SPE 167640-STU

Permeability Prediction Using Hybrid Neural Network Modelling
Yulia Maslennikova, Kazan Federal University
This paper was prepared for presentation atthe SPE International StudentPaper Contestatthe SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition held in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, 30 September –
2 October 2013.

This paper was selected for presentation by merit of placement in a regional student paper contest held in the program year preceding the International Student Paper Contest. Contents of the
paper, as presented, have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any
position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or members.

This paper presents a method for predicting permeability as one of the most important parameters in well logging. The
method is based on the use of a hybrid neural network model consisting of several computational and one clustering neural
networks. This approach to permeability prediction for wells that are not involved in neural network training has been shown
to ensure a high correlation with permeabilities determined by core analysis.

1. Introduction
Permeability is one of the most important characteristics of hydrocarbon-bearing reservoirs. An accurate permeability profile
allows effective oil and gas reservoir management. This being stated, permeability determination remains one of the most
challenging problems in petrophysics. The most accurate way to do it is by laboratory analysis of well core samples.
However, this technique is costly and is normally applied to core samples from only several wells of a field while well
logging is performed in virtually all wells (Kumar et al. 2000).
This paper presents a hybrid neural network model that is accurate enough to predict a permeability profile using well
logging data. The artificial neural network is a mathematical model that imitates simple biological processes in the training of
the human nervous system, simulates some of its functions, and is a powerful tool for solving a wide range of problems in the
prediction and recognition of patterns (White 1992).
Some attempts have already been made to use well logging data for permeability profile prediction. Empirical approaches
are used most commonly, and one of the most popular of them is the semi-empirical Kozeny-Carman equation (Tiab and
Donaldsson 2004):
( ) 1
| |
| |
| ÷ |
\ .

This equation determines permeability k using the porosity curve| . The main drawback of this approach is that
empirical constantsC ,
| and n must be found and a mathematical model must be defined. Any individual empirical
equation can describe only some of core permeability data.
This approach, based on artificial neural networks, does not require a priori mathematical model definition and enables
factoring in lithology, pore fluid composition, porosity and some other parameters.

2. Existing permeability modelling techniques using neural networks
Baan and Jutten (2000) used a feed-forward neural network with porosity, density and water saturation as input data vectors.
The training process minimises the difference between the neural network’s output permeabilities and those determined by
laboratory core studies. A comparative study by Mohaghegh et al. (1994) showed that a multi-layer perceptron produced
more accurate results than empirical equations or the multiple linear regression.
The correct architecture, training algorithm and data preprocessing play important roles in the use of a neural network. If they
are not properly accounted for, an adapted neural network model predicts well on a training set but poorly on new data.
An important issue in permeability prediction is a wide dynamic range of 10
mD to 10
mD. As a result, a single
computational neural network cannot cover the whole range to the required accuracy. Bhatt and Helle (2002) presented an
algorithm for permeability prediction that uses committee neural networks and is based on splitting a range of permeabilities
and combining segments corresponding to geological strata with similar physical properties. This algorithm has been
2 SPE 167640-STU

implemented using clustering neural networks and various statistical processing techniques. Feed-forward neural networks
have been used to model permeability for each cluster. The stages of hybrid neural network modelling are described in more
detail below.

3. Development of a hybrid neural network permeability model
As stated above, a series of permeabilities correspond to various geological conditions, which is equivalent to a number of
functional relationships relating permeability and log data series. An artificial neural network technique can describe such a
system using a network with a sufficiently large number of neurons in hidden layers. Its training is complicated by the need
to find the global minimum of a high-dimension error functional. It has been shown that several simple models, rather than
one large network, should be applied to a series of permeabilities. An algorithm has been developed to perform the following
sequential operations: data segmentation, segment clustering based on selected attributes, and permeability modelling for
each cluster using perceptrons.

3.1. Data analysis and preliminary clustering
The segmentation was performed through dynamic analysis of a series of porosities in depth. This algorithm is based on the
fact that local porosity minima correspond to changes in geological conditions (Kumar et al. 2000). Fig. 1 shows a typical
series of porosities. Segment boundaries run along the maximum deviation of the series of porosities from the median trend.
Possible solutions to this problem—for instance, the use of an autoregressive model and average integral parameter values as
attributes—were analysed and a set of attributes composed of Spearman's rank correlation coefficients was selected as the
most effective one (Maritz 1981).

Fig. 1. A fragment of a series of porosities.

An analysis of a set of attributes for clustering with various parameters has resulted in the selection of the following set:
( )
( )
( )
µ ¢
µ ¢
¸ ¸

where µ is Spearman's rank correlation coefficient, RT is electrical resistance, ¢ is porosity and GR is natural gamma
radiation level.
Clustering was performed using a Kohonen’s self-organising map (White 1992). A neural network is self-organised
through the global arrangement of synaptic connections of neurons. Kohonen (2001) provided an extended description of the
architectures and functioning principles of self-organising neural networks. Well log data were clustered using a network
with 4×4 neuron configuration shown in Fig. 2. Thus, the network combined the existing vectors into 16 clusters. A
hexagonal grid was used to map the neurons. Training was performed using the Kohonen’s self-training “winner-gets-all”
algorithm and produced a map in which nodes spatially coincide with major accumulations of vectors in the initial attribute
space and similar objects are located in neighbouring nodes.

SPE 167640-STU 3

Fig. 2. A projection of three-dimensional attribute vectors onto a two-dimensional self-organising map.

