two onshore and two off- formed on the accuracy of information extraction based
shore wells, were tested on 8 other reports, including on a number of key concepts related to depth, casing
a large best drilling practices report from the USA [9] and hole size. Results for two concepts regarded as es-
Each well report contained about 200 paragraphs, and sential for automated information extraction are given
the drilling practices report about 1000. Tests on recall in Fig. 11 using End of Well reports from 7 other wells
and precision rates attained in response to drilling engi- (3 offshore, 4 onshore), and another Best Drilling Prac-
neer’s queries were carried out on a set of 12 concepts tices report. The results for DEPTH RANGE show al-
defined as most relevant by the Australian companies. most perfect precision, indicating that this concept can
Recall rates varied between 80 and 95% while precision be used automatically, virtually without error. The re-
was over 70% in all cases using the concepts. This com- sults shown in Fig. 11 are representative of the range
pares favorably with results below of 50% reported by of accuracy found during all the information extraction
other authors such as Rama [10]. Testing was also per- tests.
Case Based System for Oil and Gas Well Design with Risk Assessment 47

Figure 8. An example of a log display where selection would be by inspection. The log CA GRAT (ratio of hole diameter to drill bit diameter)
shows a correlation with the Open Hole Time log CA OHT for well 1, between 1200 and 3500 m, but well 1A does not show the same behaviour,
as its maximum open hole time is much less. Well 2 does not have data present for the same interval.

Figure 9. Result of a natural language retrieval. Concept “main problems” used.

48 Kravis and Irrgang

Figure 10. Visualisation of the time distribution of categorised activities during the drilling of 7 wells. Light green lines show the actual depths
achieved as a function of time and dark green lines show the planned time versus depth. Detailed descriptions of activities can be obtained by
clicking on the time of interest. The activity for that time and for times around it, are shown in the box above, together with the drillers notes
for these activities. The time range for which data is displayed is shown by the white rectangle, which can be scrolled up and down in the text

Figure 11. Precision and recall of Depth Range and Depth Point concepts in End of Well reports from onshore and offshore wells and a GRI
Best Drilling Practices Study. A score of 1 indicates 100% correct. For the Depth-Range concept, there was high precision but recall was lower
for the Offshore and USA Study. For the Depth Point concept, recall was more consistent but precision was lower.
Case Based System for Oil and Gas Well Design with Risk Assessment 49

3.4. Machine Learning to Refine Retrieval Concepts formation tops. Although this interpolation method is
of limited geological validity, more general interpo-
Techniques to automatically refine the drilling concepts lation methods are available and could be used if re-
with user feedback using CART [11] algorithms have quired. Figure 12 shows a simple example of forma-
been implemented. Users can select natural language tions interpolated using three offset wells to a new well
retrieval text and rate it as relevant, irrelevant or not “Example Onshore 1”.
sure. The information is stored and run periodically to Adaptation for well costing is far more complex and
refine existing concepts. Results so far are promising generally requires normalisation techniques to allow
but have highlighted the need to add context and more for differences in the geometries of planned and his-
complex drilling knowledge to the existing simple con- toric wells. Commonly at least 60% of the cost of
cept definitions, to improve retrieval rates much above a well is time-dependent and timings for operations
the 75% currently achieved [8]. comprising the planned well are calculated from oper-
ation times in corresponding sections of historic wells.
The times for some operations (such as testing surface
4. Case Adaptation equipment) is independent of the current depth of the
well, but for other operations normalisation needs to
4.1. Adaptation with User Modeling be applied to allow for differences in the lengths or
depths of the planned well sections compared to the
Adaptation of retrieved well information to the new historic wells. Well sections can be chosen based on
planned well case is also a function of the user applica- the degree of similarity of historical well sections to
tion. An example is estimation of formation tops for a the planned well sections using the methods described
new planned well. The system selects the three closest in Section 3. Times for operations in the planned
wells and then does planar interpolation of common well are estimated from matched operations in the

Figure 12. Geology interpolation between 3 offset wells.

50 Kravis and Irrgang

Figure 13. Estimated Time versus Depth curve for a new planned well based on 54 historical wells, showing upper and lower ranges and mean
values of the expected curves in solid purple, green and blue respectively. 5th and 95th percentile times are shown dotted purple and dotted green
respectively. Grey curves are input data.

historical wells. If a sufficient number of historical 4.3. Engineer Driven Adaptation

operations are available, estimates of the variation in
operation time can be made from the input data and Adaptation is one area of case-based reasoning in
used in Monte-Carlo modelling of the total well con- which humans can be far superior to any current auto-
struction time. An example of results from this mod- mated reasoning system. Engineers can generally im-
elling are shown in Fig. 13. Users may input values prove on any plan produced by a computer. However,
directly for planned operations if no matching his- the computer is providing a valuable service just by re-
torical operations are found, or use company-defined trieving useful past experiences, performing complex
values. calculations and extracting data summaries and graph-
ics relevant to the new plan. An example is casing de-
sign. During drilling, sections of the well have to be
4.2. Model Based Adaptation sealed off using casing pipes to protect the formation.
Sections of casing with decreasing diameter are run
Engineering models such as casing design [12] are into the hole at intervals. The size decreases because
available for model based adaptation. For example, a each new pipe section must pass through the casing
new casing design system is incorporated to facilitate above. Figure 14 shows a set of 3 casings. The number
design of wells with a large ratio of horizontal extent to of casings required depends on borehole depth, pore
vertical depth. A user can select similar wells based on pressure and fracture gradient profiles in the forma-
possible casing and trajectory similarities to assist with tions, and stability of the rock. Complex calculations
his design, then recalculate safety parameters such as such as casing design optimisation are best achieved
burst and collapse pressures for the new situation. Cas- using a computer, but the human can still modify the
ing costs can also be recalculated using the company’s final design based on his experience. Companies us-
own casing database. ing the program now have access to a database of
Case Based System for Oil and Gas Well Design with Risk Assessment 51

