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Directional drilling presents a range of technical challenges. Today, real-time geosteering teams
can use pseudo-logs with customized applications to model downhole tool responses and anticipate
lithological variations in horizontal wells while drilling. The expected tool responses can be
compared with actual results and used to guide the next stage of drilling. This approach has been
applied in several oil and gas fields and is becoming an established tool for many companies in the
Middle East and Asia.

In this article, Caroline Le Turdu, Indrajit Bandyopadhyay, Lothar Schulte, Bill Abbott, Raphael
Guerithault, Jim Lingley, and Steve Warner examine the importance of an effective workflow for
modeling during drilling operations and highlight the associated benefits.
The introduction of advanced geosteering techniques means
that LWD tool responses can be modeled ahead of the drill bit. Phase I: Building the earth model with all the available data
This helps to reduce uncertainty in complex geological settings.
It also enables geosteering teams to anticipate—in real time— Existing offset wells seismic extracted
along the well path

lithological variations and to place deviated and horizontal

wells more accurately. Well planned


Across Asia and the Middle East, some operators have found drilling workflow is ideally suited to challenging environments,
that tight schedules for development projects and lack of where continuous monitoring and model updating are
adequate planning tools result in inadequate well plans. essential to steer the well within the targeted reservoirs.
These poor-quality plans and the limited risk assessments Most major oil companies now use the modeling-while-
Oil/water contact
that are associated with them are the main causes of the drilling workflow. Widespread adoption of this method
costly drilling problems, such as stuck pipe, kicks, and losses, reflects its quality, reliability, and value to operational teams. property
that add up to nonproductive time and significant cost
overruns. At the same time, because of high drilling costs, Phase I—before drilling begins
smaller teams of engineers are often being asked to drill
The first step of the modeling-while-drilling workflow is to
increasingly difficult wells.
create a robust and consistent earth model that incorporates
Well placement brings together many oilfield disciplines,
all the existing data. A typical earth model includes the
in particular drilling, geophysics, geology, and reservoir
following datasets:
management. For field operators, the main benefits of 0 800 1600 2400 3200 4000 4800 5600 6400 7200

• seismic surveys
effective well placement are maximized production with
• horizons interpreted from the seismic data
minimized construction and intervention costs.


• fault interpretations
In the past, there was often a substantial delay between
• a 3D earth model
gathering information and making decisions. Slow processing
• 3D facies and petrophysical properties


and poor predictive modeling of well trajectories limited the
• workflows for volumetrics and uncertainty analysis
efficiency and reliability of drilling operations. 0 800 1600 2400 3200 4000 4800 5600 6400 7200
• several predefined plotting windows
New technology enables drillers and asset teams to make Figure 1: The model-building
• modeling-while-drilling workflows.
better decisions within very short time frames. Advanced process incorporates all the
Creating the earth model is the most important step of available information, from seismic
earth-modeling tools, such as Petrel* seismic-to-simulation to simulation data. Different views
the workflow. This model will be used to gather and unify all
software, mean users can gather and unify all the relevant illustrate how the well interacts
the field data, from initial exploration seismic data to with the final model.
data in a single application and quickly update their models.
simulation studies, and will provide the basis for future well
Already applied in several oil and gas provinces, this approach
planning and drilling operations. It is also the base-case
has the potential to transform modern drilling practices.
model for the modeling-while-drilling workflow and will be
As more and more horizontal and multilateral wells are
used to guide important drilling decisions. This means it
drilled to drain reserves from thinner and more inaccessible
must be quality checked by all team members to ensure its
targets, drilling engineers and asset teams find that they have The first step of the modeling-while-drilling workflow is to create a robust
effectiveness (Fig. 1).
smaller margins for error to work with. The modeling-while-
and consistent earth model that incorporates all the existing data and
soft information.

