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Mecnica das Rochas para Recursos Naturais e Infraestrutura

SBMR 2014 Conferncia Especializada ISRM 09-13 Setembro 2014


Geological-geomechanical modeling as a support for the design

and monitoring of oil wells
Vivian Rodrigues Marchesi
PUC-Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
Dbora Lopes Pilotto Domingues
PUC-Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
Alvaro Gustavo Talavera Lopez,
PUC-Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
Sergio Augusto Barreto da Fontoura
PUC-Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
Clemente Jos Gonalves
Petrobras, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
Marcos Fonseca Alcure
Petrobras, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
SUMMARY: Well design and drilling strategy planning are critical steps during exploration and
development of oil and gas fields, but the workflow for well design usually follows a simplified
methodology that generally focuses on only one or on a few correlation wells. 3D models are only
available for, and focused on, reservoir volume prediction and fluid flow simulation. Lately, it is
possible to see some efforts to enhance the full comprehension of the whole field and to develop a
more robust well design by using 3D characterization techniques. This paper shows the steps
involved in the development of a 3D geological-geomechanical model and how these models can be
used as a robust tool to support decision makers. The methodology consists of preparing a
geological model which comprises both overburden and reservoir zones, studying and distributing
representative geomechanical facies, distributing properties/data of interest, applying correlations
between initial data and rock mechanics properties, and calculating in situ stresses. Results of a case
study show that an integrated analysis between geologists and geomechanical engineers is
instrumental for an efficient 3D geomechanical characterization. Some direct benefits of these
models are a global view of field behavior and integrated data, facilitating communication between
expert teams, anticipating and preparing for possible drilling hazards and instantly extracting data
for each desired well path, and increasing the reliability of well design.
KEYWORDS: 3D geological-geomechanical modeling, well design, stability analysis.


Increasing geology complexity featured in new

oil and gas reserves has forced petroleum
industry to change its method of creating well
design. The classical workflow method includes
defining a few offset, already drilled, wells as a
guide for well design. This methodology is well
established and sufficiently accurate for non-

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complex fields.
However, the challenge of new scenarios
cannot be fully appreciated by using the
classical methodology. Well design experts,
therefore, have been forced to develop a more
robust field characterization in order to
reproduce the geological and geomechanical
complexity of these sites.
Some of the first attempts to solve this issue

were developed by Kristiansen et al. (1999),

using a 3D integrated analysis of wellbore
instability events faced during drilling and 3D
seismic attributes in order to minimize drilling
risks in the Valhall field, North Sea. As the
authors have noted, geomechanical problems
were encountered in some wells but not in
others. Thus, they looked at potential
heterogeneous rock strength changes that could
not be picked up by relying solely on offset well
They found that the geomechanical problems
could be characterized by developing a
geological model utilizing top formation
surfaces and 3D seismic coherency data for the
overburden. This model has helped in defining
safer well trajectories by avoiding fault areas
with a narrow operational mud window.
Al-Ruwaili and Chardac (2003) advanced
this methodology by modeling the spatial
distribution of rock mechanical properties and
in situ stresses as a tool for improving well
stability for future drilling at the Ghawar field,
Saudi Arabia. Similar and better methodologies,
developed to solve specific geomechanical
issues, have been employed by Torres et al.
(2005), Arajo et al. (2010), Den Boer et al.
(2011) and Tellez et al. (2012).
The present paper aims at presenting the
steps involved in a 3D geologicalgeomechanical characterization for drilling
purposes. A case study illustrating the benefits
of applying this technique is also presented.


Defining model goal - The general goal of the

methodology presented here (Figure 1) is to
better understand field behavior and improve
well design.
Before starting the 3D geologicalgeomechanical modeling, it is fundamental to
have the details of the model goal well
established (Turner, 2006). Even if the general
objective has already been defined, various
levels of complexity should be reached when
considering geology, specific drilling events
experienced, and time and data available.
The focus of Kristiansen et al. (1999) was to

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identify areas near faults, which they found to

display potential risks for drilling, and avoid
them. In this case, the model could be a simple
one, in which it is sufficient to model
stratigraphy and integrate 3D seismic coherency
into it; thus, identifying better well paths.
Defining model
Collecting and
preparing data

Facies modeling

Integrated data

Modeling rock

Structural and

In situ stress and

pore pressure

Figure 1. Geological-geomechanical modeling workflow.

