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The ultimate goal of any exploration and production (E&P) effort is to
increase hydrocarbon reserves while ensuring their efficient and economical
recovery. Gaining detailed knowledge of reservoir geometry, rock properties,
and productive capacity is the first step toward reservoir optimization.
Integrated reservoir characterization combines all geological, geophysical,
and engineering data pertinent to understanding fluid flow and reservoir
behavior, and uses the data to produce a 3D-earth model that can be used in
all phases of field development. In this way, it differs from traditional
reservoir characterization projects, which tend to focus on geologic and
engineering analysis of proposed enhanced recovery projects, as well as
drilling, production engineering, and reservoir simulation.
Geologic data comes from well logs, rock samples, outcrops, maps, cross
sections, stratigraphic studies, structural studies, geochemical studies, and
petrophysical studies.
Geophysical information may include gravity data, magnetic data, and
seismic data, as well as other types of data. Seismic data, in particular,
encompasses a wide spectrum of information from 2-D, 3-D, or 4-D surveys,
plus vertical seismic profile (VSP) studies, cross-well information, and seismic
attribute analysis.
Engineering data includes petrophysical, well test, production/injection,
pressure, and fluid analysis information, as well as any relevant stress field
and fracture data.
These data can be integrated to overcome the limitations inherent in any
single data domain. For example, 3-D seismic data can sample a large areal
extent of a particular reservoir, but it provides only limited vertical
resolution. Core data on the other hand, provides extremely fine vertical
resolution, but samples only a minute portion of total reservoir volume.
However, correlating specific 3-D seismic attributes to important core
properties (porosity, for example) combines the advantages and minimizes
the disadvantages of both data types.
Integrated reservoir characterization is generally an interdisciplinary,
interactive team effort. A team is usually divided into three main disciplines:
Geology, Geophysics, and Engineering. Successful interaction among these
disciplines generally involves two approaches:

then integrate with models produced by the other disciplines.g. This in turn yields new data that reveal weaknesses in the existing reservoir description. and then progressively update it as new data are acquired. open to improvement at any stage of its development. The second approach integrates all data from an early stage and continually updates and refines the result as more analyses are performed and more information is accumulated. There are never enough data to fully represent the details of reservoir structure and internal architecture. No matter how concise and numerically constrained the final model may be. These two approaches are each appropriate under different circumstances. and contacts. The new data can be then incorporated to refine the model. Such a model is properly viewed as a work in progress. the precise lateral and vertical distribution of rock and fluid properties.In the first approach. enhanced) recovery programs. Integrated reservoir characterization produces an integrated earth model (sometimes called a shared earth model) that is designed to describe the static and dynamic factors that affect fluid flow (Beamer et al. . A critical test of any model is to drill new wells or launch new (e. The team members then compare models with the others. developing discipline-specific models as a first stage effort may be the only practical way to ensure that all relevant information is included. heterogeneous volume of rock in the subsurface.. team members from each discipline integrate all pertinent data and construct preliminary models. 1998). it may be easier to construct an integrated model early. For a field in which large amounts of data are available. Where very little initial information exists. Integrated reservoir characterization results in a three-dimensional description of a complex. and refine. or the exact configuration of fluid pathways. it will always be an approximation of the reservior. barriers.

and engineering data in three dimensions at individual workstations (Figure 2 : Complex.At an early stage. This development has helped to decrease the size of reservoir characterization teams while greatly improving their efficiency. Commercial 3-D modeling software packages commonly employ well log and seismic information as base data. Ginger et al. optimize their locations. Advances in software technology have greatly aided the process of building and updating shared earth models. Data from the development phase of activity will in turn be used to further refine the model. reduce the number of appraisal wells needed. the unswept portions of the reservoir can be identified and the accuracy of reservoir simulation can be enhanced. so that during subsequent stages of production decline.. 1995). and determine specific data requirements. Figure 2 interdisciplinary modeling of reservoir intervals was able to show the threedimensional distribution of sands having temperatures above a certain specified limit. the shared earth model should be accurate enough to support a preliminary field development and management plan. which various mapping algorithms and . The refined model incorporating these data should then be sufficient to guide the actual drilling or recompletion program during the main phase of development. reflecting the influence of continued steamflooding. Such advances make it possible to integrate geologic. geophysical.

. with the capability to rapidly synthesize vast amounts of diverse data. stratigraphy. Many uncertainties exist in every case of data visualization. and rock property distribution. tested.geostatistical procedures render into representations of reservoir geometry. structure. Geostatistics has come to play an increasingly important role in estimating reservoir property values at unsampled locations (Figure 3 : Geostatistical porosity cross section through a carbonate mound reservoir. Advances in computer technology have not eliminated the central role of the interpreter. and refined on an ongoing. data courtesy Tom Chidsey. At the same time. Improved 3-D software modeling. Figure 3 More sophisticated capabilities for seismic data processing and "quick look" reservoir simulation enable models to be built. Jr. almost daily basis. digital reservoir characterization. however. Research into these and other capabilities will inevitably open new improvements for onscreen. because of .cannot reproduce the subsurface exactly.). based on a 15layer model. 1998).. Beardsell et al. matter how sophisticated . digital modeling . plays an important role in the future of integrated reservoir characterization (Uland et al.

integrated reservoir characterization means creating the most accurate. In the end. core data. useful earth model with the data available at any particular stage of field development. well log coverage. or well test information. .frequent instances involving limited seismic markers.