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updating of the reservoir model to optimize drilling Geosteering in real time
operations. As drilling progressed, real-time data were entered
Phase I: Building the earth model with all the available data Real-time geosteering software (RTGS) is a Schlumberger
into the application and the predrill, 3D geological model was
application for well-placement services. With RTGS software,
updated throughout the drilling process.
users can extract the 2D geological model from the 3D Petrel
The ROP was 10 m/h, which enabled the company to
Synthetic logs model in the form of a curtain section—a vertical plane that
update the model three times a day. With each update, the
extracted from the depicts the subsurface structural configuration along the
model Hoan Vu asset team obtained an accurate picture of the
planned well path. This curtain section is then populated by
progress and the expected results for each phase of the
log properties from nearby wells to derive a subsurface layer
drilling program. The team could also compare these results
earth model.
with the predrilling estimates.
Analysts can then convolve the planned well trajectory with
Using Petrel technology, Hoan Vu could incorporate
Top of reservoir this layer earth model to simulate log responses. RTGS
markers generated
multiple data types into a single canvas when creating and
contains the codes for all the available Schlumberger LWD
Petrophysical property from the model reviewing its well designs. For example, the ROP proved to
simulated and projected along tools and hence can model log responses for any of them. The
the 3D well trajectory correspond directly to the fault results derived from the
aim is to predict, assuming that the subsurface configuration
software. The asset team found that when the well path
matches the geoscience perceptions and that the well is being
intersected the heavily faulted areas identified by the
Planned well trajectory drilled as planned, the log responses for a particular suite of
Offset wells with markers automated structural interpretation module (ant-tracking
tools while the well is being drilled.
methods), the ROP increased. As the bit passed through
This simulation provides a tentative road map for the well
areas with little or no faulting, the ROP decreased.
before drilling starts and helps the geosteering team to
Incorporating Petrel technology into interpretation,
evaluate possible drilling difficulties and to make
modeling and drilling phases helped Hoan Vu deliver one of
contingency plans using its knowledge of regional geology.
the best basement wells ever drilled in Vietnam. The initial
Figure 2: The 3D well with expected horizons and synthetic logs.
production rates were 1,433 m3/d for oil and 22.6 MMcf/d
for gas. Log-simulation workflow
Once the asset team members have created the model, Case study: Optimized drilling boosts well Once the 2D subsurface structural model (curtain section)
they can plan the well and send instructions to the drilling has been created, the second step is to populate it with the
performance for offshore field in Vietnam
department. They can also extract synthetic logs from the petrophysical properties and so generate the 2D layer earth
petrophysical model along the planned well trajectory to Complex faulting poses a major challenge to operators who “Petrel helped us to accurately model. Generally, well logs from nearby wells are squared to
provide an idea of the log response that might be expected. want to optimize their drilling operations. The Hoan Vu Joint define horizontal beds with uniform properties. Individual
Well markers along the proposed path are also extracted to Operating Company, a joint project between PetroVietnam, visualize the 3D geometry of complex bed properties are then propagated within the model
identify the entry and exit points for each zone in the SOCO International plc, and PTT Exploration and Production following the structural configuration. The process enables
Public Company Ltd, wanted to develop an accurate
fault systems, confirm our seismic
model (Fig. 2). the users to change the bed orientation and thickness
reservoir model for an offshore field in Vietnam. and tectonic interpretations, and drill laterally if required, but it is assumed that the properties are
Predrill modeling The model would help the asset team to optimize their laterally consistent.
drilling and development strategies. Unfortunately, the an exceptionally productive well.” In the third step, the planned well trajectory is convolved
The predrill modeling step combines the planned trajectory complex faulting and fracturing in the granite basement
Vincent Duignan, general manager, Hoan Vu Joint with the layer earth model to simulate log responses.
and the geological subsurface model to create the optimum reservoir made developing a reliable model very difficult.
Operating Company Simulation is conducted using a range of tool-specific codes.
well trajectory and data-acquisition strategy. Real-time Hoan Vu geoscientists selected Petrel software to help. This provides the user with accurate log responses that
techniques often prove particularly valuable for steering
reflect the apparent geological structure, the wellbore’s
horizontal wells within thinly bedded sand/shale reservoirs.
Identifying fault patterns location and orientation, and the relevant tool suite.
In these jobs, preparatory work on the log simulation would
be beneficial. Working in partnership, Hoan Vu personnel and Schlumberger
The main objectives for well-placement strategies are Information Solutions staff created a reservoir model that
to identify uncertainties before drilling begins and to confirmed Hoan Vu’s seismic and tectonic data. The model
make contingency plans to help mitigate any problems that was then used to guide drilling operations. Real-time
may arise. solutions were not required, but the operator wanted rapid

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In addition to modeling log curves (1D arrays), RTGS also
enables users to model azimuthal images (2D arrays).
In the early days of geosteering, field operators wanted
advance indication of the drill bit’s approach to bed
boundaries that would enable the drilling engineer to
modify the trajectory accordingly. This deep azimuthal
resistivity modeling is now part of the established modeling-
while-drilling workflow. Propagation resistivity values from a
series of coaxial and tilted sensors are processed using an

inversion algorithm to detect bed boundaries at distances of

up to 4.5 m from the tool. This detection process enables the


geosteering team to establish accurately the position
(distance and direction) of the boundary before intersecting Figure 3: A simple workflow generated automatically by the Petrel

