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New Opportunities from 4D Seismic and Lithology Prediction at Ringhorne

Field, Norwegian North Sea
David H. Johnston, ExxonMobil Production Co.
Upendra Tiwari, ExxonMobil Exploration Co.
Bernard Laugier, ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Norway A/S
Copyright 2012, Offshore Technology Conference
This paper was prepared for presentation at the Offshore Technology Conference held in Houston, Texas, USA, 30 April3 May 2012.
This paper was selected for presentation by an OTC program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper have not been
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Time-lapse (4D) seismic data from the Ringhorne field in the North Sea are used to monitor water movement in both Paleocene and Jurassic age reservoir sands, improve existing geologic and simulation models, and enable more cost-effective field
operations. The structural complexity of the reservoirs, their proximity to the high-impedance Cretaceous chalk, and a relatively small 4D response required a significant effort in seismic acquisition and processing which resulted in a highly repeatable survey. In addition to the 4D interpretation, Vp/Vs derived from simultaneous elastic inversion is diagnostic of sand and
provides additional constraints on Ringhorne subsurface models. Connected volumes based on Vp/Vs correlate to areas of
water sweep seen in the 4D data and reduce uncertainty in 4D interpretation. Relative P-wave impedance changes calculated
from inversion are consistent with pre-survey 4D predictions. The 4D seismic and inversion results help explain water breakthrough timing and improve our understanding of field production history. The data have resulted in an increase in the reserves base and the identification of additional infill well opportunities.
Time-lapse (4D) seismic data provide an opportunity to identify and quantify changes in reservoir properties that occur during hydrocarbon production. 4D seismic has been extensively used to identify areas of bypassed and undrained oil, improve
the existing geologic model, and enable more cost-effective field operations.
The Ringhorne field is located in block PL027 (100% ExxonMobil* interest), offshore Norway in the North Sea. The Ringhorne Jurassic and West (Ty) fields were discovered in 1997 and 2003, respectively, with first Jurassic/West production occurring in 2003. There are two commercial hydrocarbon units in the Ringhorne field. The Lower Jurassic fluivial and shallow marine sand Statfjord reservoirs form in a structural horst-block trap on a basement high. The deep water Paleocene Ty
sands (Ringhorne West) stratigraphically pinch out onto the Ringhorne high (Figure 1).
The Ty sand is a single seismic cycle, sub tuning thickness reservoir which directly overlasy the regionally extensive Cretaceous chalk. The sands are about 85% net to gross, an average porosity of 30%, with multi-Darcy permeability. They are being depleted by a strong natural water drive. The light oil (API 39) has similar properties and is in pressure communication
with the Jurassic oil reservoirs. The Jurassic sands are found in three fault blocks (Figure 1) underlying the chalk and are
depleted primarily by water injection.
A 4D feasibility study conducted prior to acquiring the monitor survey suggested that impedance changes resulting from water displacing oil would be 7-8%. While above what is normally considered the detectable limit for 4D application, the proximity of the reservoirs to the high-impedance chalk added complications. A relatively low amplitude change of 20% (relative
to the chalk reflectivity) and potential side-lobe interference from the chalk reflection required that the 4D data be highly

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The baseline 3D seismic survey, encompassing both the Ringhorne and Balder fields, was acquired in 2001. The first monitor
survey was shot in 2006 after 3 years of production. It employed common 4D acquisition strategies such as matching baseline
source positions, overlapping streamers to improve coverage, infill data to optimize repeatability, and feather matching where
possible. A post-survey assessment demonstrated that geometrical repeatability goals were achieved and that a median
dS+dR < 20m was obtained for all the offsets. Both base and monitor surveys were co-processed to maximize repeatability
and to preserve and resolve differences due to production. The mode of the NRMS difference calculated over a window encompassing the chalk is 7%, making this survey one of the most repeatable ever acquired by ExxonMobil.
At the time of the monitor seismic survey, the Ty sand had three wells on production. Two of the wells (C09 and C10 in
Figure 1) had not seen water. The southernmost well (C07T2) had water breakthrough but its water cut increase was slower
than predicted by the simulation model. Jurassic Fault Block 1 was being depleted by a single injector-producer pair. By
2006 the producer had a 90% water cut and 94% of the estimated ultimate recovery had already been produced. Fault Block
2 had three producers and one injector (C18A). Early water breakthrough was seen at C05 before the monitor survey. Water
broke through to the C02 well in July 2007. Fault Block 3 had come on production just before the 2006 survey with a single
producer and no injector.