In some cases, there are other features that

need to be characterized, such as: rock
mechanical properties, pore pressure, and in situ
stresses. This can be observed in the works
presented by Arajo et al. (2010), Den Boer et
al. (2011) and Tellez et al. (2012).
Collecting and preparing data - Data
collection and preparation are intrinsically
connected with the final goal and complexity of
the model. Usually, data from different sources
and technical areas (i.e. stratigraphic and
structural geology, well paths and well logs,
well tests, drilling events and seismic data) are
collected and analyzed in an integrated way.
Integrated data analysis - Once all data are
spatially located on the same 3D modeling
software, it is possible to identify possible
connections between observed drilling events
and structural geology, or with specific
geological horizons or even to conclude that
some in situ stress perturbation or some
abnormal pore pressure generating mechanism
may be present on the modeled area.
Structural and stratigraphic modeling Structural and stratigraphic modeling consists
of developing an integrated interpretation
between well and seismic data. Geological
zones with similar geomechanical behavior are
defined by picking up well tops and propagating

them by seismic interpretation gap between

wells and extrapolating to border areas (Figure

Figure 2. Stratigraphic and structural modeling.

After interpretation, these data are used to

model horizon and fault surfaces, generating the
geological model geometry. In order to
represent the necessary refinement of these data
inside the model, it is necessary to create a grid
capable of providing a representative 3D cell
It is important to highlight that a model
prepared for drilling purposes has to be much
more accurate than cells of models for reservoir
simulation purposes. It is vital that cell height is
not so big that it loses important features
captured by well logs. Laterally, cells can have a
greater size, but one has to be careful not to
create a support effect on further geostatistical
predictions, as discussed by Armstrong (1998).
Facies modeling Even if horizons have
been mapped to separate zones with
characteristic geomechanical behavior, they are
usually too large, especially in the case of
overburden zones. Inside these zones it is
common to find interspersed lithologies with
distinct properties. In order to capture these
features in the geological models, facies
modeling is performed for future geomechanical
drilling purposes.
Facies are classified according to the specific
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purpose for each model, and are distributed

inside zones. For well stability applications, the
model needs to contemplate rock properties,
which are correlated to well logs depending on
the lithology groups of similar mechanical
properties. Therefore, lithofacies are classified
and spatially distributed by using geostatistical
simulation techniques.
Once the model is populated with lithofacies,
it is already possible to advance towards a better
global field comprehension, and identify
possible risk areas.
Property modeling in order to predict rock
mechanics, in situ stresses and pore pressure
along the field, geophysical well logs are used
as a data entry; so, their distribution is predicted
first. Similar to the procedure adopted for facies
distribution, properties are analyzed and
distributed for each geological zone modeled.
These well log properties are intrinsically
dependent upon lithology; thus, the spatial data
analysis (or variography, or structural data
analysis) is made individually in each facies
present inside a zone.
In addition to the facies discretization and
structural analysis, the spatial property
distribution can be guided by a secondary
property between wells. This secondary
property can be a seismic attribute or another
previously modeled property, plentiful enough
to be considered a hard data.
Modeling rock mechanics given the high
cost to collect samples, laboratory tests are not
usually available in oil and gas fields. Due to
this limitation, empirical correlations are
normally used to approximate rock properties.
Their 3D distribution can be achieved by three
principal methodologies: direct correlation
between tests (or curves predicted on wells) and
3D seismic attributes; prediction along wells
and 3D distribution by geostatistical or neural
networks techniques; prediction by applying
correlations directly on predicted log properties
cubes (Al-Ruwaili et al., 2003; Holland et al.,
2010; Arajo et al., 2010).
In situ stress and pore pressure prediction
In situ stress prediction can be separated in
vertical and horizontal stresses. Vertical stress
is directly obtained by integrating the density
cube in depth, while horizontal stresses require