Process Manager. This can be used for automatic updating of the
it and to take positive decisions to avoid it. model in real time. 2200 2400 2600 2800 3000 3200 3400


Building scenarios
acquired in real time during drilling (Fig. 3). Such data may


The log-simulation process is used to build scenarios. The include well trajectory, gamma ray and resistivity logs, and


first scenario, the base case, represents the layer earth model other new information acquired in real time.


that seems to be the most probable. Additional scenarios are
modeled to address Scale of the update
• uncertainties due to changes in structural dip

• depth uncertainties, where layers appear shallower

Flexibility in the model updating process is crucial. Using
or deeper Petrel software, the asset team can decide to update the Figure 4: Preparation of the specific windows required to follow the well in various directions and dimensions. Those shown include
entire field with the new data or to work only with part of 2D and 3D views, a map, well intersections, and a well correlation.
• the entry or exit of the well from the reservoir. For these

scenarios, the well is made to exit from the reservoir. The the field, such as the nearby offset wells. Whatever its
logs simulated from these situations are used to see extent, this model is considered to be the operational model
and is used only for rapid updating that will support For asset teams, one of the most important challenges is
whether the exit can be predicted and, if it can, how
decisions while drilling. Comprehensive updating of the to bring all the necessary information together in a unified
much warning time the driller will have for avoiding it.
model will be done once the new well has been completed earth model. Using Petrel software, geoscientists can create
and all the logs have been acquired and analyzed. All these an environment in which the process of sharing information
Creating the modeling-while-drilling workflow
new data will be integrated within the regional model. and knowledge enhances the decision-making process.
The geosteering team can use RTGS to monitor drilling in Within the collaboration room, data can be displayed on
real time. During drilling, the actual well trajectory and the Preparation of specific plotting high-resolution interactive 2D screens and by 3D
acquired logs can be directly streamed into the model, and a stereographic projection, where this is available. These highly
similar log simulation can be conducted. The simulated logs Each member of an asset team has a unique perspective on
visual collaborative environments can be used during initial
can then be correlated with the recorded logs, and the exact the well and an individual way of working with the data
well planning and during drilling.
structural configuration can be derived. This procedure, that are generated during drilling. In Petrel software, a
specific setup of user windows can be created for each
which is performed continuously during drilling, enables the Remote access
team to modify the drilling plan to suit the changes in discipline and all types of data. These windows will
automatically be refreshed with the new data at every The collaboration room provides an excellent working
subsurface and to suggest reactive measures to prevent exit
update (Fig. 4). environment, but there may be times when team members
from the reservoir or pay section.
will have to share information and make important decisions
However, there are some limitations to this approach.
The collaboration room when they are in different locations. While drilling a real-time
RTGS is confined to a curtain section, so it will not allow the
trajectory, log data and other relevant information can be
user to update the 3D model in real time or to visualize the Modeling while drilling calls for close collaboration between
sent directly from the rig site in WITSML [wellsite information
well’s progress in 3D. team members and a high degree of spatial understanding
transfer standard markup language] format via satellite, radio,
These limitations underline the need for the more- as the team works to assess the drilling options. Because of
or fiber-optic links. By using the InterACT* real-time
sophisticated Petrel workflow to achieve effective modeling the necessity for informed, cross-disciplinary decisions, there
monitoring and data-delivery system, the asset team has
while drilling. This workflow enables the team to quickly and is a clear benefit to undertaking the work in a collaborative
secure access to this information at the office, in the CVE, or
simply rebuild the model and incorporate all the data visualization environment (CVE) (Fig. 5).
even at home via a personal computer from where the data
can be directly loaded into the Petrel software.

Figure 5: Collaboration room facilities and connectivity.

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Phase III: Update of the model using Petrel Process Manager
Phase II: Drilling started, import of the data and interpretation

First portion of the drilled well imported

First portion of the drilled well imported Synthetic logs
Synthetic logs extracted from the
extracted from the model
Top of reservoir
Top of reservoir markers interpreted
markers interpreted using the real logs
Real log acquired in
using the real logs
Real log acquired in real time
real time

Top of reservoir
markers generated Petrophysical property
Petrophysical property from the model updated and projected along
simulated and projected along the 3D well trajectory
the 3D well trajectory

RUN > 21 seconds after the Planned well trajectory

Planned well trajectory
Offset wells with markers model is updated, corrected
from the new top reservoir
marker and the new portion
of log

Figure 6: Importing and interpreting data once drilling has started. Figure 7: Updating the model using the Petrel Process Manager.