Feed-forward neural networks were used to model permeability for each cluster. The input well log data for neural
network modelling were porosity, density, resistivity and water saturation. An input vector for the neural network was
produced using an empirical permeability model expressed by the Kozeny-Carman equation indicating a power-law
dependence of permeability on porosity. After taking the logarithm of equation (1) and Taylor’s series expansion of some
addends, the logarithm of permeability appeared to be the sum of φ, φ
, Log(φ) and Log(1-φ). A logarithmic permeability
series was used as a target vector, and resistivity and water saturation were included in the training set also in a logarithmic
form. As a result, the input vector appeared as follows:
( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
{ , , Log , Log 1 , , Log ,Log , Log } RT SW ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢ µ µ ÷ ,
where ¢ – porosity, µ – density, RT – resistivity, and SW – water saturation.
The generated set of input vectors is not excessive although it might seem to be such. The neural network theory shows
that a neural network is a universal approximator (White 1992). However, additional layers and neurons have to be
introduced to take into account existing non-linear relationships, and this can lead to retraining the neural network. The use of
information about existing functional relationships during the generation of input vectors can help to avoid early retraining.
Each computational neural network contained one hidden layer of eight neurons. The computational neural network was
trained by minimising an error functional by the Levenberg-Marquardt algorithm. The resulting hybrid neural network model
is shown in Fig. 3.

Fig. 3. A hybrid neural network model containing 16 computational and one clustering neural networks.
4 SPE 167640-STU

3.3. The Use of a Hybrid Neural Network Model for Permeability Prediction
A hybrid neural network model (Fig. 3) is applied to test set data in the following stages:
1. Segmentation of input vectors through dynamic analysis of the porosity curve.
2. Selection of a set of attributes for each segment using Spearman's correlation coefficients for log data, as shown in
Formula (2).
3. Using a selected set of attributes as an input vector for a clustering network that relates each vector to an existing set
of clusters.
4. Permeability modelling using a previously trained perceptron corresponding to the associated cluster.

4. Experimental results and discussion
The author used data from 35 oil wells, including core permeability determinations and a complete suite of well logs, to
analyse the effectiveness of the above algorithm. Thirty wells were selected to train the hybrid neural network model and five
were used for testing purposes.
Before clustering, data were pre-processed using the automatic data segmentation algorithm presented in Section 3.1 of
this paper. A total of 417 data segments were prepared for clustering and then combined into 16 clusters.
As a result of the training of all 16 computational neural networks, the permeabilities determined by the neural network
model were close enough to core permeabilities. The error distribution function is shown in Fig. 4 as a distribution bar chart
for the difference between the logarithm of core permeability and the values predicted by the hybrid neural network model.
The error distribution function is close to normal distribution, the average value and standard deviation of which are shown in
the bar chart. Fig. 5 shows the correlation of logarithmic core permeabilities with neural network estimates using data from a
training well. The Pearson correlation coefficient for these series was 0.91, illustrating the effectiveness of the neural network
permeability model presented in this paper.

Fig. 4. Error distribution function.

Fig. 5. Scattering diagram of core and neural network permeabilities.

Similar model accuracy estimates were obtained from five non-training wells with an average correlation coefficient for
core and neural network permeabilities of 0.83 (Fig. 6). The standard deviation was 0.65 log mD.
The resulting modelling error depends not only on the accuracy of a predictive model but also on the quality of a neural
SPE 167640-STU 5

network classification method. The contribution of misclassification to the resulting permeability error was assessed for test
wells by the following procedure. Permeability was assessed for every segment of a test set using all available predictive
neural network models. The determined prediction error was analysed to select the least error model. Thus, the overall
accuracy of the hybrid neural network model was assessed through ideal classification. The standard deviation in this case
was 0.54 log mD.
The modelling accuracy was also assessed without preliminary clustering. In this case, one predictive neural network, a
perceptron, was used with the same input parameters as given in Section 3.2 of this paper, and was trained using all training
set data. For the test set, this neural network showed a standard deviation of 1.17 log mD. A comparison of these results with
the performance of the hybrid neural network model that showed a standard deviation of 0.65 log mD revealed that errors
occurring during classification in the hybrid approach increased the permeability modelling error by no more than 15 percent,
while in the non-clustering approach the error increased by almost 80 percent. This leads to the conclusion that the
preliminary clustering of data segments, proposed in this paper, substantially increases permeability modelling accuracy.
Figs. 7a and 7b show a comparison of permeabilities determined using the hybrid neural network model with core
permeabilities for two wells of the test set. It appears from these figures that most core permeabilities lie within the
confidence interval.

Fig. 6. Scattering diagram of core and neural network permeabilities.

a)  b)
Fig. 7. Cross-correlations of core and neural network permeabilities (dots and a solid line, respecti vel y).

5. Conclusions
The method presented in this paper is based on the use of a hybrid neural network model consisting of several computational
and one clustering neural networks. This approach to permeability prediction for wells that are not involved in neural
network training has been shown to ensure a high correlation with permeabilities determined by core analysis. It has also
been shown that Spearman's rank correlation coefficients are effective when used in data clustering as attributes.
The results lead to the conclusion that a hybrid (two-tier) neural network model substantially increases permeability
modelling accuracy.

This above work was possible through the support of TGT Prime Kazan, a division of TGT Oil and Gas Services. The author
is thankful to the Director of TGT Prime Kazan Dmitry Davydov for providing well log data.
6 SPE 167640-STU

1. Kumar, N., Hughes, N. and Scott, M. 2000. Using Well Logs to Infer Permeability, Center for Applied
Petrophysical Studies, Texas Tech University.
2. White, H. 1992. Artificial Neural Networks: Approximation and learning theory Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
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Properties, Gulf Publishing Co.
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estimation of permeability. Society of Petroleum Engineers: SPE 28237.
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8. Kohonen, T. 2001. Self-Organizing Maps. Third, extended edition. Springer, Berlin.
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72 (4): W1–W16.