a more complex analysis. Minimum horizontal

stress can be approximated by leak off (LOT) or
hydraulic fracture tests (Zoback et al., 2003) on
specific well depths where they were
Some techniques commonly used to spatially
distribute the horizontal stresses are: correlating
these data with vertical stress (Rocha &
Azevedo, 2009); predict both minimum and
maximum horizontal stresses along wells by
lateral strain approach and distribute it,
correlating with seismic data (Al-Ruwaili &
Chardac, 2003); adopting a correlation with the
depth of sediments (Rocha & Azevedo, 2009).
In addition to the lateral strain technique,
approximated from well instabilities, where
induced fractures and breakouts, added up to
rock properties and failure criteria, can be used
to obtain maximum horizontal stress from the
minimum one (Zoback et al., 2003).
Taking out basin modeling, which extends
beyond the scope of this study, pore pressure
prediction in a 3D model can be accessed by
applying methods developed for 1D prediction
on shale lithologies (Eaton, 1975; Bowers,
1995). On a further step, fluid flow calculations
are applied to hydrostatically distribute fluids in
permeable lithologies. The idea is to use 3D
cubes to predict pore pressure and calibrate it
with direct measures on permeable zones.
Usually this approach is applied directly for
interval velocity cubes seismically derived (Den
Boer et al., 2011), or for high resolution
velocity cubes predicted by using compressional
transit time, Dtc, well logs and interval velocity
cubes (Bachrach et al., 2007).


A case study is presented here to illustrate the

methodology. Coordinates are purposely hidden
to guarantee confidentiality.
The aim of the model was to characterize the
geomechanical field behavior, to provide all
necessary data for designing new wells and to
support decisions during drilling in the area.
Well logs, stratigraphy and lithology were used
to define representative geological horizons that

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divide zones of characteristic geomechanical

The classification of facies capable of
dividing the overburden into more discrete and
representative clusters was closely observed.
The idea is to enable the possibility of picking
up geomechanical differences. Shales, marl,
siltstones, and clays were divided into
individual facies, as well as sands, diamictite,
carbonates, igneous rocks and an additional
group of lithologies. The authors intend to
discretize different strength behavior inside the
overburden (into clays, less compacted, shales,
which are fissile, siltstones and marls).
Sequential indicator simulation was used to
spatially distribute facies, as it can be seen in
Figure 3. A qualitative analysis of the results
showed that the overall expected behavior of
lithology distribution agreed with local geology.

Figure 3. Facies model.

Near mudline facies are predominantly clay,

which are, then, replaced by shale and some
lenses of marl and siltstone. Inside, the second
zone diamictite prevails, but there are some
shale lenses. The third zone is reservoirs and
sand predominates, followed by the fourth zone,
which comprises igneous rocks, sealing a
barrier between the upper and lower reservoirs.
Below the second reservoir there is more shale.
Properties derived from well logs, such as
density (Rhob), compressional sonic wave (Dtc)
and shear wave (Dts) were spatially distributed
techniques. These logs were chosen for the
further application of rock mechanics
correlations and for in situ stress and pore

pressure studies.
Spatial correlation analysis of well data was
performed individually for each facies. Rhob
and Dtc presented good results, respectively
presenting mean absolute percentage errors of
approximately 5% and 2.5% along the well
reserved for blind test. This is considered to be
a small error for predictions in engineering
For predicting Dtc, interval seismic velocity
was also used as secondary data. Dts, that was
less abundant, was not guided by facies for
distribution, because there were not enough data
to analyze individual variograms. Gamma ray
(GR) did not demonstrate good spatial
correlation on variograms, so it was distributed
by using the inverse distance squared method.
Rock mechanical correlations were directly
applied to these cubes, using facies distribution
to separate the best-fit correlations. A previous
study of recommended correlations for this area
had been done. Figure 4 shows the cube
obtained for unconfined compressive strength

densities (previously predicted density cube)

with depth defined the vertical stress cube. The
modeled area has water depths varying from
500 m to 2000 m, which reflects on the lateral
changes of vertical stresses along the field
(Figure 6).

Figure 4. Spatial distribution of UCS.

Figure 6. Vertical stress cube calculated by integrating

densities on depth.

Laboratory test data were not available for

validation, so the arithmetic mean of the
simulated scenarios was extracted along the
blind test well and compared to the results by
applying the same correlations to the measured
wireline logs. It can be seen from Figure 5 that a
Notwithstanding to smoothness, that is a
consequence of the cell size, the model
provided a very good UCS prediction.
The integration of water and sediment
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Figure 5. Quality control of modeled UCS in a blind test

(red line is the predicted UCS and blue line is the UCS
calculated from measured logs).

