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Offshore Oil & Gas Technology

A/Prof. Loh Wai Lam

Why do oil and gas come from?
Many theories exist as to the origin of
petroleum and natural gas but yet it is not
possible to determine the exact place or
material from which any particular reservoir
There are two accepted theories

Inorganic Theory
Inorganic theory of the origin of petroleum
states that hydrogen and carbon came
together under great temperature and
pressure far below the earths surface and
formed oil and gas.
This then seeped through porous rocks to
collect in various natural underground traps.
Organic Theory
Organic theory is the one most widely accepted
by todays scientist, based on evidence ancient
seas left on underground rocks.
Oil and natural gas are formed from remains of
prehistoric plants and animals.
Hundreds of millions of years ago, prehistoric
plant and animal settled into the seas along with
sand, silt, and rocks.
As the rocks and silt settled, layer upon layer
piled into rivers, along coastlines, and on the
sea bottom.

Organic Theory (cont)
Geologic shifts resulted in some of these layers
being buried deep in the earth.
Over time, the layers of organic material were
compressed under the weight of the sediment
above them and the increasing pressure and
temperature changed the mud, sand and silt into
rock and organic matter in petroleum.
The rock containing the organic matter that
turned into petroleum is referred as sedimentary
or source rock.
The oil and natural gas is contained in the tiny
pores spaces in these source or reservoir rock.
When reservoir rock is magnified, the tiny pores that contain
trapped oil droplets can be seen
Oil and Gas Reservoirs
Over the millions of years, the oil and gas that
formed in the source rock deep within the earth
moved upward through tiny, connected pore
spaces in the rock.
Some seeped out at the surface of the earth.
But most the petroleum hydrocarbons were
trapped by nonporous rocks and other barriers
that would not allow it the migrate any further.
These underground traps of oil and gas are
called reservoirs.
A trap is a geologic structure that prevents oil
and gas from escaping from a reservoir rock.
There are two general types of reservoir trap:
Structural trap formed by deformation of the reservoir
formation two common types are:
Anticline an upward folding in the layer of the rock, much
like an arch
Fault traps results when a rock of each side of a fracture
shifts its position.
Stratigraphic traps that results from an existing updip
termination of porosity or permeability types include:
Lens trap caused by abrupt changes in the amount of
connect pore space
Combination trap formed by combination of folding, faulting,
porosity change and other conditions

Oil and Gas Reservoirs
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
Oil is trapped under an unconformity
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
Lenticular traps are often formed in buried river sandbars
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
Impervious rocks like shale trap oil and gas in crests or upwarps
of rock layers.
A=anticline trap. R=reef trap. S=stratigraphic trap
Oil and Gas Reservoirs
Reservoirs are not underground lakes of oil.
Reservoirs are made up of porous and
permeable rocks that can hold significant
amount of oil and gas within their pore spaces.
The properties of these rock allow the oil and
natural gas within them to flow through the pore
spaces to a producing well.
Most reservoir contain oil, gas and water which
are layered with gas on top, oil middle and water
on bottom

Reservoir rock is subsurface rock capable of
containing gas, oil, water and other fluids.
To be a productive petroleum reservoir the
rock body must be large enough and porous to
contain an appreciable volume of hydrocarbon.
It must also be permeable enough to give up
the contained fluids at a satisfactory rate when
the reservoir is penetrated by a well.
Sandstones and carbonates (i.e. limestone and
dolomite) are generally the most porous of rock
and also the most common reservoir rocks.
Oil and Gas Reservoirs
Oil and Gas Reservoirs
Some reservoirs are only hundreds of feet below
the surface.
But other are thousands and sometimes tens of
thousands of feet underground.
Reservoirs have been discovered at depths
greater than 30,000 feet (9.15km).
Many offshore wells are drilled in thousands of
feet of water and penetrate tens of thousands of
feet into the sendiments below the sea floor.

Oil and Gas Reservoirs
Not all petroleum reservoirs are commercially
To be commercially viable, the well must posses
the following characteristics:
A formation of rock in which the porosity is sufficient
to contain the fluids
Gas or oil must be present in large enough quantities
to make exploitation economically viable
A natural driving force, usually gas or water, must be
present in the reservoir
Exploration - The Search for Oil
1800s to early 1900s men look for oil seeps on
the surface of the earth matter or luck.
The most successful oil finding method was to
drill in the vicinity of oil seeps, places where oil
was actually present on the surface.
1859 Col Edwin Drake, a retired railway
conductor, drilled the first commercial well in
Titusville, Western Pennsylvania. That day, 27

August 1859 is noted as the birth of the oil
industry. Also proven that oil can be obtained by
drilling through rocks.
Col Drake and the first commercial well drilled
In modern day exploration, oil and gas
discoveries are generally credited to
surface and subsurface geology studies
based on data gathered from aerial
photographs, satellite images and various
geophysical instruments which in turn
determines where an exploratory well
should be drilled.

Note: the earth has a total surface area of 509,600,000 km
, 70.8%
covered in water.

The search for oil begins with geologist and
geophysicists using their knowledge of the earth
to locate geographic areas that are likely to
contain reservoir rocks.
In a relatively unexplored area, the explorationists
studies the surface topography and near surface
structures, as well as geographic features such as
drainage and development.
Sometimes the character of the underground
formations and structures can be deduced largely
from what appears on the surface
Exploration Geophysical
Geophysical exploration depends on a few
fundamental variables in the earths physical
conditions gravitational change, magnetic field
change and electrical resistance change.
Gravitational survey geologist makes use of the
earths gravitational field and the way it varies
according to differences in mass distribution near the
earth surface.
Magnetic and electromagnetic surveys enables
geologists to compare slight differences in the
magnetism generated by the mineral in rocks.
Seismic survey this is biggest breakthrough
and usually the last exploration step before a
prospective site is actually drilled.
Seismic survey give the explorationist precise
details on the structures and stratigraphy
beneath the surface.
Data is collected by creating vibrations,
detecting them with a seismometer, recording
them with a seismograph, and depicting them on
a seismogram. Seismograms are used to
generate a seismic section, which is much like a
cross-sectional view of the subsurface.