Figure 1. Left: Ty sand structure map showing locations of producer wells. Right: Jurassic structure map showing locations of injector and producer wells.

Initial 4D Interpretation
The initial 4D interpretation was based on quadrature phase difference data where positive values correspond to increases in
seismic impedance expected where water displaces oil. Connected geobodies derived from the quadrature difference are used
to map water sweep in each of the reservoirs. These are displayed in the following figures in blue.
Ty Sand
The 4D seismic geobody shown in Figure 2 shows a generally broad and uniform water sweep along the flank of the reservoir from the original oil-water contact (OWC), defined by the left edge of the geobody, to the water front, defined by the
right edge. The results are consistent with the production data which has water breakthrough only at the C07T2 well. The
seismic data imply that there is good communication within the Ty reservoir with only minor east-west baffles. The data also
suggest that breakthrough at the C09 and C10 wells will be later than predicted by the simulation model. In addition, the
position of the original OWC implies that the Ty reservoir, which is difficult to image on P-wave seismic data, was initially
interpreted too deep on the west flank. Re-interpretation of the Ty based on the 4D data has resulted in a significant reserves
add to the field.
Jurassic Sands
The 4D geobodies shown in Figure 3 show three separate sources of water for the Jurassic reservoirs. In Fault Block 1 the
data imply significant water movement and a high degree of areal sweep efficiency although there is limited oil potential
above the C04 perforations. The bounding faults are clearly sealing and there is little likelihood that water from Fault Block 1
will breakthrough to the C06 well in Fault Block 2 a potential risk before the 4D survey.

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Water sweep in Fault Block 2 is influenced by stratigraphic and structural baffles. The geobody around the C18A water injector shows significant movement of water towards the C05 well, which experienced early water breakthrough. Water
sweep from C18A appears to be constrained by a fault to the south.
The third source of water in the Jurassic reservoirs appears to be coming through Ty-sand juxtaposition across the western
bounding fault of Block 2. The 4D data show a small anomaly (shown in purple) which fingers towards the C02 well, which
had water breakthrough about one year later. This 4D geobody connects to the Ty sand 4D geobody shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Water sweep in the Ty sand as defined by a connected geobody (shown in blue) derived from quadrature difference data.
The underlying structure is the top Cretaceous chalk.

Figure 3. Water sweep in the Jurassic sands as defined by connected geobodies (shown in blue and purple) derived from quadrature difference data. The underlying structure is the top Statfjord 3 reservoir.

Seismic Inversion
Simultaneous elastic inversion is performed with a constrained sparse-spike inversion algorithm using near-, mid-, and farangle stacks. The method assumes the earth model is represented by a spike reflectivity function, noise has a Gaussian distribution, and the wavelet is known. Constraints are incorporated by limiting the impedance estimates within some intervals and
by following trends defined by impedance logs. For the Ringhorne data, incidence angles range between 5o and 17.5o (degrees) for the near-angle stack, between 17.5o and 27.5o for the mid-angle stack and between 27.5o and 40o for the far-angle
stack. Well log data from six wells and six horizons were used to constrain the initial earth model.
Wavelets were estimated from three vertical wells with sonic and density logs. The time interval used for wavelet extraction
included high amplitude, laterally extensive reflections covering the objective reservoirs. The wavelets are estimated using
the spectrum of the seismic and the well tie. Analysis shows that the data can be described by nearly zero-phase wavelets.
Well-to-seismic ties were performed by comparing synthetic seismograms (computed using the conventional 1D vertical
convolutional model, the offset dependent reflectivity and an extracted wavelet) with the respective angle stack seismic volumes. P-sonic, S-sonic and density logs were used to compute the offset dependent reflectivity for a range of angles equivalent to that of the angle stacks.

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3D Inversion of Baseline Data

Figure 4 shows a cross-section of P-Impedance, S-Impedance and Vp/Vs estimated from simultaneous inversion of the 2001
baseline seismic data. The Ty sands, which are transparent on P-wave impedance volume, can be clearly interpreted on the
Vp/Vs data. Figure 5 shows a connected volume of low Vp/Vs which is interpreted to be the Ty sand. Above the original
OWC, the Vp/Vs connected volume correlates to connected volume of water sweep seen in the 4D data (Figure 2). This reduces uncertainty in 4D interpretation.
P - Impedance

S- Impedance

Ty Sand


Figure 4. P-impedance, S-impedance and Vp/Vs simultaneous inversion results for the base survey.