planned well instance. Time and costs for the new well
are also estimated based on data from similar well
components. These feed automatically into an Autho-
rization for Expenditure (AFE) spreadsheet. Feedback
studies during project development and deployment
into industry have consistently indicated that engineers
don’t have time to browse through cases and would like
the system to deliver information as part of their nor-
mal work flow. Ideally the system can automate existing
tasks such as well cost estimation and AFE production.
Figure 14. Schematic from [14] showing surface, intermediate and
production casing phases.
5. Results of Performance Testing for Well Time
and Cost Prediction

Performance testing of a case based system requires

some benchmark performance for comparison. A key
output from the system is a risked prediction of time and
costs for a new planned well based on relevant case base
information from stored historical and planned well
cases, this output was chosen for performance valida-
tion, further information on this process can be found in
[13]. Prior predictions by company experts of time and
costs for a group of new wells was available and this
data was used to compare Genesis predictions for the
same wells based on cases available before commence-
ment date of the new planned wells. Table 1 shows a
summary of results from a comparison of Genesis and
company estimates. Means have been calculated for
the Genesis and company predicted—actual time es-
timates. P10 (10% of wells take less time than this)
and P90 (90% of wells take less time), best and worst
curves are also calculated. Best curves are synthesized
from the best of each operation, worst curves from the
worst operations.
Results show that Genesis has underestimated times
Figure 15. Time versus depth plot showing well curve predicted by a mean of 3.6 days, the companies by 19 days. To
by Genesis (blue) and actual well (grey dots). The red curve is the compare the percentage error, standard deviations were
company prediction. Best (magenta) and worst (green) predictions
and P10 and P90 curves are also displayed.
calculated for both Genesis and company estimates,
the ratio (Genesis SD/Company SD) is calculated. The
result 0.66 indicates a 34% improvement in uncertainty
successfully drilled extended reach (very long horizon- could be gained using the Genesis predictions as well
tal) wells. Study of previous wells can also provide re- as removing most of the systematic underestimation
assurance that there is no need to over-engineer casing. bias. Further details of the performance tests can be
Some companies have also reported considerable cost found in [13].
savings just in the area of casing design for extended
reach wells.
Although cases can be retrieved for single case reuse 6. Research Direction: Creative Case Reasoning
with modification, the most popular feature of the sys-
tem is adaptation via decomposition of multiple cases A criticism of case based systems is that most tend
and recomposition to produce a risked complete new to adapt and reuse old solutions in routine ways,
52 Kravis and Irrgang

Table 1. Comparison of genesis and company time predictions.

Time in Days

Genesis Genesis Genesis Genesis Company Genesis Company

Well Actual Plan P10 mean P90 mean-actual plan-actual % error % error

NWS-8 15.83 9.38 13.25 13.88 14.29 −1.96 −6.46 −12.37 −40.79
NWS-9 25.83 17.08 20.83 27.92 35.42 2.08 −8.75 8.06 −33.87
NWS-18 15.08 16.76 13.67 14.50 16.33 −0.58 1.68 −3.87 11.12
NWS-20 9.67 11.33 10.33 10.92 12.50 1.25 1.67 12.93 17.24
NWS-21 10.63 10.75 7.29 8.96 10.42 −1.67 0.13 −15.69 1.18
NWH-B 43.67 20.83 24.58 42.50 62.08 −1.17 −22.83 −2.67 −52.29
ME-68 150.00 62.92 87.92 98.33 119.17 −51.67 −87.08 −34.44 −58.06
ME-69 57.50 43.75 46.67 68.33 97.92 10.83 −13.75 18.84 −23.91
ME-70 72.50 40.00 62.00 83.00 107.00 10.50 −32.50 14.48 −44.83
Mean differences −3.60 −19
Mean absolute differences 9.07 19.43
Std Dev 18.69 28.15
Ratio of Genesis to Company Std Dev 0.66

producing robust but uninspired results. Engineers have formation at varying levels of abstraction. Unlike many
also expressed concern that Genesis contains only tech- conventional CBR methods, problems are not solved
nology from the past while rapid developments in new by single case adaptation but can use multiple cases
technology may provide better solutions to new prob- at varying levels of generalisation and decomposition.
lems. Two main initiatives are underway to address this A novel feature is that the use of multiple cases also
problem. Collection of data from leading edge compa- allows risk estimates to be calculated. Automated in-
nies working at the technical limit of drilling is one such dexing of text reports and documents allows addition
initiative. Companies viewing analogous wells that use of high-level knowledge to the system with low main-
advanced technology may more easily be persuaded to tenance. Companies using Genesis report large reduc-
try the new devices or operations on their own wells. tions in well design time as a new well can now be
A common situation for drilling engineers is to decide designed in hours rather than days. Empirical testing
whether to use a more expensive bit which may be able showed that the case system also outperformed com-
to drill an entire phase if it does not encounter a par- pany experts in predicting the time taken to drill new
ticular type of rock or fail prematurely. A case base of wells.
performance and problems with this type of bit will add
valuable support for this decision. Cases can be syn-
thesized to show predicted well times and costs using References
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Simon Kravis has worked as a geophysicist on seismic data process-

ing, and as a researcher on scientific visualization and data analysis,