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The Vertical Seismic Profiling Measurement Procedure

THE VSP MEASUREMENT PROCEDURE In conventional vertical seismic profiling, we activate a seismic energy source on or near the earth's surface and record the downgoing and upgoing seismic wavefields with receivers positioned at closely spaced depths in a well.

The recording geometry involved in a typical onshore VSP is essentially the same, except that we can use a wider variety of energy sources, including shear-wave sources. For onshore vertical seismic profiling, we can record VSP data in a cased well after the drilling rig has moved away

By contrast, a drilling rig (or production platform) is always present at the wellsite during a marine VSP survey. The objectives of vertical seismic profiling differ from those of velocity surveying in the following ways: We record VSP data at vertical depth intervals that are much smaller than those recorded through velocity checkshot data. Successive VSP geophone stations should be no farther apart vertically than 1/2, where 1 is the shortest spatial wavelength contained in the recorded seismic wavelet. The only information we need from a velocity survey is the time-depth coordinates of the first-break wavelets. In vertical seismic profiling, however, the weak downgoing and upgoing events that follow the firstarrival wavelets are just as important as the first-break times.

Thus, the dynamic-range, gain-accuracy, and noiserejection properties of the downhole geophone, the logging cable, and the surface recording system must be superior to those we use in velocity surveys. Otherwise, these important weak-amplitude events may not be properly recorded.

The value of vertical seismic profiling is contingent upon the quality of the VSP data recorded. Specifically, VSP data must contain both recognizable reflection signals and minimal noise. Consequently, the field procedures used to record VSP data need to be carefully planned and executed so that a proper energy source and adequate recording system are onsite, and the recording geometry correctly images the desired target.

Pre-survey modeling, the subject of a later section, can help us select the correct survey parameters and equipment to meet the goals of our VSP. In addition, the downhole geophone must be firmly coupled to the earth, and all possible noise sources should be eliminated during data acquisition. We must then use proper data-processing techniques to analyze the data, or we may introduce false geological information into our data as an artifact of processing. Surface-recorded seismic reflection data make up the major investigative tools in oil and gas exploration and development. The images provided by these data allow skilled interpreters to map subsurface distributions of stratigraphic sequences, depositional environments, and rock facies.

However, geological interpretations made from surfacerecorded seismic data are limited because we often cannot determine the exact frequency changes, amplitude losses, and phase shifts that have been imposed on the seismic wavefield as it travels through the earth. We could enhance the interpretive value of conventional seismic data by examining the seismic wavefield in detail as it moves through the earth, rather than sampling it only at the earth's surface.

When VSP Should Be Considered

Good-quality VSP data are invaluable measurements which provide an important link between surface seismic data and subsurface geology, enabling seismic interpreters to correlate subsurface stratigraphic and lithological conditions to the reflected seismic waves measured at the surface. The insight provided by in situ wavefield measurements is the major reason for interest in vertical seismic profiling. VSP measurements provide at least three important contributions to seismic interpretation: i. ii. iii. VSP data calibrate seismic signals in terms of the geology that exists at the depths at which the wavefields are observed. VSP data can provide an additional, and usually improved, image of the subsurface geology near a VSP well. VSP can represent the optimal seismic image at the well location.

The following are specific examples of ways we can use VSP data to calibrate seismic data: We can establish precise depth-to-time conversion functions, which enable us to translate geological data, measured as functions of depth, into functions of traveltime. We can then directly correlate geological data with surface-recorded seismic data. We can measure the amplitude decay of the expanding VSP wavefield to check the validity of the amplitude restoration function used in processing surface-recorded seismic data near the VSP well. We can use the frequency losses measured as a seismic wavelet propagates through a stratigraphic section to judge which portions of the seismic frequency band are most diagnostic of subsurface geological conditions.

By measuring seismic wavelet amplitudes above and below subsurface impedance contrasts, we can verify the accuracy of reflection coefficients derived from log data. We can identify which surface-arriving signals are primary reflection events and which are potentially misleading multiples. We can use in situ measurements of upgoing reflection wavelets to specify which surface-recorded waveshapes correspond to which stratigraphic relationships penetrated by a VSP well. We can use the VSP as a control for many surface seismic phases such as feasibility, survey design, processing parameter QC and interpretation.

Common Applications of VSP Data in Exploration and Development

Establish depth-to-time conversion functions Identify primary seismic reflectors and interbed multiples Adjust or verify log-derived reflection coefficients Provide an alternative/complement to the synthetic seismogram Provide parameters for processing seismic data Amplitude decay functions Deconvolution operators Q compensation filters Anisotropy parameters Demultiple models Estimate structural dip

Predict conditions ahead of the bit Locate faults near a well Create high-resolution images of the subsurface Provide detailed data on compressional-and shearvelocity behavior, including VP/VS velocity ratios as a function of offset, and compressional and shear-wave images of the subsurface Fracture orientation analysis

While service companies might prefer to see their clients record VSP data in the majority of wells they drill, the Oil companies must carefully weigh the cost of any VSP survey against the potential benefit of having the data. The Oil companies often judge the cost to be greater than the potential gain, so may prefer to scale back their plans from the VSP to a less expensive checkshot survey.

The following list summarizes some of the common situations where VSP data would be useful, and may offer some guidance to novice VSP users. We should record VSP data when: It is important to establish a rigorous tie between subsurface geology and surface seismic data; The surface seismic data in a prospect area are suspect for any reason -for example, whenever interbed multiples can not be properly attenuated or recognized; It is impossible to record the sonic log data needed to make a synthetic seismogram. This condition can exist in highly deviated, uncased wells if pipe-conveyed or tubing-conveyed logging services are unavailable. In such a case, we can run a VSP after the well is cased to provide a substitute synthetic seismogram;

The stratigraphic anomalies we need to define are smaller than the resolution limits of our surfacerecorded seismic data; It is important to acquire improved imaging of the stratigraphy near a well; Pre-survey modeling indicates that the VSP should be able to image the geological objective; It is important to tie compressional and shear-wave seismic reflectors; We need a comprehensive database to provide as much reservoir information as possible, perhaps for field unitization negotiations between competing companies. We need data for surface seismic feasibility studies, acquisition design, processing parameter selection and data interpretation;

We wish to extract the embedded wavelet in the surface seismic data, e.g. for optimal amplitude inversion to acoustic impedance. We need quantitative information on anisotropy and attenuation for optimal p and p-s imaging and event correlation.

Subsequent sections of this presentation will analyze and describe the value of VSP in these situations.