Figure 5. Vp/Vs connected volume of Ty sands showing the extent of the reservoir.

4D Inversion
Time-lapse seismic data are used to perform simultaneous elastic inversion. In a model-based study, Sarkar et al. (2003) developed workflows designed to minimize artifacts associated with the inherent non-uniqueness of inversion. Gouveia and
Johnston (2004) applied these workflows to Jotun field 4D data and discovered that strong constraints may be needed to minimize noise.
A key element of 4D inversion methodology is that baseline and monitor inversions need to be coupled. One way is to use a
common initial earth model that is already a good representation of the subsurface for both base and monitor inversions. A
second approach suggested by Sarkar et al. is to directly invert the seismic differences in order to obtain the changes in the
elastic parameters. This latter approach requires a simple initial earth model, represented by no reflectivity change and is valid because the inversion method used here is a linear process. Both approaches were used at Ringhorne with no significant
differences in results.
The top of Figure 6 shows cross sections of P- wave and S- wave impedances change obtained using the difference inversion
workflow. For this inversion, the results are constrained by the low frequency (constant) model for frequencies below 12 Hz.
The 4D response at Ringhorne is dominated by fluid saturation changes. There has been little pressure change during production. As a result, only changes in P-wave impedance are expected. But, Figure 6 shows large apparent changes in S-wave
impedance (shown within the red ellipse) along with significant background noise in both the P- and S-wave results.
We constrain the time-lapse inversion to converge to the simplest difference that can fit the time-lapse data. This is accomplished by increasing the influence of the starting model using a high cut-off frequency. As shown in the lower part of Figure
6, this stabilizes the inversion, significantly reducing the S-wave impedance change artifact and noise in both the P-wave and
S-wave change volumes. The relative changes in P- impedance estimated from 4D simultaneous inversion is 2 to 10% which
is consistent with pre-survey 4D estimates.

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P wave impedance changes

S wave impedance changes

Cut off frequency - 12 Hz

Cut off frequency - 60 Hz

Noise reduced

Figure 6. P-wave (left) and S-wave (right) impedance changes resulting from the simultaneous inversion of differences using a cutoff frequency of 12Hz (top) and 60Hz (bottom) respectively. Blue colors indicate positive impedance changes.

As a result of optimized acquisition and careful processing, a high quality 4D seismic result was obtained in an area with significant imaging and detectability challenges. The 4D response that results from water sweep at Ringhorne is well above the
non-repeatable noise and helps explain water breakthrough timing and improves our understanding of field production history.
Vp/Vs derived from simultaneous inversion is diagnostic of sand and provides additional constraints on Ringhorne subsurface models. Connected volumes based on Vp/Vs correlate to areas of water sweep seen in the 4D data which reduces uncertainty in the 4D interpretation. Relative P-wave impedance changes calculated from 4D inversion are consistent with presurvey estimates. However, S-wave impedance changes are more vulnerable to noise in the data than are P-wave impedance
changes. At Ringhorne strong constraints are required to stabilize the 4D inversion. Interpretation of the data has resulted in a
reserves add for the field and the identification of additional drilling opportunities.
Gouveia, W. P., Johnston, D. H., and Solberg, A. [2004] Remarks on the estimation of time-lapse elastic properties: the case
for the Jotun Field, Norway. SEG 74th Annual International Meeting, Expanded Abstracts, 2212-2215.
Sarkar, S., Gouveia, W. P., and Johnston, D. H. [2003] On the inversion of time-lapse data. SEG 73rd Annual International
Meeting, Expanded Abstracts, 1489-1492.
We thank ExxonMobil E&P Norge and ExxonMobil Production Company for permission to present this paper.
* Exxon Mobil Corporation has numerous subsidiaries, many with names that include ExxonMobil, Exxon, Esso and Mobil. For convenience and simplicity
in this presentation, the parent company and its subsidiaries may be referenced separately or collectively as "ExxonMobil." Nothing in this presentation is
intended to override the corporate separateness of these separate legal entities. Working relationships discussed in this presentation do not necessarily
represent a reporting connection, but may reflect a functional guidance, stewardship, or service relationship.