It was assumed that the case study is

allocated on an extensional stress regime,
therefore minimum and maximum horizontal
stresses are considered equal. The minimum
horizontal stress was distributed by employing
two strategies: a pseudo 3D distribution
technique, through adjusting a linear regression
between LOTs and depth of sediments and; 3D
distribution of stresses from wells to the model
guided by vertical stress.

The first technique presented better physical

results, as the second technique resulted in a
noisy performance in some areas of the model.
The correlation obtained between minimum
stress and depth of sediments was applied to the
model in order to obtain a 3D distribution.
Figure 7 shows a comparison between global
data and the available test on the validation
well. Note that the wellbore test validation
presents a lower value than the global field
trend. This feature could be considered a
consistent behavior in that area of the field or
not. Nevertheless, as there is only a single test
available for that part of the modeled area, it
cannot be confirmed if it is a valid behavior.
The model distribution used the global trend,
while post-mortem stability analysis of the
validation well was performed with its own

Figure 7. Correlation of LOT data and depth of

sediments. Pressure and depth values were purposely
removed (red color: validation well; blue color: global

Pore pressure prediction was performed as

illustrated on Figure 8. Initial data analysis
indicated that overpressures were not expected
at this field. The RFTs (repeated formation test)
histogram showed that the majority of values
are concentrated near 8.73 lb/gal with few
exceptions varying for maximum of 9.3 lb/gal,
which is still considered a normal pore pressure
The Eaton method was used to predict
pressures along the model. In order to map the
normal compaction trend line, Dtc was filtered
by well lithologies and the facies cube to
contain data only on clay lithologies/facies. The
trend line obtained at the wells was distributed
for the global field.

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Pressure data


Filter shale

Sand pore

Global trend

Special filters

Shale pore
Figure 8. Pore pressure prediction workflow.

The Eaton method was applied only to shale

and propagated in sand assuming a hydrostatic
pressure distribution inside them. If the depths
of fluid contacts were available, buoyancy
effects could be computed in these models.
Obtained pressures were validated and
calibrated to RFT data in good agreement. By
analyzing the Dtc and Rhob logs of igneous
rocks, it was found that they were not highly
fractured (image logs were not available to
confirm this). Therefore, it was assumed that
the fractures were not connected, so pore
pressure on that facies is equal to zero.
The modeled cubes permitted good analysis
of the global field geomechanical behavior,
including potentially low strength zones, with
low UCS.
All modeled data including facies, logs,
mechanical properties, pore pressure and in situ
stresses were extracted along the trajectory of
the validation wellbore. The necessary time to
extract data took very few minutes. This data
were further used to perform a well stability
analysis, simulating a well design. Data
acquired during drilling was used to develop a
post-mortem analysis. Results obtained are
illustrated on Figure 9.
Note that the lithology was well predicted,
even capable of discretize overburden where
data was not available on the post-mortem
analysis (the initial thick light green color),
where a clay lithology was assumed. The lower
limits of the mud weight window were well
predicted too, and it can be seen that pore
pressure was also well predicted.

real time decisions in an integrated and

spatial analysis.

The authors thank Schlumberger for providing
PetrelTM academic license and Petrobras for
making data available for this case study.

Figure 9. Comparison of project (3D prediction) and postmortem (1D) mud weight window. Blue dots are pressure
measures and the black dot is a LOT pressure.

Minimum horizontal stresses demonstrated a

considerable difference because of the atypical
measure of LOT pressure when compared to the
global data (pink: post- mortem; yellow: project
from 3D). Apart from this difference, where it is
not possible to confirm the robustness of the
LOT data, results obtained were considered
very satisfactory.


The main points observed during the study can

be highlighted here:
3D modeling is a good solution for
accurately predicting well log properties,
where not only one offset well is being
used to predict it, but all available wells.
In addition, picking up horizons and facies
and properties prediction are guided by
seismic interpretation between wells.
Even lithofacies can be well predicted by
using 3D techniques;
The 3D modeling of rock properties can
highlight possible instability zones;
Lateral transfer techniques and fluid
buoyancy effects can be considered in pore
pressure along the entire field;
Once the 3D model is created, data can be
instantly extracted for each desired well
trajectory, making the well design process
much faster.
A model can be updated as new data are
made available and it can be used to guide

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