Phase II—importing and interpreting data Phase III—real-time updates for the Adding or modifying fault information Changing the position of a marker
The second stage of the workflow covers the period when geological model In almost every drilling operation, there will be a time when Altering marker positions is the most critical part of the
drilling has started. The key objectives for this phase are to The third step of the modeling-while-drilling workflow is the borehole crosses an unexpected fault or encounters a model update. The asset team checks the logs acquired in
import all the data that are relevant for modeling, to start real-time updating of the model. This process can be carried known fault in an unexpected location. When this happens, real time and, before making any changes to the model,
interpretation, and then to update the model (Fig. 6). The out periodically during drilling so that the asset team can it is important to incorporate or change the fault’s position must validate the new markers. Marker positions can be
interpretation of these new data involves make new predictions using the latest data. One of the most with an estimated throw within the model because it may modified and quality controlled in a 3D view, a 2D well
• picking new markers impact on the structure of the reservoir that the asset team correlation window, or using a spreadsheet (Fig. 8).
critical factors governing these techniques is timing. Systems
• checking for possible shifts of key horizons is targeting.
must be available to quickly transfer the data from the field
• searching for layers with characteristic signatures, such as
into the model so that decisions on steering the well can be
coal units made while it is being drilled.
• reinterpreting the geology and geometry (lateral or
Once all the new deviation and log data are available and
vertical extensions) of sand bodies. the changes in the well picks and the geological model are
completed, the entire model can be updated automatically
using the Petrel Process Manager (Fig. 7). Updating involves
regridding the entire structure, including the propagation of
various petrophysical properties such as gamma ray and
resistivity responses. It may also include some specific
operations such as volume calculations, dynamic simulations,
history-matching, and automatic plotting.

Figure 8: A well marker

In almost every drilling operation, there will be a time when the position can be changed
either in the spreadsheet
borehole crosses an unexpected fault or fracture, or encounters a or directly in a 3D window.

known fault in an unexpected location.

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Gas zone
with the drill
bit, change
to another

Horizon 2

Horizon 3

Oil zone
Oil zone

Horizon 4 Figure 10: Real-time log simulation.

Horizon 5
Redefining the geological content Audit trail and reporting

During drilling, the asset geologists may notice that the The Petrel Process Manager continuously captures all the
Figure 9: Dip and azimuth data can be integrated into the model and visualized either in a well correlation section or in shape of the facies bodies or the facies distribution is not parameters used in the workflow to regenerate the earth
a 3D window as a 3D volume. exactly as expected, and new log data may require them to model. Collating everything from seismic information to
change the reservoir properties of the model. Geologists can simulation data means that projects can be archived and
Changing the position of a horizon RTGS while drilling adjust all the modeling parameters (such as the facies model, retrieved at any time. Petrel Process Manager workflows can
the shapes of channels, or the variograms) and use the Petrel be copied from one project to another to help standardize
During the early stages of a drilling operation, the asset During drilling, RTGS is used for real-time monitoring and Process Manager to update the model automatically. all work processes. This helps asset teams to make consistent
team will often observe a systematic shift of all the horizons. adjustment of the well trajectory relative to the desired and reliable comparisons between various projects.
This shift may be related to the depth-conversion methods target. This helps to ensure that all the defined objectives for
Advanced volumetric analysis and When the model is updated, all the windows (2D images,
being used. This kind of discrepancy can be easily resolved in the well are met. Real-time MWD and LWD data are 3D images, plots, and intersections) related to it are
real time using the Petrel Process Manager. The team can streamed into RTGS via the InterACT system to facilitate easy
uncertainty workflows
simultaneously updated. This means that composite plots
either alter the depth of the horizons or modify the well access to the modeling software at the rig site or in the Advanced volumetric analysis can be included in the Petrel and customized montages can be printed automatically
horizons associated with a radius of influence, which will office. The well-placement workflow combines RTGS with Process Manager workflow so that the end product of the when the workflow is complete. The updating and printing
only apply locally around the drilled section. Petrel software, and, when significant geological changes run is a spreadsheet with a complete report of volumetrics. of these plots can be added at the end of the Petrel Process
occur, the Petrel 3D model can be quickly updated and a This is particularly helpful if important changes have been Manager workflow. These graphical reports can be sent to
Integrating data new curtain section can be extracted for continued made to the structure of the model. the drilling department as a common discussion document
modeling in RTGS. In addition, the uncertainty of most of the model’s before final drilling decisions are taken.
During drilling, the asset team can combine data from the
The progressive changes in the log responses observed parameters can be assessed using the Petrel Process
FMI* Fullbore Formation MicroImager tool with dip and
with RTGS enable the operation team to react when, for Manager, and this information can be included in the real-
azimuth data extracted from images (Fig. 9). This integration Frequency of updating
example, the drill bit approaches the boundaries of the time update of the model. This approach delivers a volume
of available data helps to optimize drilling decisions. In geosteering operations, updates are typically required two
reservoir zone (Fig. 10). distribution of the reservoir that is based on several
realizations of the model using stochastically selected or three times daily, but this, of course, depends on the
parameter values within an estimated uncertainty range. It drilling progress. Once the new dataset (well trajectory, logs,
and changes in well markers) has been imported, the
Geologists can adjust all the modeling parameters (such as the enables the asset team to see immediately how new data
may affect the estimates of reservoir volume. updating process may take up to a few minutes, depending
facies model, the shapes of channels, or the variograms) and use on the complexity of the workflow involved.