Exploration Seismic Survey
The first seismometer was invented by David Milne in 1841
to measure, detect and record the vibrations of the ground
during earthquakes.
A few years later, L. Palmieri, set up a similar instrument
which he called a seismograph.
The first practical uses of seismic data was developed by
Dr. L. Mintrop, a German scientist, during World War I. He
invented a portable model used by the German Army to
locate Allied artillery emplacements.
After the war Dr. Mintrop reversed the process, set off
explosion at known location and recorded the vibration. He
formed a company called Seismos and in 1924, it supplied
the first seismic crew.
But the validity of reflective seismography as a useful tool
in the search of oil was proven in 1921 by J .C. Karcher,
W.B. Haseman, I. Derrine and W.C. Kite.
Seismology - Theory
The earths crust is composed of different layers which
vary in density and thickness. Each layer has its own
properties. Energy (in the form of seismic waves)
traveling underground interacts differently with each of
these layers.
When an energy, e.g. explosion, dropping of heavy
weights or sound wave, is released on the surface, it
will travel through the earth.
As the energy strikes each of the layers, part of it is
refracted and part of it is reflected back to the surface.
The reflected sound waves are then detected and
recorded by the sensitive geophones (for land and
hydrophone (for sea).
Each layer of formation exhibited different
Onshore Seismic Exploration
Seismic exploration onshore involves artificially
creating seismic waves.
In the past - shot holes are drilled and explosives
charges are fired in the holes
Now heavy weights are being dropped
Now man-made vibrations or waves are generated
(developed by VIBROSEIS).
Reflection of seismic waves is picked by
sensitive geophones and then transmitted to
seismic recording truck which records the data
for further interpretation by geophysicist and
petroleum reservoir engineers.
Seismic exploration on land using a seismic vibrator truck
Seismic Exploration Offshore
Instead of explosives or impacts on the seabed
floor, the seismic ship uses a large air gun,
which releases bursts of compressed air under
the water, creating seismic waves that can travel
through the earths crust and generate the
seismic reflections that are necessary.
Towed behind the seismic ship, hydrophones
are being used to pick up seismic waves
underwater. The hydrophones may be arranged
in various configuration depending on the need
of the geophysicist.
Seismic exploration offshore
There are up to 3000
hydrophones On a 3000m cable
2-D and 3-D Seismic
2-D Seismic Up till the 1980s reflection seismic
acquisition carried out by arranging the source and
received in a line for a shot and then advancing the
equipment along a linear transit as necessary to
complete the survey.
3-D Seismic invented by Exxon. First 3-D Seismic
survey was shot by Exxon over the Friendswood field
near Houston in 1967.
3-D Seismic successfully evaluated in the Bell Lake Field
in 1972 with the support of six oil companies Chevron,
Amoco, Texaco, Mobil, Phillips, and Unocal. Acquisition
phase took about 1 month, but processing the half
million input traces required another 2 years.
3-D Seismic
3-D Seismic - One of the most important
technological breakthrough in an industry where
profitability is closely tied to innovation and
Allows the subsurface to be depicted on a rectangular
grid that provide the interpreter with detailed
information about the full 3-D subsurface volume.
Allows lateral detail to be enhanced
Allows comprehensive overview of subsurface
structural features, particularly faulting
Allow attributes to be mapped and displayed along
curved reflector surfaces
Accurate positioning of events made possible through
3-D migration also improved subsurface imaging of
flatter-lying stratigraphic targets.
Advance 3-D imaging
Advance 3-D imaging
Advance 3-D Visualization
One of the most exciting in advancement in 3-D
interpretation is 3-D visualisation.
in a special theater at the ExxonMobil Upstream
Research Centre in Houston, geologists can gather
for a virtual tour of potential new reservoir, as well as
older fields when viewed through high-tech glasses,
3-D seismic images representing as much as 75 mile

of rock seem to float in space.

The Texaco has visionariums, 8 to 10 ft tall screen
that curve horizontally through 160 degrees with data
projected by use of three projectors that each covers
one-third of the screen.
Arco and Norck Hydro use immersive visualization
room based on the virtual reality interface CAVE,
invented by U. Illinois at Chicago. In the CAVE, three
walls and the floor are used as projection surfaces,
and the images on the walls are backprojected, while
the image on the floor is projected from the top down.
4-D Seismic
4-D Seismic An enhancement of 3-D Seismic.
Also know as time-lapse by adding the
dimension of time. It is accomplished by making
several 3-D seismic survey of the same area
over a period time.
4-D Seismic can also track movement of oil and
gas over time.
Moving pictures shows how the oil reservoir has
changed during production and how it will likely
to change in the future.

4-D Image Interpretation
Exploratory Wells
The best way to gain a full understanding of
subsurface geology and the potential for oil and
gas deposits is to drill an exploratory well.
Involves actually drilling and digging into the
earths crust to look for natural oil and gas
deposits. Geologist will also examine the drill
cuttings and fluids to gain a better understanding
of the geologic features of the area.
But drilling an exploratory well is an expensive
and time consuming effort.