the Petrel Process Manager to update the model automatically.

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Phase IV: Decision on the next path to be drilled

First portion of the drilled well imported

Synthetic logs
extracted from the
Sembakung model

Bunyu/Nibung/Tapa Top of reservoir

SABAH markers interpreted
Baram field using the real logs
Mamburungan/ Next points to be
Mengatal/Pamusian/ drilled

Petrophysical property
CELEBES SEA updated and projected along
the 3D well trajectory

KALIMANTAN RUN > 21 seconds after the Planned well trajectory
model is updated, corrected
from the new top reservoir
Sangatta marker and the new portion
of log
Figure 11: The location of Baram field.
Attaka Bontang/Santan

Figure 12: Decision time and designing of the next targets to be drilled.


Handil/Pamaguan KALIMANTAN
Case study: Optimized drilling paths,
Phase IV—making decisions and designing

Nubi/Sisi Lawi Lawi


offshore Malaysia
new wells
Peciko NW Modeling in real time enables field operators to build easily Visualizing the 3D geometry of complex fault systems,
The benefits of real-time geosteering are increased success The ability to share the same model and the same vision
rates for well placement, better well performance, and lower between
the asset team and the drilling department leads updatable geological and reservoir (earth) models. This integrating seismic and tectonic interpretations, merging
costs associated with drilling operations. to better communication and reduces the risk of making a
means geophysicists, geologists, and reservoir engineers all these data, and testing volumetrics and uncertainty
The offshore Baram field near Sarawak, Malaysia, consists wrong decision.
of faulted stacked reservoirs (Fig. 11). This complex structure Discussions among team members, and the decisions that can change any data and test different scenarios while in a completely unified environment such as Petrel
makes precise well placement essential. Until recently, the
Sulawesi result from them, can be conducted during meetings with drilling. The earth model can be updated two or three times software have proved to be helpful in improving decision
field operator, PETRONAS Carigali, had designed well projected or printed views, or in a CVE. The CVE option
trajectories using 2D maps. This approach required enables the team to view all the data in 2D or 3D and to edit a day for particularly complex drilling projects. taking as well as in drilling exceptionally productive
considerable time and effort to update. it as work proceeds. This unified workflow enables geoscientists to include wells. This unified solution and real-time workflow are
PETRONAS Carigali engineers decided that successful well- After the model has been updated, new targets can be
advanced volumetrics and mapping within the process, also seen by many clients as very useful tools to aid
path design required field models that could be built designed, and, in many cases, a new well profile can be sent
through an iterative process using subsurface-data back to the rig site within a couple of hours (Fig. 12). which can be crucial for seeing the impact on the communication between asset and operation teams.
integration. A key requirement was that these models could volumes of a change in the structure, for example. In
quickly be rebuilt using new data and interpretations. As
each well was drilled, the Petrel data were used to finalize addition, uncertainty workflows can also be incorporated
the well completion plans. to deliver a full volume distribution for the reservoir. Both
This approach helped PETRONAS Carigali save an estimated
advanced volumetrics reporting and uncertainty
USD 4,500,000 in rig time for nine wells in Baram field.
assessment can be done in real time while drilling.

Le Turdu, C., Bandyopadhyay, I., Ruelland, P., and Grivot, P.: “A New
Approach to Log Simulation in a Horizontal Drain—Tambora
Geosteering Project, Balikpapan, Indonesia,” paper SPE 88448 (2004).

34 Number 8, 2007 Middle East & Asia Reservoir Review Middle East & Asia Reservoir Review Number 8, 2007 35